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ZALMAN's VF1000 LED: Great GPU Cooling for a Price
George Ross, July 21, 2008

I have said it before and I will say it again. The stock GPU cooling solutions as of late leave a lot to be desired. This is however a good thing if you are in the business of selling aftermarket GPU cooling solutions. So today we are taking a look at one of the best GPU cooling solutions out there in my opinion the ZALMAN VF1000 LED.

With the heat that the Radeon HD 4850 generates I thought it an ideal candidate to test the VF1000 LED on. Although the box does not list the HD 4850 as a supported card the product's website does list it as being officially supported.

Packaging & Contents

I did like the packaging of the VF1000 LED, and I felt like it was adequately designed to meet the riggers of shipping. The package is easy to open and reuse should you need to do so.

All the hardware, instructions, and thermal compound needed to get heatsink installed were present with more than one option for the fixing nuts (They could be thumb screw type or Phillips type). There were even a few extra parts (2 PVC washers and 4 rubber rings) for those of us who are prone to dropping things.

The optional accessories include the FAN MATE 2, double sided tape (to attach FAN MATE 2 to case), FAN MATE 2 cable, and 8 RAM heatsinks.

I liked the overall package with one exception the generic thermal grease. For $50 the VF1000 LED should come with ZALMAN's super thermal grease (Which is what I did use in testing the cooling performance of this heatsink).

Installing the VF1000 LED

Installing the VF1000 LED is a real breeze compared to other GPU heatsinks that I have installed largely due to the detailed instructions. The nipples used to attach the heatsink to the card were really what makes the installation a breeze. The RAM heatsinks were also easy to install, but required some force to get them to stick. Overall I was very pleased with the installation of the VF1000 LED.

Cooling Performance
I did not use the included FAN MATE 2 fan controller in the testing of this heatsink as to achieve maximum cooling performance. The FAN MATE 2 is only necessary in order to adjust the VF1000 LED to desired sound levels slowing the fan speed therefore reducing cooling performance of the heatsink.

A 39 degrees Celsius reduction in heat at load is more than I expected, but is understandable given the fact that the stock cooling solution was a single slot setup were as the VF1000 LED takes up that second PCI slot. Still though this is an impressive showing for the VF1000 LED I would feel a lot safer overclocking the HD 4850 after using this heatsink.

If you are looking to cool down that hot graphics card in your case, or wanting to squeeze out a few more Hz from that overclocked GPU the VF1000 LED from ZALMAN is just what the doctor ordered. If you would use it to cool a NVIDIA 8800 series card the VF1000 LED may not be the best choice however because a $25 adder heatsink the ZM-RHS88 is required, but for all other supported cards this is not necessary.

The performance of this heatsink speaks for itself and the ease of installation only makes the VF1000 that much more attractive. The only problem I see with the VF1000 LED is the price which is a little steep in my opinion, but if you what one of the best cooling solutions for cooling those hot GPU's you are going to have pay for it. As it happens now is a good time for aftermarket GPU coolers, because the cooling solutions that come from the factory are not quite up to snuff. Kind of a supply and demand type situation is a going on here.

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