Zalman VF900-Cu Goes LED

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Product: Zalman VF900-Cu LED
Provided By: ZalmanUSA
Price: ~ $54.00CDN

Introduction:

Zalman seems to never let sleeping dogs lie, and when it comes to cooling computers - that is a very good thing.  Zalman has pioneered quiet cooling, and over the past few years they have kicked things up a notch with quiet performance as well.  Quiet, high performance coolers are just not enough anymore so lately Zalman has been adding some eye candy to their coolers.  Today we are taking a look at the updated VF900-Cu LED and show how well this cooler looks, works and performs on today's toasty graphics cards.

Nice Package
 Nice Package

Peek At The Base
 Peek At The Base

First Look:

The VF900-Cu LED comes in a very bright and cheerful box that shows off the new clear LED fan on the top of the cooler and when you look at the back of the box, you get a nice look and the super shiny base.  This package is very eye-catching and will likely have enthusiasts reaching for it on the shelf.

The Whole Bundle
The Whole Bundle

The bundle that comes with the VF900-Cu LED is identical to the VF900-Cu cooler.  Zalman throws in eight BGA ram sinks, a case badge, thermal paste, mounting hardware and the Fan Mate 2 controller and cable.  They also include a very clear installation manual that will help you figure out what holes to use on the HSF base.  As you can see in the picture above, the RAM sinks are a nice anodized blue and they will match very nicely with the blue LED fan as we'll see in a few minutes.

We tested the Fan Mate 2 controller to see how much it varied the voltage and we measured voltages from 5.02v to 10.68v with this particular controller.  At low speed, you cannot hear the fan at all, and even when turned up to 8v the fan is barely audible.  At full speed you can hear the fan when the case is open, but when you close the case side make this fan inaudible at a distance of 1 meter.

Zalman always makes quality products that look very nice and are geared to perform as well as they look.  The pictures below show what we mean.

HSF Close Up
 HSF Close Up


 

Mirror Finish
Mirror Finish


 

As is usual with a Zalman HSF, the Zalman name is stamped into each of the many fins on this unit.  As you can see the base of the cooler is polished to a mirror finish as well.  We have noticed recently that some of Zalman's CPU heatsinks aren't finished quite as well as this cooler.  This is a top notch job that deserves a couple of thumbs up on this front.

As you may notice, in this heatpipe design there is no direct contact of the fins with the HSF base.  All of the thermal convection is done through the use of two heatpipes.  Heatpipes have come a long way over the years and are very efficient as we'll see on the next couple of pages.

Features & Specs:

1. The high intensity blue LEDs on VF900 LED coolers stay bright even in Silent Mode.
2. 
Pure copper heatsink base and fins maximize cooling performance.
3. Use of two high performance heatpipes maximizes heat transfer.
4. Circular heatsink formed by radially aligned ultra-thin(0.2mm) fins minimizes airflow resistance
    and maximizes heat dissipation surface area for excellent cooling performance.
5. Fan installed in the heatsink cools not only the VGA chipset and VGA RAM, but all other VGA
    components.
6. Does not exert any excessive force on the VGA card due to the product’s light weight.
7. Improvement in the installation structure provides excellent compatibility and easy installation.
8. Adjustable fan speed controller(FAN MATE 2) enables control of noise and fan speed.
9. Does not generate noise or vibration in Silent Mode.

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

This unit weighs up and has the same features as the VF900-Cu except of course for the Blue LED fan.  We will be testing this cooler out on a different card however.


Installation:

We installed the VF900-Cu LED onto our eVGA 7600GT CO video card and are thankful to be able to replace the stock cooler on this unit.  When running 2D applications the cooler is almost silent but when running 3D applications, it makes quite a bit of noise.  I'm thankful to replace it with something a little quieter.

Installation is fairly straightforward if you can follow along in the guide or if you've replace a video card HSF before.  We pulled the four screws holding the stock cooler in place, cleaned up the core and consulted the guide so we'd know where to put the "nipples".

Why do HSF's have nipples?
Why do HSF's have nipples?

The quick install guide that came with the heatsink didn't list the 7600 series of GPU on it's compatibility list.  We whipped out a caliper and discovered that the heatsink could be mounted using either hole #3 or #5.  We decided to use the hole farthest away from the GPU core to give it more stability.  A quick swing by Zalman's website also shows an update compatibility list where the 7600 series is listed.

As we started to screw the HSF down tight, I noticed that the little rubber washers had extra space and really weren't doing their job to act as a buffer against the card.  On a 7800GT, these washers are squished between the mounting hardware and the PCB to help balance the force as you screw the HSF down.  With the 7600GT, they really aren't doing anything any you'll have to take extra care to tighten the screws evenly to avoid cracking your GPU core.

Washer Space
 Washer Space

Installed
 Installed

The 7600GT 256MB card that we used for testing only has 4 BGA ram modules so we have an extra 4 BGA ram sinks left over.  That is always nice to have too many instead of not enough.  Before we jump into testing this cooler, we'll leave you with one final shot of it installed.

Top View Installed
Top View Installed

Test Setup & Info:

We tested the VF900-Cu LED on the following setup:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU
  • Intel DG965WH Motherboard
  • 2GB 2x1GB Crucial Ballistix PC8000 (DDR2-1000) - Crucial
  • Plextor PX-750A DVDRW - Plextor
  • Seagate 250GB 7200.10 SATA HDD
  • eVGA 7600GT 256MB
  • Windows XP Professional with all available updates
  • Intel 8.0.1.1002 chipset drivers
  • ForceWare 91.31 drivers

Temperatures were recorded using the ForceWare 91.31 driver temperature control panel.  We recorded idle temperatures 15 minutes after we finished running our stress loop.  This idle temperature scenario shows how well the cooler works after running loaded for a while.  Our full load temperatures were taken during the fourth run of 3DMark05.  3DMark05 was run using only game tests at 1280x1024 with 4x AA and 16x AF enabled.  This heated things up more than even F.E.A.R. or Quake 4.

LED Fan - High
LED Fan - High

Keep these things in mind as we run our cooling performance tests on the next page.


Performance:

The first chart below shows how the stock noisy-at-full-speed cooler performance as compared to the VF900-Cu LED at both low and high fan speeds.  High fan speed on the Zalman cooler is much, much quieter than the stock cooler when running 3D applications.

Stock Performance
Stock Performance

The Zalman VF900-Cu LED shows some significant improvement over the stock cooler used by eVGA on this card.  When the Zalman cooler is running at low speed (5v) the idle temperature on the stock cooler is the same as the full load temperature on the Zalman cooler.  At full load, the Zalman cooler keeps the GPU core 8C cooler when running low speed, and 11C when running high speed.  This is a very nice improvement.

When it comes to overclocked performance the performance gap remains fairly static.

Overclocked Performance
Overclocked Performance


 

Again we see both idle and load temperatures much lower on the VF900-Cu LED than we do on the stock cooler.  We see 11C improvement at high speed and 8C improvement at low speed.

Conclusion:

It's really no surprise how much better the VF900-Cu LED performs that a stock cooler.  It's really up to the consumer if the added performance, lower noise and better looks are worth your money, but in our opinion noise=bad, quiet=good.  Zalman has released yet another cooler that fits the bill in our system.  It performs very well and is virtually silent at low fan speed.  In most systems, you'll turn down the fan speed to 5v and leave it alone.  Even at low speed it kicks booty on the stock cooler and provides rock solid stable performance and does it quietly.  Quietly kicking butt is what it's all about.

Pros:

  • Very good installation instructions.
  • Dual heatpipe design.
  • Fan Controller.
  • Quiet at low-mid speeds.
  • Blue LED fan.

Cons:

  • Fan Mate 2 Controller could integrate better with the system.
  • Two slot cooler.

Overall we are very happy with this cooler.  It's nice to get rid of the noise that is eVGA stock cooling.

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
10/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 9.4

I'd like to thank ZalmanUSA for sending us this cooler to review.  Dual heatpipe GPU cooling with blue LED bling is always nice.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this cooler and this review, please post them at the comments link below.