Zalman have produced a handful of videocard heatsinks in the years since the original ZM17CU model was patented by Mr. Sang-cheol Lee (Patent #467559). That passive VGA heatsink was held on with Loctite adhesive, and its compact size would probably make a good chipset cooler in this day and age... Now a days, there are a variety of heatpipe-based passive and active videocard heatsinks to choose from, and with each new iteration Zalman has advanced its thermal solutions in remarkably clever ways.
The companies newest videocard heatsink is called the Zalman VF900-Cu, and it offers wider GPU compatibility with the large variety of ATI and nVidia videocards that on the market. In fact, five different mounting hole styles are supported! Unlike the ZM80D-HP which used heatpipes and front and rear mounted aluminum cooling fins, the Zalman VF900-Cu occupies space on the front of the videocard only. Measuring about 96mm in diameter, the VF900-Cu is entirely constructed of copper components, with two 5mm diameter heatpipes looping around the outside of its many thin cooling fins.
The unit weighs about 186 grams, and stands no more than 30mm high above the GPU, so it will occupy one additional PCI slot worth of space. Included along with the VF900-Cu heatsink are eight small 13x13mm blue aluminum DRAM heatsinks, which can be stuck onto the videocard memory for additional cooling. The installation process for the VF900-Cu heatsink is remarkably straightforward, but because there are a great many little screws and washers that have to be oriented in the correct way we'd highly suggest you flip through the illustrated instruction pamphlet first. The Zalman VF900-Cu VGA heatsink retails on average for about $38USD ($43CDN), and as you'll soon see it offers great cooling performance without much noise.
The Zalman VF900-Cu VGA heatsink is built much like the CNPS9500 AMD Athlon64 processor heatsink. Its heatpipes are integrated into the curvature of the fanned out cooling fins, in a way that doesn't impact airflow significantly. In this case however, the VF900-Cu has a much lower profile, and uses just two short lengths of copper heatpipe to connect to the base to the fins. A cast, or injection moulded aluminum frame supports the fan, mounting hardware, and copper fins above the videocard GPU.
With the 80mm fan removed from the center of the Zalman VF900-Cu it's easier to see how the entire unit is pieced together.
Flipping the small VGA heatsink over reveals a polished copper base that should reduce thermal resistance between the heatsink and silicon GPU, or GPU heatspreader as the case may be. The cooling fins actually float above the base of the unit, so heat energy is entirely transmitted by the two copper heatpipes. The thermal conductivity of copper is used very elegantly in this heatsink.
Next up we'll look at how the Zalman VF900-Cu VGA heatsink mounts to a videocard, and take a quick peek at the FanMate 2 fan speed controller.
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