Zalman FX100 preview: Passive Ivy Bridge CPU cooler

The new CPU cooler from the Korean manufacturer can be entirely passive and is intended for Ivy Bridge processors. Is this the perfect cooler for the silent crowd?

The Zalman FX100, a.k.a. 'The Cube', looks imposing. It measures about 156mm in each direction, which makes it a lot bigger than most other CPU coolers. It's lighter than it looks though, weighing in at 770g. The cooler is compatible with Intel Socket 775, 1155/1156, 1366 and 2011 processors, and also AMD Socket AM2/AM3/FM1 CPUs.

Zalman only guarantees passive operation with Intel Socket 1155/1156 CPUs, with a maximum TDP of 95W. For CPUs that use more power you have the option of putting a 92mm fan in the FX100.

The FX100 is built on a relatively small copper baseplate, roughly the size of a Socket 1155 processor, so it's clear it's not meant for Socket 2011.

Four heatpipes rise form the baseplate to the heatsink. The heatsink consists of two smaller cooling blocks between which you can put the optional 92mm fan. Around those are four large cooling blocks connected by three 6mm heatpipes. The fins of the large cooling blocks have quite a bit of space between them, and Zalman claims this was done in order to facilitate the airflow.

The FX100 is primarily intended for passive use, but Zalman does make it clear you need to have a chassis with good airflow from intake and outtake fans. Without the presence of airflow, so a 100% passively-cooled chassis, the FX100 won't cool a processor enough.

The FX100 definitely isn't cheap with a recommended retail price of around € 75 (it is not yet available in the UK). That puts is on the level of the most expensive high-end air coolers such as the Noctua NH-D14 and the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2. Is it worth it? You're about to find out. Read the rest of the review of the Zalman FX100 on Hardware.info.