ZEROtherm GX815 Gamer Edition Vga Cooler

ccokeman - 2007-05-17 21:08:39 in VGA Cooling
Category: VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: May 20, 2007
APACK-ZEROtherm
APACK-ZEROtherm
Price: $38.99 USD

Introduction:

You are 3 hours into that online fragfest and suddenly your screen goes blank. You start wondering what happened to your pride and joy. You finally check the temperature of your video card, and lo and behold, it's way higher than it should be. What do you do? Cleaning the heatsink doesn't help so you are left with a few options. You could leave the case side panel off with a 20inch fan blowing onto your components, you could just hang up the gaming for a while, or you can invest in a new cooler for that hot running video card of yours. Today we will be looking at the  ZEROtherm GX 815 Gamer Edition VGA cooling solution that features heatpipe technology, 120 cooling fins, and automatic fan speed control via a built in temperature sensor.

This GPU cooler is compatible with many of today's current video cards. For the nVidia crowd, it is capable of being used from the 6800 series up to the 7900 series. For the ATI crowd, compatibility is limited to the X1x00 series of cards. This includes everything from the 1300 to the 1900 series.

ZEROtherm (APACK) was formed in 1999 through a partnership between three engineers from the Electrics and Telecommunications Research Institute. They have had ongoing success, including contracts with ASUStek to supply the cooling for their line of video cards, as well as being the OEM cooling solution supplier for ASUStek and Elsa's nVidia's 8600 series of cards.


Closer Look:

The cooler is prominently displayed through the front panel of the packaging. The specifications and compatibility charts, as well as automatic fan profiles, are listed on the rear panel.


Let's take a look inside to see what we have.This heatsink comes with the mounting hardware to attach this cooler to any of the models listed on the compatibility charts. Thankfully, memory heatsinks, as well as a tube of the company's own thermal paste, are included items.

Closer Look:

After pulling the cooler out of the box, the resemblance to some other coolers on the market is remarkable. The fan looks more like an impeller type used inside an enclosure to direct air over the heatsink rather than the traditional fan pushing air down through the fins. The contact surface of the cooler is covered with a warning label to make sure you remove it before installation. After removing it, I was more than a little pleased with the contact surface. It is highly polished without any machining marks.


 



The items that are included are heatsinks for the video cards memory chips, attaching hardware for both nVidia and ATI cards, thermal paste, and a detailed set of instructions.


The attaching hardware is spring loaded to help make sure you do not over tighten the screws and cause damage to your video card. The memory heatsinks have a flame type design to increase the surface area that can be cooled by the passage of air blown by the cooler fan.

Installation:

To install this cooler, you will first need to remove the card from your existing chassis, or if you are going to install it on a new video card, just remove it from the packaging and put the card on to a cleared out well-lit workplace. We will be pulling the card from an existing computer chassis for this exercise. The cooler will be installed on an ATI built X1900XT video card. This card is currently equipped with another company's aftermarket cooling solution, so we will be using it for our demonstration. One note of warning is that you may void your warranty by installing aftermarket devices to your video card.

The first thing we will do is remove the existing heatsink. This is what we are starting with.


Once you have the old cooler assembly off, you will need to clean off the old heatsink compound and any residual adhesive on the memory chips. The first step in the process is to install the supplied memory heatsinks. They have a pre-applied thermal tape so that you push on and release to attach them.

Following the heatsink installation, I installed the supplied mounting hardware to the heatsink. I used the high profile non-dual GPU specific components since I will not be using this card in a Crossfire setup. I then applied the thermal paste to the GPU and set the GX815 into place. With the longer studs, this was a painless process. Finish up with installing the knurled nuts to the studs from the back side of the card, tighten evenly to prevent core breakage, and you are ready to start gaming worry-free.


As you can see, this cooler is pretty compact once installed. It is still a true two slot cooling solution, so if you are interested in going Crossfire or SLI, plan accordingly.

Specifications:

Dimension
116 x 100 x 32 mm
Heatsink Material
Fin : Copper
Base : Copper
Heatpipe : Copper
Memory Heatsink : Aluminum
Rated Voltage
12VDC
Rated Input Current
0.35A
Rated Input Power
4.2W
Max Air Pressure
10.01 mmH2O
Max Air Flow
11.10 CFM
Bearing Type
2-Ball bearing
Life Expectance
50,000 hours
Fan Speed
Automatic fan speed control by Temp. Sensor
1,200~3,000, Automatic speed control
Acoustical Noise
Min. 18.5 dBA @ 1,200 rpm
Min. 18.5 dBA @ 1,200 rpm
 
Max. 33.8 dBA @3,000 rpm
Fan Connector
3-pin, 3-wire (to M/B or to PSU)
Weight
177.6 g (w/o screws)

Testing:

To test out the capabilities of this VGA heatsink, we will compare it to one of the better GPU cooling solutions for the type of video card being used (in this case a Built by ATI X1900XT). The testing I will use is to loop 3dMark06 for 3 runs and then compare idle and load temperatures, as well as case temperature since both of these GPU coolers exhaust the air into the case rather than out the back panel. To measure GPU temperature, I will use ATI Tool. All fan speeds for the AcceleroX2 will be controlled by ATI's Catalyst software. The GX815 includes its own onboard thermal sensor and will increase fan speed based on its measurements. To check case temperature, I will use my Kestral 4100 Airflow tracker in lieu of the onboard monitoring software included with the motherboard. This way I will have a real world case temperature rather than a calculation from the onboard monitor. All measurements will be in degrees Celsius. The testbed system is as follows.

Testing Setup


Lower is Better

Lower is Better

Lower is Better


It looks as though the ZEROtherm GX815 has proved its worth as a GPU cooling solution. With the drop in temperatures across the board, it has soundly beaten one of the better cooling solutions on the market. The drop in case temperature was something I was not expecting. After checking on the vent of the card, it actually had air blowing out of it instead of just recirculating the hot air back into the case.

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised with this product. I was not expecting the performance that it delivered. While that sounds bad, it isn't. The GX815 soundly beat the cooler that was installed on the test X1900XT. That cooler was an improvement over the stock heatsink in both noise and temperature reduction. It looks as though ZEROtherm has done its homework and provided the enthusiast market with a product that provides top level performance at a better price point than some of the other top tier manufacturers. With an idle temperature reduction of 10C, a load temperature reduction of 27C, and a case temperature reduction of 18C, how can you go wrong with this product? It looks like the other X1900XT card in the stable will lose its current cooling solution and have a ZEROtherm GX815 installed.

This is the first ZEROtherm product I have had experience with and if all of its products give these type of results, I will definitely look for its products again. If you need a GPU cooling solution that works, give this one a try. With the ease of installation, attractive price point, and temperature reductions, this product just works.



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