Zalman Reserator 1 V2 and Fan Kit

by Matthew Harris on October 24, 2006 in Cooling

Water cooling has a lot of benefits. First off it’s more effective, water removes heat close to ten times better than air. Secondly it’s generally quieter, this is owed to waters better thermal capacity and the fact that the radiators used have way more area than a simple HSF does. Today we take a look at an un-traditional water cooling system that’s about as quiet as you’ll ever get.

Page 7 – Testing, Conclusion

I can hear you asking, "But Matt, how does it perform?" I’m getting to that, be patient.

First the tested system:

  • Motherboard: Chaintech 9CJS Zenith
  • Processor: Pentium 4 2.4C @ 3185Mhz
  • Ram: 2°1Gigs Patriot PDC2G3200LLK
  • Video: eVGA 6800nu unlocked, 16p/6v, 380core/820mem
  • Hard Drives: 2° Western Digital WD1600JD 160Gig SATA
  • Optical Drives: Samsung 16X DVD-ROM, Samsung 16X D/L DVDRW
  • Cooling: Swiftech Apex Ultra WC kit, 3°120mm fans, 1-92mm fan
  • Floppy: Sony 1.44Mb
  • Etcetera: Windows XP SP2

Now the numbers for the base cooling of a Swiftech Apex Ultra with an MCW60 on the GPU:

Not too shabby considering that the heat from the radiator is being dumped in the case.

And for the numbers from the Reserator:

What I find interesting is that overall the highs are on average 2°C higher and the lows are 2°C lower except on the CPU, the CPU is running a full 5°C lower at idle but the loads are still showing a 2°C increase. Considering that this is widely regarded as a non-performance kit I’m very impressed. I’m putting a close to 200W(calculated) heat load on the loops and the Reserator is handling it like a champ. Does this mean that the Zalman is a replacement for high end water cooling? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m running my Swiftech with the fans turned down to about 6V, there’s considerably more overhead to it’s capability but I was running it for as much silence as possible. This begs the question, what added capability does adding the ZM-RF1 Fan Kit add to the mix?

After several hours of tests I could see absolutely no improvement by adding the Fan Kit. I think it has to do with the actual distribution of the thermal load in the Reserator. The design of the Reserator has the return water dumping in right at the bottom of the unit and the pump is so low in flow rate that the water isn’t being agitated that far up the body of the Reserator and the heat is only migrating up the body of the unit rather than being absorbed from the water. I’ve confirmed this by shooting the body of the Reserator with a IR temp gun and I discovered that the top of the Reserator is hovering at around 5°C warmer than the ambient room temperature while the bottom is nearly 12°C warmer. That’s close to a 7°C difference between the top and the bottom of the unit.

Having the warm water return to the top of the unit and having a pump capable of causing the water to become agitated throughout the body of the unit would radically increase its thermal capacity. That said this unit is an effective replacement for high end air cooling. It’s dead silent, looks cooler than hell and it’s painless (mostly) to set up. It removes a lot of the heat generated from the case thus allowing for lower overall CFM’s required to evacuate the heat from your PC. This translates into noise prevention and makes for an improved computing experience.

If you do decide to get the Reserator 1 V2 forego the Fan Kit and spend that money on some silent case fans. The Fan Kit is extremely loud at full speed and even at the full speed makes no difference in operating temps so the money would be better invested elsewhere. Now, if you decided to use an external pump such as the Swiftech 355 and modified the water return to bring the return water to the top of the Reserator’s tank the fan could have an effect but it would still add considerable noise to the unit.

Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

    Cool baby, cool

  • Easy setup
  • Includes CPU & GPU blocks
  • Looks great
  • Dead silent pump
  • Pretty effective
  • Removes a lot of heat overhead from the case
    Just too far out man

  • Huge
  • Weak pump
  • Poor thermal effectiveness
  • ZM-RF1 Fan Kit doesn’t do much to help temperatures
  • 478 mounting could be better

Overall I walked away from the Reserator 1 V2 impressed. For what it does it does it well and that’s giving very good cooling with no noise. Indeed I could not hear a single sound from the pump during testing. I do think that upgrading the pump to a Liang DDC would be a wise move on Zalman’s part. That and extending the return port to bring the heated water up to the top of the tank would really bring this unit to life.

That said I’m awarding the Reserator 1 V2 a 7/10 and advising against spending the extra cash on the ZM-RF1. Like I said before, you’d be better served to use that money elsewhere.

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