Zalman VF700-CU LED
I?m left a little bit frustrated by the VF700-Cu. It is a worthy cooler and has the build quality and looks to make it a real winner with enthusiasts but the problem lies with its inability to use the GPU?s fan controller and give the user true flexibility with the noise/performance levels. However, it does redeem itself somewhat by having better performance in its low noise 5V mode than the stock cooler, but only just.
It does of course dramatically outperform the reference cooler in its high performance 12V mode and the noise levels are still reduced over the reference cooler, too, just not by a dramatic amount. In 5V mode it is wonderfully quiet, almost unnoticeable, but the temperature increase over the 12V mode is a bitter pill to swallow.
If you don?t overclock you?ll be very happy with the 5V mode, and it will probably live up to your expectations. If you do overclock the 12V mode will please, too. If you overclock and like low noise (that?s me) then this cooler will only frustrate. Still, two out of three is not bad.
Generally speaking, the VF700 is massively better than the reference cooler in everyway, including the noise levels, but the problem here is that it?s not just competing against a reference cooler. For high-end cards, the NV5 from Arctic Cooling is my preferred solution, and this recommendation is based on the fact that the NV5 uses a GPU?s onboard fan controllers and therefore you can tweak the noise levels to anything you want, even off! (if you so desire to kill your card). If the VF700 worked in 5V mode for 2D and 12V mode for 3D, I would just about bring myself to recommend this to the low noise overclockers, too, so it?s a real shame Zalman haven?t brought out updated models to do exactly this.
If you know your card doesn?t have a fan controller and is in the support list, then I doubt there is a better cooler on the market anywhere. In the ?high-end GPU with fan controller? world though, the NV silencer range is tough to beat, and with Accelero just around the corner, it?s only going to get worse for the VF700-Cu in its current form.
Overall a thumbs up, but just make sure you know what you want this cooler to do before you buy it, as those out there who want it all might be disappointed.
A special thanks to Quiet PC for sending the review sample!