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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [12.03.02]
Manufactured by: Zalman


Silent Cooling Done Right

If you remember back to our original "How To Build a Dead Silent PC" article, you'll recall several products we spoke about that offered COMPLETE silent cooling - IE no fans at all, as opposed to slow fans.  In that article, I was able to build a fully decked Pentium 4 system with a GF4 overclocked to the max.

Our article was quite well received, however one question mark left with a lot of people was my choice of GPU cooler.  At that time, the only fanless GPU cooler was the smaller one by Zalman shown above (on an MSI GeForce 4 Ti4200).

The issue most people had was the heat produced by the GPU at the level I had it running (the core was OC'd to 305 MHz from 250 MHz stock).  At that speed, it was generating temperatures of around 70 degrees C under full load! Amazingly, I never had any problems with stability, however it is understandable that one would be weary of such a temperature - it is only a matter of time until the GPU dies under that load, and there is no telling how long that would be.

Clearly a better solution had to be found, and once again Zalman stepped forward with what has to be the most impressive looking GPU cooler since Thermaltake's Blue Orb:

The new "ZM80A-HP" significantly increases the surface area (from 510 cm2 on the original fanless cooler to 1300 cm2).  They accomplish this by using huge aluminum heatsinks situated on each side of the video card.  A gold-plated heatpipe transfers the heat from the heatsink on the front, to the one on the back.

Truly this is a remarkable design, what we have to find out is how well it works, and if it is practical to install and use.

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