Summary And Conclusions
The Zalman CNPS9500 LED is the clear winner of our test, offering very high cooling performance while producing very little operating noise. The manufacturer offers an eye-catching design with fan speeds that can be throttled back to comfortable levels using the bundled Fanmate 2, all while not seriously impacting performance. The only downside to the unit is its price of $50 to 60; this is a lot for a conventional air cooler, but the unit does perform at the absolute top of our test group.
The award for best performance for the buck goes to the Asetek Vapochill Micro. For only $45, users can purchase an efficient cooler that's also very quiet. Its high-tech cooling method also permits it to extend its influence beyond the CPU, to cool down the voltage regulator and other motherboard components as well. By comparison, Startech's UniversalHSF offers no obvious advantages over the AMD box cooler, which means it is too expensive for the performance it delivers. This unit may be interesting to some because of its light weight, however; it might be worth considering for mobile embedded systems where weight matters most.