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



The first question that is on your mind is sure to be - 'So tell me, does that heatpipe DO anything or what?'

That was the first thing I wanted to find out - As soon as I installed the card and let it warm up, I touched both heatsinks, and I was very pleased to find them both to be warm to the touch! The heatpipe did exactly what it was supposed to - it transfers the heat from the front heatsink to the back one, effectively doubling the surface area, and expending a lot of heat.

Now just how much heat does it expend? To find out, I tested the regular ATI heatsink under idle load, and stress load running a UT2K3 demo loop.  Temperatures were taken with the handy thermistor included with the Thermaltake Xaser II case (if you haven't seen this case you, you have to check out our review).

I left the case wall on, with no fans running except those of the PSU and CPU HSF.  The results are interesting to say the least.

Because of the massive amount of surface area on the ZM80A-HP, it performs just as well as the stock ATI cooler under full load, although it lags slightly behind under idle conditions.  To be honest with you, I would have been just as happy if it didn't cool nearly as well as this - as long as I could run the 9700 at stock speeds without use of a fan, I am a happy man with a silent rig.  Zalman really outdid themselves this time around.

Results will be even better if you throw a case fan into the mix.  A fan on the side wall of the case will really help, and even allow for overclocking, I'm sure.

I only tested performance under overclocked conditions briefly - let's be honest here, OCing is not high on your list if you are going after a silent PC.

It may not be high on your list, but it's there.  And you'll be happy to know that the Zalman cooler performs remarkably well considering its lack of fans.  Like I discovered with the last Zalman GPU cooler I tested, heat may not always be what holds you back when overclocking a video card.

That said, I am happily humming along here at 370 MHz, up from 305 stock.  Temperature is holding steady at just over 60` at full load with no artifacts and no stability problems.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Within minutes of installation I had no doubt in my mind that the Zalman ZM80A-HP cooler was potentially worthy of recommendation.  After full testing, I stand by that, and am happy to give it our "I AM HARDCORE" Award, something only a few manufacturers can claim here.

With Zalman's last fanless GPU cooler, you had to sacrifice quite a lot of performance in order to attain silence.  With this new heatpipe cooler, we see that it can perform just as well as stock cooling (perhaps even better in many cases, as the ATI cooler is no slouch!), and may even be suitable for some overclocking!  Add to that an incredible manual, and excellent packaging, including TWICE as much hardware needed, and heatblocks for multiple installations - AND a screwdriver.  Simply an amazing product that can be had for just $35.00 (be sure to check out our sponsor for this deal!).

Zalman ZM80A-HP receives the "I AM HARDCORE" award, and our highest recommendations for silent computing.

Be sure to check out our "How to build a Dead Silent PC" article for more tips on completely ridding your system of noise.

  • Performs remarkably well for a silent cooler
  • Great price!
  • Excellent manual
  • Great packaging with extra hardware
  • Fits on virtually any video card with peg-holes
  • The heatpipe works!

  • Performs remarkably well for a silent cooler
  • Great price!
  • Takes up a PCI slot
  • Installation more involved than usual for heatsinks
  • Quite heavy at 400g