Zalman CNPS-7000A-Cu Heatsink Review


Installation and testing

The installation of this heatsink was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do with my PC in a while. It makes me wish I had eaten the included silica gel earlier…perhaps violent stomach cramps would have made the install seem easier by comparison! The first major hurdle was the clip. On the Zalman website it gives a few warnings about motherboard compatibility on the product page. Well, I encountered one of those compatibility issue on the test mobo – some capacitors were in the way of the mounting clip. Since the clip is made out of some hardened steel it was terribly difficult to cut and file. In the following pics you can see how close the mounting clip comes to the caps on my mobo, and the result of trimming the clip.

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Great, now that that’s done I can install it! Well, this heatsink is mounted via the four mounting holes on AMD boards, and that means we have to deal with the dreaded motherboard removal. For air-cooling pros like myself, that means cutting a whole bunch of zip-ties that are keeping my case tidy, uninstalling everything, mounting the clips, and putting it all back together. Fun!

But I know what you’re thinking. “That’s not enough fun for me, I’m hardcore!” Well, you’re in luck because one of the screw-holes in the included mounting hardware wasn’t threaded. For the layman: there were no screw grooves in the hole, it was perfectly smooth. After a little work (and by ‘a little’, I mean ‘a lot’) I managed to force-drive a sacrificial screw into the mounting clip to create threads, then mount it to the mobo. After putting it all back together, here’s the results:

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I tested the Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu against a Dr. Thermal V77L modded with a Vantec Tornado fan (aka Dr. Thermal Extreme SE). For those unknowing, the Dr. Thermal mod is a top tier performer (look it up if you don’t believe me). I compared the Silent Mode of the 7000A vs. the V77L with the Vantec fan 7volt modded (a method of undervolting the fan to reduce noise and airflow), and them put both heatsinks to full blast and compared those temps.

The Silent Mode test compared performance at both stock speeds (62.8W) and overclocked to the chip’s maximum limit (1886MHz @ 164FSBx11.5 with 1.81vCore – about 90W of heat output). The Full Mode temps were measured during overclocked mode only, since at stock there’s no reason to run a heatsink in such a way. Both heatsinks were freshly installed with a new layer of Arctic Silver 3, and temps were measured via the mobo’s in-socket thermosistor. While not entirely accurate, the temps are presented to compare against each other and therefore measure the relative performance of the heatsinks. My test bed is as follows:

  • AMD Athlon XP-1600 AGOIA-Y 0213
  • MSI K7T266 Pro2 mobo
  • 512MB PC2100 generic (uses Samsung chips)
  • Gainward Golden Sample GeForce4 MX440
  • 60GB IBM Hard Drive
  • Chieftec/Chenming case with four 32CFM case fans