CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 1

Zalman CNPS8700LED - The Real Catastrophe

Zalman CNPS8700LED

Zalman, a company that has built a name for itself over the past few years with its truly excellent cooler designs, thoroughly disappointed us with its new CNPS8700LED. The catastrophically designed retention mechanism is the reason why the final verdict can be nothing other than "Failed". Like all of Zalman's other models, installing this cooler requires removing the motherboard from the case to install the retention mechanism; then the cooler is fixed in place using a metal clip. However, due to the heatpipe and the very compact design, there is so little space around the cooler that the clip becomes jammed in the cramped area around it very easily. At several points during the installation procedure we were actually at a loss as to how to remove the retention clamp again. A fellow editor actually returned his model to the store out of sheer desperation.

Another problem is that the size of the cooler makes access to the retention clip very difficult, effectively making installation of this model impossible on many boards. Actually removing the cooler once mounted may not be possible on some boards since there is not enough free space around the cooler to pry the retention clip out of the mounting bracket.

The cooling performance of the CNPS8700LED is only average. At its lowest fan setting, the CPU temperature reached 80°C, while the processor is cooled to 71°C at full speed. However, the fan becomes so loud at this setting that working with the system is not a very enjoyable experience. Noise is only acceptable in the lower third of the speed spectrum, and the cooler will begin humming or droning at higher settings. The fan produces good airflow, though, so the fact that the CPU remains so hot seems to be a good indication that the heatpipes are unable to conduct the heat away from the processor effectively. It looks like Zalman's engineers need to re-evaluate their design.

Zalman sells other coolers that are far superior to this model in every respect: installation, cooling performance and noise. The cooler can be found starting at $50; considering the problems we encountered, this is much too high.


Mounting components

Retail box

Technical Data
CPU 100% load idle
Temperature 12V 71°C 37°C
Temperature 5V 80.5°C 38°C
Noise 45.0 dB(A) 38.5 dB(A)
Fan Speed 2380 RPM 1100 RPM
Weight 586 grams  
Intel Socket 775  
AMD Socket AM2 AM2+
  939 754

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  • Thank you, been wondering what cooler to buy for an OCed Quad, and high temps are good when dying :D
  • sorrii
    ... must be stupid ...! The fan is istalled at wrong side of the cooler ...
  • Thermalright FTW!! Every time.
  • suspect
    I cant believe that photo...sorrii I am with you only a nutjob would use or test it in that configuration!!!
    Noctua clearly state orientation of their coolers and that is ass about.
    Every other review I have read rates the NH-U12F much more highly... always near best in class
  • wkornf
    your numbers of near 70C on every cooler is outrageous, if those numbers are true not a single one of these coolers would keep a computer stable in a closed case outside the northeast. and a couple minutes isnt a good measure of cpus final temp, if u look over a temp log after a long game session you know it creeps up. to many factors.
  • dragunover
    Bullshit article.I agree with wkornf.

    If my Artic silver 5 + Scythe Katana 2 cooler(for only a massive price of 25 USD! I can keep my outdated Pentium D under 100 degrees fahrenheit,infact around HALF of these tests,even under water cooling? Wow,according to this,I should actually worry about getting a quad core because of the heat.And no,I don't have any fans in my case,it's open,only fans are from my GPU,CPU,and my PSU.
    No extra 4 250mm performance fans.And an X38? That's just unbelievable.
  • eaglestrike7339
    Do you guys get the point? They maxed out everything, so the cooler could show off the best that it could do in the most extreme conditions.

    A good article, i especially like the tests for installation and sound, as those are what i would look into most when purchasing a cooler, and unlike CPUs, there are usually no charts to go along with.
  • suspect
    eaglestrike... do you see mounting the noctua fan in the wrong direction as good testing???
    They have it on the top side of the sink flowing in a downward direction!!!
    it goes against basic laws of physics and logic.
  • cliffro
    alot of the coolers listed of a particular design are installed all goofy like, Of course on their open setup it doesn't make much difference(i think)

    but when installed in a normal ATX case, would be detrimental to the coolers performance. Especially coolers designed similar to the Noctua and Scythe Ninja plus.

    I can't be certain about others but Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7 Pro is supposed to be installed like this(one would assume others of similar design would be the same)
  • suspect
    cliffro I think to some degree you are correct but it still does not follow good practice when supposedly collecting data to represent consumer products.
    As these have published manufacturer recomended installations why would you reverse it.
    I recently read a review of the latest Noctua cooler at Legitreviews
    where Noctua actually contacted them on this very issue... as a result they retested and found some improvement in cooling.
  • You guys might want to reexamine the Zerotherm Nirvana NV120... I just picked one up (after much research), and all of the problems mentioned in the review seem to be fixed in the newer models... no more metal base, no more metal shavings, and near silent operation except at full speed. I've been using Zalman CNPS coolers ever since the 7000 series, and will likely be switching to the NV120 for performance systems now. Just my 2c
  • ibender
    Any cooler that uses the push pin system should get a zero for installation. That system completely sucks. I'd rather remove a motherboard and install a backplate than use that push pin garbage.
  • wkornf
    what exactly did they "max out" to achieve these temps. to me it looks like a qx6850 quad core running stock settings. which is a processor i know doesnt have load temps of 70c with those coolers.
  • wkornf
    what exactly did they "max out" to achieve these temps. to me it looks like a qx6850 quad core running stock settings. which is a processor i know doesnt have load temps of 70c with those coolers.
  • guyladouche
    sorrii... must be stupid ...! The fan is istalled at wrong side of the cooler ...

    Nothing's wrong or stupid with that setup--two fans are used in a push-pull arrangement--the bottom fan is blowing into the cooler, the top fan is pulling air away from the cooler to exhaust it from the cooler.
  • suspect
    @guyladouche... actually it all depends which cooler you are talking about,

    As said the Noctua is setup with the fan on top blowing down, which is the only config that Noctua dont support.
    The Thermalright has the fan in the middle blowing up so it looks like there is no real consistancy in the test methods... but I would like to hear from the testers in case they found some reason to use each particular setup.
  • random_2
    I'm still looking for the chart!!!!!! Ummmm...Am I missing something? I keep clicking on these Cooler Chart links and keep getting lengthly articles. Would be great ...I mean if we are going to call this a chart... to have an "at a glance" single page so we can make easy comparisons.
  • suspect
    page 17 click on index and scroll down...:o)
  • random_2
    Thanks bro.....:-)
  • paranoja
    Well my Scythe Mugen (Infinity) does the job...and it`s cheap + it can be equipped with 2 120mm fans ;)
    Actually I`m wondering why it is not included in these tests!?
  • grantaccess

    I think the Noctua review and faq you're referring to doesn't apply to the model that is reviewed here. The NH-C12P (reviewed by Legit Reviews)that shouldn't be mounted in one orientation has heatpipes that leave the block in one direction. If it's mounted with the heatpipes oriented upward a thermal trap is created and the fluid doesn't cycle properly. The NH-U12F reviewed here has 2 sets of heatpipes orienting o n opposite sides. The reviewer has this cooler mounted with the heatpipes horizontally oriented. I assume that this would be the proper orientation so that neither side has a thermal trap. The faq for the NH-U12P (closest I could find) doesn't mention orientation. It does mention mounting the fan to push air through the heatsink and out the case vent but I think this is just so that the hot air isn't straining other cooling components inside the case.
  • Thermalright IFX-14.
    You say at the beginning of this artical that if a cooler requires the mobo removed installation gets zero points.
    But you gave this cooler install points even though you said the mobo had to be removed.
  • What about the one I use? The Xigmatek Rifle?
  • jcknouse
    I know this is coming far after the article was written, but I have to defend the Zerotherm Nirvana NV120. I bought it as the cooler to use on my new Phenomx4 9850 rig. It keeps my rig at 39C steadily even after having been run for hours, and that's with an ambient temp of about 22-23C in my house...plus the room heats up in the process so that doesn't help after 3 hours.

    I noticed that the build you have uses an Intel processor, which requires all sorts of putting bolts/screws/anchors into the motherboard with the bracket. I agree, the metal flakings from the Intel mounting hardware are a danger. However, is it really necessary for all that to mount an Intel processor...or is AMD that understands the concept of one-clip, distributed force?

    But, Zerotherm I think gets a bum wrap with a 0 install score. Mine on the Phenom was easy as hell to get on...just a little tough to get off the CPU without removing the power supply lol

    Love the articles tho. It's what helped me pick my cooler. Thanks.