Without further delay, our comparison starts with the established industry veteran, Zalman and its VF1000 LED cooler.
Forgoing typical Zalman design, the circular coolers of the past have been push aside with a more standard, yet space hogging, full card design. This design allows four separate heat pipes to run from the base of the cooler and fan out symmetrically through the thin copper fins. With an adequately sized 80mm fan sitting in the middle, the Zalman cooler will push air downward through the fins as well as across whatever you use to cool the memory chips be it the included blue RAM sinks or in our case, the ZM-RHS88. The fan also glows a brilliant blue when in operation and while doing so, takes up your standard 2 PCI slots in your motherboard.
As mentioned earlier, there are four copper heat pipes running from the base of the cooler and up through the fins, two on either side. Also on this side of the card is the power cable for the fan. This is a standard 3 pin cable that can be plugged directly into a motherboard or into the included Zalman fan mate variable speed controller.
Turning the cooler over, we can see an almost perfect finish on the copper base. While the latest design fad of direct heat pipe cooling is absent here, the smooth finish to the base should provide more than enough surface area to pass the heat from the GPU onto the pipes and sub sequentially, into the fins. As you can see, the fan screw sitting on top of the base is reflected quite well. Kudos to Zalman for their attention to detailâ€¦ not an area they have ever been suspect at.
Surrounding the base of the VF1000 LED are four arms with four separate threaded holes in them. These allow the cooler to be installed on virtually all 8800 and prior video cards. Simply attach the provided posts to the holes that apply to your card and your good to go. It’s simply that easy but more on installation later.
Coming with the VF1000 are a handful of accessories, not uncommon but appreciated none the less. Included is mounting hardware, thumb screws for added installation ease as well as Zalman’s own blue RAM sinks. These sinks have been around forever and have been favorites of many in the water cooling crowd. We would normally use these in testing but Zalman sent along their ZM-RHS88 memory sinks instead. Also thrown in for good measure is a fan mate. Zalman has been manufacturing their own speed controllers for a long time now and the addition of this little piece will help control fan noise as well as allow the user to up the speed should additional cooling be needed. The fan will max out at a respectable 2,500 RPMs (+/- 10% according to Zalman themselves).
Moving onto the memory cooler, the ZM-RMS88, we can see that it’s all an aluminum, 2 piece set that will sit on top of the onboard memory, VRM and HSI chip. As the design of the GTS and GTX cards differ slightly, there are two different sinks for each of the different cards. All of this comes in a well designed foam casing that is more than adequate to keep each and every part safe.
The main unit itself will sit on top of the memory and the HSI chip and is designed with room for the VF1000 to sit directly on top. There are multiple aluminum posts sticking up over the heat sources to help suck the heat away from the card and into your PC chassis.
On the back of the cooler there is pre applied thermal tape, eliminating the need to grease up each chip that you need to keep cool. If I can give you any advice at all it’s thisâ€¦ please do not forget to remove the plastic backing on the thermal tape as this is a great way to completely FUBAR your card. Have fun explaining that to the RMA department.
For the voltage regulator modules, there are two separate pieces representing the two separate designs of the GTS and the GTX. With each piece clearly stamped, make sure you choose the correct piece and apply it to your card. There are also thermal pads on the bottom of these pieces and the same approach applies, please remove the plastic backing before installation.
Now that we have seen the Zalman cooler, let’s take a closer look at the APACK ZEROtherm Hurricane HC92 Cu 8800.