Zalman: Silence is golden
Zalman Tech is well known for their noise-reducing coolers. They began producing cooling products in 1999, and gained recognition from their CNPS, or Computer Noise Prevention System. This label is now affixed to all of their cooling products. Their early products only consisted of CPU coolers such as the CNPS3000 and CNPS5000 -- today, their CNPS9500 is one of the best, if not the best CPU heatsink available.
However other system components had fans, so Zalman expanded their product line to include video cards, power supplies, and system cooling. Zalman Tech became well known in the video card cooling industry for their ZM80 heat pipe unit. The ZM80 brought silent operation to Sapphire’s Atlantis 9700 Pro Ultimate card, and like the CNPS3000, was a popular cooling solution among enthusiasts looking to build a silent PC.
In 2005 Zalman introduced their VF700 cooler. Unlike previous VGA cooling products like the ZM80, the VF700 was a heatsink/fan unit, although it retained Zalman’s emphasis on noise reduction operating nearly silently. Since the VF700’s release it has been used as an OEM cooler on some video cards, most notably Sapphire with their X800 XL Ultimate. Their new venture into silent system cases has begun positively as well. All of these products have silence, or as close or to it as possible as a top priority. The VF900-Cu video card cooler we’re reviewing today is no different, it’s Zalman next-generation video card cooler. With high-end video cards running at higher clock speeds and incorporating more shading units than ever, battling heat becomes more of a challenge and thus new cooling technology must be introduced.
The Radeon X1900XTX, ATI’s flagship video card offering is also its loudest. It shares the throne of video cards with NVIDIA’s GeForce 7900GTX. The X1900XTX consumes the most power and releases the most heat of any video card on the market. This is due to its 384 million transistors, the most of any video card. Top that off with a 650MHz graphics core with 48 pixel sharders and you have a blazing monster, both in performance and heat. Although its gigantic two-slot cooler effectively cools the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), it whines like a vacuum, and peaks at about 60dBa at full load. This is where ATI’s at a clear disadvantage to NVIDIA’s offering. NVIDIA’s GeForce 7900 GTX runs much quieter than ATI’s cooler. This is due to a larger and slower spinning fan, as well as a larger heatsink with four heatpipes. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the 7900 GTX consumes less power and is composed of only 278 million transistors. That’s roughly 38% less than the X1900XTX.
So Zalman introduced a cooler specifically to quiet the beast. However as you will now see it is compatible with much more than today’s latest and greatest graphics cards.