The three heat pipes go out of the cooler’s base and wind around the heatsink and return into the base. Therefore, an inexperienced user might get an impression that the CNPS9900 MAX has six rather than three heat pipes.
It’s hard to say anything definite about the contact between the fins and the pipes. The marks I can see there resemble some thermal grease rather than solder although soldering would be more efficient, of course.
The same goes for the cooler’s base:
It’s hard to see any marks of solder in the places of contact between the heat pipes and the base because the heatsink and the pipes are all nickel-plated.
But I can say it quite definitely that the base of my CNPS9900 MAX is not flat. It is curved along and across the base:
However, the high pressure and the convex surface of my six-core Intel processor resulted in a satisfactory imprint of thermal grease on the cooler:
By the way, although not ideally flat, the 40x38mm base is finished perfectly:
The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is equipped with a large 11-blade 130mm impeller although Zalman’s specs mention a 135mm fan (the ZP13525BLM model):
It is fastened on two pins attached to the top of the cooler's base. The speed of the fan is PWM controlled in two ranges. If the cooler is connected to a mainboard directly, the fan speed is going to be in a range of 900 to 1700 RPM at 18 to 30 dBA of noise. And if you connect the included resistor to the fan, the top speed limit lowers to 1500 RPM (27 dBA) while the bottom limit remains the same. This is a rather odd choice of speeds because the cooler is going to be noisy in both cases. I would prefer the resistor variant to reduce the speed range to 600-1100 RPM, for example.
Such parameters as air flow, static pressure and the service life of the ball bearing are not specified.
The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX comes with two types of highlighting: blue and red.
The color is indicated on the product box.
The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is compatible with all modern PC platforms. The user guide details its installation procedure which is actually the same as with the Zalman CNPS10X Flex we tested earlier. The cooler is fastened to the mainboard with a back-plate that has detachable tips.
You should also attach the type of fasteners to the cooler's base that match your platform: AMD (on the left) or Intel (on the right).
The cooler is then put on the CPU and fastened to the back-plate with four screws using a hex-head L-shaped key.
The pressure is very high: the steel feet of the fastening mechanism bend, almost touching the surface of the mainboard.
When installed into a system case, the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX looks quite original and pretty:
Its efficiency does not depend on its orientation as I found out during a brief preliminary test, so for the main test I positioned it in such a way that its air flow was directed towards the back panel of the system case.