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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)

For our CPU cooling tests, we use the same hardware, overclock and configuration for every test to minimize environment variables in testing. This allows for all results across all coolers tested on the platform to be viable as side-by-side examination for direct compare/contrast.

CPUIntel i9-10850k LGA1200 (Comet Lake), all 10 cores 4.6Ghz @ 1.190v (3.60Ghz stock speed, single core boost @ 5.2Ghz)
MotherboardMSI Z490 MEG Godlike (bios vers. 7C70v12)
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LPX, 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3000
StorageCorsair MP600 m.2 2280 NVMe, 500GB
GraphicsGigabyte GTX 1050Ti
Power Supplybe quiet! Dark Power Pro11 1200w
ChassisCorsair Graphite 760T
MonitoringCrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU, 4x Dallas One Wire WR-DOW-Y17 sensors
Fan ControlCorsair Commander Pro, 100%/50% PWM Speed profiles (liquid cooling pump always @100%, if applicable)
OSWindows 10 Pro 64bit
Networking Disconnected, not used
Thermal CompoundArctic MX-4

Comparisons are based on data collected from testing performed on our new Intel i9-10850k system, including re-visiting many previously covered products which were originally covered on the prior testing platform which pivoted around an i7-5930k (4.20ghz @1.20v).

All data reported for this article has been collected on the current Intel i9-10850k platform and will be maintained as like-for-like evaluation of ongoing cooling coverage. We’ve recently swapped the taller, Corsair Dominator RGB DIMMs with Corsair Vengeance LPX for lower-profile memory allowing for higher cooler compatibility for testing.

Prime95 v29.4b8 (no AVX) is used for two-hour intervals, one managing fans at 50% PWM and the other at 100% PWM with RPM measurements being taken every 3 seconds and averaged across the duration of each 2-hour capture. Omitting AVX instruction sets allows for accurate, 100% loads at chosen clock speeds, while allowing AVX instructions would provide higher, albeit, unrealistic synthetic CPU loads and excessive heat production, less indicative of real-world use.

This also allows for a greater range CPU coolers to be tested and compared without the need to configure the system differently for smaller coolers which may not handle the excessive thermal loads being generated during testing, while larger coolers might be better equipped to manage heat output produced by the i9-10850k.

While the test platform is quite capable of a 10-core overclock at 5.0Ghz and 1.265v, we were seeing 360mm AIOs struggle to keep core temperatures in check at lower fan speeds, providing insight that the enthusiast-grade i9’s need excellent cooling if the goal is overclocking.

HWInfo64 is used for real-time core temperature readout, thermal throttling alerts, motherboard power consumption, CPU speed and logging of data, while a CrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU is used to monitor and later average both ambient room (2 probes) and motherboard voltage regulator heatsink (2 probes).

With these temperature readings collected, CPU Core is defined as an average of all CPU core temperatures reported once per second for the entirety of the testing run from HWInfo64 data. This value is then taken as an offset difference from the reported ambient room temperature collected from the CFA-633-TMI-KU (also once per second and averaged). CPU PWM is defined by the voltage regulator heatsink direct temperature probe as an offset different from the same reported ambient room temperature reading for the same CPU Core test (100%, 50%). This helps define a working model of how well the evaluated cooler performs while also cooling nearby hardware also under loads, like our overclocked motherboard voltage regulator heatsink.

MORE: Best CPU Coolers: AIO and Air Coolers

MORE: How to Buy the Right CPU Cooler: A Guide for 2021

MORE: All CPU Cooler Content

  • 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