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Due to the variety of methods used to hold thermal solutions on videocards, the Zalman FC-ZV9 comes with no less than five different hole patterns for installing it. It's a good idea to check your videocard's compatibility with the Zalman website. Depending on the graphics card model, and whether or not it's an ATI or nVidia GPU, either the four mounting holes or the two off-center mounting holes are used.
The Zalman FC-ZV9 uses a set of small metal posts which pass through the videocard card PCB to hold the heatsink in place. Depending on the videocard, either four or two posts are used with the corresponding holes in the aluminum frame. Because the retaining nuts are spring tensioned, it is also important to slide on the plastic washers first, lest you scratch up the PCB circuit board.
In our tests with the Zalman FC-ZV9, we found the installation process was straightforward and well documented in the instructions. Getting the spring tensioned nuts on was a little tricky at times.
Zalman Fan Mate 2
When low noise cooling first began to take hold it wasn't uncommon to find sets of electrical resistors included with heatsinks for the purpose of reducing a fan's speed by limiting the voltage going to the 12V DC fan motor. Nowadays fan speed controllers are considered standard equipment, and if the fan isn't thermally responsive you can bet a device for that purpose will be bundled in.
Zalman's now on it's second revision fan speed controller, and the aptly named Fan Mate 2 allows users to dial in the appropriate fan speed of any 3-pin powered cooling fan. The Zalman Fan Mate 2 is included with the companies various CPU and VGA heatsinks, and adjusts voltage from 12V DC down to 5V DC, for loads up to 6W.
The tiny unit measures 70 x 26 x 26mm and can control one fan via a three-pin power connector. On the maximum setting (loudest noise, fastest RPM)) the Fan Mate 2 offers a slight amount of resistance so the fan will not spin quite as fast as if it were not there (the difference is about 5%). On the lowest setting (quietest noise, lowest RPM) the fan of the FC-ZV9 VGA heatsink will be running essentially silently.
The Fan Mate 2 comes with the Zalman FC-ZV9 VGA heatsink, and it's useful because this after-market videocard heatsink uses a three-pin power connector that plugs into the motherboard.
Most power jacks on the videocard are miniaturized 2-pin (or occassionally 3-pin) connectors which are not compatible with standard sized fan power jacks. Without the FanMate 2 it wouldn't be possible to dial down the speed of the FC-ZV9's fan... although it is pretty quiet at stock speeds, but more on that in a moment.
FrostyTech's new Test Methodology is outlined in detail here if you care to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted. Now let's move forward and take a closer look at this VGA heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course it performance in the thermal tests!
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