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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [12.09.04]
Manufactured by: Zalman

Lowest Price Finder: $50.99
SpaceCenter: $41.00 

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It Just Keeps Getting Bigger

Zalman first made a big splash back in 2002, when we were one of the first sites to review their fanless CPU cooler. Back then, it was a Northwood 2.80 GHz we were using it on - that was the fastest CPU around at the time. Since then, Zalman has refined their CPU cooler designs, and eventually was required to add a fan to the mix.

While they added a fan, they tried to maintain the most silent operation possible. To do this, they designed a radial heatsink, with a large, low-RPM fan in the middle.

Today their CPU cooler takes another step in evolution, in order to facilitate today's faster, hotter CPU's. Today we're going to push their new CNPS7700-Cu to its limits with a Pentium 4 560 (3.6 Ghz).

So what is that 'step in evolution' the new CNPS took? Well, take a look:

It's freaking HUGE!

The heatsink itself measures in at an astounding 136mm in diameter - that's 5.35" for you imperial folks. The fan itself is a custom 120mm fan, which runs at 2000 RPM at full voltage. At that point, it generates a volume of about 32 dB - quite loud. But that's not what we're interested in here... In order to give control over fan speeds, Zalman has included the "FAN MATE 2"

The FM2 is basically a revamp of the original FAN MATE included in previous Zalman coolers. It allows you to ramp the voltage between 5v and 12v. For the most part, you're probably going to want to keep it set to 'minimum'.

Unlike the original FM, which was quite cumbersome to use due to its design, this new model has one main cable coming from the control unit itself. From there, you plug one end into the motherboard CPU fan header for power, and the other to the fan. This allows you to route the wire out of the case; a piece of velcro is even included if you want to stick it to the side of the case itself.

One thing you should be aware of with the CNPS7700 is that it is VERY heavy - 918g according to Zalman. That's just over 2 lbs! While I didn't come across any motherboard-bending issues, you WILL need to take care while transporting this thing around. Luckily, Zalman includes some extremely well-designed installation brackets to give the most secure installation possible. We'll get to that on the next page.

There is also an Aluminum-Copper combo version that weighs a 'mere' 600g. This version should perform nearly as well; according to Zalman it is capable of everything the full copper version is in 'silent mode', with the exception of the P4 560. In that case, you'd need to crank up the fan speed a bit.

Price-wise, you're looking at the high end of the spectrum for fan-based CPU coolers. We spotted the copper version at for $50.99. SpaceCenter Systems has a good deal going on right now, and are offering it for $41 plus shipping. The Al-Cu is a bit more reasonable; sells that one for $41, and SpaceCenter has it for $33. Considering that the Al-Cu version seems to be just as acceptable for all but the hottest CPU's, and it is a lot lighter, it seems like the better buy overall.

Next Page: (Installation)