Date: December 4th, 2006
Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: ZalmanUSA
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PRODUCT INSTALLATION & TESTING
After carefully inserting the nipples through the mounting holes, a PVC washer, spring and nut can be installed from the other side of the card and tightened in a criss-cross pattern.
The FC-ZV9 looks great on the card and it's hard to imagine how installation could have been easier. While this cooler is very low profile, Zalman clearly states that an adjacent slot will be unusable with the FC-ZV9 installed. Time to get the card in a system and see how this new Zalman cooler performs.
The testbed we'll be using consists of the following:
AMD Opteron 148 processor
DFI Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-DR motherboard
OCZ 5002048ELGE-K (1024mb X 2) memory
Thermaltake Toughpower 7500W PSU
Western Digital WD800 SATA hard drive
NEC DVD/RW drive
I've tested all the coolers in the comparison in the bare frame pictured above. This eliminates any effects that a case might introduce. Keep in mind that temps inside your case will be higher; how much higher depends on the case and airflow.
Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound was used on all the coolers. Idle temperature was recorded after reboot and the system at desktop for one hour. Load temperatures were recorded after one hour of 3Dmark05 loops. A constant ambient temperature of 21C was maintained in the testing environment and the results are as follows:
First of all, let's discuss the subjective noise level of the FC-ZV9. As I suspected, it's not silent, even at the lowest fan setting. Even at the highest speed, however, the Fatal1ty is still quieter than the stocker. At low speed, there isn't much difference between the two Zalman offerings but the FC-ZV9 is noticeably louder at maximum speed. As I mentioned earlier, with the FC-ZV9 aimed squarely at the gaming crowd, noise will take a backseat to performance.
The cooling performance, while much better than stock, was only slightly better than the original VF900-Cu. The nickel plating and faster fan seem to balance each other out for a net improvement of, well, not all that much. Don't get me wrong here, both the FC-ZV9 and the VF900-Cu are great coolers that perform very well and would be a nice upgrade from the stock cooler on most graphics cards. There's just not much performance difference between the two.
The red LEDs are not overpoweringly bright and really only become noticeable under fairly low-light conditions. Personally I don't view this as a bad thing, but some users may be disappointed with the subtle glow.