The Zalman VF3000 is also a 250W cooler and comes in various versions: the VF3000N for the GeForce GTX 200s, the VF3000A for the Radeon HD 5800s and the VF3000F for the stock GeForce GTX 400s. They differ in the distance between fixture screws and the kit that accompanies them. Note that there are two variants of the VF3000F, both on offer at €60, one designed for the GeForce GTX 470 and 465 and the other for the GeForce GTX 480. We tested the second one.
In contrast to the Gelid and Arctic Cooling kits, Zalman has gone for a simplified mounting with a large radiator plate for the memory modules and sensitive power stage components. This is why there are two variants of the VF3000F as this plate needs to be adapted to the specificities of the PCBs. It also strengthens the card, giving it more solidity than the competition cards. Please note that the GTX 480 plate is not compatible with the GTX 580 reference PCB as it uses some thicker components.
When it comes to the cooler itself, the radiator is connected to the copper base via 5 heatpipes and is cooled by two 92mm fans decorated with green leds. They aren’t PWM compatible and need to be connected to the motherboard as they don’t have a connector adapted to the graphics card. Zalman includes a cable for this and a rheostat to adjust rotation speed between 1400 and 3000 RPM. There’s a double-sided adhesive to fix it to the box. You can therefore reduce their rotation speed at idle and increase it in load, but unfortunately this must be done manually.
A very clear explanation is given for this in the manual and illustrates the mounting procedure very well and a half-full tube of ZM-STG2 thermal compound is supplied and should be enough for two mountings.
The first stage in the mounting procedure consists in placing reinforcement eyelets over all the fixing holes of the radiator plate at the back of the PCB as well as on this plate so as to protect the components from too strong a pressure. Next you have to spread thermal compound on all the memory modules as well as the power stage components which are in contact with the radiator. Once this has been done, we advise you to press the plate against the PCB, without screwing it and then remove it to see if all the components have been sufficiently covered with thermal compound.
Note that we had a little problem when positioning the plate as it was pressing up against an SPDIF connector that is used in the GTX 480 test samples but apparently not the cards on sale to the public. We simply removed the connector and flattened one of the pins that was in the way.
It was then very simple to position the cooler by hand using 4 bolts. The springs are placed under the bolts and we advise you to fix them to the bolts first to facilitate placement.