Zalman CNPS10X Flex CPU Cooler


Product(s): Zalman CNPS10X Flex CPU Cooler
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Zalman has long been known as one of the pioneers in the aftermarket cooling industry, and recently they took things to a whole new level with the release of their CNPS10X line of coolers. A couple months back we took a look at the CNPS10X Extreme CPU Cooler (Full Review Here) and the results were very impressive. Today we have the opportunity to take a look at another cooler from Zalman's CNPS10X line of coolers, the CNPS10X Flex.

The CNPS10X Flex is an interesting cooler as it comes with no fans pre-installed, but has the room for you to add 2 of your favorite 120mm fans for maximum cooling performance. For our testing we've decided to go with Noctua's NF-S12B 120mm case fans (full review of these fans here). In our testing we have set these fans to run at 1200 RPM and we have tested with one fan installed as well as tested with 2 fans installed.


First Impressions:

At first glance you'll see the CNPS10X Flex heatsink looks somewhat similar to some other tower heatpipe coolers, but overall the quality of this cooler is very good and it feels very sturdy.

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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Box (Front)
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Box (Back)


The CNPS10X Flex comes with a pretty standard amount of accessories and you'll have everything you need to get this cooler installed on a wide variety of CPU sockets as we as enough hardware to get 2 of your favorite brand of fans installed.


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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Accessories
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Bottom View


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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Bottom View
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Side View


As you can see in the pictures the Zalman CNPS10X Flex heatsink itself isn't all that exciting, it has a nice finish and is nice and sturdy but with no fans installed its really not that exciting.

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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Side View
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Top View


Now that we've seen what the CNPS10X is all about, let's move onto the next sections and see how this cooler performs.





Zalman CNPS10X Flex Specifications:

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All specifications taken from


Powerful Cooling Performance

Optimally designed aluminum fins disperse heat away from the CPU via 5 heatpipes, while the high capacity 120mm fan quickly cools the heatsink for stable operation of high performance CPUs.

180mm Wide Case Compatibility

For optimum case compatibility the heatsink’s height is set to 151mm, ensuring compatibility with 180mm width cases.


Versatile Compatibility

CNPS10X Flex accommodates a broad range of sockets.
Intel LGA1156/1366/775, AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2/754/939/940

Differentiated Design

Differentiated from typical U-shaped heatpipe coolers, a central band of black anodized fins adds a sleek and cool aesthetic finish.



Dimensions 133(L) X 74(W) X 151(H)mm
Weight 700g
Materials Fins: Aluminum / Base: Copper
Dissipation Area 8,200㎠
Heatpipes 5 U-shaped heatpipes


CPU's Supported

Pentium 4, Celeron D, Pentium D, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Extreme, Pentium Dual Core, Core i7, Core i5, Sempron, Athlon, Athlon 64, Athlon FX, Athlon 64 FX, Opteron, Dual-Core Opteron, Phenom, Athlon X2, Athlon 64 X2, Phenom II, Athlon II

  Socket CPU CPU Compatibility
Intel 1156 Core i7 Supports all speeds
Core i5
1366 Core i7 Supports all speeds
775 Core 2 Quad Supports all speeds
Core 2 Duo
Core 2 Extreme
Pentium Dual Core
Pentium D
Pentium 4
Celeron D
AMD AM3 Phenom II Supports all speeds
Athlon II
AM2+ Phenom II Supports all speeds
Athlon FX, Athlon 64 FX
Athlon X2, Athlon 64 X2
Athlon, Athlon 64
AM2 Athlon FX, Athlon 64 FX Supports all speeds
Athlon X2, Athlon 64 X2
Athlon, Athlon 64
940 Dual-Core Opteron Supports all speeds
Athlon FX, Athlon 64 FX
939 Dual-Core Opteron Supports all speeds
Athlon FX, Athlon 64 FX
Athlon X2, Athlon 64 X2
Athlon, Athlon 64
754 Athlon, Athlon 64 Supports all speeds




Testing and Installation:

Installation is pretty easy for this heatsink, only thing to note is that you'll probably want to install the heatsink first and then add the fans, if you try to add the fans to the heatsink and then install it you'll run into some issues. As you can see in the pictures below we installed this cooler with 2 fans for testing as well as tested it with a single fan.


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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Installed
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Back Bracket


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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - 2 Fans Installed
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - 2 Fans Installed


There we go, we've got the heatsink installed and the fans added, let's move onto the testing section to see how this cooler performs (as well as seeing the difference from one fan to two fans).

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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Fan Installed
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Zalman CNPS10X Flex - Heatsink Installed




Test Setup:

For Intel (LGA1336) testing we will be using the Intel Core i7 920 CPU, which produces 130 Watts of heat. This could be considered a mid-range processor, and while most Dual-Core processors produce ~50-80 Watts of heat, this should give you a pretty accurate estimate of what type of temperatures a cooler will provide you with.

For both AMD and Intel testing, we have taken all temperatures using CoreTemp v.0.99.4. CoreTemp takes a temperature from the CPU core, and allows for much more uniform results across different motherboard and CPU platforms. These temperatures may seem higher than other temperature recordings; because chances are they are taking temperature recordings using the diode underneath the CPU, which isn't able to be as accurate, and can really fluctuate between different brands of motherboards.

For all tests we are using the Highspeed PC Top Deck Tech Station , and we are using no additional cooling in our testing. All temperatures are recorded in a controlled environment that is set to 23 degrees Celsius (73.4 Fahrenheit) to provide fair results between coolers.

For all tests we use Arctic Cooling MX-2 High-Performance Thermal Compound (Paste), We use the same thermal paste in all our testing so that we can keep our results consistent. If a cooler is shipped with thermal paste pre-applied, it will be removed and we will re-apply it with Arctic Cooling MX-2 to provide fair results.

Intel Test System:


Here comes the testing results....


Click on Chart for Larger View


With one fan installed we found the performance to be pretty decent, in the next chart you can see how much performance you gain by adding a second fan.

Click on Chart for Larger View


Ok, so adding a second fan definitely had an effect on performance, especially while running at full load (we saw a reduction of 4+ degrees). While running at idle the performance increase was minimal. Most extreme users would probably end up running 2 fans for maximum performance, however one fan is more than adequate for the average user.

In the next chart below we've compared the results of our testing above with some of the other coolers we've tested in recent months on our Intel i7 test system.

Click on Chart for Larger View

So the performance increase over stock cooling with the Zalman CNPS10X Flex is significant (at full load we saw a reduction of 13 degrees). When comparing the Zalman CNPS10X Flex with some of these other coolers we found the performance to be pretty good. Thanks to its ability to run larger fans that are very quiet, the Zalman CNPS10X Flex is able to achieve these results while remaining very quiet.




Final Thoughts:

When you open the box of the CNPS10X Flex its pretty tough to get too excited as its only a heatsink, but once you get this cooler equipped with a couple of your favorite 120mm fans and see the performance that this cooler offers its a whole lot easier to get excited about the CNPS10X Flex (or about as excited as you can towards a CPU cooler).


The CNPS10X Flex heatsink definitely isn't for everyone, most consumers want an all-in-one solution and probably aren't going to be all excited about having to also go and buy themselves fans for this cooler (and will probably just go with something like the CNPS10X Extreme), however for the user that wants more customization options for their CPU cooler this might just be the ticket. It's nice to see that Zalman hasn't forgotten about the extreme user who wants the option of adding their favorite brand of 120mm fans to this cooler.

The performance of this cooler was very good as we found in our testing. We tested with both one and two fans installed and it was interesting to see the difference and drop in temperature when we added the 2nd fan. In our testing we used the Noctua NF-S12B FLX fans and ran them at 1200 RPM which made for a pretty quiet system.

I really have no major complaints with the CNPS10X Flex heatsink. This cooler installs nice and easy and once you add a couple of decent fans you've got a pretty decent CPU cooler and overall I was very happy with this product.

At the end of the day it's pretty easy to like the Zalman CNPS10X Flex heatsink and thanks to the good performance it offers we've awarded it with our "Editor's Choice" award. If your looking for a heatsink that allows you to easily add your favorite brand of 120mm fans then the Zalman CNPS10X Flex might just be for you.


  • Good Performance
  • Support for 2 120mm Fans
  • Compatible with all recent CPU's



  • Nothing Major





I'd like to thank Zalman for sending us the CNPS10X Flex CPU Cooler . If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.