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Zalman CNPS9900 LED review

The (ridiculously) big chill

Zalman CNPS9900 LED
The Zalman CNPS9900 LED is a beautiful bit of design - just make sure you're case is large enough to accomodate it

Our Verdict

A well performing product but too large for most cases on the market


  • Good performance
  • Socket 1366 compatible


  • Huge

When the plans for the original ENIAC were first mooted, you can bet a Zalman CNPS cooler was being used to suck heat away from those hot valves.

The large turbine design feels like it's been around forever: one of the first to use a combo of heatpipes and fins, it's just grown a bit over the years for ever hotter CPUs.

But is the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' attitude a good one to have? It's certainly true that the all copper CNPS9900 is good enough to keep an overclocked Nehalem down to less than 40 degrees most of the time.

Although it was created for socket 775 or AM2+ chips, there is a mounting bracket for the new 1366 pin socket waiting to impress. Because of this, the CNPS9900 gets on with an X58 motherboard like an old married couple: easy, familiar, silent and with the detectable touch of frost in the air around the union (congratulations on the wedding by the way, Alan).

It should be pointed out that we still don't have many 1366 coolers to compare it against just yet other than Intel's default one, but it seems to set a standard that others should aim for.

Mighty size

As good as the Zalman CNPS9900 LED is, though, we're quite rightly appalled at how big air coolers are getting these days, and there's a good many cases out there that simply aren't designed to and won't accommodate a CNPS9900.

If you want Antec's awesome Skeleton case, for example, you've got to hit a lower profile. It's as tall as OCZ's gargantuan Gladiator Max, and bordering on overkill for the cool running 45nm generation. Still, it's hard to criticise Zalman when everyone seems intent on making coolers that affect weather patterns.

Next time, the engineers should think about making the design better, not just bigger.