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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.10.02]
Parts by: Thermaltake, Zalman, Seagate

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UPDATE - Since this article was written 3 years ago, a lot of the information found within is somewhat dated. For information on the latest in Silent PC Hardware, please visit our affiliate site, How To Build a Silent PC.


Zalman CNPS6500A-Cu

By now I'm sure you've seen this baby around various hardware sites.  The general consensus seems to be "It's a damn good solution for noise prevention but don't OC with it!".

Well we're not going to be OCing the P4 2.80 today, but realize that this is the hottest Northwood chip you can get today.  The Zalman does come with a large, low-RPM fan capable of adjusting speed to keep the noise as low as possible.  We're not going to bother with it today; we're trying to build a SILENT PC here, not a QUIET one!

The CNPS6500A-Cu is indeed capable of cooling the Northwood 2.80 without a fan, even according to Zalman's site.  If you're running a Williamette, you probably won't want to go higher than 2.0 GHz however.

One issue you may come across with the 6000A is the fact that it is absolutely HUGE, and may not fit on your board.  Things were VERY snug on the D850EMV2 we're using for this rig, but with some coaxing (and slight bending) I was able to get it in (actually it helped to reverse the installation, so the bolts were on the other side).  Zalman has since released a "6500B" version that uses the regular P4 retention clip, and most issues should be resolved.  The new one is slightly smaller, but looks to perform just as well as the one we're using here.


To test the performance of the Zalman cooler in our DEAD SILENT rig, we used the P4's handy on-core thermal diode.  We compared it against the 2.80 in a 'normal' rig, using a stock Intel cooler.  To stress the CPU, we ran Prime95 until the temperature leveled off.

There you have it, not too bad considering there is not a single fan around the CPU! I know those temps are not exactly spectacular, but the whole point of Zalman's heatsinks are to offer ENOUGH performance with little to NO noise at all.

Update: I have had some questions regarding the P4's heat protection kicking in at this temperature.  Well as you can see by the stock speed temperature reading, we're not that far off the way it was designed to be run at full load.  Like I said before, these 2.80's are the hottest Northwoods around!

Anyway, just to check if the P4 was being 'underclocked' at full load, I ran some benchmarks with it running at the high temp, and with extra cooling at a low temp, and sure enough, the numbers were right on.

Now let's see if we can cook our GeForce 4!

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