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Hardcore overclockers and gamers do not only have to worry about the temperature of their CPU, but also the temperature of their video cards. Overclocking a video card usually has a much larger impact on game frame rates than overclocking a processor. That said, there is also another point of view when it comes to gaming and has nothing to do with overclocking, many people like to enjoy some casual gaming with their HTPC, or simply in a quiet environment. Buying a high end video card usually leaves these people frustrated, as the “reference” coolers generate a lot of noise in order to keep them cool enough. So aftermarket VGA coolers easily come into mind. Today we will take a look at a VGA cooler from a Korean company, Zerotherm, the GX815. The GX815 boasts not only exceptional performance but low noise as well. Too good to be true? We will soon find out.

Specifications

  • Dimension - 116 x 100 x 32 mm
  • Heatsink Material – Fin/Base/Heatpipe : Copper
  • Memory Heatsink: Aluminum
  • Rated Voltage : 12VDC
  • Rated Input Current : 0.35A
  • Rated Input Power: 4.2W
  • Max Air Pressure : 10.01 mmH2O
  • Max Air Flow: 11.10 CFM
  • Bearing Type : 2-Ball bearing
  • Life Expectance : 50,000 hours
  • Fan Speed: Automatic fan speed control by Temp. Sensor 1,200~3,000, Automatic speed control
  • Acoustical Noise: Min. 18.5 dBA @ 1,200 rpm Max. 33.8 dBA @ 3,000 rpm
  • Fan Connector: 3-pin, 3-wire (to M/B or to PSU)
  • Weight: 177.6 g (w/o screws)
¤Compatible VGA card list
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 Series (Except 6600 AGP)
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 Series
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 Series (Except 7800 AGP)
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 Series
ATI Radeon X1800 Series
ATI Radeon X1900 Series
ATI Radeon X1300 Series
ATI Radeon X1600 Series
 
Incompatible VGA card list

NVIDIA GeForce 8800 series
NVIDIA GeForce 6600/7800 AGP series
NVIDIA PCX5? series
AIT 9550/9600 series
Matrox VGA cards

Packaging and bundle


The Zerotherm GX815 comes into a simple but attractive silver cardboard box. The top of the box has a round clear area where you can see the cooler from while the rear is loaded with performance data and specifications. Despite the low weight, there is a plastic handle on top of the package. Inside, everything is well retained inside a plastic casing. Besides the cooler you will also find a set of 8 small RAM heatsinks, a tube of thermal grease, an installation manual and two sets of mounting hardware. Why two sets, you ask? Zerotherm includes a different set of screws and stand-offs for single GPU and multi-GPU systems. The first does not require any tools at all and you can install it entirely by hand while the second requires a Philips screwdriver. We found that to be a bit silly since removing the stock cooler requires tools in the first place, so installing this cooler cannot ever be an entirely tool less procedure to begin with.


At first glance, the GX815 is a round shaped low height VGA cooler, much like the Zalman VF900. It relies on the quick heat absorption from the copper base through the copper heatpipe to the many fins. The base finish is very good, down to a polished mirror finish with no scratches or dents to be found. The fan of the GX815 is the center of the attention here though and it is thermally controlled via a sensor attached to the base of the cooler, adjusting its own speed according to the GPU temperature. It also has two blue LEDs attached, indication that Zerotherm is trying to make the GX815 appealing to the modders.

Installation


Once the stock cooler is removed the installation of the GX815 is extremely easy. First, you need to attach the four stand-offs at the cooler’s base, choosing the holes which are meant for your video card. Then, after placing a thin layer of thermal grease on the GPU core, you place the cooler on the card and the stand-offs through the cooler holes. Afterwards you have to turn the card upside down and screw the retention threads onto the stand-offs. If you aren’t going with the multi-GPU configuration, all of these can be done by hand. Finally, do not forget to place the fan’s power cable on a motherboard fan connector; this cooler is not powered from the video card itself.

System setup and notes
• CPU: Core 2 Duo E6400
• Motherboard: Asus P5K3-Deluxe
• RAM: SuperTalent DDR-3 1333MHz
• HDD: Samsung 160JJ SATA2
• VGA: Nvidia 7950GT
• PSU: OCZ ModXstream 780W
For testing, we decided to test the Zerotherm GX815 by using the included silicone grease. We placed a layer on the GPU core and left the system running 3D benchmark loops in order for the thermal paste to stabilize for about 24 hours. The fan of the Zerotherm GX815 cannot be manually controlled, so fan speed changes were impossible to avoid. GPU load was achieved by running continuous loops of 3dMark05 for 30 minutes. The idle temperature measurements were noted after the system was resting at the windows desktop for 30 minutes. Ambient temperature is maintained (as accurately as possible) at 28 degrees Celsius at the time of the test.

Idle Temperature (Celsius)
Load Temperature
(Celsius)
Stock cooler
59
74
Zerotherm GX815
50
61

Our testing revealed a huge difference between the Zerotherm GX815 and the stock cooler of the 7950GT, especially under load. The huge difference between the two coolers under load comes at the expense of noise levels however, as the fan of the GX815 speeds up and becomes clearly audible. Nevertheless, it never reached its top speed which would make it insanely loud for a GPU cooler. When the card was idling the GX815 was remarkably quiet though, a very good thing for someone who likes their PC to remain quiet while working at their desktop or watching/listening to a media file.

Final Words and Conclusion

What we did like:
The ZeroTherm GX815 is a very good, high performance cooler. We especially liked the thermally controlled fan as it appears to be doing its job perfectly, which is staying quiet when 3D performance is not critical and keeping the card cool when it is under heavy load. The cooler is also very easy to install and rather small, enabling it to be used in multi-GPU configurations. Aesthetically is should be appealing enough to please all but the most demanding modders.

What we did not like:
One large drawback that we noticed about the GX815 is its lack of support for the Nvidia 8800 series; this is enough to turn most enthusiasts away. Even if an enthusiast does not currently own an 8800 series card, it is very likely to upgrade to one in the near future and would not like a VGA cooler which he/she cannot use. We can only hope that Zerotherm will fix this issue in the near future with a new revision of the cooler.

Who we would recommend it to:
The raw performance of the Zerotherm GX815 is its main marketing point, followed by the thermally controlled fan. Unfortunately it will have every enthusiast thinking over it twice before purchasing one, as it lacks support for all of the 8800 series cards. But still it offers good performance and the thermally controlled fan prevents it from being noisy in 2D applications, so we believe that it is worthy of the DriverHeaven’s Shortlist award.


What do these awards mean?

 

Buy from QuietPC

Having problems getting the product in other locations? then try here
$42.99 in Newegg.com and for €32.90 in PC-Cooling.de.



 

 

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