Zalman ZM80-HP VGA Heatpipe Cooler Review
Recently I was looking around at the heatsinks & cooling gear of a local computer store to see if they had anything new and interesting. Aside from the dozen or so CPU heatsinks sitting on the shelves were a few items for cooling video cards, including the standard assortment VGA card slot coolers (don't bother, they are a waste of money) and a few BGA fan sinks from Thermaltake. As I stood looking at this assortment of heatsinks and fans it struck me first off that there are very few companies actively making cooling gear for videocards, and secondly that there is only one I know of making silent cooling gear for videocards.
That one company is Zalman Tech Co. of Korea, and of the five models of silent VGA coolers they have produced, only the recently released heatpipe series have captivated the mass attention of consumers.
The Zalman ZM80-HP was one of the first two coolers to be introduced, and subseqent models have since been released which addressed the shortcomings of this specific model with regard to the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro GPU. None the less, the ZM80-HP should still be more than effective on nVidia GPU-based videocards such as the Albatron Ti4600 which we'll be using today in our tests.
The ZM80-HP is clearly like no other VGA cooler - the large front heatsinks stands out 15mm millimeters from the surface of the videocard fully blocking off one entire PCI slot adjacent to the AGP slot. The gold-plated heatpipe has a diameter of just 5mm, and it is only this thin thermal conduit which connects the two sets of passive heatsinks together. Each component in the ZM80-HP package is however, very well finished.
The instruction booklet that comes with the unit is clearly written and illustrated pretty well with engineerig drawings. In addition to the actual heatsinks, core mounting bases, and copper heatpipe, Zalman also include a small phillips screw driver so you can assemble everything. A pack of spare parts with spare tube of thermal compound are also included.
There are actually two sets of base mounts; one for ATI cards which have closely spaced mounting holes, and the other for nVidia, SIS, etc. cards which have their mounting holes spaced further apart. In the following examples we'll be using an Albatron GF4Ti6400 as the main test bed since the mount with the ZM80-HP is not as ideally suited for ATI R300 GPU's.
Before we go further, I'm sure many of you are wondering just how a small gold-plated copper tube can "magically" move heat energy from the front of a video card to the rear...
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