Zalman VF3000A ReviewRHKCommander959 - November 21, 2010
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Zalman has aimed to satisfy both sound and thermal performance enthusiasts alike with the VF3000A designed for AMD HD Radeon 5800-series graphics cards. The heat sink is surrounded by a decorative fan shroud that is fittingly anodized red in color as AMD is colloquially referred to as the red team. The shiny silvery areas use a rippled effect that I've seen on other computer hardware, such as chipset covers from Gigabyte and on some Crucial and G.Skill memory heat spreaders, to name a few. The heat sink is comprised of a two-part copper base that sandwiches five copper heat pipes. These heat pipes are slid into aluminum fins to conduct heat away from the GPU core. Some companies solder the fins to the heat pipes for better thermal conduction, but using the sliding method is a bit cheaper. Two blue LED 92mm fans blow air over the heat sink and only require a single fan header connection or they can be controlled directly with the included Fan Mate 2 device. The base of the heat sink is highly polished, although not perfectly smooth, as some slight ripple effect can be seen, possibly from machining. The base has twelve different holes for the mounting hardware, meaning that the main heat sink is also capable of mounting to other graphics cards, although the included heat sinks likely won't be enough for a full installation.
The red housing is mainly decoration, although it does serve as a shroud to help direct air through the heat fins. The shroud is held up away from the impellers by two bolts on each end and the twelve tabs located in the middle. Four clips help to hold the fan shroud to the heat sink as well. The shroud does not barricade the impellers from cables or anything else likely to come nearby during fan operation. A 3-pin fan cable sneaks out the back of the heat sink, which can be plugged into a fan controller such as the included Fan Mate 2, or plugged directly into the motherboard. Both ends of the heat sink look the same, except one end has three heat pipes poking out versus two on the other. Two screws adorn each side to help hold the fan shroud to the heat sink.
The fan shroud is a simple piece of metal that has been punched and stamped, then folded to make the form. It is very light weight and fragile. The main purpose of it would be to focus the fan air into the heat fins, although with the ventilation holes, the air won't be fully directed through. Both of the fans are attached to the heat sink using a long black frame with clips at both ends and in the middle. The frame stretches the whole length of the heat sink and has both fans attached to it. All the heat fins have a pair of holes punched into them to accept the clip-on fan frame, along with grooves at both sides for the shroud to clip onto and holes for the screws. Both fans are wired together and are rated for 12VDC 0.30A each with the EBR bearing type. The dimensions are also given in the part number: 92mm diameter 12mm height.
Installing the heat sink required no tools after the 5870 was stripped down. Everything on the Zalman VF3000A can be done by hand without tools. The end of the heat sink hangs over the end of the PCB slightly, but not enough to be bothersome. Some users may have trouble fitting such a large heat sink solution into their systems, so plan ahead to make sure that there is sufficient room to fit the heat sink into the system and that there are enough open expansion slots.
Now that it is installed, it is time to test the VF3000A heat sink!