Zalman Reserator XT Hybrid Liquid Cooling System

by Greg King on March 14, 2008 in Cooling

Given their nature, external water-coolers have a lot of room to do things right. Zalman took full advantage of the space they had with the XT and delivered a superb external solution with excellent performance. Though slightly expensive, “you get what you pay for” rings true here.

Reserator XT

Taking a quick tour around the main unit itself, we first see the face of the Reserator XT. With a lot more going on than previous models, the XT has a thrice of gauges to help monitor fan speed, fluid temperatures and flow rate.

Expanding on the distance between new models and the Fatality line up of products, the Reserator XT has minimal branding which is a welcome sight to this editor. As you can see, the Reserator XT is a far cry wider than previous models, mostly to accommodate the large 140mm fan that brings cool outside air into the enclosure and along the two radiators, chilling the liquid as it moves through the loop.

Below the gauges we get a better look at the “volume” dial as well as three buttons still further down. While the knob does in fact control the overall volume of the XT, how it achieves this is a bit more interesting. Not only does the knob keep the volume down by limiting the speed of the fan in the back, it also dials down the pump speed, decreasing the flow rate of the liquid in the loop.

So, while it’s accurately describing what the knob controls, it also limits the performance of the unit as a whole in doing so. At the very bottom, there is a button to control whether or not the temperatures are displayed in US or metric form and a button to let the XT itself control the performance of the cooler or let the user manually adjust it as they see fit. There is also a button to toggle between off and on for the gauge’s lighting.

Moving around to the back of the unit, we can see that this end of the cooler is dominated by the large 140mm fan. To protect wandering fingers, there is an attractive spiral cut fan guard over the blades of the fan. On either side of the fan are quick disconnect couplers that I can’t say a single negative thing about. These are what every water kit should have in it regardless of whether or not you build it yourself of choose to use a kit like this setup. They not only allow you to remove the tubing from the base unit but allow you to do so without making a mess. There will be a few drops of coolant escape, but for the most part, the mess is kept to a minimum thanks to the foresight of Zalman engineers.

Directly above the “OUT” nozzle is the power hook up. As mentioned earlier, you simply plug in the cord and screw in the metal jacket that surrounds the cable. This not only gives a solid look to the Reserator XT but it also prevents any accidental power downs of the cooler, thus saving the clumsy from a fried PC.

The top of the Reserator XT serves a pair of purposes with the first being the most obvious. In the center of the Reserator XT there is a large cap that sits directly over the Reserator XT’s reservoir. This is securely sealed with a large rubber O-ring but still allows the cooler to breath with a small hole in the center of the cap.

Bordering the fill cap are thin aluminum fins that run the entire length of the Reserator. While they clearly are there to help dissipate heat out and away from the XT, a quick look inside shows that the fluid actually runs through these corner heat sinks to further cool the liquid as it makes its trip around the loop. This helps show the time that the Zalman engineers put into the Reserator XT and while it does add four more points of failure as far as leaks are concerned, Zalman has securely attached the hoses, so little worry needs to be given to the fear of internal leakage.

The sides of the Reserator XT are identical to each other with the exception of the flow meter found on the rights hand side of the cooler. This is present to allow the user to double check if the fluid is moving around the loop as it should. If the flow meter should ever stop, or any reason, an obnoxious beep will alert you to the sudden lack of water flow.

Whew, with our look out of the way, it’s time to install this thing!