The Zalman has a 100mm fan that sits between two copper coolers that are non-symmetrical with the thinner cooler designated as the front and the thicker cooler as the back. It comes with three mounts that cover LGA775, LGA1366 and AMD motherboards, but we found installation to be a nightmare. With the motherboard removed from the case and turned upside down you install the base plate with four screws from the back of the board. Then you slip the cooler into the mount and screw it home. However, the cooler isn’t positively retained in the top frame and can easily twist or slip. If you try to mount or dismount the cooler in your case you will have a tough time of it. To add to the fun the four mounting screws for the cooler frame are located very close to the fins of the coolers so it is tricky to screw them home.
Once those hurdles are overcome the Zalman is an absolute joy and is the most effective cooler in the group. The thermally controlled fan has a four-pin fan connector and is nice and quiet in operation. We disliked the blue LEDs in the centre of the fan but we accept that some misguided souls like that sort of thing.
Reg Rating 80
More Info Zalman's CNPS9900-LED page
The Akasa Nero AK967 appears to pick and choose features from most of the coolers in the round-up. In appearance, it has a certain amount in common with the Coolink Silentator and the Noctua NH-U12P as the cooler stands vertically on a set of heatpipes.
The mounting mechanism is similar to the GELID and Thermaltake as you get a selection of three types of mount for LGA775, LGA1366 and AMD that you screw on to the sides of the cooler. The Core i7 mounts use Intel-style push pins that were a doddle to install. The 120mm fan has a four-pin connector and increases speed when the CPU is under load. It is mounted on four rubber posts that pop into place.
The novel feature on this cooler is that the three heatpipes are exposed at the base of the cooler and make direct contact with the heat spreader on the CPU. The result is that the Akasa Nero is simple to install, very quiet in operation, incredibly cheap to buy and offers superb cooling. It is the best cooler in this group by a large margin.
Reg Rating 90
More Info Akasa's Nero page
Ten of the best... Core i7 CPU coolers
@Radiated heat commenters
Wouldn't a CPU cooler be better off with low radiated heat and high conducted heat? I mean radiated heat would go into heating the surrounding case and electronics (which is bad as the heat ends up in non-actively-cooled components), but conducted heat only heats up the air being pulled through by the fan (which, with proper case airflow, is good as the heat's pulled out quickly afterwards). So the best cooler designs would be those with huge surface area (i.e. many vanes) and a big fan.
The best case designs, however, would radiate heat- they're (typically) radiating to a whole room (so radiated heat is spread over a massive surface area) rather than blasting the heat back at whatever you're trying to cool in the first place.
Saying that, the most important thing to start with is good case airflow. Otherwise you just end up recirculating the hot air...
This is without a doubt one of the best coolers on the market fish around for reviews...it costs less than £35 delivered and is in my experience the best you can buy for a air cooled cpu. Water cooling is such a farce...I have had the Zalman 8700 and 9700 models as well as the scythe coolers...min cpu i have had them on is a Q6600 my QX6700 runings @ 40c under load @ 3.2Ghz with the Xigmatek HDT-S1283.... FIVE STARS!
I want a gold plated IEC mains lead too
@refined chap and others
It is indeed largely about "bling". But roughened matt black, whilst good at losing the heat, wouldn't look so good in comparison with superprettified polished chrome would it.
The eejits these things are aimed at are the same eejits that gold plated fuses for the car stereo are aimed at. Fuses. Gold plated. Think about it.
Respect is due also for the EMC comment re see-through PC sides, not that anyone in authority in the UK cares much about EMC regulations anyway (otherwise the market for powerline ethernet (Homeplug etc) would be just as dead as the market for SSE Telecom's powerline broadband).
kinda wished you had also based results on the stupid special fans that need lots of cable ties if the clips ever break or fan needs replacing
i use a mini ninja on my case with 3 fans loaded on it and nootice only a 4 degree cahnge under load and idle :D
but its louder than a bloody 747 at take off :/
The "Titan TTC-NK85TZ Fenrir" is better than these
I have one, it's huge, but cools damned well, and can even cope with tall DDR3 (you mount the fan higher up the heatsink.