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Zalman VF3000F

Three Aftermarket Graphics Coolers On GeForce GTX 480

Zalman’s VF3000 comes in a number of flavors: the VF3000A for the Radeon HD 5800-series, the Zalman VF3000N for the GeForce GTX 200-series, and the Zalman VF3000F, which is further split into two models (one for the GeForce GTX 465/470 and one for the GeForce GTX 480). All of these products share the same Zalman VF3000 cooler, but the VGA/RAM heatsink solutions for each one are unique.

Zalman does not use a number of small heatsinks for this task that would require thermal paste or tape, but employs a single heatsink plate that covers all of the RAM and VRMs at once. The advantage of this is that the metal sink can be screwed to the PCB and removed without adhesive concerns, while providing increased structural strength.

Separate models are priced differently. At the time of writing, the two VF3000F models cost about $68 on Newegg, while the VF3000A and VF3000N cost about $48 from the same e-tailer.

Zalman’s cooler is the lightest in our test group by far, weighing in at a relatively feather-like 430 grams (~15 oz.), compared to the other ~1lb 6oz. competitors. The VF3000 is about the same physical size as the rest of our test group at 51 mm wide, 98 mm tall, and 239 mm long. Unfortunately, a graphics card equipped with a VF3000 cooler will take up three PCIe slots, just like the rest of the options we’re looking at today.

Zalman’s aftermarket cooler features five copper heat pipes attached to a copper cooling block, with aluminum fins. Its dual 92 mm fan configuration is housed in a thin metal shroud. As far as I can tell, Zalman has not published the CFM airflow rating for the VF3000’s fans, although the company does boast how quiet it is. We’ll find out which cooler is the quietest in our noise benchmarks later.

This cooler comes with the RAM/VRM heatsink plate, instructions, mounting hardware, a surprisingly large syringe full of Zalman ZM-STG2 thermal grease, and an optional fan speed controller with cable. If you don’t want to use the controller to set the fan speed, you can plug the VF3000 directly into one of your motherboard’s fan headers.

Once again, the GeForce GTX 480 reference cooler has to be removed, and the contact surfaces have to be cleaned. With the prep done, there are no adhesives to worry about with this Zalman product. We simply apply the thermal grease to all of the necessary RAM and VRM contact surfaces and spread it evenly and thinly with a credit card. After that, we attach the RAM/VRM heatsink plate and screw it on the PCB with the provided hardware.

Next we apply thermal grease to the GPU and attach the cooler, using the screw holes appropriate for our graphics card. The last step is to plug the fan cable directly into the motherboard. Alternatively. we could plug the fan into the fan controller cable, which would then be plugged in to the motherboard.

With installation of all three options covered, let’s get on with the testing.

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