The graph below shows the results of our noise tests:
I can’t say that both coolers are equipped with very quiet fans. Nevertheless, they are acoustically comfortable up until 1100 RPM speed. At the same time, the noise from Zaward fan increases more predictably and even as the rotation speed increases, while Zalman fan changes its acoustic very abruptly. For example, in the interval between 1000 and 1100 RPM, the fam generates almost the same noise all the way, while in the interval between 1100 and 1200 RPM the noise jumps up by about 3 dBA! We can find more of intervals like that higher up the graph, too, which indicates that the fan of CNS10X Performa cooler is not balanced enough, and so is the fan bearing.
Although Zaward Vapor120 turned out the least efficient cooler in our today’s test session, even in quiet mode this product can ensure that the overclocked quad-core processor will run stably at 3.84 GHz under peak load. If you decide to buy Vapor120 intending to overclock your processor to its maximum, then it will definitely be a good thing to replace the default fan with an alternative one (or even two) with high static pressure. The cooler is completely universal, has relatively simple and at the same time reliable retention with high-pressure hold, beautiful LED lighting of the PWM controlled fan. At the same time, despite the average price point of $39, we think Zaward Vapor120 should cost even less, because you can currently purchase an even more efficient and quiet Scythe Mugen 2 for practically the same amount of money.
As for Zalman CNPS10X Performa, we totally admire it. In fact, this product has only one drawback: unbalanced fan with “floating” noise level. It is up to you to decide how significant this issue is for your particular case, but it won’t be a problem to pair a 44.90-dollar cooler (which is an unusually low price for a Zalman product) with a couple of quality fans for $5-$7 each. Otherwise, CNPS10X Performa has every right to be called one of the best air coolers with reliable retention, support of all contemporary platforms without any exceptions and exceptionally high cooling efficiency. There is only one thing we can wish to Zalman at this point: to stop perfecting the product that was launched about a year ago and design something really new and super-effective, which will undoubtedly please Zalman fans and stumble Zalman competitors.