Zalman Reserator 1

Aug 1st, 2004 | By

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Zalman Reserator 1

: 08/1/04 – 02:30:11 PM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Introduction

Manufacturer: Zalman
Price: $279.95 MSRP

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Our last look at Zalman was at their latest in passively cooled GPU heatsinks, the Zalman ZM80D-HP. While marketed as simply a quieter solution to cooling todays GPUs we found that not only did it excel in reducing noise, but given some airflow temperatures were substantially reduced and the end result was the ability to push the card far past what the stock cooler had allowed.

Today we look at Zalman's entry into the watercooling market. While watercooling is nothing new, many of the big players in cooling as well as the memory industry have entered this enthusiast market. OCZ, Cooler Master, Spire, Corsair, and Thermaltake are just some of the many that I can think of. A common characteristic between most of these new solutions is that they are external.

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Watercooling itself can serve two purposes; whether it delivers them both is up to the builder, but typically you either get reliable, silent cooling or high performance cooling capable of extending your overclocking potential. My last venture into watercooling involved a custom build using a '68 (or around there) Mustang Heatercore paired with a Swiftech waterblock and pump. The system was loud thanks to my load 120mm fan, but the overclocking result was an addition of 200 MHz to my already overclocked 2.1 GHz 1700+ Thoroughbred B. The
Zalman Reserator 1
I'm going to show you today is not geared towards overclocking at all and is meant to deliver a silent computing experience without sacrificing processor compatibility.

Let's get this ball rolling…

Page 2 : Package

The Reserator was shipped direct from Zalman, I'm assuming in retail packaging. Inside the box were the Reserator packed in molded foam, parts in indiviual zip-locked bags, and a retail packaged ZM-WB2 Gold waterblock. Everything was free from damage and ready to be put to use. The Reserator 1 comes with a detailed manual in English and Korean, one Reserator, one flow indicator, two universal fittings, one 3 m length silicone tube, four clamps, and spare parts. The waterblock has it's own seperate instructions and a plethora of parts (including thermal grease) for installation onto supported sockets.

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Retail package for the Reserator 1.
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Contents of the Reserator 1 package.
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Contents of the waterblock package.
The Reserator is built to be passively cooled, and so it has fairly thick fins surrounding the central cylinder that holds the coolant. The build of everything is very solid. The blue, anodized aluminum gives everything a nice look. Weighing in at just over 14 pounds (6.5 kg) without any coolant inside, this thing is heavy. This can be attributed to the thick aluminum the unit is made from. There's also the height which is taller than most mid-towers.

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Because the Reserator acts as a reservoir it has a lid on the top sealed with a large rubber ring that allows you to pour in the coolant.

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Also, apart of the Reserator is the pump which can be accessed by unscrewing the bottom. This bottom section is also sealed with a large rubber ring. The pump itself is pretty small, but this fits the bill of cool and quiet. Unscrewing this portion is not necessary for installation, but allows users to remove it for installation of an external pump or for replacement of the original.

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The waterblock that Zalman includes with the Reserator 1 is the ZM-WB2 Gold. It is a high quality waterblock that is made from anodized aluminum with the base pure copper and plated with gold. Compatibility of the block is excellent, much like Zalman's other coolers I've used. This waterblock has every part needed to install it onto socket A, 754, 939, 940, and 478. The only current socket they seem to be missing is support for is Intel's new LGA 775. As far as speeds are concerned, the Reserator 1 can be used on any speed process across it's supported sockets.

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The base of the waterblock wasn't free from imperfections, but as you can see it was polished nicely.
The flow indicator shown below allows users to see whether or not the system is functioning properly. When the pump is on, users should see the orange piece in the indicator vibrate rapidly. The original flow indicator, pictured below, has been recalled by Zalman due to concerns of leaking. The new one, not tested here, is easy to tell apart from the old as it has metal hose fittings. If you have the old flow indicator Zalman will pay for shipping and allow you to trade your old for the new.

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Something that I found could prove very useful in the future are the four hose clamps that Zalman includes for easy adjusting of the system. These can be used for changing of the waterblock, coolant, or to detach the Reserator for moving the system.

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Page 3 : Specifications

Specifications for the Reserator 1's bundle were snatched from Zalman's website:

Reserator (Reservoir+Radiator+Water Pump)

Radiation Area: 1.274 m²
Weight: 6.5 kg
Dimensions: 150 (L) x 150 (W) x 592 (H) mm
Material: Pure Aluminum, Anodized
Coolant Capacity: Max 2.5 L
Maximum Integrated Water Pump: 5 W, Qmax 300 L/h
Maximum Lift: 0.5 m

ZM-WB2 Gold

Compatibility: Sockets 478, 462, 754, 939, 940; All Speeds
Weight: 447 g
Dimensions: 37 (L) x 37 (W) x 47 (H) mm
Material: Pure Aluminum & Gold-Plated Pure Copper Base

Also from Zalman's site:

Reserator 1 is designed with an optimal heat dissipation area based on ZalmanTech's HCET (High Capacity Extrusion Technique) and high efficiency cooling technology. As a result, this product achieves excellent cooling performance even with natural convection, making it the world's first fanless, noiseless water-cooling system. The reservoir, radiator, and the water pump are conveniently integrated into one assembly, and the heatsink is anodized to prevent corrosion and rust. In addition, the kit includes the high-performance ZM-WB2 Gold waterblock which is not susceptible to galvanic corrosion.
The reservoir/radiator is quite large and heavy. It holds nearly a gallon of water for actual use and this capacity and the size of the unit serve a very important purpose. That purpose is to cool passively, so a large amount of coolant and surface area are needed to maintain acceptable temperatures with only ambient airflow. As stated, silence is the goal here and the pump used is a submersable unit built into the bottom of the reservoir/radiator; also helping to muffle any sounds generated by the pump.

Focusing on the pump's specs we see that it is a low power and low performance solution. Compared to Swiftech's MCP650 pump we see that Zalman's is noticably smaller by about half, circulates a quarter of the liquid, uses less than a fourth the power, and lifts just under one sixth the amount. Obviously performance is sacrificed to ensure as little noise and heat generation by the pump as possible.

Page 4 : Installation

When installing the Reserator (and any product for that matter) it is a good idea to follow the instruction manual. The included manual was very helpful in both installing the waterblock and setting up the system as a whole. There are even detailed instructions on how to replace the pump with either a new one or an external one. Overall setup was very quick and simple; far different than my first time setting up a watercooled system. This I attribute to the external radiator/pump and the fact that this one wasn't inline, used smaller tubing, and had a better retension mechanism on the waterblock (as opposed to the Swiftech I was use to).

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The block and the silicone tubing attach easily.
I first removed my air cooler, the Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu, and reapplied a fresh and even layer of thermal grease onto the Pentium 4 heatspreader. Next I attached the waterblock in a matter of minutes. Having chosen a spot for the Reserator on the same level as the test system, I proceded to trim the pieces of hose to size and attached the waterblock, Reserator, and flow indicator in the way described by the graphic below. The hoses attach very easily to each component thanks to Zalman's instructions and simply requires users to unscrew the fitting cap, run the tube through it, attach the end of the tube to the fitting socket, and then screw the fitting cap until it is fastened. After all was said and done I had used only about 1 m of the 3 m silicone tubing, but if 3 m isn't enough for you Zalman also sells the tubing by itself.

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Zalman's recommended setup.
Once things were all setup I removed the Reserator's lid, filled it up to about 80-90% full of distilled water, and put the lid back on. With the computer off I began a 24 hour leak test. Turning on the watercooling system is done by a toggle switch on the pumps power cable. A day later no leak was found and the setup considered a success. Now I powered on the computer to begin testing.
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The system installed and working fine.

Page 5 : Benchmarking

Testing was conducted with the following system specs in an open-air environment:

Control Setup:

Pentium 4C 2.4 GHz @ 3.2 GHz (267 MHz x 4)
OCZ 2*256MB PC3200 DDR RAM (217 MHz x 4)
Maxtor 60GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
Abit IC7-G i875 Motherboard
Hercules 8500LE Video Card
Coolmax 400 W Power Supply
Windows XP Pro SP1 + Latest Drivers, Updates

CPU Coolers:

Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu
Zalman Reserator 1

Benchmarking analysis was limited to temperature of the CPU. To gain the results, the system was first put under heavy load by running Folding@Home and RC5-72 clients for a period of one hour and then the peak temperature recorded. The processor would then be allowed another hour to cool to idle temperatures with no user interference. This method was followed in order for each cooler and proved to be a consistent way to stress and compare the coolers abilities. Room for error could then be primarily traced back to environment variables such as room temperature and any possible human error in taking the readings.

Measurements were recorded by hand and taken using Abit's monitoring utility for temperature monitoring of the CPU diode. A RadioShack digital indoor/outdoor thermometer for monitoring the room temperature. Tests were done during a period of six hours and thus the room temperature fluctuated between 75.6°F and 77.8°F (24.2°C and 25.4°C) throughout the testing process.

Now the numbers:

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The Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu was not in silent mode and was directly hooked up to the motherboard. The performance between the Reserator 1 and the 7000A at idle were equal. In load situations the Reserator 1 shows a performance advantage resulting in a six degree difference. The biggest advantage however wasn't with performance, it was the noise. The Reserator 1 delivered a near silent performance with only an ambient hum of the pump that one would need to listen for. The 7000A on the other hand was quite loud and still wasn't able to deliver close competition when under load.

The performance the Reserator 1 was able to deliver over the 7000A didn't produce much extra headroom for overclocking. Where I was once unable to boot into Windows at 3.3 GHz I was now able to without any stability issues; anything much higher was simply out of reach. While one may be disappointed with these results, the goal of the Reserator 1 is to deliver silent computing and in that it delivers.

Some of you may be wondering how a different waterblock would effect performance. This may be something we look into in the future, but for now we've only had the time to examine out-of-the-box performance.

Page 6 : Conclusion

The Zalman Reserator 1 is a product that isn't too far out of reach in price. The system is incredibly simple to setup and one would be hard pressed to find a better performing and quieter solution. The instructions are detailed with plenty of diagrams and descriptions that anyone could follow. Every piece of the package is built with extreme quality thanks to Zalman's attention to detail. With the Reserator 1 I am happy to say that Zalman continues to meet the high standards I hold for them. If you're looking for a solution that will deliver good performance and some piece and quiet then I have no hesitation in recommending the Reserator 1.


Quiet computing
Easy to setup
High quality materials
Solid performance


Performs less than non-passive watercooling

I look forward to seeing what Zalman does to improve on this solution in the future to possibly raise performance without sacrificing silence. A big thanks goes out to Zalman for supplying the products for this review.

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