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Review: Zalman ZM80A-HP Silent VGA Cooler

by Tarinder Sandhu on 28 May 2003, 00:00 4.5

Tags: Zalman (090120.KQ)

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Tell me what's the first thing you think about when I mention the words GeForce FX ?. If you've been keeping up with the graphics card comings and goings, you'll know that the FX, although a fully-featured DX9-compliant video card, is much-maligned for having cooling more akin to a home vacuum cleaner. OK, that may be going a little too far, but if you understand that one of the chief criticisms is about its noisy operation, you'll also understand that today's power users want power and quietness in one package.

Aren't these two terms mutually exclusive ?. Power in the PC world has usually been accompanied by more than its fair share of noise. Zalman, the purveyors of quiet PC components, don't seem to think that this necessarily has to continue. Perhaps best known for their PSUs, heatsinks, and fans, they've also been active in the graphics card cooling field.

Pretty much every card that considers itself to be a part of the performance sector requires additional active cooling above and beyond a standard heatsink. Due to the limitations of fan size imposed by the real estate available on any modern GPU, smaller, high RPM fans tend to be used for cooling duties. The majority of manufacturers try to strike a balance between noise and performance, but what if one could get rid of the noise completely ?. That's been Zalman's goal with their range of large, passive heatpipe-equipped coolers.

We'll put the Zalman ZM80A-HP silent heatpipe cooler through its paces as we strap it on top of a powerful ATi Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card. Will it work (it better, this is my personal card :)), and just how effective is it ?. Let's find out.