Zalman VF3000N VGA cooler review -
Final Words & Conclusion
Well then, seen from a performance point of view, Zalman has definitely released a very interesting product. It's a good cooler. I'm however not sure if the benefits outweigh the negatives and as this article has shown, there are quite a few of them. First off, you'll loose three PCI slots inside your chassis as this cooler really is that bulky. We so had hoped that this design would have been dual-slot at maximum.
Then there's just the sheer risk you're taking with damaging your graphics card. We took an expensive GTX 285 OCX edition from BFG and as this article has shown, we damaged it when we tried to clip on the IO heatink. Pressing down one side of the heasink resulted in a resistor popping our of it's soldered location .. yikes. We were able to repair the damage but simply put .. that's the kind of stuff that can happen, you increase risk by pursuing optimal cooling.
On the positive side of things, Zalman designed a cooler that is fairly easy to install. You'll receive everything needed from cooler to memory, VRM , IO heatsinks and thermal paste. So the package is definitely complete and with the proper tools quite a straightforward job to manage. Fifteen minutes to half an hour tops and you are done.
Now if you ask me, would I purchase this kit and use it myself? My answer would unfortunately have been no. I can live with the risk of damage, the three slots as well but what I disliked the most was the atrocity called the fan controller. It needs to lead to the cooler, then to the motherboard and then Zalman recommend you to stick it on the outside of the chassis with dual-layer sticky tape. That solution did not make any sense to me whatsoever. It's a spaghetti of cables and you have a fan controller located somewhere on the outside of your chassis. What Zalman should have done here is to simply allow the fans to be controlled by the the graphics card FAN power. Each and every fan these days can be controlled by graphics card software easily. So why the need of an external fan controller? It so baffles me, but perhaps power requirements have something to say here, though.
Noise levels then, things are certainly okay. If you leave the product at a low RPM, noise levels are actually really good, and your temps will still be a good chunk better than the reference cooler. At the MID level settings, noise levels are still really good yet you'll get a little more bite in cooling performance. Once we crank up the cooler to maximum we finally reach a mildly bothersome 44 DBa noise level, but with a nice overlock session that might come in handy as it brought down the GPU temperature towards 55 Degrees C under full load.
So then, summing it up. The Zalman VF3000N is without doubt a cooler with a bit of controversy. None the less you purchase it for two reasons .. silence and cooling performance. The noise levels are good enough and the performance certainly does shine. As such for the real hardware entrepreneur this could be a perfect solution to the never ending issue of overheated graphics cards whereas for others it's a product to steer clear from. But that's your call to make, obviously.
Zalman recently released their VF3000 series graphics card coolers for both (VF3000A) ATI's latest 4000/5000 series graphics cards and the VF3000N cooler for the GeForce GTX 260,275,280 and 285.So what we'll do today is that we'll take a nifty beefy BFG GeForce GTX 285. To spice things up a little we took the pre-overclocked OCX model, which is their highest clocked version available on the market. So if you are gutsy enough to strip down the graphics card to the bare PCB and then mount this cooler, then you can achieve temperatures that are much lower than say the roughly 80 degrees C temps we get from this card normally.