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Zalman CNPS12X vs Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2: Two high-end CPU coolers face off

In the blue corner: the new Zalman CNPS12X. And in the red corner: the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2. Both claim to combine superior cooling with low noise levels, but which is really the best? We let them face off against each other to find out.

Korean manufacturer Zalman was once known as the premium brand for silent PC components, but nowadays the German brand Be Quiet likes to promote itself as number one for silent computer products. What's in a name, right? Both manufacturers recently launched new high-end CPU coolers. Zalman released the CNPS12X, its largest cooler so far. Be Quiet introduced the Dark Rock Pro 2, which is the successor to the popular Dark Rock Pro. The Zalman cooler costs around £63, and the Be Quiet cooler has an average price of £69. These are therefore obviously deluxe coolers, but how do they measure up in terms of price and performance?

The CNPS12X is the largest cooler Zalman has ever made. It's more than 15cm high and weighs a little over a kilogram. It comes with a solid backplate, so it doesn't kill your motherboard. The cooler consists of two heatsinks, connected to the CPU with six heatpipes. Zalman applies the Direct Touch method, as the heatpipes are in direct contact with the CPU. Zalman includes a little resistor you can place between the motherboard and cooler in order to reduce the noise level.

The heatsink is round, which makes the cooler almost look spherical. The dark Black Pearl nickel finish gives it a very nice look, and it has blue LEDs to top it off.

The Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 has a comparable dark nickel finish. The brushed aluminium plate on the top gives the cooler a very deluxe look. You can read the rest of Zalman CNPS12X vs Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 on