Zalman VF900-Cu GPU Cooler Review

Admin - 2007-01-17 13:53:03 in VGA Cooling
Category: VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: October 26, 2006
Zalman
Price: $34 -/+ USD

Introduction
The Zalman VF900-Cu GPU cooler is the newest video card cooler from one of today’s leading cooler makers in the PC industry. Zalman recently has had the successful release and debut of a CPU cooler, the Zalman CNPS-9500 LED, and is also known for its Fata1y series of coolers. The company was founded in January of 1999, and in February of 2002 they founded its subsidiary in the United States. Zalman has done nothing but grow and is continuously releasing great products and raising the bar in performance and excellence. Zalman has won numerous awards in the past seven years and is headed toward many, many more. Zalman, in my opinion, has a real understanding for building and selling top of the line air coolers and having leading edge knowledge of heat pipe technology with a fin design, which allows for superb cooling! This particular cooler that we are looking at today appears to be a very nice piece of hardware!

Closer Look
The Zalman VF900 cooler comes packaged in a very flashy and sturdy box with clear plastic windows; one in the front and also one in the back to show off the awesome finish on this cooler.

  

Once you have opened the box and removed all the contents, you will first notice the superb quality and good looks of the cooler itself, and then plenty of hardware to install the cooler to a wide variety of video cards. There is one thing I noticed that did not come with the hardware package, something that could make it very difficult for novices to install this product, and that is the instruction manual. Fortunately, Zalman has a very good installation movie for the cooler on their website; however it is my opinion that it would have been much easier and more professional to have included an instruction manual with the VF900. Prior to installation check to make sure you have everything in the parts list, as you don’t ever want to get halfway through an installation and then realize that you’re missing the one part you need to finish!

Parts included with the Zalman VF900:
1) Heatsink Assembly (VF900-Cu)
2) Eight RAM heat sinks
3) Four Nipples
4) Four Fixing Nuts
5) One PVC Washer Plate
6) Four Rubber Rings
7) Four Springs
8) Thermal Grease
9) FAN Controller (FAN MATE 2)
10) Cable for FAN MATE 2
11) Dual-sided Tape (to attach FAN MATE 2)
12) User's Manual - in English and Korean (The user’s manual was missing for this review)

Here you can see that Zalman really took the extra time and paid close attention to lapping the base of the cooler for a very professional finish. The base is perfectly flat and has been finished with a nice high polish. Just remember that even though a heatsink has a high polish or mirror-like appearance, that does not mean the heatsink is perfectly flat. The heatsink must be flat in order to achieve the best contact to a GPU or CPU.

Here you can see the unique design of Zalman’s heat pipe technology. Note the heat pipe that runs from one side to the other of the base. The heat pipes are bent in a circular design just right for the cooling fan on this unit. You can see how the heat pipes were connected, or soldered, together to aid in heat transfer and also to help in structural stability. You can also get a good look at the mounting brackets and the many different configurations to fit your specific needs over a wide range of video cards.

  

Zalman has become known for its “fin” style heat sinks, and as you can see they do not disappoint with the VF900. The copper fins are a vital key to the way these coolers work. As the heat passes through the heat pipes it is transferred out and across the numerous fins that cover the entire distance of the heat pipes. It is in the fins where the majority of the heat is easily cooled and blown out and away from the cooler.

Installation
Installation of the cooler is relatively simple once you have the original cooler removed. The stock cooler is very simple to remove and once removed you will need to clean off the original thermal paste. I usually use a bit of alcohol on a tissue or lint free cloth to remove the old paste.

Once the GPU is all cleaned up you are ready to apply a new dab of thermal paste, however I choose to use AS5 (Artic Silver 5) instead of the supplied thermal compound. It’s always good to make a dry run or pre fit the cooler prior to applying the new thermal compound, just to ensure a proper fit and it usually helps me to have a much nicer, cleaner and easier installation once the thermal compound has been applied. The first thing that will need to be installed is the fancy little blue ram sinks. These ram sinks are more than simple to install, they have an adhesive backing, which a simple removal of the protective film and the ram sinks are ready to be press onto the ram. One thing I found out is that it seems to help if once you place the heat sink on the ram use a slight twisting side to side motion while applying pressure, seems to make the sinks stay on a bit better. The reason for eight ram sinks is so that they can be placed on the backside of the card and then the remaining four on the front side of the video card ram.

Now comes the exciting time of the actual heat sink/ fan installation. Once again installation is a breeze and the unit is easily installed with-in a couple minutes, just don’t forget to add the thermal compound prior to final installation. First, you will need to determine which holes on the mounting bracket you will need to fit your video card. Once that’s determined you simply screw in the threaded nipples, slip on a rubber o-ring, then place the unit onto your video card lining it up to the factory holes.

Once you have the unit placed on your video card you will need to either lay it flat fan side down or just simply hold the fan/ heat sink firmly while being able to access the backside of the card. Place one plastic washer on each screw protruding through the card, then add the spring and finally screw the holding nut on. It’s best to get both holding nuts started first and then tighten each one back and forth to allow for even seating of the heat sink to the GPU.

The only thing left once you actually have the cooler installed is to re-install the card into your pc, re-connect the power supply cable (if needed) to the card, connect the fan mate 2 and fan wires to an appropriate power source and fire it up to enjoy cooling of the new Zalman VF900!

Specifications

Compatible Video Cards
ATI video cards Nvidia video cards

Testing
Testing Setup

For testing and taking temperatures I just simply let the card sit idle for about thirty minutes then measured the idle temps. As for the load temps I ran it through a couple loops of 3D Mark 06, then read the temps using a laser temperature gun.

All temperatures were taken using Raytek Minitemp Temperature Gun w/ Laser sight - MT4
The laser temperature gun is the best way I could see to take accurate temperatures without having to worry about faulty and inaccurate software readings. The Zalman VF900 GPU cooler seems to be getting the job done with stable temp readings!

Conclusion
The Zalman VF900 fan/heatsink cooler, which has the looks and the capabilities of a top of the line cooler, did not disappoint. As all can see from the temp results, this cooler has passed with flying colors! Bottom line with this cooler is this: almost delightful to install, wicked sick good looks, and cooling capabilities that rival all other air coolers in today’s market! I guess the only real “setback” I found during the installation and testing of the Zalman cooler is the fact that there was no instruction manual, but like I have stated before, the online guide is more than enough to aid in the installation.

Pros

Cons