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Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet

Zalman usually impresses us with the quality of its products, but quality doesn’t always come cheap. A $60 Web price makes this one of the more expensive single-fan coolers in today’s test.

Great news for fans of motherboards not based on an LGA 1156 interface is that the CNPS10X Quiet also supports LGA 1366 and LGA 775 platforms, in addition to AMD’s Socket 939, AM2, AM2+, and AM3 standard brackets. However, we are a little concerned about how such a large cooler is installed in Core i5 and Core i7 motherboards without a support plate, using little more than four nuts from underneath to support its top-side mounting bracket.

Zalman’s Fan Mate 2 is yet another expense that could help balance the value in the CNPS10X Quiet. However, we prefer dynamic fan speed through BIOS and the included three-pin fan does not support the pulse-width modulation method that so many motherboards enable.

A gold-plated, polished base is one of Zalman’s quality traditions. Yet, like most polished coolers, this one isn’t completely flat. Thermal paste fills any small voids that result from installing a heat sink on a processor’s heat spreader. The gold is thick enough to prevent oxidization without being so thick as to hinder heat transfer to the copper plate beneath.

Installing the CNPS10X Quiet begins by adding its plastic bracket to the motherboard, a process as easy (or difficult) as putting screws through the top side and adding tiny plastic washers and nuts to the bottom. This must be done before the motherboard is installed in a case.

The cooler-retention bracket clamps the heat sink base firmly over the CPU via spring-loaded screws. The fan must be removed to gain access to the front screws, but wire clips make its removal and replacement a simple process.

Orientation of the AMD-compatible clip forces an updraft rather than cross-draft installation on most motherboards. This should make the CNPS10X Quiet an Intel-only cooler design in the minds of most enthusiasts.

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