in Coolers

Zalman VF-900

Zalman VF-900 Review

Introduction

Zalman manufacture some of the worlds best loved coolers for the hardware enthusiasts. From graphics card chillers to CPU heatsink and fan combos, they do it all. Today I have their VF-900 GPU cooler to test, I wonder how it will do…

Specifications

  • Dimensions : 96(L) X 96(W) X 30(H)mm
  • Weight : 185g
  • Base Material : Pure Copper
  • Bearing Type : 2 Ball-Bearing
  • Speed : 1,350 ~ 2,400rpm ± 10%
  • Noise Level : 18.5 ~ 25.0dB ± 10%

    Compatible Graphics Cards

    Nvidia

    • NVIDIA Geforce4 MX Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5200
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5500
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5600
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5700(Ultra) Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5800 Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5900 Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce FX 5950 Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce 6600 Series (except 6600 AGP Series)
    • NVIDIA Geforce 7600 Series
    • NVIDIA Geforce 7800 Series (except 7800GS)
    • NVIDIA Geforce 7900 Series

    ATI

    • ATI 9*** Series (except 9550/9600)
    • ATI X1300 Series
    • ATI X1600 Series
    • ATI X1600 Series
    • ATI X1800 Series
    • ATI X1900 Series

      Bits and Box

      The VF-900s box is quite simplistic in its design with the black to blue contour and the name of the cooler being the only prominent features of the front.

      Zalman VF-900 Box
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      The back of the box has a small window to let you see the highly reflective core. There are also some nicely detailed, close-up shots of the cooler to highlight its features; and some specifications.

      Zalman VF-900 Box
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      Along with the VF-900 you receive some shiny, blue RAM sinks, mounting screws, plastic washers, a Zalman sticker and a fan controller which comes with a sticky mounting pad.

      Zalman VF-900 Bundle
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      Zalman VF-900 RAM sink
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      Fan Controller
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      The VF-900 up close

      The VF-900 is the typical petal style cooler with a centralized fan surrounded by copper fins. This type of fan setup is designed to blow air omnidirectionally across the fins allowing for maximum cooling – however this does mean there is no exhaust mechanism for the hot air.

      Zalman VF-900
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      Zalman VF-900
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      This cooler really is very pretty with its bright, coppery fins really offsetting most GPUs darker PCBs.

      Zalman VF-900
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      Copper Fins
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      The VF-900 features a beautifully reflective core which should aid its cooling ability considerably.

      Copper Core
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      Copper Core
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      This core is connected to the huge amount of fins through twin heatpipes. To read about heatpipes please read our glossary entry, here.

      Heatpipes
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      The cooler is mounted using some wonderfully simple thumbscrews which attach very easily and were simply a joy to use when compared to some of the nightmare cooler installs that have taken place at XSR over the last year or so.

      Installation

      Installation was nice and simple thanks to the thumbscrews. I simply stuck some heatpaste on the newly cleaned core, used the provided sticky pads to sort out the RAM sinks and screwed on the main cooler.

      Thumbscrews
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      Cooler Installed
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      As you can see the VF-900 looks fantastic when attached and when plugged in, looks even better.

      Installed, LED
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      I attached the fan controller to the base on the base of my case, next to my sound card. This allows me to tuck the excess cable, of which there is plenty, behind the sound card; nice and stealthy.

      Fan Controller Mounted
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      Testing

      For testing CPU coolers we take the temperature of the CPU when it is at idle and when it is at full load. We then overclock it and repeat the test to see how effective the cooler is at keeping temperatures down in overclocked conditions.

      The graphics card I used to test this GPU cooler was probably the hottest card it could be fitted too, an x1900XT.

      The other coolers I compared the VF-900 to were the Sytrin Kuforumla VF1 Plus, Jetart VC2600 and the Arctic cooling X2.

      Results

      Graph

      It probably comes as no surprise that I was pretty disappointed by the Zalman temperatures there. Although at Idle the temperatures are pretty good, the load ones are horrendous; higher than all other coolers I have tested on this card.

      Noise

      The noise of this cooler is all dependant on what your preference is. Due to the provided speed controller you can have the cooler running at whatever speed you prefer. At minimum the VF-900 is genuinly silent and would work perfectly in an silence enthusiasts case. At max the cooling is obviously quite a bit better, but the noise levels do rise enough for the fan to be heard above quiet case fans. If you want slightly more performance you can skip the fan controller and just plug the cooler straight into a 3pin socket on your motherboard; however this raises the noise level further and the performance hike is only a degree or two.

      Cost

      The Zalman VF-900 comes in at the £20 mark with some retailers which is about average for a GPU cooler of this type.

      Conclusion

      For £20, the Zalman isn’t the worst deal in the world, but there are better coolers out there for the same and even less than this with coolers like the AC X2. It needs to be said that this is hardly a new cooler being released well over a year ago now and technology will obviously have moved on, but the temperatures are quite poor. If you want a quiet and good looking upgrade from the stock cooler then this isn’t a terrible choice, but there are much better performing coolers out there.

      Pros Cons
      Quiet Poor load performance
      Included fan speed controller
      Looks good

      I’d like to thank our sponsors QuietPC for providing us with this cooler.

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