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Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed

Installing Zalman's CNPS12X

Zalman’s CNPS12X installation kit supports AMD’s Sockets AM2 through AM3+, in addition to Intel’s desktop LGA 775 through LGA 2011. LGA 2011-specific standoffs let you get rid of the irksome support plate in favor of the interface's integrated mounts.

Standoffs are threaded in first (foreground), followed by cross brackets and thumb screws (background).

At the edge of a factory-installed pressure bracket, factory-installed spring screws engage holes on the cross brackets to provide even pressure against the CPU.

Ah, but wait…isn’t that backwards? Zalman designed the CNPS12X with ¼” offset to clear the top of your case, your power supply, or whatever else is above your motherboard. Unfortunately, that causes the cooler to overlap our motherboard’s main graphics card slot.

We were left to either put our graphics card in the wrong slot and partially discredit the results (as we will with one other cooler) or mount it in such a way that some of the air pushed through it would already be warmed by our graphics card and power supply. Choosing the latter means that the test results represent a performance floor, by which we know it performs "at least this well."

A final installation issue that affected our build was that the CNPS12X overlapped our second DIMM slot and was just low enough to the motherboard that the fan tips barely touched our 1.55” DIMMs. Though we were able to make things work with a little adjustment, the solution wasn't long-term enough that we'd recommend this cooler to anyone with modules even a hair taller than 1.50”.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.