Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Review


Test Rig:
Intel i7 920
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P
OCZ Platinum Series DDR3-1600 6GB Triple-Channel Kit
Sparkle Calibre P980X+ geForce 9800GTX+
OCZ EliteXStream 800 Watt PSU
NZXT Tempest Extended midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit

Before purchase, you need to make sure that the CNPS 9900LED will fit in your case. The cooler itself is about 6.25″, add another 1/2″ or so with the height of your motherboard offsets, thickness of the motherboard, and height of the CPU socket. Mounted, it is approximately 6 3/4″ from the motherboard to the top of the cooler. The basic ATX midtower has 7″ – 7.25″ from motherboard tray to left side panel, so if you have no protrusions into the case from the side panel such as recessed windows, side fans, or ducting, the 9900LED should fit. To be safe, if you have a side window with a fan, remove the fan, replace the side panel, and use a tape measure from the motherboard tray to the inside of the window. My NZXT Tempest has a recessed window, and leaves about 1/8″ of clearance.

Prior to installation, you need to remove the plastic shipping ring. There is no need to leave it in place, though I suppose that with the massive heat dissipation area, the cooler would still work with it in place. Zalman recommends being very careful with the cooler after the ring is removed, but to be honest, it doesn’t feel very fragile, just heavy.

Secure the mounting hardware for your CPU socket. For LGA 1366, there are a couple of brackets and four gold screws. It is mandatory to use the gold screws with the LGA 1366 base. If not.well.go to the User Reviews at my favorite online retailer, and see how many complaints there are about stripped out screws when installing this cooler.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

Prep the cooler base and CPU surface by cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth. Apply thermal compound to the CPU by the manufacturer’s instructions. I opted to use the compound that Zalman included with the cooler. Rather than squirt a rice sized glob on the heatspreader surface, you paint the compound on like nail polish.

Tilt the cooler and place the LGA 1366 bracket over the cooler base. Look closely at the base to determine the orientation of the bracket, the cooler can be installed in all four directions.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

Secure the LGA 1366 black plastic base, it is larger than the LGA 775 one. Place it over the CPU socket, the bases of the metal screw sockets will be visible when the base is correctly placed. Make sure the nylon grommets are oriented properly on the gold screws, the large side is toward the screw head, the small side is toward the motherboard. Screw the gold screws into the base, just snug them up, be careful not to overtighten.

For some reason Zalman opted not to use a baseplate mounted under the motherboard. Undoubtedly they tested this design, but it is a little scary, four screws with fairly small nylon grommets supporting this cooler that weighs well over 1.5 pounds.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

Place the cooler on the base. Observe the cooler base and bracket to make sure that the 9900LED is properly positioned in the bracket.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

Alternate tightening the bracket screws a little at a time to properly seat the cooler. Tighten until they are snug. Connect the fan wire, and you’re done. Install the motherboard into the case.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

The 9900LED looks pretty wild in my case, especially in conjunction with the cooler on my Sparkle Calibre 9800GTX+. I love copper in a case, and these two coolers just look like they belong together.

Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler

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