VGA Coolers: Thermalright V1 Ultra, Zalman 700 & 900, AC Silencer 5 v.3

Cooling
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Product
Zalman VF700-CU LED
Aftermarket VGA Cooler with blue LED fan
Manufacturer
Zalman
Market Price
US$30

The VF700-CU is basically one of Zalman's signature flower heatsinks shrunk down to fit in the space of two expansion slots. Our sample is an all copper version with a blue LED fan, but there are also versions that use a conventional fan or a combination of aluminum and copper. There's even a bright red version sponsored by world renowned (apparently — I've never heard of him) gamer, Fatal1ty.

Like the V1 Ultra, the VF700 is meant to be a one size fits all design that supports the majority of the cards on the market. Zalman maintains an extensive list of compatible cards on their web site. Or, if you want to attack the problem in the opposite direction, they also have a list of incompatible cards, mostly of older vintages.

The VF700-CU is a simpler design than both the V1 Ultra and NV Silencer because it doesn't try to move the heat around with heatpipes or a plastic duct. It's closer to a conventional stock heatsink than either of the other two heatsinks we've seen so far. Because of this, it is smaller and lighter than both of them. Even so, it is still thick enough that it occupies the PCI slot below the card.


Zalman's flower design comes to a VGA cooler.

SPECIFICATIONS: Zalman VF700-CU LED
(from
Zalman's web site)
Dimensions
91(L) × 126.4(W) × 30(H)mm
Weight 270g
Base Material
Pure Copper
Bearing Type
2-Ball
Speed
1,350 ~ 2,650rpm ± 10%
Noise Level
18.5 ~ 28.5dB ± 10%

Zalman has always made a point of catering to low-noise enthusiasts, and the VF700 is no exception. Included in the package is a Molex to 3-pin adapter that supports two 12V and two 5V connections. This is not quite as good as the variable fan controller that Zalman ships with some of its heatsinks, but the gesture is appreciated even so. The fan uses a standard 3-pin motherboard plug, so finding ways to control the fan speed shouldn't be a problem.


Extras include a simple 12V/5V fan header and 8 tiny RAM heatsinks.


A classic Zalman flower.

One thing that sets the VF700 apart from other Zalman coolers is its asymmetrical design. The reason for this seems to be compatibility: A simple fully circular design with would be unlikely to fit any of the cards on the market. Our card in particular only allowed about an inch of space between the bottom of the GPU and the PCI Express slot. With the cooler centered over the chip, there is simply no room for the fins to extend downwards very far. Zalman's solution places the base of heatsink off-center so that the fins extend in a larger arc above the GPU and a smaller arc below. The squashed egg shape works to ensure physical fit with most graphics cards.


This side has shorter fins that aren't likely to bottom out when the card is installed.


The base is polished to a shine.

Installation

Installing the VF700 was almost as simple as the NV Silencer. The mounting system is similar to some of Zalman's past heatsinks: A metal harness that screws onto two sturdy mounting posts.

The first step is to install the eight RAM heatsinks. These are smaller than the heatsinks included with the V1 Ultra, but the installation procedure is identical: Peel off the backing and stick them on the RAM chips. The rear heatsink from the NV Silencer was again left on as a precautionary measure.

The most complicated part of the installation was putting together these mounting posts. Each is built from a pair of metal sleeves that screw together, sandwiching the graphics card between them. Rubber washers need to be placed on either side of the card to prevent short-circuits. A well illustrated instruction manual and a very helpful flash animation illustrate the procedure well.


In progress. On the left is a fully installed mounting post.
On the right are the four pieces that make it up.

A brace is then screwed onto the back side of the card, presumably to give the mounting posts some stability. This adds a little bit of height to the overall installation and could probably be safely removed if it interferes with any components above the card (a tall northbridge heatsink, for example).


The back brace is simple and secure.

Once the mounting posts are firmly secured, it is but the work of a minute to screw the heatsink in place. The screws need to be tightened gradually, alternating from one to the other, to avoid crushing the corners of the GPU.


Mounting posts are provided.

That done, all that's left is to plug in the fan, preferably into one of the 5V headers. Enjoy!


Installed and glowing.



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