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Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black Review: The Dark Horse Value

No RGBs. Just great quiet cooling on a budget.

Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black delivers great thermal performance for just $45, making it a downright impressive value for your cooling dollars.

For

  • + Excellent performance
  • + Budget price
  • + Extremely silent operation

Against

  • - Spring tension screws are not integrated into mounting base

Enthusiasts of a certain age will recall Zalman as a mainstay of the cooling business, going back more than two decades. And although the company suffered a series of financial and legal issues several years ago, it’s looking to regain the notoriety and forum credibility of yesteryear. It’s tough to make a judgement based on just one product. but if the CNPS10x Performa Black is any indication, Zalman is back on the road to quiet thermal dominance.

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black is a mid-size, quad-heatpipe cooler that features a jet-black motif and a single, ultra-silent 135mm fan that rips through CPU thermal loads for your multi-core desktop enthusiast processor. As we’ll see in testing, it delivers great performance at low noise levels, while landing at a wallet-pleasing $45.

Specifications

Height6.125" / 155.6mm
Width5.38" / 136.7mm
Depth2.27" / 69.9mm (3.75" / 95.3mm w/ fan)
Base 1.30" / 33mm
Assy. Offset1.0" / 25.4mm rear (0.0 centered w/fan)
Cooling Fans(1) 135 x 25mm
Connectors(1) 4-pin PWM
Weight29.7pz / 842g
Intel Sockets115x, 1200, 2011, 2066
AMD SocketsAM4
Warranty2 years
Web Price$45

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black ships with mounting hardware to support most Intel desktop CPU sockets and AMD AM4, by making use of universal backplate. Hardware is plated with a sparkly, nickel-plated finish, and rubber tension gaskets are provided for both AMD and Intel bracket mount orientations. A small packet of Zalman ZM-STC8 thermal paste is also provided to get the CNPS10x Performa Black up and running on your rig.

Zalman covers the CNPS10x Performa Black with a 2-year warranty.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

A set of four copper heatpipes allows the CNPS10x Performa Black to wick heat away from the CPU integrated heat spreader (IHS) and up into the cooling tower with a slightly staggered offset. With overall dimensions of 6.13 x 5.38 x 2.27 inches (155.6 x 136.7 x 69.9 mm) without the cooling fan, the heatsink is somewhat thick compared to most mid-size towers, giving the CNPS10x a rather substantial surface area.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The set of four heatpipes are direct-contact, milled and set into the mounting base of the CNPS10x Performa Black. One thing to note is that the spring-set screws are not permanently fixed into the mounting bracket. That might not seem that much of an issue, but during installation and initial tensioning this does make for some awkward steps until the screw threads are started.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The base of the CNPS10x is milled completely flat; there is no evidence of any ambient light sneaking between our steel ruler and the heatsink base.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

With the CNPS10x Performa Black mounted, our Arctic MX-4 compound spreads very nicely, produces a very uniform contact patch and sits nicely across all four of the direct-contact heatpipes.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Zalman includes a PWM-managed 135mm PWM fan rated up to 1500mm. The fan is held in place with a pair of wire snap clips and is adjustable so it can clear taller memory DIMMs, if needed.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The installation of the Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black is straightforward and shows the slight offset of the cooler over the CPU prior to fan installation. Also of note: One tension spring is visible on the right side of the photo next to our Corsair Vengeance LPX memory. Because these springs are not fixed to the mounting bracket, it can be tricky during installation to align the cooler and provide adequate tension to begin evenly threading the screws.

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  • plateLunch
    So does this take over the top spot in the Budget category from the Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim 2?
    Reply
  • Udyr
    plateLunch said:
    So does this take over the top spot in the Budget category from the Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim 2?
    The ID-Cooling SE-224-XT is arguably a better budget solution than these two.
    Reply
  • VforV
    Udyr said:
    The ID-Cooling SE-224-XT is arguably a better budget solution than these two.
    I can't find the price on that cooler you mention anywhere (out of stock and also hard to find in EU), but all I know is that my own cooler which you can see in this test too, the Arctic Freezer 34 e-Sports Duo is only 1-2 degrees hotter and a little louder only maxed out, but not at 50% though and is cheaper that the Zalman at regular price.

    I've been using the Arctic one for almost 2 years now and it's great.

    That being said the Zalman cooler looks nice too and I've seen some shops with discounts, so it's a good deal when discounted.

    edit: The one important difference is that Zalman is rated for a TDP of 180w, while Arctic for 210w.
    Reply
  • Udyr
    VforV said:
    I can't find the price on that cooler you mention anywhere (out of stock and also hard to find in EU), but all I know is that my own cooler which you can see in this test too, the Arctic Freezer 34 e-Sports Duo is only 1-2 degrees hotter and a little louder only maxed out, but not at 50% though and is cheaper that the Zalman at regular price.

    I've been using the Arctic one for almost 2 years now and it's great.

    That being said the Zalman cooler looks nice too and I've seen some shops with discounts, so it's a good deal when discounted.

    edit: The one important difference is that Zalman is rated for a TDP of 180w, while Arctic for 210w.
    Yes, they're kinda hard to get in the EU. Maybe they're selling like hot cakes after reviewers have provided their blessings and recommendations, or simply are not massively known in that region.

    US - AZ: $31.99Germany - AZ: €44.52
    Reviews:
    https://www.techpowerup.com/review/id-cooling-se-224-xt-basic-se-224-xt-argb/https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/9624/id-cooling-se-224-xt-black-cpu-cooler/index.htmlhttps://www.enostech.com/id-cooling-se-224-xt-basic-cpu-air-cooler/https://www.eteknix.com/id-cooling-se-224-xt-argb-air-cooler-review/all/1/
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Any chance of adding the DeepCool Gammax 400 V2 to the mix, please? I bought the first one on your very strong recommendation here ( https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/deepcool-gammaxx-400-slim-tower-cpu-cooler,4460.html ) and it has served me well for five years. I recently got the V2 and it's great, just like the first one. I think that adding it in would be of great value to the budget minded reader. <3
    Reply