Articles: Cooling

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Design and Functionality

Our regular readers will easily see Zalman CNPS11X Extreme in the new CNPS11X Performa: we once again see a V-shaped heatsink pierced with two strict rows of heatpipes:



However, the Performa modification looks much simpler than the Extreme, because it doesn’t have the nickel-plating, the logo-shaped top plastic cover on the heatsink or a modding cooling fan with LED lighting. We clearly see all the inevitable consequences of the price reduction.

The cooler is 154x135x80 mm in size and weighs 450 grams, which is 150 grams less than the Extreme version.


The cooler heatsink is a closed contour that consists of two heatsink arrays, top and bottom covers and a fan:


When South Korean engineers designed their CNPS11X Performa cooler, they were obviously trying to use the entire airflow created with maximum efficiency and guarantee minimal resistance on its way.

Each heatsink array consists of 53 aluminum fins, each 0.35 mm thick, pressed against the heatpipes 1.7 mm away from one another:

The declared effective heatsink surface size is pretty modest for a contemporary tower cooler and is claimed to be only 6,000cm2 (1,600 cm2 smaller than by the Extreme model). The cooler’s thermal resistance shouldn’t exceed 0.092 °C/W.

Unlike Zalman CNPS11X Extreme, the new Performa boasts one interesting peculiarity in the bottom part of the heatsink, namely, parallel slits in the lowest heatsink plate with the flaps bent downwards:

As you may have easily guessed they are supposed to direct the airflow towards the heatsinks on the voltage regulator components around the processor socket, and the best thing about it is that this particular solution really works well (you can feel a pretty serious airflow at the bottom of the cooler). It may seem just a common plate with bent flaps, but Zalman came up with a special name for this technology – FCG (FET Cooling Guide), where FET stands for Field-Effect Transistor.

There are four copper heatpipes 6 mm in diameter, which pierce each heatsink array evenly through:

Zalman use their own unique composite heatpipes, i.e. each heatpipes like that is as efficient as 1.5 regular heatpipes.

The cooler base is built using Zalman’s DTH direct contact technology – Direct Touch Heatpipe:

Unfortunately, they do not use the new and improved W-DTH technology (Whole-Direct Touch Heatpipes), which we saw in the flagship Zalman CNPS12X, but the regular one with 1.5 mm aluminum inserts between the heatpipes in the base. As a result, the thermal paste imprint left by our test processor indicated significant dead zones in the contact area:


Moreover, one of the central heatpipes of our particular Zalman CNPS11X Performa unit was curved in and only its very edges actually touched the CPU. So, the cooler gets a definite “unsatisfactory” mark for the base quality this time.

Zalman CNPS11X Performa is equipped with one seven-blade 120 mm fan with PWM support:

The fan rotation speed can be automatically adjusted in the interval between 1000 and 1600 RPM with the noise level between 16 and 26 dBA. As usual, Zalman doesn’t indicate the airflow and the static pressure specs, unfortunately.

The fan stator is 42 mm in diameter and is covered with a sticker reading “ZP1225ALL (Z11P-PWM)”. It also indicates that there is a long life slide bearing inside:

The numeric meaning of this is the following: 50,000 hours or 5.7 years of non-stop operation. The maximum fan power consumption shouldn’t exceed 2.4 W. however, our measurements showed that at its maximum rotation speed the fan consumed only 1.6 W and started up at 4.7 V.

The fan is attached to the heatsink with a pair of wire clips:

There are no vibration-absorbing pads of any kind between the fan and the heatsink. There I also no way to install a second fan. A true budget solution in all respects.

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