As you can see, the CNPS9700 is quite a bit larger than its little brother, the 9500. My friend and colleague, the nattily attired Mr. Bones, will be giving me a hand with this review.
The mirror finish of the base will promote maximum heat transfer from the CPU. It also gives Mr. B. a chance to admire his trademark spectator shoes.
The basic design is unchanged, just a bit bigger to accommodate the larger 110mm fan. The fan hub incorporates some blue LEDs which, as we'll see later, impart a pleasant glow to the translucent blades.
The “wind tunnel” design is easier to see from the rear of the cooler. Three separate heatpipes loop from the base, through the copper fins and back to the base. This makes the 9700 effectively a six-‘pipe cooler. The dead-spot behind the hub of the fan will have little effect on this cooler, as the pipes and fins are located in the direct path of the fan's airflow. For optimum cooling, the 9700 should be oriented in such a way as to direct the warm air exiting the rear of the cooler toward an exhaust fan at the rear of the case. Unlike some vertical coolers, the 9500 will also generate some turbulence around the socket to cool components in this area as well. Depending on the motherboard, this can be a very desirable feature. The power cable is generous in length and terminates in a 3-pin connector for motherboard fan headers, or the included Fan-Mate controller.
The copper heatpipes are sandwiched between the copper base and aluminum mounting plate. The fit and finish here, and elsewhere on the 9700, is superb.
Zalman has done an equally superb job with the accessories. Intel socket 478 is not supported, and the LGA 775 solution is probably familiar to previous Zalman customers. AMD users will find installation much easier thanks to the re-designed, 2-piece clip (labled 1 and 2 in the above photo) that uses the OEM retention bracket for socket 754/939/940/AM2 processors. The Fan Mate 2 speed controller comes with a very long ribbon cable and double-sided tape, allowing the user to mount it outside the case. The manual is complete and easy to understand and, coupled with the online support, will make installation a breeze. I've used Zalman's ZM-STG1 thermal compound recently and it's a good product but for testing purposes, we'll be using AS5 in this review. They've also included a Zalman sticker.