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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [02.28.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson

Manufactured by: Zalman
MSRP: $10
Est. Street Price: ~ $6-7

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Testing Methods

The test machine consists of an AIUGA 1700+ (1.47Ghz) Athlon XP paired with a Soltek SL75DRV5 motherboard and 256MB of Samsung PC2700 ram.  The case is a Tsunami Virgo with two case fans, one drawing air in from the bottom and a second exhausting air out of the back.  The CPU chip is cooled by a Thermaltake Volcano 6cu cooler (4500rpm). 

As is the standard here at HCW, the CPU temperature was measured using XP's built in thermal diode. The case temperature was take from the DRV5's onboard sensor.

Testing Results

After an hour of running Prime95, here are the results

I know what you're thinking...big whoop right?

So what, if anything can we take away from this?  Well, if you're willing to sacrifice a relatively minimal increase in temperature then you can cancel case fans out of your computer's noise equation.  At 20dB the Zalman fan in "silent" mode was effectively just that: noiseless.

Something to notice is the increase in both the case and CPU temperature when all case fans were disconnected.  Just goes to prove that a steady stream of fresh air into a case results in a substantial temperature reduction.

On the negative side, the Zalman fan is obviously less than perfect.  A software controlled, variable speed fan would of course have been much more convenient, but at the price of most regular case fans, Zalman throws in nice little resistor for free (no fanbus necessary).

I would recommend this model to anyone on a serious buget that wants to improve case airflow without the standard increase in overall system noise.  Anyone with serious overclocking aspirations however might want to direct their attention towards something a little more expensive which would allow for variable fan speeds that could be easily changed depending on how much extra juice you are pumping.

  • Cheap, Cheap, Cheap!
  • Effectively silent in "silent" mode at 20dB
  • Only slight temperature increase in "silent" mode

  • In"normal" mode fan is louder than competitor but is still outperformed
  • No variable fan speed control
  • Switch from different modes requires hardware modification
  • Slight temp increases!

Final Score: 75%