The Zalman Odyssey

Sep 16, 2011

This is a brief documentation of the installation of a Zalman CNP9500 AT CPU Cooler into my new computer. The motherboard is an ASUS P8P67-M PRO which is Intel socket LGA 1155.

First you can see that my build is using the stock Intel cooler, and it still has plenty of room inside:

The stock heatsink was pretty easy to remove. Just twist all four supports to disengage, then gently rock back and forth until the thermal paste releases its grip. You can see the paste left on both the heatsink and CPU here:

I thought the grease was going to be a pain to wipe off, but it went surprisingly easy using a few coffee filters wetted with a bit of 99% isopropyl alcohol. Here is the cleaned processor with the Zalman bracket resting on top:

In order to screw down the bracket, I needed access to the underside of the motherboard, so it had to come out of the case. Here is my workspace:

And after it's been screwed down:

Both processor and new heatsink were prepped by "tinting" as recommended by the Arctic Silver 5 instructions. (I skipped using the supplied Zalman grease based on surprisingly good reviews for Arctic Silver 5.) Tinting means spreading a small amount of thermal paste all over the flat surface of the part with a credit card or other plastic edge, then wiping away the excess with a coffee filter. Once done, the surface will have an almost matte finish which can't be wiped away. This is the paste filling all the microscopic pits in the metal surface.

After tinting, I drew a line of thermal paste down the center of the processor surface, then added two smaller lines on either side for good measure. Then I dropped the new heatsink down on top of it:

Lots of the reviews I read about this heatsink mentioned getting cut by the extremely thin copper fins, and I was no exception. I got a very small cut on the back of my thumb while messing with nearby wires. All I can recommend is to be careful and do everything very slowly. I didn't know I'd even been cut until I saw the blood!

Another thing the reviews mentioned was how hard it was to screw down the clip that holds the heatsink in place. The clip is a metal plate that is bent upwards, so screwing it down puts a lot of pressure on the heatsink to "mate" with the processor. I didn't have any trouble with this part. I screwed one end of the clip in about two full turns, then used the screwdriver itself to press down the screw on the other side while turning. Pretty simple, IMHO. Here is a close-up of the clip, screwed in:

So now to put the motherboard back into the case. You can see how the heatsink has been oriented so that the fan blows air directly into the rear exhaust. You'll also notice that, while the stock cooler was low and wide, blocking the closest memory slot (this is a microATX board), the Zalman heatsink is tall and thin, so all my memory slots are now available to me again! Bonus!

Here it is with mostly everything put back in and wires tucked:

And then on the desk and running:

CoreTemp tells me the CPU is already running about 5-10°C cooler and the Arctic Silver 5 supposedly has a 200hr break-in time, so I should expect a few more degrees cooler than that when all is said and done.

In all, this was a pretty simple install that just takes a lot of time, mostly because the motherboard needs to be removed from the case. This requires a lot of disassembly then reassembly.

Seeing the size of the heatsink in my case, I realise that I could have gotten the 120mm fan version instead of the 92mm fan. However, I am pretty happy with the size I ordered; it looks really nice in there and I don't think the larger fan would make all that much difference.

Lastly, here is the case, all closed up and chugging along like a champ!

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