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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)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black isn’t leading the pack during load tests, but stop to consider that we’re comparing some of the best heatpipe coolers we’ve tested. The CNPS10x Performa Black hangs just behind the pack from the big-air leaders and does exceptionally well against some typical mid-size and performance-value solutions.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The 135mm PWM fan on the CNPS10x Performa Black is rated up to 1500 RPM, but we do see it squeaking past the advertised box maximum, although still within standard +/- 10% deviation.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black isn’t absolutely silent, but it is still incredibly quiet, especially considering all the coolers listed in the testing group above.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Strong performance and good noise levels aren’t quite enough to keep up with the cooler, quieter larger solutions in the test group, but the CNPS10x Performa Black does do quite well compared to similar-sized and -priced solutions further down the list.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black is currently priced at $45, giving it an excellent performance value boost, so we see it jump quite a bit ahead in our final chart. Solid performance and quiet operation are both great, but doing it for almost half the cost of the competition is impressive.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Thermal imaging with our FLIR ONE Pro shows focused thermal dissipation around the heatpipes on the CNPS10x Performa Black, with consistent heat bloom showing the exchange of energy from the heatpipes into the cooling fin stack. At 100% and 50%, the cooling pattern remains consistent. Although at full speed, the CNPS10x is able to move more heat out of the cooler, and therefore more heat away from the CPU.

A low price point and cooling potential that nips at the heels of the pack leaders puts the Zalman CNPS10x Performa Black in a strong position to be a system builder favorite when extra dollars need to be spent on other components. Zalman has given the system build community an excellent, no frills cooling option that looks great and lets you focus your money where it needs to go.

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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