If you love large air CPU coolers, then you will drool over the 9700LED. It’s equipped with a 110mm fan, while it’s older brother, the 9500LED, has only 92mm. Included extras here include better thermal paste and a fan controller. Does this CPU coolers larger stature make it a winner in our temperature testing?
Before we get into our testing methodology, you may be interested in the actual specs and dimensions of the cooler. Here they are, as provided by Zalman.
Whenever we stress test components for temperatures, our main concern is making sure that there is proper airflow inside the case and sufficient space outside. All PSU cords are neatly tucked out of the way to the best of the cases ability and there is 1ft of breathing room behind the PC. The tower door is kept on the PC while testing occurs.
The case used is NZXT’s Apollo, which has a rear mounted 120mm fan in addition to a door mounted 120 fan used to bring cool air in. The testing rig used for today’s benchmarking is as follows:
All testing was completed under 80°F – 81°F room temperatures. Today, we will be comparing the performance of the 9700LED to the recently reviewed CNPS8000.
Considering the fact that the CNPS8000 is not that great of a cooler to begin with, it’s no surprise that the 9700LED obliterated it. At 3.06GHz, the 9700LED proved a full 24°C lower than the other cooler on the low setting and 19°C lower on high. Even as it stands, for a hearty overclock on the E6300, the 9700LED didn’t allow it to go beyond 52°C at full load.
Although the differences here are not as noticeable as they were for the CPU tests, it’s still equally impressive. The average motherboard temp with our maximum overclock hovered around 42°C.
Efficient CPU cooling and good looks are two important factors when looking to purchase a new cooler. Luckily, the 9700LED accomplishes both of these goals well. Even with the mediocre CNPS8000 out of the picture, the 9700LED proved to have some very nice cooling ability in this high ambient (80°F) room. The fact that the CPU was overclocked 40% and temps didn’t go beyond 52°C is a nice achievement. Granted, that was with a higher fan speed, but even with the lower and much quieter speed, it didn’t budge beyond 56°C.
Oddly enough, the temps remained pretty congruent between testing under 1.86GHz and 3.06GHz frequencies, so it shows that you don’t necessarily need a liquid cooling setup in order to get some great overclocks anymore. The noise was not a problem with the cooler either, especially at lower speeds. At higher speeds, there was slight whine but it wasn’t quite overbearing. With the case door on, it sounded more like a light hum.
Normally in this room I don’t expect to see lower CPU temperatures even with water cooling. The 9700LED stepped up to the plate though and delivered solid performance. The installation also proved a great experience, with the toughest part being the removal of the motherboard which seems to be unavoidable nowadays. The install process was made even better with the inclusion of their thermal paste that you apply with a small brush. This is something that should have existed long ago and is worth the $10 it retails for separately. I didn’t have any AS5 on hand to compare it to sadly, but the resulting temps as they stand are impressive enough.
The only real downside to the cooler is that it retails for near $70. That is not chump change. There are -many- coolers out there that have good cooling ability, but most do not include an innovative thermal paste applicator, fan controller or look good. This one achieves all of these. Is it worth $70? Not particularly.. that’s a lot of cash for an air CPU cooler regardless of how you look at it. Price aside, the 9700LED earns itself a 9 out of 10, with the price being it’s primary downfall.
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