NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 580 is a beast of a card, able to reach 80°C with minimal effort. So what about those who value high performance along with silence? There are some options, such as Zalman’s VF3000F after-market cooler. But with it requiring three slots in your PC, and $75 from your wallet, can it deem itself worthy?
To test the difference between the reference cooler (pictured in this article) and Zalman’s VF3000F, I used a combination of GPU-Z 0.5.4 to record all of the temperatures, and Futuremark’s 3DMark 11 at Extreme mode in a loop of 3 to push the card about as hard as it can be.
Here are the specs of the test machine:
Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition – Quad-Core @ 4.05GHz – 1.40v
Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME – F13j BIOS (08/02/2010)
Corsair DOMINATOR – 12GB DDR3-1333 7-7-7-24-1T, 1.60v
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB|
ASUS Xonar D2X
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.11
Cooler Master HAF X Full-Tower
Gateway XHD3000 30″
Corsair H50 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Coolers of any sort can be a little sporadic with their effectiveness from one run to another, mostly depending on room temperature, so for the sake of added confidence in our results, each test was run a total of three times. Due to the equally sporadic nature of my city’s weather, testing took about a week to complete as it was a rare occurrence when my non-temperature-controlled room became cool enough for testing.
First up is a graph containing the best results across the three runs for each configuration. Following that is a break-down of each run to give ourselves a clearer picture of what the VF3000F is capable of.
|Cooler & Fan Setting|
Stock Cooler (Default)
40°C / 81°C
38°C / 81°C
37°C / 80°C
Stock Cooler (85% Fan)
33°C / 62°C
30°C / 59°C
30°C / 57°C
Zalman VF3000F (Low)
32°C / 75°C
32°C / 74°C
32°C / 74°C
Zalman VF3000F (Medium)
31°C / 63°C
31°C / 65°C
32°C / 65°C
Zalman VF3000F (High)
33°C / 66°C
33°C / 66°C
33°C / 63°C
|Results in "Idle / Load" format. Bold results are those found in graph above.|
Using the VF3000F’s lowest fan setting, which is just about inaudible, it outperforms the stock cooler by a fair margin. It knocked 5°C off both the idle and load, which is more impressive than it seems by numbers alone. The reference cooler’s noise at its default setting is very noticeable during a gaming session if headphones or loud speaker volume levels are not being used. The VF3000F on the other hand is easily overshadowed by every other component in the PC.
At about the 30% mark on Zalman’s fan controller module, the fans begin to become audible. At about 50%, the height of the audio is reached, and judging by our Medium and High results, it’s clear that the fans operate at the same speed when the dial is settled anywhere between 50~100%.
That in itself might be a little odd, but even stranger to me is the fact that the reference cooler, when cranked up to an 85% fan speed, out-performed the Zalman cooler at its highest fan speed quite easily. Of course, the reference cooler at that fan speed made it sound like my PC was about to lift up off the ground, but I still expected a bit more from the Zalman cooler.
Let’s wrap things up on the next page.