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Zalman VF900-Cu Ultra Quiet Heatpipe VGA Cooler E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zalman VF900-Cu Ultra Quiet Heatpipe VGA Cooler
Closer Look: Zalman VF900-Cu
VF900-Cu Disassembly
Zalman VF900-Cu Installation
Zalman VF900-Cu Assembly
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Zalman VF900-Cu Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that I originally didn't think I needed or wanted a GPU cooler for these two builds, I am happy that I ended up with one. I want the ability to do some light gaming or even GPU folding without having to worry about the health of my GPU. With the 7300GT card, I also got an immensely quieter PC, as well. Your mileage may vary; my experience is solely with mid-range video cards that are at the bottom rung of the gaming application ladder. Any nVIDIA 8800/9800 or ATI 3870 card is going to have a much more sophisticated and integrated cooling solution. On the other hand, the aftermarket cooler manufacturers also have much more powerful and highly developed solutions for those applications, too.

Aftermarket Cooling for Video Cards

Zalman VF900-Cu Conclusion

My inner engineer loves this thing. Beyond the fact that it works really well, it looks good too. It's a classic case of a design where form follows function. It's round because the fan is (naturally...) round, it's made out of copper because copper conducts heat 70% better than aluminum. The incredibly smooth base is plated with copper instead of nickel because copper conducts heat 400% better than nickel. The company name, Zalman, is stamped into every fin, cleverly disrupting laminar airflow and increasing heat transfer in the area right next to the heat pipe. Everywhere I look, there's no fat on this design, no pretense to art, no nod to any consumer fetishes. It just looks right, because it is right!

The cooler was packed in a reasonably attractive box, with a large window that allows you to clearly see the product. There were no swords or dragons or anime characters on the box; just basic blue, which contrasts nicely with the copper color of the cooler. The PET clam-shell packaging inside the box has separate compartments for all the bits and pieces; everything was easily visible and there was no way for any of the smaller pieces to get lost. The overall package wasn't much larger than it had to be, a compromise between product protection and shipping efficiency, no doubt. Mine made it to my doorstep, via UPS, in perfect condition

The instructions were clear and legible, a noticeable improvement over some of the CPU cooler instructions I've encountered lately. There is a video on the website that was useful as well; sometimes a little 3D animation makes more sense than anything you could put on paper.

The Zalman VF900-Cu fit my needs perfectly; the time I spent comparing different models, their capabilities, features and cost was well spent. I didn't pay for an overkill solution and I don't have to wonder if it will perform under tough conditions. The market is mature enough that there are many solid choices at each performance and price point to choose from. Zalman has a lot of experience in this market segment, and it shows in this well balanced design that is squarely aimed at the mid-market.

The current price at Newegg is $37.99, which is middle of the pack; it's not a screaming value, but it represents a good choice for the money. Honestly, I don't mind paying decent money for a high quality product; I have no buyer's remorse on this purchase and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it others who are looking for a solution to a hot and noisy video card. There weren't any rebates on offer when I bought mine, but keep an eye out. There is now an equivalent model available with blue LEDs, so the un-lit version might get discounted.

Pros:

+ Full Copper design looks great, works great at all speeds
+ Very quiet, inaudible in my application on High Speed
+ Includes adjustable fan controller
+ Simple, flexible, and sturdy mounting system
+ Impeccable surface finish on cooler base (copper plated)
+ Well balanced design; no unnecessary features and no weak points

Cons:

- Application data out of date, no nVIDIA 8XXX or 9XXX cards listed
- If used in poorly ventilated cases, will raise case temperature
- Clear insulating washers almost invisible, easily lost once removed from package

Ratings:

  • Presentation: 8.75
  • Appearance: 9.50
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 9.2 out of 10.

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