Zalman CNPS9500 AT
The fan is "embedded" into the heatsink, with the fins acting as the side walls. This unique design not only protects allows all the airflow generated by the fan to cool down the fins, increasing its cooling efficiency.
The fan used in this cooler is almost the same size as a generic 92mm fan. It is rated at a maximum speed of 2650 RPM, with a noise level of 27.5 dB.
At its maximum speed, it's not particularly loud but it would not be acceptable to those who like their computers to be quiet.
If you have a few case fans running at full speed, then the noise from this fan shouldn't bother you. For silent cooling enthusiasts, the noise might not be acceptable though.
In case you are wondering, the fan is removable for easy cleaning. When it collects too much dust, you can easily remove it for a thorough cleaning, so no worries.
Issues With The Zalman CNPS9500 AT
Fan Speed Control?
Wait... How do I control the fan speed? The box says "Automatic Variable Fan Speed Control" but without a motherboard that supports fan control via a 4-pin connector, the fan will always run at full speed!
So far, I have yet to find a motherboard that comes with a four-pin connector. Fortunately, you can still plug the connector to any 3-pin connector on your motherboard. However, it will always run at full speed.
This isn't a really big issue, as a Molex voltage converter isn't too hard to DIY or buy. Depending on how your 3-pin connector looks like, you might need to mod it a little to fit the fan's 4-pin connector.
Unfortunately, the speed selection using the Molex converter is quite limited. It only allows you to control the fan speed by changing the voltage from 5V to 7V to 12V, that is unless you solder a variable resistor to the wire. If you already have a fan controller, then this wouldn't be an issue for you.
No Socket 754/939 Support
For some reason, Zalman chose not to support the installation of this cooler on AMD Socket 754 and Socket 939 motherboards.
It's a real shame. All they needed to do is merely include a retention clip with a different length! It's already something they are doing for the LED version which we will be looking at next.
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