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As silent & quiet as it gets with a Zalman CPU cooler

By Robert B.

On my quest to build a quiet computer, one item I had yet to address was my CPU fan.

After upgrading my system fans and installing a quiet Zalman power supply, I still had some ambient noise coming from my PC.

I tracked down the noise to come from my CPU fan and heatsink, so I knew it was time for it to go.

After everything was said and done, I settled on a Zalman CPU cooler; not your basic processor heatsink and fan combo! Hereís a little info on how I reached that decision:

If youíve ever shopped around for a CPU cooler youíll know there is no shortage of selection. Thereís everything available from expensive water cooled systems to fan-less models, etc.

For a quiet system, a silent water cooled system would have been ideal, but I wasnít prepared to spend that much, especially with much cheaper alternatives on the market. In addition, I just didnít feel comfortable with a heatsink by itself and no fan; it would be too easy for something to overheat.

By ignoring those two options above, my selection was really trimmed down. The reason I turned to Zalman almost immediately is because of the experience Iíve had with their power supply; I know their definition of quiet really is ďquiet.Ē They have numerous cooling set ups, so I had to make sure I got one compatible with my processor socket size.

After placing my order, my Zalman CPU cooler soon arrived! It came with the heatsink/fan (naturally), thermal grease, instruction booklet, fan speed adjuster, pack of nipples, along with special adaptor brackets and screws.

I immediately inspected the heatsink and fan for quality. Letís just say Zalman has done it again, I was really impressed with the craftsmanship. But I didnít stare too long; I wanted to get it installed.

One thing to note, this style of cooler is much different than my previous one, so the install is different than my previous processor heatsink install posted here.

The main distinction besides the different appearances is how they attach to my motherboard. The previous heatsink installed with metal clamps, while my new one requires special adaptor brackets.

These brackets are pretty simple to install. Take one end and slide it into an opening on the heatsink bracket of the motherboard, and then do so with the other end. After doing the other side, you should have what I show below.

On a side note, it didnít feel like these brackets set in there tight. But rest assured that they tighten up later when you screw the heatsink / fan down. There is one screw on either side and I recommend screwing both in a little before tightening things down. Make sure everything fits snug and the heatsink doesnít interfere with anything else. And donít forget to apply that thermal grease to the CPU to aid in heat transfer!

The final step is to attach the fan speed controller to the fan and then to the motherboard. Try to find a place to tuck it securely out of the way; my case had a ledge available. I eventually plan to Velcro it to that spot to secure it better. To keep everything quiet, I turned the fan speed to the lowest possible setting.

So whatís the final result? Well it certainly looks nice in there! Iím really impressed with the heatsink design; with the pure copper center surrounded by pure aluminum. But the numbers never lie, so I ran some pre-install and post-install tests; the results are below:

Old Heatsink New Zalman Heatsink
CPU RPMs 4200 1400
CPU Temp 111 įF 112 įF

No, those arenít typos. The Zalman fan spins only a third of the revolutions per minute (thatís why itís quiet), but keeps the processor just as cool. I obtained each of these figures after running many demanding applications on my PC for a full hour on separate days.

Why did I see these results? My guess is the Zalman heatsink is much more efficient at dissipating heat than my old one, and this is apparent by its careful design and materials. I would guess that my CPU could have been a little cooler with the old heatsink simply because the thermal grease was older and a little drier, but that difference would have been minimal.

But at the end of the day, I was very impressed with this upgrade. The Zalman CPU cooler certainly does a great job keeping my system chilled with literally no noise. It is truly the best of both worlds!

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