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

Cooling
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Product
Zalman VF900-CU
Aftermarket VGA Cooler
Manufacturer
Zalman
Market Price
US$40

Moving up the price range, the Zalman VF900 does what the VF700 could not: It closes the flower to make a fully circular cooler. Despite being both smaller and lighter than any other heatsink in this review, including the VF700, Zalman positions it as their high-end VGA cooler and has priced it accordingly. The difference? A pair of heatpipes that snake around the outside edge of the flower.

Like the VF700, the VF900 is relatively simple and intended for low noise operation. A Zalman Fanmate2 is included in the package, so the fan can be set to quite a wide range of speeds. That aside, it is fairly similar to its cheaper cousin: The fan is located directly over the GPU, with no attempt to move the heat around. It is up to the system airflow to move the heat out of the system once it has come off the heatsink.


A full flower... how romantic (your girlfriend won't think so).

SPECIFICATIONS: Zalman VF900-CU
(from
Zalman's web site)
Dimensions
96 (L) × 96 (W) × 30 (H) mm
Weight 185g
Base Material
Pure Copper
Bearing Type
2-Ball
Speed
1,350 ~ 2,400rpm ± 10%
Noise Level
18.5 ~ 25.0dB ± 10%

Even though the heatsink is made of copper, it is by far the lightest cooler of the bunch, coming in at just 185g — almost 100g less than the VF700 and less than half of the NV Silencer. It is also the smallest cooler, although it still takes up an extra PCI slot.

By this time, we were starting to scratch our heads and wonder if Zalman had reversed the roles of their two coolers by accident. Surely this tiny thing couldn't be Zalman's performance cooler... could it? Of course, the true test is how it stands up under testing, not how it looks.


A Zalman Fanmate2 and the same RAM heatsinks as the VF700.


Look closely: There's actually two heatpipes here, one for each half.

Although it looks similar, the VF900 actually shares more in common with the CNPS9500 CPU heatsink than the VF700. The difference is the way that the flower of fins is constructed. The VF700 consists of a large number of fins that are clamped together to make the base and then spread apart at the edges to make the flower, but the VF900 does things differently. It relies on the ring of heatpipes to give it its structure and is hollow in the middle. The base plays no role other than to serve as a transfer point between the GPU and the heatpipes.


The heatpipes are more visible on this side.


Smooth contact surface for the GPU.

Installation

The VF900 is about as easy to install as the NV Silencer, but it manages to retain compatibility with a wide range of cards while doing so. The incompatibility list for the VF900 is short and sweet, with the GeForce 7800GS being the only current-generation card that will not work. Zalman deserves extra kudos for making the installation process 100% tool free.

Amazingly, Zalman has managed to make the VF900 compatible with no less than five mounting hole patterns without resorting to a bracket like the one used by the V1 Ultra. Installation is as simple as screwing the mounting posts into the correct holes on the heatsink, threading them through the card, and tightening the nuts on the other side. Just make sure that washers are used to insulate the card from the metal hardware.


The mounting posts are attached to the heatsink itself...


...the card is placed on top, and hand-tightened nuts hold the heatsink in place.


Voilà.



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