Date: May 19th, 2006
Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Zalman USA
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INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Next, the ramsinks go on. The OEM cooler didn’t cool the ram directly, so I don’t think these are really necessary in this particular instance, but we’ll put them on anyway. If nothing else, they look pretty cool. If you want to use them, the ramsinks must be installed before the VF700.
Once a thin film of AS5 is applied to the GPU, the new cooler can be attached to the mounting nipples with the supplied screws. The screws should be started on both sides and then run in a turn or two at a time, alternating sides, until they are snugged up against the nipples. Again, DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN! You may risk breaking the nipples or damaging the card. The mounting system will keep the cooler securely attached without any undue force applied.
The card is now ready for service. With the OEM cooler out of the way, the VF700 goes on in ten minutes or less, and I don’t see how installation could be any easier. It looks so good, it seems a shame to hide it in the case. This would be a great cooler for one of those “upside-down” motherboard cases with a window.
The included multi-connector (ZM-MC1) allows the user to choose between 5V quiet cooling and 12V maximum cooling. For this particular application, I’m more interested in quiet operation and while I’m not a huge fan of this solution, it’s better than nothing. I’ll discuss this in detail during my conclusions.
OK, let’s put this unit in the case and see how it compares to the OEM cooler. I have high hopes for the VF700-Cu LED. Let’s find out how it performs.
With the card installed, the fan looks great. Even running at 5V, the LEDs were very bright. I like the look a lot, but I’m more interested in temps. GPU temperature readings were taken via nVidia’s nVMonitor software in my climate controlled testing facility (basement). Ambient temperature was a constant 22C with the following hardware:
- DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR Motherboard
- AMD Opteron 148 CPU @ 2.6 GHz.
- 512 MB X 2 G. Skill PC4400 DDR Ram
- Zalman ZM460-APS PSU
- eVGA GeForce 6800 XT (Zalman VF700-Cu LED cooler)
- Western Digital WD800 SATA hard drive
- Lite-On CDRW/DVD Combo drive
- Windows XP Pro SP2
- Zalman HD160 HTPC chassis
Idle temperature was recorded after reboot and the system at desktop for 30 minutes. Load temperatures were recorded after three iterations each of AquaMark3 and 3Dmark05. The VF700 was tested at both low (+5V) and high (+12V) settings.
Results are as follows:
As you can see, the results are fairly dramatic. Even at its lowest fan speed, the Zalman unit bested the OEM cooler by 4-5C and the VF700 was essentially silent. When running at 12V, the differences were even more dramatic. As you would expect, with the fan set to high, more fan noise was produced, but the VF700 was significantly quieter than the stocker. As a side benefit, the chipset temps of the motherboard dropped 1-2C after I swapped the stocker for the VF700-Cu LED.