The Zalman CNPS9300 AT cooler was tested on a Pentium 4 EE based test rig consisting of the components listed below.  The ambient room air temperature was maintained at 23?C +/-0.5?C.  Four instances of CPUBurn were executed at the same time (two to load both physical cores, and two to load the two virtual HyperThreading cores), which resulted in 100% CPU usage.  Tests were conducted at three different voltages to see how the cooler performed with varying degrees of airflow.  A small bench power supply was used to control the speed of the fan: 12V hi speed, 9V medium speed, and 5V low speed). 

Test Rig Configuration

•    Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard
•    Pentium 4 Extreme Edition dual core 955 @ 3.46 GHz
•    (2) Corsair CM2X512-8000UL DDR2
•    NVIDIA 8800 GTX 768 MB video card
•    Western Digital WD1200JD S-ATA HDD
•    SilverStone Olympia 750W PSU
•    Windows XP Pro with SP2

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A small Omega thermocouple is attached to the side of the 955 IHS with Arctic Alumina thermal epoxy to provide accurate CPU temperatures.  The measurement equipment used during testing included:

•    CPU/IHS – Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
•    Ambient air – Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
•    Extech Model 407738 digital sound level meter (accuracy +/- 1.5 dB)

Software Utilities

•    Lavalys Everest Ultimate Edition 2006 (hardware monitoring)
•    CPUBurn (load the CPU)

For comparison, I’m including the results from several other popular HSFs we recently tested on the LGA775 platform.  All HSFs were tested on the same EE 955 CPU under the same conditions.

•    Thermalright True Black 120 with Nexus, Panaflo L1A and Delta SHE
•    Thermalright IFX-14 with Panaflo L1A and Delta SHE
•    Thermalright SI-128 SE with various fans
•    Scythe Andy Samurai Master with bundled Scythe 120mm fan
•    Enzotech Ultra-X with bundled Delta 120mm fan
•    Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX with bundled fan
•    Thermalright Ultra-120 with Antec TriCool 3-speed fan
•    Thermalright XP-120 with Antec TriCool 3-speed fan
•    Stock Intel HSF

The following data is presented for comparative purposes only.  Your actual results may be different depending on the variables unique to your system (CPU, overclock, ambient temperature, case air flow, temperature monitoring, etc).  

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Amb – Ambient room air temperature
CPU – Temperature reported by Everest utility (internal diode)
Tc – Temperature obtained with calibrated thermocouple attached to 955 IHS
Delta T – Fully loaded Tc temperature rise above ambient temperature
dBA – Sound pressure level recorded 3’ away (background ~29 dBA)

Note: My original P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard died awhile back and the CPU temperature reported by the replacement board is so far off (~20°C) its not worth mentioning – the thermocouple attached to the 955 IHS is much more reliable.

The Zalman CNPS9300 AT CPU cooler did an acceptable job of keeping the fully loaded CPU cool, however it is not in the same performance league as some of the larger (and more expensive) CPU coolers on the market today.  At least it kept the CPU from thermal throttling.  Unfortunately the integrated fan didn’t live up to expectations and actually proved to be rather noisy.  The fan emits an irritating noise even at low speeds and just gets worse as the rpm’s ramp up.

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