- Review Price: £38.00
If you have a noisy graphics card or even worse, one on which the fan is starting to die, what should you do? There is the option to go back to the manufacturer and have it replaced, but you might end up with the same problems. But if the noise made by your fan is perfectly normal but still too loud for you, what are your options. Enter the Zalman ZM80C-HP, a passive graphics card cooler based on laptop heat pipe technology.
The ZM80C-HP is not the first passive cooler from Zalman, but rather an evolutionary product. You might recognise the ZM80C-HP from Sapphire’s Ultimate Edition graphics cards as it’s the same cooler that Sapphire is using. This is a great endorsement for Zalman and it sure made me feel much more comfortable fitting it to a Radeon 9800Pro card that was kindly donated by Connect3D.
You don’t however have to use the ZM80C-HP with ATi based graphics cards as it comes with two different fittings. This allows you to fit the ZM80C-HP to most graphics cards on the market as long as the heatsink is attached with two pins going through the PCB. The reason for this is that the part of the ZM80C-HP cooler that is attached to the GPU is secured by screwing two metal blocks to each side of the card. This might sound a bit dangerous, but it is perfectly safe as long as you’re careful. The heatpipe is then connected to each of the metal blocks and finally the oversized heatsinks are attached to each side of the card to draw the heat away from the heatpipe. Zalman provides animated installation instructions on its website that you can find here
Everything you need to fit the ZM80C-HP is included in the packaging and you even get a small screwdriver. There is a pouch of thermal grease bundled which is fine to use with the heatpipe, but I wouldn’t stick it on the GPU as it’s not exactly high quality thermal compound. There is a set of screws, some washers to protect the PCB and a couple of metal brackets to hold it all together once mounted on the graphics card.
The ZMOP1 is an optional slim-line fan that should be added to any high-end card beyond a Radeon 9800 (ie 9800Pro and up) or an FX 5700Ultra (ie. FX 5800/5900).
This does add extra noise, but as it’s a fairly large fan it makes far less noise than your average graphics card cooler. The ZMOP1 is supplied with a Zalman fan connector that allows you to run it at full speed or half speed. This is done by taking power from either the 12V rail (normal mode) or the 5V rail (silent mode). This is a very crude way of setting the speed, but it works exceptionally well. It does however add some more cable mayhem inside your case. The clever thing however is that you can attach up to four fans to the same connector, two in normal mode and two in silent mode.
One thing worth mentioning is that a graphics card fitted with the ZM80C-HP takes up a lot of space. You do loose the adjacent PCI slot but this is something that I’m happy to live with.
Overall the ZM80C-HP/ZMOP1 is an excellent graphics card cooling solution that works well. It is not the cheapest of graphics card coolers at £37.60 for the bundle, but if you’re after the best possible solution in terms of noise and cooling this is the one to go for.
A rather bulky but efficient solution that offers the best possible cooling/noise ratio and unless you own one of the latest high-end graphics cards, it can be used completely passively. Yet another great product from Zalman, but the high price tag might put off some buyers.
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