Im currently cooling my i7 920 cpu with a Zalman CNPS9700 cooler at stock speed. I monitored the temps using the speedfan tool. At idle the temp of the cores are low 40's. I was expecting my idle temps with this cooler to be mid 20's or low 30's.
Sounds about right to me since your cpu has a high TDP.
Zalman coolers of that design are outdated imo.
Zalman's CNPS10X line is much better.
Your expectations are unrealistic for your cpu anyways.
Mid 20's =NOT going to happen
You could realistically get low/mid 30's with a good tower cooler provided you have proper case airflow.
Room temperature will play a major role.
Have 9700 on I5-750 currently @3.2 GHz.
Room temp (ambient)= 26C, Temp inside case (approx 2" infront of HSF) 29C, Core temps 38C
This is what Davcon was getting @, depending on Your ambient temps (unspecified), your core temps will be anywheres from 5 -> 10 C higher. ie room temp is like mine 78 F (26C) then for the 9700 expect 40 C giver or take a couple of C's.
The real question is how well it performs under load. The 9700 is by far not one of the better HSF, I like it and for my system it's fine. Under load (prime 95) I get core temps in the upper 50's (winter time) and mid 60's (summer time).
Have already ordered (and receiver) the Zalman 9900Max-B for my next CPU (I5-2500k), waiting on which MB to get.
CNPS9900 comes in several flavors; there is the -LED, the NT, and the max (-r or -b is just color of led).
The -led is inbetween the 9700 and the 9900max in terms of performance . The Max competes with the top end of coolers cost is about 80 bucks (got it on sale for $65).
Would expect closer to 5C above the temperature inside the case, which should be a couple of degrees above room temp.
As I indicated, idle is not that important, it is how hat does it get under load, either durning gaming, or prime 95 (MAX load)
Comparision chart http://www.guru3d.com/article/zalman-cnps-9900-led-revi...
Quote from last page of link
Make no mistake though, the cooling performance is grand and if you stick to 40% to 60% fan rotation, it's not at all noisy. We achieved a 3600 MHz overclock on a 1600 MHz FSB based processor, while retaining fairly good temperatures. And that QX9970 is a hot processor all by itself.
Next to that the design is very pleasing to the eyes and it's definitely a quality product, and as such it comes recommended as it'll do a fine job cooling wise, and well .. it just looks stunning. End quote.