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PC COOLING

Zalman ZM80C-HP VGA Cooler
By: Jim Miller
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    2003-10-09

    Table of Contents:
  • Zalman ZM80C-HP VGA Cooler
  • In the Box page 2

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    Zalman ZM80C-HP VGA Cooler


    (Page 1 of 2 )

    It wasn't too many years ago that ditching stock video card cooling meant breaking out some duct tape and a couple of 80mm fans. To say that as an enthusiasts community we've come along way when it comes to aftermarket extremist gear. What was at first limited to CPU and case cooling is now full throttle in video card coolers as well.

    Zalman VGA Heatpipe Cooler



     

    INTRODUCTION:

    It wasn't too many years ago that ditching stock video card cooling meant breaking out some duct tape and a couple of 80mm fans. To say that as an enthusiasts community we've come along way when it comes to aftermarket extremist gear. What was at first limited to CPU and case cooling is now full throttle in video card coolers as well.

    Enter Zalman who has been on the cooling scene for a few years now, but joined the video chipset cooling game not too terribly long ago. What we've got on hand to look at for you today is their newly designed ZM80X-HP Heatpipe VGA cooler. I am tempted to say that "basically this is a noiseless video card cooler", but to use the word "basic" in association with this cooler would be the understatement of the year. Let's get rolling and see what it's all about.

     

    OUT OF THE PACKAGE:

    The package as you can see doesn't look like anything horribly special, but you can see thru the clear plastic that there's a hefty chunk of hardware resting inside.

     


     

    Once we break the seal and take inventory, it is quickly apparent that this is not your typical slap it on and forget it heat sink. You can tell instantly that it's gonna be a bit of a process to assemble this thing!

     



     

    If seeing the amount of pieces doesn't send that message clearly enough, a quick look at the thickness of the installation manual certainly drives the point home!

     


     

    As for my "out of the box" impressions. Two words: "Impressive" and "Intimidating". the feel of the hardware was very solid and you could tell that it was made of quality parts. The little pieces and not so little pieces, all coagulated in one made me wonder how in the world it's going to form a single GPU cooler that will be able to efficiently cool my video card.

     

     

    PRE-PURCHASE CHECKLIST:

    The first thing we needed to do was to make sure that our card of choice was suited for this heat sink. We decided to mount this on our FIC Radeon 9800 Pro video card. Zalman gets their first attaboy by providing clear specifications that are required to insure that this cooler is compatible with your video card.

    The first thing to check is to make sure that you're video card has heat sink mounting holes.

     


     

    If your video card looks the the image on the left you're straight, if it looks like the one on the right then you're out of luck on this one.

    The next thing to check is to make sure that you've got enough clearance between the bottom of your CPU cooler and your AGP slot.

     


     

    35mm or more and you're sitting pretty, less than that, continue your search for a GPU cooler cause this one won't cut it.

    The final "biggy" that you need to make sure of is that you have enough component clearance on your motherboard next to the AGP slot for this to fit comfortably. Components should be no taller than 25mm.

     


     

    While it sounds like this is a long list of "musts" for this to work, most motherboards today meet these specifications and then some, so you "should" be ok, but we recommend checking to be sure. Once you've met the above specs, the only other thing you need is an empty PCI slot directly below the AGP and even if you don't have one now, rearranging your cards for 99% of you will be a simple and doable task.

     

     

    ASSEMBLY AND INSTALLATION:

    While we're not going to make this a complete tutorial on how to install this (that's what the installation manual is for. :) ) we are going to cover the major steps of the process.

     

    Removing Your Stock Cooler:

    This is something that will vary from card to card, but for our Radeon 9800Pro it was a relatively simple process. We simply had to remove the two compression pins by squeezing them together on the back and pushing them thru to the front of the card.

     

     

    As you can see above in the center picture (with the red circles around them) the compression pins are simple to find and easy to remove. The only warning I'd give is to take your time and don't use pliers if you can help it. Pliers have a tendancy to slip off and do really bad things to PCB. :)

    Once you get the old heat sink off make sure that you clean the core of the GPU (in this case the R350) well. I used a q-tip and just a little rubbing alcohol. Look at the reflection in this core...

     


     

    Let's head to page two, put this new fangled GPU cooler together and see if it was worth our efforts....

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