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Zalman VF700-Cu LED VGA Cooler
Cooling Devices | First Looks
Wed 14 Dec 2005



Lights, Fan, Action!

 
Full copper base and fins for fast and effective removal of heat.

 
Bundled RAM sinks will ensure that your memory chips stay cool as well.

 
Package bundle: Thermal paste, nipple screws, bracket and the Multi-Connector.

With each successive generation, graphics cards have had their processing prowess increased due to ever-higher clock frequencies and transistor counts. This trend usually implies more heat output from these fast and power-hungry cards, directly translating to the need for bigger and better cooling. However, manufacturers today are constrained by the general public's lack of tolerance for noisy coolers. Getting the right balance between noise output and cooling efficiency is the holy grail sought by specialist vendors like Zalman, which takes pride in its products for the 'noiseless PC'.

The Latest VF700

Our previous encounter with Zalman's VF700 series of VGA coolers had been quite positive. As we had remarked in our review of the Sapphire Radeon X800 XL Ultimate - which utilizes the aluminum version - the open, highly ventilated design of the Zalman VF700 ensures that there are no trapped pockets of warm air, meaning that the 75mm fan can afford to spin at a leisurely 1350 revolutions per minute (RPM) and still deliver excellent cooling characteristics. Nothing drastic has changed in the new Zalman VF700-Cu LED as like its name implies, it is essentially the same cooler retrofitted with bright blue LEDs to attract the modding community. Built quality remains solid and the copper base is smooth and relatively polished, so there is little need for lapping. 

Sweet Sound of Silence
 
The cooler has two modes of operation: Silent and Normal, with a basic difference in fan speed. In Silent Mode, the fan spins at a lazy 1350RPM, but this rate is almost doubled to 2650RPM in Normal Mode (which is of course still relatively low). Subsequently, Zalman has placed the noise level of the cooler between 18.5 to 28.5 decibels. To put these numbers in perspective, 30 decibels is roughly that of a soft whisper in your ears. Commendable though the quiet performance of the Zalman VF700-Cu LED may be, we wish that Zalman had allowed users to toggle between the two modes more conveniently. At the moment, this is determined by which end of the given Multi-Connector you connect the cooler to.

The black tipped ones supply 12V of power and are meant for Normal Mode operation while the white ends are for Silent Mode, providing only 5V. Ideally, we would have preferred a software-based switch between the two or even a simple mechanical voltage controller would have sufficed.

LEDs are l337!
 
At least that seems to be the impression conveyed by your typical 'modder', a popular sub-culture in the hardware enthusiast community. Many vendors have also begun embracing this development wholeheartedly. The result: a whole range of hardware equipped with ubiquitous LEDs, UV and neon lights. The Zalman VF700-Cu LED is another adherent of this trend and its high intensity blue glow is either heaven sent or an excuse for a headache, depending on your preferences.

Not for Everyone 

While the Zalman VF700-Cu LED supports a great number of cards from both ATI and NVIDIA, it obviously cannot and does not support all makes and models due to its size and build. Notably, this cooler cannot be installed on Matrox VGA cards while most of NVIDIA's GeForce PCX 5 series are also unsuitable, but rest assured that the newest Radeon X1800 and GeForce 7800 GTX cards are supported. Users should consult Zalman's website for a full compatibility list. For the novices, there is even a very helpful Flash movie that walks you through the whole installation process.
 
Final Thoughts
 
They say never change a winning formula and there is nothing in the Zalman VF700-Cu LED that we haven't seen before. Thanks to its unique design, you can expect top drawer performances from this cooler in terms of both noise and heat reduction. The blue LEDs will undeniably attract loads of attention with the right case mod, but if you can't be bothered about aesthetics, there is always the original VF700-Cu. Due to the indisputable quality of the cooler and its affordable pricing of around US$29, we'll have to say that the Zalman VF700-Cu LED is worth a look. However, don't expect anything over the original that's more than just skin deep.

     

Product Specifications

  • Weight: 270g
  • Cooling Material: Pure Copper
  • Dimensions: 91mm x 126.4mm x 30mm
  • Bearing Type: 2-Ball Bearing
  • Fan Speed: 1350rpm (Silent mode) / 2650rpm (Normal mode)
  • Noise Level: 18.5dB (Silent mode) / 28.5dB (Normal mode)