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Zalman ZM80A-HP VGA Heatpipe Cooler Review



Now that the heat sink is installed, and I've somewhat explained how the heat pipe works, it's time to fire up the computer and see how the ZM80A-HP works.

The ThermalTake GeForce 4 Copper Cooler is probably one of, if not the most commonly used VGA coolers available, and because of that, I decided to use it to compare the ZM80A-HP. I said earlier that Zalman is known for using surface areas 3-10 times larger than traditional coolers, and as you can see in the pictures, the two Zalman heat sink plates easily dwarf the TT cooler.

The test system that I used is as follows:

  • Abit KX7-333R Motherboard
    • AMD XP 1800+ (1.53GHz) - Not overclocked
      • Swiftech MCX462-U w/ 80mm Vantec Tornado
    • Corsair PC2700
    • VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4600
  • Lian Li PC70
    • 6x Thermaltake 80x80x25 High Performance Fans (2x Intake, 4x Exhaust)
  • Windows XP Professional - SP1

To make testing as fair as possible, I used Artic Silver 3 when installing both heat sinks. I also ran the computer for 80 hours to allow the compound time thicken, as recommended by Artic Silver, Inc. Temperature measurements were taken by a CompuNurse with a probe placed next to the GPU. Thermal compound was cleaned off and reapplied between the use of the TT GF4 cooler, and the ZM80A-HP.

Idle & Load Temp - Not OC'd
To measure the idle temperature, the computer was shut off for 20 minutes, then powered up, and sat at idle for 5 minutes. To measure the load temperature, the computer ran FutureMark's 3DMark2001 for 15 minutes. During this time, the highest temperature that reached was recorded.

Idle & Load Temp - OC'd 310/700
The OC'd idle temp was measured in the same way as the non-OC'd idle temp. As with the other measurements, the OC'd load temp was measured in the same way as the non-OC'd load temp.

As you can see in the results, the ZM80A-HP didn't keep the GPU as cool as the Thermaltake cooler. I expected this would happen, after all, the Thermaltake cooler uses a fan to cool off the heat sink. :) Though, I suppose this is where the Noise vs. Performance debate comes into play. The Thermaltake GF4 cooler has a noise level of 29dB(A), where the ZM80A-HP produces no noise at all.

Now that we've seen how much the temperature varies, how does that affect the video card's performance? We all know that IC (Integrated Circuits) perform better if they are kept cooler... just how much does a 5-7C difference make?

FutureMark's 3DMark2001SE Build #330 - Not OC'd
For "benchmark" testing under 3DMark2001, I closed all unnecessary system and user processes inside of Windows XP. Then ran 3DMark using the default testing options.

FutureMark's 3DMark2001SE Build #330 - OC'd 310/700
Same method was used to test the card when it was OC'd as I used when it wasn't OC'd. Same services were closed.

So far, the TT cooler leads the ZM80A-HP by 5-6C and 10-20 points in 3DMark. 10-20 Points really isn't something most users worry about, except maybe the hardcore, extreme, l33t, gamers that want to push it to the max.... Heck, I can't tell a difference when playing BattleField:1942 or UT2K3. Though, knowing that the card stays a few degrees cooler, would make me feel better. :)

Speaking of UT2K3, let's see what the max FPS looked like, shall we? To get the result for Max FPS, I used the Unreal Tournament 2003 Benchmarking tool and ran the Flyby-Phobos2 test running at 1600x1200.

Unreal Tournament 2003 - Flyby-Phobos2 Benchmark - Not OC'd

Unreal Tournament 2003 - Flyby-Phobos2 Benchmark - OC'd 310/700

As with the 3DMark test, the UT2K3 test shows the ZM80A-HP with a slightly less score. Is it something that you would notice in a fire fight? I didn't.


Well, there you have it. If you are looking for quiet, the ZM80A-HP cannot be beat. However, it does sacrifice a slight bit of performance by not having a fan to keep it cooled. Zalman states in the manual, "You can expect satisfactory cooling performance with the product alone. However, you can enhance the cooling capacity by using the product in conjunction with Zalman's CNPS6000-xxxx or CNPS6500B-xxxx, which is accompanied by the FB123 (fan bracket)."

I believe the ZM80A-HP would do extremely well with a fan added to it, as suggested by Zalman. A low noise fan would probably cool the ZM80A-HP well below the TT GF4 cooler, and something like the TT SMART Case Fan II or Vantec Tornado would work mush better. Though, this is just an assumption at the moment. I'll see if I can come up with a FB123, and test the ZM80A-HP with a few different fans. I'd really like to know what this thing can do with a 80mm Tornado. :) Look for an update to come in a few weeks.


  • Installs easy
  • Heatpipe
  • Aluminum Heatsink
  • Large Heat displacement area
  • Several extra parts included
  • Very well written instruction manual
  • Quiet
  • Requires no power


  • Does not work on Matrox Parhelia
  • Takes up a PCI slot
  • No fan included
  • Card is very heavy
  • No heatsink for the video card's memory

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Installation
  3. Testing & Conclusion
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