Thermalright Shaman GPU Cooler Review

The Thermalright Shaman GPU cooler has now been adapted to take on NVIDIA's GTX 580. We strap it onto the hotter GTX 480 and see if it can handle one of the hottest GPUs of all time while comparing it to the ZALMAN VF3000F.


Thermalright is no stranger when it comes to pushing limits. That’s why it should come as no surprise when you see its newest cooler for top end GPUs and its eight heat pipes. Yes, eight! We haven’t seen a lot of cooling for GPUs lately outside of water and with good reason. Modern GPUs consume so much energy and put out so much heat that dissipating that heat is a daunting task for air coolers. This is where Thermalright is most at home. Today we look at the Shaman from Thermalright. Its name fitting, thanks to the magic it must perform to handle the heat from the hottest GPU around; the GTX 480 and the newer GTX 580. To do this it employs no less than eight heat pipes and a massive (for a GPU) 140mm fan.

We are also going to test for any collateral damage. That is, the interior temps of our case and if the CPU is affected by the different coolers. The stage is set, let’s get to it.

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System Setup

Today's testing will occur within our NZXT Tempest EVO case. The test bed consists of the GIGABYTE X58-Extreme motherboard, six gigabytes of Corsair DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 920.

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Test Methods


The GPU will be tested at stock speed and at overclocked settings. No voltage adjustments will be made to the GPU.

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Temperatures of the GPU will be monitored using the EVGA Precision software tool. To give the most complete picture regarding performance of the heat sink we will also monitor the interior temperature of our case as well as the temperature of our CPU to see if there is any effect from the different heat sinks.


For all testing of the GPU coolers we will keep the CPU at stock speeds paired with the Thermalright Archon cooler.

Thermal Paste

We will use whatever thermal paste is included by the manufacturer. This will serve to give us a complete view of the performance offered by the tested heat sink.


Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.


Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.


Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using the latest version of FurMark. Since we are more concerned with the performance of the heat sink than of the real world application of FurMark, this software will serve us perfectly. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes. As you have likely noticed we used the older GTX 480 for this testing and one of the reasons for this is that stress tests like FurMark will not work on the newer GTX 580.


Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.