Zalman is known to produce some of the best CPU and graphics card coolers ever made. Most of their coolers are aimed at enthusiasts who want either a quiet cooling solution or one that can deal with the massive heat loads that an overclocked system produces. Today I will be taking a look at Zalman's newest addition to their performance VGA cooler lineup namely the much anticipated VF1000 LED which is the natural successor to the VF900 cooler.
This new cooler builds on the legacy of the VF700/900 series graphics card coolers in the sense that it is an actively cooled pipe cooler. Where the VF900 had two heat pipes this newer model has four and furthermore sports an all new fin design from Zalman. Instead of the usual round design this one looks like an elongated oval with some odd shapes near the edges.
One of the improvements over the VF900 is that the VF1000 with the RHS88 supports the new 8800 GTS/GTX/Ultra cards as well both from a mounting and cooling performance aspect. The only downside to the VF1000 is that it is a dual slot cooling solution which means that it takes up the adjacent slot to your graphics card.
Since I will be testing the cooling capabilities of the VF1000 LED on a GeForce 8800 GTS I will also need to mount the all new RAM and FET cooling solution from Zalman the RHS88 which basically cools down all the other chips on the card besides the GPU. Both of these items come in Zalman's new colorful package. The RHS88 is necessary in order to keep the memory on a 8800 GTS/GTX/Ultra at reasonable temperature. If you are going to mount the VF1000 LED on an older card it does come with the usual blue Zalman RAM heat sinks.
As you can see on the image above you need to buy the RHS88 if you plan on installing the cooler on a GeForce 8800 Series card. If you fail to do so you will damage the card because the I/O chip and RAM circuitry will overheat. Also worth noticing is the compatibility list for this cooler. Even though it supports most of the newer generation cards it doesn't provide support for many legacy cards. For the complete compatibility list go to Zalman's own home page.
On the back of both packages you can read up on both specifications and installation method.
On the back you can read a lot about what these products offer. The VF1000 LED employs a new technology developed by Zalman it's called VFP (Variable fin profile) this should increase the cooling performance of the cooler. The RHS88 is the VF1000 LED's perfect partner for use with GeForce 8800 Series cards. The RHS88 is an aluminum heatsink that covers all of the heat producing components on 8800 cards.
The specifications for this VGA card cooler are somewhat out of the ordinary. It weighs an astounding 380 grams. Besides the weight it is also worth noticing the extraordinary dimensions of 160 (L) X 100 (W) x 30 (H)mm. For those looking to build a quiet performance PC this is definitely the VGA cooler for you. At only 18 dB in silent mode this is one of the quietest coolers out there for the hot 8800-series cards.
Both the VF1000 LED and the RHS88 are extremely well protected inside their package. The RHS88 is packed in several layers of Styrofoam which is a both a tight fit and ensures that the cooler won't get scratched. The VF1000 LED comes in a plastic case that fits the cooler perfectly like the plastic cases that Intel ships their cooling solutions and CPUs in. The plastic seems quite durable and can take a decent amount of abuse before breaking a part.
Both the VF1000 LED and the RHS88 come with all the parts you need for a typical installation. Besides the stuff you need to assemble the cooling solution you also get a case badge and a tube of thermal interface material. The installation method is quite simple with this product and with the extensive manual that Zalman provides I think that almost everybody can put this cooling solution together.
Right from the minute you get this unit out of the box it impresses, from the mirror finish base to all of the detailing on the side of the fins. I think this VGA card cooler is one of the best looking ever to come out from Zalman. Besides looking good in broad daylight this cooler features a blue 80 mm LED fan. Combine the two and it becomes clear that this cooler will be the choice for both modders and people who want a good performing VGA card cooler.
The base of the VF1000 LED's finish is immaculate. There were no milling marks visible and the polishing job was nothing short of perfect, you can actually use the base of this cooler as a mirror. I also tested to see if it was flat and compared to a razor, and I found that it was perfectly flat. On the two pictures above you can see just how shiny the surface of the base is. The picture with the reflection of my camera was taken with the camera being approximately 1 meters away which is quite a distance. As you can see there is no distortion besides that of my camera's lens. The quality of both the milling and the polishing work is some of the best I have ever seen on a cooler.
When examining this cooler I noticed all sorts of small details. For example the fins have both a ZM logo and "Quiet VGA Cooler VF1000" embossed on all of the blades. Besides the aesthetically details it's also evident that Zalman has gone a long way to ensure that this cooler will be able to cool down even the most power hungry cards. Each fin is attached to four heat pipes by some soldering metal (this is what I think it is, it could be some sort of thermal epoxy, but due to the fact that it looks as though it has been on liquid form I would assume that it's some kind of highly conductive soldering metal). The imperfection on the base is just some condensation created by me breathing on the thing.
The RHS88 profile is essentially a lot of aluminum rods on a base which makes contact with all of the components on the 8800-cards that produce heat. The rod design has been used on a large variety of coolers in the last years. It is found on, i.e. Swiftech's air north bridge coolers. This type of design allows for the air to flow across the surface with minimal resistance. In my opinion this solution is perfect coupled with the VF1000 LED because it only has one 80 mm fan blowing down on the surface of the RHS88. With this flow design the air flow produced by the fan should be enough to reach the components near the edges of the board.
As with most of Zalman's new products the VF1000 LED comes bundled with a "fan mate". Zhis can adjust the fan sped anywhere from 7 to 12 Volts letting you tweak the balance between cooling performance and fan noise.
Zalman supplies some of their generic thermal paste along with both the RHS88 and the VF1000 LED.
Since I won't be using the thermal paste on the actual card I thought that I might give you guys an idea of how the Zalman goop looks. I found that the Zalman thermal paste is a bit like a soft version of the Arctic Silver Ceramique. It's a bit softer and feels more like a liquid. On the left picture you can see the stuff that I use on all my cards namely the Arctic Cooling MX-1 ceramique thermal paste. It's a lot harder to work with than the Zalman paste, but does give a certain cooling advantage over time compared to the Zalman one.
Zalman also supplies some of their normal blue RAM heatsinks with the VF1000 LED. However, these cannot dissipate enough heat in order to function on a hot GeForce 8800 graphics card. Therefore you need to invest in the RHS88 heatsink system which is specially designed to fit 8800 cards.
The blue heatsinks are in the same plastic bag as the small rubber grommets. This posed a little problem for me because two of the RAM heatsinks had swallowed a rubber grommet each.