First, I tested the Coolers with out a fan controller as some people don’t use them or have room in their case for them. As expected the stock cooler was left behind by both the Verticool III and the 9700 LED. The Spire Verticool III at idle was a couple degrees etter than the Zalman 9700 LED. At full load the Zalman won out by two degrees. With the coolers hooked straight to the motherboard CPU fan header the fan on the Verticool operated at 3125 RPM while the 9700 LED ‘s fan ran at 2766 RPM; even with the Verticool III running at the higher RPM is was only slightly louder then the 9700 LED.
Next I test the coolers with their respective fan controllers at their lowest and highest settings. On the lowest setting at idle the coolers where evenly matched, again only separated by a degree. At full load though the 9700 LED won out beating the Verticool III by 9 degrees. At their low settings the Verticool III operated at 1156 RPM and the 9700 LED operated at 1241 RPM, both virtually silent.
On their high settings, the coolers yet again evenly matched and only separated few degrees at idle and full load. The Verticool III fan ran at 3125 RPM and the 9700 LED ran at 2450 RPM. Without a fan controller the Zalman 9700 LED heat sink operated at 2766 RPM, so it’s obvious that the fan controller on high isn’t letting it run at 100%. It seems 316 RPM is lost when using the Zalman fan controller and it impacted cooling performance by 1C on the Zalman cooler.
For grins, I thought, “What if the Verticool III had a 120mm fan as well?” So off came the 90mm fan and shroud, and in went a 120mm case fan I had lying around and connected it to the motherboard CPU fan header. The temps came in at 32c idle and 47c load with the whisper quite 120mm fan operating at 1600 RPM. So with some geek engineering a side shroud could be made and might improve the cooling by a degree or two.
Spire’s Verticool III CPU cooler turned out to be a good cooler. With a smaller foot print than the Zalman 9700 LED, the Verticool III should have no issues fitting in just about any mid tower. With the included fan controller, the Verticool II has the ability to be virtually silent when you need it to be. One minor grip I have is the issue with the way the cooler mounts. It is cumbersome to install and there is a chance that if it is installed wrong, it can break your board; which is also stated in the instructions in small italicized text, if this does happen, you’re on your own since the warranty won’t cover your board. That part of the instructions should have been in bold, but this is why we read the instructions completely and understand them before starting installation.
The Verticool III can be found for as little as $45, thats $15 cheaper than Zalman 9700 LED. So, if you’re in the market for a new cooler, give the Verticool III a look, you might find that it fits your needs!
Legit bottom line: The Verticool III CPU cooler is a capable middle sub $50 air cooler that easy on the wallet and can be virtually silent when needed.