We take a look at two aftermarket alternatives to the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS/GTX’s stock cooler, the VF1000 LED from Zalman and the Hurricane HC92 from ZEROTherm. See which one took top honors in our testing!
In our testing, the ZEROtherm Hurricane proved to clearly be the better choice if overall cooling performance is what you’re looking for. We would like to point out that there are two other uses for the ZEROtherm as well. As we mentioned earlier in the review, you can remove the shroud of the cooler and run it for what we were told is the best performing option. You can also remove everything; fan included, and run it as a passive cooler for cards that don’t necessarily require active cooling. However, we only tested the card as it came to us stock but from reading around online, you can expect to drop a degree or two here and there if you run the Hurricane completely balls to the wall.
That said, the Hurricane is certainly not without its downsides as well. The thing is loud when turned all the way up and it’s not a whining loud, it’s a vibrate our case because the fan is absolutely ripping through the air loud. When set on silent, the cooler performs reasonably well and is virtually silent but when on loud, look out, it earns the title of Hurricane. Also, it’s largeâ€¦ three slot cooling solution large. If you are pressed for space, this cooler might not be for you. While a single slot air cooling solution for the 8800 series of cards does not exist at the moment (yeah, I know that the 8800 GTs originally shipped with single slot coolers but we are talking GTS card here), you can find many dual slot coolers that will serve your needs well. That leads us into the Zalman offering.
The VF1000 looks great and performs just as well. The all copper design adds a bit of sophistication to the overall look of the cooler without a plastic shroud to detract from the overall look of the unit. The Zalman was at a bit of a disadvantage from the get go simply because it has a smaller fan and lower rotational speed when maxed out. Even still, it performed quite well and would live up to almost anyone’s expectations.
All in all, it’s difficult to declare a clear cut winner as both performed quite well but if I had to choose one strictly on performance, and I know that’s all you care about, the ZEROtherm wins hands down. On an aesthetic front, the Zalman hands the ZEROtherm its rear. You would be hard pressed to find a better looking cooler for you 8800 than the VF1000 paired with the ZM-RHS88..
Taking price into consideration is an important factor too. If you were going to purchase just the coolers, they both can be found for roughly the same price of $50 (US) but looking around might bag you the ZEROtherm for $40. Factor in the ZM-RHS88, which will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 dollars and you’re looking at a total Zalman cooling solution running you around $75 dollars. That’s a lot of money no matter how you look at it.
At the end of the day, both coolers are walking away with a score of 9 out of 10. They both cool the 8800 GTS extremely well and only a few degrees separate the two. If you choose the ZEROtherm with its larger fan and high RPMs you’re going to win. If you choose the Zalman with its classy looks and smaller fan, you’re going to win. Seeing how the ZEROtherm performed better than the Zalman, it will be rewarded as such with an editor’s choice award. Congrats to both coolers as they are fine examples of what a product can be when a company put a little bit of time into the R&D.
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02/01/08 Addendum: Scores were incorrect when posted and didn’t reflect the scores mentioned in the article. This has been fixed.