Ideal Choice: Deep Cool V4000 Graphics Card Cooler Review

Today we are going to talk about a VGA cooler for mainstream and entry-level graphics cards.

by Sergey Lepilov
07/30/2010 | 02:03 PM

Today there are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to high-end mainstream ATI/AMD graphics cards. There are about a dozen products that would be a great alternative for a reference cooler of your Radeon HD 5850 or HD 5870. At the same time, for the just as popular graphics cards from a lower-end segment, such as Radeon HD 5770 or HD 5750, there are barely any alternative coolers available and the ones that are out there offer mediocre efficiency at a pretty high level of noise. And the reason for that is a compact size of the HD 5770 and HD 5750 PCB, which cannot accommodate heatsinks of large size with big heat-dissipating surface. Another aggravating factor is the location of the graphics processor, which is very close to the DVI-out box (there are only 34 mm to the retention hole). So, the users either have to put up with low cooling efficiency and high noise of the reference graphics card coolers, or stick to solutions like Zalman V950 LED, for example.

 

However, we managed to find a VGA cooler that was not just compatible with Radeon HD 5770 and HD 5750, but also delivered great cooling efficiency at a very low level of noise. Moreover, … . Well, let’s not get too far ahead just yet and start from the very beginning. Please allow me to introduce Deep Cool V4000! I have to say right away that this cooler is not a newcomer, because it has been in the market for about 1.5 years already and was initially developed for Radeon HD 4xxx graphics cards and their corresponding competitors based on Nvidia GPUs. However, it turned out perfectly fit for the Radeon HD 57xx series as well.

Package and Accessories

Deep Cool V4000 comes in a glossy clear plastic blister with a cardboard insert inside:

  

The package reveals the fans, the cooler base and part of the heatsink. The cardboard insert has all specification of the cooler listed in nine different languages.

Deep Cool V4000 ships with a little tube of thermal paste, retention kit, eight aluminum heatsinks and an installation guide:

The cooler is made in China and is selling at $25. You can also find an aluminum modification with two heatpipes called Deep Cool V2000 with a recommended retail price of only $17-$19.

Design and Functionality

Deep Cool V4000 has a classical VGA cooler design: copper base, four copper heatpipes 6 mm in diameter coming out of the base and holding heatsink fin arrays. The entire structure is topped with a pair of fans:

 

Everything is very simple and at the same time quite efficient, because the airflow from the fans cools not only the heatsink and heatpipes, but also the PCB with its electronic components.

The cooler is comparatively compact in size and measures only 177 x 109 x 52.5 mm. It weighs 466 grams. I have to say that it is pretty significant weight for a graphics card, but you can’t expect a solid copper heatsink to be lightweight really. The top of the fan plastic frame is decorated with the manufacturer name:

 

The frame, which catches on to the sides of the heatsink, as well as the fans installed into it are painted glossy black color:

The heatsink consists of 28 copper fins, each 0.3 mm thick, which are spaced out at 2.5 -2.7 mm from one another:

We didn’t find any traces of soldering in the contact spots between the heatpipes and the heatsink fins, so the fins are most likely simply pressed firmly against the heatpipes. However, the parts of the heatpipes lying inside special grooves in the copper base plates are soldered securely to the plate. The thinnest part of the base beneath the heatpipes measures 1.1 mm. The heat-spreader covered with protective film measures 40x32 mm:

The base is exceptionally even and ideally finished. It can serve as an example to many other cooler makers:

The frame attached to the heatsink holds two nine-blade fans 80x122 mm large:

They rotate with a constant speed of 2500 (±10%) RPM, generate 22.5 dBA of noise and create a combined airflow of 40.64 CFM. We don’t know the MTBF of their fluid dynamic bearing, though. The fans can be connected to the three-pin mainboard connector or to a free PATA connector of the system PSU:

This is, probably, the only drawback I found with the Deep Cool V4000, because ideally we wish we had a three- or four-pin adapter that would allow connecting the cooler directly to the graphics card and adjusting its rotation speed automatically. Finally, they could have included a rotation speed variator unit as well, but for some reason they chose not to do it.

Compatibility and Installation Tips

Deep Cool V4000 is compatible with many different video cards. And since the list if pretty extensive, we will not enumerate all of them here, but will simply say that it can be installed on any graphics card with the diagonal distance between the two retention holes equal to 43, 53, 55 or 80 mm. as for our today’s test session, we will install Deep Cool V4000 onto a reference ATI Radeon HD 5770:

First of all we have to remove the reference graphics card cooler by undoing four screws around the perimeter of the GPU retention:

Note that we didn’t have to remove the heatsink from the video memory chips, because it didn’t interfere with our cooler in any way.

Then things get even easier: we insert threaded mounts into the cooler retention holes and pit rubber rings on top of them. After that we apply a layer of thermal paste onto the GPU heat-spreader and place the graphics card on top of the cooler sitting on the desk:

  

The last thing we have to do is tighten the spring-screws with enclosed plastic washers at the bottom of the PCB. The entire installation took no more than 10 minutes including the removal of the reference Radeon HD 5770 cooler and cleaning the thermal paste off the GPU surface. Here you go:

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Deep Cool V4000 is so short that it doesn’t even go beyond the short PCB of our Radeon HD 5770. At the same time, when the graphics card with Deep Cool V4000 on it is installed into the system case, it will inevitably block two PCI-E slots located next to the graphics card:

Besides, in order to ensure that there is proper airflow coming towards the cooler fans, it would be better not to install any large components into the third PCI-E slot. I have to stress that cooling systems like Deep Cool V4000 remove only part of the warm air outside the system case, leaving most of it inside. Although we can’t really say that it is a significant issue for our Radeon HD 5770, because this graphics card doesn’t really run hot (even during overclocking).

The last thing I want to add is that Deep Cool V4000 has blue LEDs, which look beautiful in the dark:

Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing

 

Testbed and Methods

We tested the new Deep Cool cooling system inside a closed system case. Our testbed was configured as follows:

We slightly overclocked our processor to 4.2 GHz and increased its Vcore to 1.34375 V in the mainboard BIOS. The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was around 1.68 GHz (8-8-8-16_1T timings).

The graphics card was tested at its nominal frequency and with the GPU core voltage at 1.125 V as well as at increased frequencies of 965/5200 MHz and 1.187 V core voltage:

The testing programs were installed under Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64. We used DirectX End-User Runtimes libraries (from June of 2010) and Catalyst 10.6 graphics card drivers. We used 15 runs of FireFly Forest test from the semi-synthetic 3DMark 2006 suite in 2560x1600 resolution to warm up the graphics cards. We enabled anisotropic filtering 16x:

Besides, we additionally used FurMark version 1.8.2 burn test that was launched with a renamed EXE-file for about 20 minutes in stability test mode in 2560x1600 resolution:

We used MSI Afterburner utility version 1.6.1 to monitor graphics card temperatures and frequencies and GPU-Z version 0.4.4 utility:

The tests were run at least twice for each type of load. The temperature stabilization period between the two test cycles was about 10-12 minutes. The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case or open testbed with an electronic thermometer with 0.1°C precision that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperature stayed around 30.2-30.5°C.

The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan(s). The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The mainboard with the graphics card equipped with the tested cooler was placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using the new controller revision by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

Cooling Efficiency Tests

The diagram below shows the obtained results of our cooling efficiency tests:

Deep Cool V4000 is obviously better than the reference cooler of our Radeon HD 5770. However, I am sure this is exactly what everyone expected from this product, which is small but is made of solid copper. In quiet mode when the fans rotate at 1130 RPM, the Deep Cool cooler is 9°C better than the reference cooler at 2000 RPM fan speed in nominal mode and 5°C better in overclocked mode. When the two 80-mm fans of our today’s hero rotate at their medium speed (which is still very quiet), the GPU temperature dropped by another 5°C in nominal mode and by 6°C in overclocked mode. And at maximum fan rotation speed the cooler efficiency improves in about the same proportion. I also have to say that the reference Radeon HD 5770 cooler at maximum speed of 4200 RPM is just as good, so it makes a lot of sense to move over to acoustic measurements at this point. However, before we do that, there is one more thing I wanted to draw your attention to.

We absolutely had to check out the cooler efficiency in passive (i.e. fanless) mode and I have to say that it did great. Even though it managed to maintain the maximum GPU temperature below 86°C only in nominal mode and only during 15 runs of 3DMark 2006, we still think it is a very good result for a small cooler like that.

Acoustic Tests

The results of our noise tests performed on the reference ATI Radeon HD 5770 and Deep Cool V4000 coolers are presented on the following diagram:

Deep Cool V4000 is obviously quieter than the reference Radeon HD 5770 cooler, as you can clearly see from the diagram. However, I have to add that the fan of the reference ATOI Radeon cooler generates some unpleasant noise even at its minimum speed, while the noise from Deep Cool V4000 fans practically disappears once you get below 1550 RPM, so that it becomes if not completely noiseless, but at least extremely quiet. Deep Cool cooler is acoustically comfortable up to 1800-1850 RPM and fits perfectly with the quiet system case concept.

Conclusion

Deep Cool V4000 has only one drawback: it lacks a rotation speed variator or at least 5 or 7 V power adapters that could lower the rotation speed of its 80 mm fans. The cooler is efficient enough to cope with an overclocked Radeon HD 5770 even in FurMark, so these fans do not really need the high rotation speed of 2800 RPM. These fans generate considerably less noise at average and minimum speed than they would at the maximum rotation speed. Other than that I can conclude that Deep Cool V4000 is an ideal solution for compact graphics cards like Radeon HD 5770/HD 5750. And this is not because we don’t know of any other alternatives for entry-level Radeon graphics cards, but because Deep Cool product is significantly quieter and much more efficient than the reference HD 5770 cooler. Moreover, it can even be used in passive (fanless) mode. I doubt you can wish for anything else at the price of $25. What do you think?