FOR THE LAST year or two, Zalman has had some interesting products, but nothing that really made you stand up and say wow. The flair that redefined the look of fans and cases was absent, until the 2009 Computex.
This time around, Zalman had a new look, and new products, not just derivatives of the old stuff. The first new product was a new generation of power supplies. They are the 500RS and 600RS, with RS standing for Resonant Switching. Zalman says this will allow them to eliminate the output inductors, leading to a better, cheaper, and more efficient power supply. The RS line should start at around $140.
A new generation of fans
Power supplies are fairly dull looking though, and Zalman is known for form and functionality. The new ZM-RC1 ram cooler upholds the Zalman tradition of beauty and engineering. It’s a pair of clip-on fans to cool DIMMs, and comes in four colors. There are adjustment screws for two axis, so it should be fairly universal.
To complement the cooler, there is a front panel multi-fan controller called the ZM-MFC3. It can control up to four fans, and has the usual readouts. Couple this with the new line of PCI powered single slot exhaust fan/coolers and case temps can be kept fairly low.
A new generation
The new look for Zalman fans departs from their usual bowl shape to a more traditional upright model. That is not to say the CNPS-10X line is plain, far from it. The colors, such as pearlrized black or green anodization, were the first tip-off. The multi-colored ones look even better in person. In the sea of fans that is Computex, these stood out.
A cute design does not guarantee functionality any more than the five heatpipes do, but it doesn’t hurt. The thing that really made me smile was the difference between the CNPS-10X Quiet and Extreme models, a fan controller.
The Quiet has a large fan optimized for noise reduction, it is the blue and silver one above. The black and green models are the Extreme variant, and as you can see, they have a little docking widget about the size of a flash drive. This is a fan speed controller, and it either plugs in, or has a cable long enough to hang outside of your case.
Not only does it control the CNPS-10X itself, but it is a three fan controller as well. You can control a good portion of your fans with this one device. I haven’t seen anything like it before, and it could really come in handy for those that don’t want to invest in the full front panel setup.
Last up is the ZM-NC1500 notebook cooler, the successor to the ZM-NC1000. It is a flat plastic pad canted up at the normal angle, with rubber feet on top to hold your notebook in place. The center is a perforated aluminum mesh held down with chunky screws. It would fit nicely with any current or recent generation Mac, the people at the coffee shop are guaranteed to approve.
In the end, there was enough new stuff to make me confident that Zalman is getting back to it’s roots, outstanding design. Instead of gadgets, they were showing off useful items that you would want a clear side panel to show off. Lets hope this trend continues, we need more items of this caliber.S|A