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Cogage TRUE Spirit & Zalman CNPS10X Quiet CPU Coolers

The first heatsink/fan from Thermalright spinoff Cogage goes up against the Quiet version of the Zalman CNPS10X line on our i7-1366 test platform. Results are surprising.

April 11, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366 CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Cogage Zalman
Street Price
US$40 US$55~$60

The Cogage TRUE Spirit and Zalman CNPS10X Quiet are a pair of CPU coolers that
don’t pack much ‘wow’ factor. Neither heatsink has a revolutionary design; they
are slightly different takes on a pair of well-known models, the Thermalright
Ultra-120
and the Zalman
CNPS10X Extreme
. While they might not be much competition for the best
heatsinks of today, they are not without intrigue. The TRUE Spirit is interesting
purely on its low US$40 price-tag, cheap by compared to most Thermalrights.
The CNPS10X Quiet is an attempt by Zalman, which has struggled recently to hold
our esteem when it comes to quiet cooling, to atone for its lackluster brothers,
the CNPS10X Extreme and Flex.
We’ll see if it lives true to its name.

Cogage TRUE Spirit

Cogage is a budget brand developed by Thermalright catering to PC enthusiasts
on a budget. Their most popular heatsink is arguably the TRUE Spirit, a smaller
version of the famous Thermalright Ultra-120. A few simple changes were implemented
to created a more cost-effective heatsink including decreasing the thickness
of th fins, not plating the copper heatpipes with nickel, and only supporting
one socket, with separate models for LGA775 and LGA1366. Thermalright also throws
in a fan, as aftermarket ones are typically sold with a heavy mark-up.


The TRUE Spirit 1366 box.

Thermalright is known for their minimalist plain brown cardboard packaging,
so it’s surprising to see the budget brand in a rather cool-looking blue box.
The accompanying accessories include a 120 mm fan with yellow translucent blades,
a pair of fan clips and isolation strips, and a tube of thermal compound. According
to Cogage’s website and reviews from other hardware sites, the TRUE Spirit originally
shipped with a pushpin mount, but product photos on Newegg show the same bolt-thru
kit included with our sample. This appears to be a new revision.


TRUE Spirit 1366: package contents.

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet

Since Zalman abandoned the flower heatsink design in favor of the more common
tower with U-shaped heatpipes, it has had little success, at least not by SPCR
standards. The first tower attempt, the CNPS10X Extreme, is a formidable looking
cooler but only proficient at higher fan speeds due to the thickness of the
fin stack and the tight fin spacing. It’s also very heavy at nearly 1 kilogram,
and expensive due to the inclusion of a sophisticated fan controller and nickel-plating
on not only the base, but also the heatpipes and every single fin. A similar,
stripped-down version without a fan, the CNPS10X Flex, also failed to impress
us.


The CNPS10X Quiet box.

The CNPS10X Quiet, as you can gather from the name, is Zalman’s attempt to
make a solid low airflow heatsink. Like the Flex, it lacks the nickel-coating
of the Extreme, but it ships with a fan, albeit a lower speed model. Most importantly,
the fin spacing on the Quiet has been increased, reducing the resistance to
airflow. This is essential for cooling efficiency when using low speed fans.
On our heatsink test platform, CPU coolers with tight fin spacing typically
see a big hit in performance when the fan speed is reduced.


CNPS10X Quiet: package contents.

The CNPS10X Quiet features mounting hardware similar to that of the Extreme
— only LGA775 installations get a backplate. The Quiet also ships with
typical Zalman accoutrements including a Fan Mate 2 fan controller, and a tube
of the ZM-STG2 thermal grease.

Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink
Dimension: L133 x W53.44 x H163.8 mm
Weight: 670 grams
Heat pipes: four heat pipes
Compatibility: Intel Socket 1366
Fan
Dimension: L120 x W120 x H25
Rated Speed: 1000~1500 RPM ±15%
Noise Level: 19.6-37.4 dBA
Air Flow:
35~66.5 CFM

 

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink
Dimensions 135(L) X 100(W) X 160(H) mm
Weight 750 g
Materials Pure Aluminum and Pure Copper
Dissipation Area 6,817cm2
Heatpipes 5 x U-shaped heatpipes
Fan
Bearing Type 2 Ball-Bearing
Speed 700 ~ 1400 rpm ± 10% (FAN MATE 2
connected)
Noise Level Not Measurable ~ 26 dBA ± 10% (FAN
MATE 2 connected)
Input Voltage 12V
* The fan operates at 1500 rpm ±10%
(28 dBA ±10%) if directly connected to the motherboard’s power
connector without the use of FAN MATE 2.
Compatibility
Intel LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1366, all models/speeds
AMD S754, S939, S940, AM2, AM2+, AM3, all models/speeds

PHYSICAL DETAILS – Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366

The TRUE Spirit features four copper heatpipes in a staggered
array and 48 aluminum fins. It measures 133.0 x 53.4 x 163.8 mm (L x W x H)
and weighs about 530 grams, 620 grams with the stock fan.


On average, the heatsink’s fins are 0.40 mm thick and spaced 1.70 mm apart.


The fins slope downward toward one side like the Ultra-120 series, but
the heatpipes are not nickel-plated.


The TRUE Spirit is not as thick as either the Ultra-120 eXtreme or even
the original Ultra-120 pictured above right. It is almost a carbon copy
of the Thermalright MUX-120, a LGA1156-only heatsink.


The heatpipes are sealed to the base with a healthy amount of solder.


Like most of Thermalright’s heatsinks, the base is slightly convex, producing
a distorted reflection. The convex shape of the base is apparently deliberate;
Thermalright claims most Intel and AMD CPUs have integrated heat spreaders
that are concave in shape.


Installed using the familiar Thermalright bolt-thru kit with the stock
fan clipped on.

PHYSICAL DETAILS – Zalman CNPS10X Quiet

The heatsink features five copper heatpipes in a staggered array
and 45 aluminum fins. It measures 135 x 100 x 160 mm (L x W x H) and weighs about 640 grams, 780 grams with the stock fan.

Like the TRUE Spirit, the CNPS10X Quiet lacks the nickel plating
that gives its fancier brother its dark, uniform appearance. The copper
heatpipes stand out, as do the center section of protruding blue fins.


On average, the heatsink’s fins are 0.40 mm thick and spaced 2.00 mm
apart, much looser than the CNPS10X eXtreme pictured on the right. That
alone makes it more conducive for quiet cooling.


Though the heatsink is rather thick like the Flex and Extreme variants
of the CNPS10X, it does not have grooves for a second set of fan clips.


The polished base.


The stock fan came with a set of rubber spacers attached, presumably
to reduce vibration. This also increases the thickness of the fan; a
standard 120 mm fan mounted with the same clips is a bit loose as a
result.


Installed on our test platform. The installation procedure is similar
to that of the CNPS10X
Extreme
.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Cooler Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366 Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
Weight
530 g
620 g with fan and clips
640 g
780 g with fan and clips
Fin count 48 45
Fin thickness
0.40 mm 0.40 mm
Fin spacing
1.70 mm 2.00 mm
Vertical Clearance
49 mm (from the motherboard
PCB to the bottom of the fan)
38 mm (from the motherboard
PCB to the bottom of the fan clips)
Horizontal Overhang
N/A (far edge of the heatsink
to the top edge of the motherboard PCB)
N/A (far edge of the heatsink
to the top edge of the motherboard PCB)

 

Comparison: Approximate Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Scythe Ninja 2
0.39 mm
3.68 mm
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Thermolab Baram
0.44 mm
2.52 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Xigmatek HDT-S1283
0.33 mm
1.96 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
ZEROtherm Nirvana
0.43 mm
1.82 mm
ZEROtherm Zen
0.37 mm
1.80 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120
0.45 mm
1.42 mm

Testing was done on our
new i7-1366 heatsink testing platform
. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
    Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus
    P6X58D Premium
    ATX motherboard. X58 chipset. (This is a component
    that’s new since the last HS we tested.)
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Intel
    X25-M
    80GB 2.5″ solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 3GB QiMonda
    DDR3 memory. 3 x 1GB DDR3-1066 in triple channel..
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM
    650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semi-passively cooled. At the power levels
    of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Nexus 120 fan (part of our standard testing methodology; used when
    possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)

The system is silent under the test conditions. Only the CPU cooling fan(s)
make any noise.

Normally, our reference fan is used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM
5V
11 dBA
530 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are
    stressed.
  • CPU-Z,
    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system is turnoff to ensure that system noise
does not skew the measurements.

Load testing is accomplished using Prime95, and the graph function in SpeedFan
is used to ensure that the load temperature is stable for at least ten minutes.
The temperature recorded is the highest single core reading. The stock fans
are tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of airflow
and noise performance.

TEST RESULTS

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 22~23°C.

Stock Fan Measurements: Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366


TRUE Spirit stock fan.

120 mm Stock Fan Specifications
Manufacturer
Power Rating
2.52 W
Model Number
CGG-1212PSL
Airflow Rating
66.5 CFM
Bearing Type
?
Speed Rating
1500 RPM +/-15%
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
37.4 dBA
Frame Size
120 x 120 x 25 mm
Header Type
4-pin PWM
Fan Blade Diameter
112 mm
Starting Voltage
~4.0 V
Hub Size
40 mm
Weight
90 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

The Cogage stock fan is a fairly typical looking fan with seven translucent
blades with mild curvature. Their trailing edges are almost completely parallel
with the struts, which suggests high tonality might be a characteristic. The
fan is also very light, weighing in at only 90 grams, 20~30 grams less than
most 120 mm fans.

TRUE Spirit Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL @1m
12V
1690 RPM
31~32 dBA
9V
1320 RPM
24 dBA
7V
1050 RPM
17 dBA
6V
870 RPM
14~15 dBA
5V
710 RPM
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the intake side of the fan.
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

The fan’s acoustic character was generally buzzy and at close proximity
there was a noticeable wobble. It also had a tendency to rattle at 12V, possibly
due to its lack of mass, and was very loud at 31~32 dBA. As the fan speed was
decreased, the buzzing became less distracting but didn’t vanish until it reached
about 6V. The fan became quiet at about 7V, measuring 17 dBA@1m. It was virtually
inaudible at 5V.


The TRUE Spirit stock fan measured 17 dBA@1m at 7V. It had some tonal
elements as indicated by the sharp spikes in the 300~600 Hz range.

Stock Fan Measurements: Zalman CNPS10X Quiet


Zalman CNPS10X Quiet stock fan.

120 mm Stock Fan Specifications
Manufacturer
Power Rating
3.0 W
Model Number
ZF1125ATM
Airflow Rating
?
Bearing Type
dual ball bearing
RPM Rating
1400 RPM +/- 10%*
Corners
N/A
Noise Rating
26 dBA*
Frame Size
120 x 120 x 25 mm
Header Type
4-pin PWM
Fan Blade Diameter
112 mm
Starting Voltage
~4.1 V
Hub Size
43 mm
Weight
130 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.
* specifications when paired with Fan Mate 2 controller (max. 11V)

The Zalman stock fan is similar to the one included with the CNPS10X. It is
a dual ball bearing model with a black frame and only one set of corners (the
ones on the intake side have been omitted), but despite this fact, the fan is
a fairly hefty 130 grams.

CNPS10X Quiet Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL @1m
12V
1570 RPM
27 dBA
9V
1230 RPM
19~20 dBA
7V
970 RPM
14 dBA
5V
680 RPM
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the intake side of the fan.
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

At full speed, the Zalman stock fan sounded very buzzy with a slight flutter
that sounded like soft is chafing against the blades. At 9V, the buzzing turned
into a low-pitched hum,and the flutter started to fade. It became what we would
consider quiet starting at about 8V, and at 7V it was pleasantly smooth and
barely audible at one meter’s distance. Of our two review samples, the Zalman
fan was smoother and quieter in general than the Cogage fan.


The CNPS10X stock fan measured 14 dBA@1m at 7V.

COOLING RESULTS

Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366 w/ stock 120mm fan
Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
Temp
°C Rise
12V
31~32 dBA
61°C
38
9V
27 dBA
62°C
39
7V
17 dBA
64°C
41
6V
14~15 dBA
66°C
43
5V
12 dBA
69°C
46
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366 w/ ref. 120mm fan
12V
16 dBA
63°C
40
9V
13 dBA
65°C
42
7V
12 dBA
68°C
45
Load Temp: Prime95 for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (23°C) at load.

The TRUE Spirit was very proficient at cooling our Core i7-965 processor. Using
the stock fan at 12V the thermal rise was only 38°C and this increased gradually
to 46°C at 5V, an 8°C spread. Our reference Nexus fan performed with
better efficiency, posting better temperatures at equivalent noise levels, but
the overall difference was small.

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet w/ stock 120mm fan
Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
Temp
°C Rise
12V
27 dBA
60°C
38
9V
19~20 dBA
62°C
40
7V
14 dBA
64°C
42
5V
12 dBA
69°C
47
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet w/ ref. 120mm fan
12V
16 dBA
62°C
40
9V
13 dBA
65°C
43
7V
12 dBA
68°C
46
Load Temp: Prime95 for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.

The CNPS10X Quiet using the stock fan performed just as well as the TRUE Spirit
at similar noise levels. The Quiet seemed to get a bigger boost from our reference
fan though, as the stock fan at 9V measuring 19~20 dBA got the same result as
the Nexus fan at 12V measuring only 16 dBA. At lower fan speeds and noise levels,
the difference between the two fans was minute.

Comparables

°C rise Comparison
Heatsink
Nexus 120mm fan voltage /
SPL @1m
12V
9V
7V
Rank
16 dBA
13 dBA
12 dBA
Prolimatech Megahalems
38
41
44
#1
Noctua NH-D14
38
42
45
#2
Noctua NH-U12P
39
42
44
#2
Scythe Mugen-2
39
42
45
#4
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
40
42
45
#4
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
40
43
46
#6
Thermalright U120 eXtreme
40
43
48
#7
Thermalright U120
42
45
49
#8
Noctua NH-C12P
43
47
51
#9
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
43
47
53
#10
Zalman CNPS10X Flex
45
50
54
#11
Scythe Kabuto
51
53
60
#12

The TRUE Spirit and CNPS10X Quiet placed very well on our performance chart,
beating previous champions including the Ultra-120 and Ultra-120 eXtreme. This
is surprising for the TRUE Spirit, as it is a smaller version of the aforementioned
heatsinks. We surmise that the wider fin spacing and slimmer profile allows
more efficient cooling airflow. However, if the processor clock speed and/or
voltage were cranked up, the lack of surface area would likely be to detrimental,
and larger coolers like its bigger brothers would win out.

The CNPS10X line failed to impress us until we tested this Quiet version. The
CNPS10X Quiet easily outpaced both the Flex and Extreme, especially with our
reference fan at 7V. The wider fin spacing obviously gives it a big edge when
paired with a low speed fan as that is the Quiet’s most notable difference compared
to the other members of the CNPS10X family.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR’s
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don’t change the volume
setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Cogage TRUE Spirit did an excellent job keeping our Core i7-965 cool, even
besting its bigger brothers, the Thermalright
Ultra-120
/eXtreme.
Its reduced airflow impedance seems to allow the heat radiating off the heatsink
to be blown away more quickly. However, we suspect these design aspects would
harm its performance when working on a hotter processor, a situation where the
total heat dissipation area is more important. We wouldn’t recommend it for
a heavily overclocked and/or overvolted CPU, especially if its TDP is already
high, but for most users, it should make a superb cooler. It’s affordable, has
a proven mounting system, and performs well. It isn’t as versatile as most CPU
heatsinks as it only supports a single socket, either LGA775 or LGA1366, depending
on the model you purchase. In addition, the stock fan’s acoustics are somewhat
poor, but still far from the worst we’ve heard. For a truly quiet PC, you will
want to swap the fan out for something smoother, but it’s not bad at all. For
US$40, Cogage TRUE Spirit is a pretty good value.

The CNPS10X Quiet is the first Zalman cooler in a long time that we can recommend
as a quiet CPU heatsink. We were half expecting to see just a slower fan to
justify the “Quiet” label, but the significant widening of the space
between the fins shows Zalamn understands a basic principles we’ve been evangelizing
over the years. This simple change results in a substantial improvement in cooling
proficiency compared to the CNPS10X
Flex
and Extreme
when used with a low speed fan. Like the Extreme, its stock fan is much better
than those found on the older Zalman CNPS series, but not nearly as smooth as
a Nexus or Scythe model. When undervolted, its acoustics are good enough that
we wouldn’t bother replacing it unless the system was sitting right next to
us. Our biggest complaint is that Zalman provides a backplate for LGA775 installations
only, and the simple tension clip for AMD boards is inappropriate given the
heftly weight of the heatsink. The CNPS10X Quiet also mounts with the fan facing
upward in a typical AMD tower system, which can result in potentially higher
temperatures and noise levels, particularly if the power supply is located above
the processor. For a US$55~$60 heatsink, we expect a little more thought in
this regard.

Cogage TRUE Spirit
PROS

* Excellent performance at both high and low fan speed
* Solid, bolt-thru mounting
* Price

CONS

* Support for only one socket (one model for LGA775, one for LGA1366)
* Stock fan has poor acoustics

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
PROS

* Excellent performance at both high and low fan speed
* Fan controller included

CONS

* Backplate for LGA775 installations only
* Mounts facing upward on AMD boards

Our thanks to Cogage
and Zalman for the
TRUE Spirit 1366 and CNPS10X Quiet heatsink samples.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest


Zalman CNPS10X Flex CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-D14 flagship dual-fan CPU
cooler

SPCR’s 2010 CPU Heatsink
Test Platform [UPDATED: 10 April 2010]

Scythe Top-Down Coolers:
Kabuto vs. Zipang 2

Scythe Mugen-2 CPU Cooler
CNPS10X Extreme: Zalman’s Extreme Makeover

* * *

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