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CTS 2005: Zalman's Reserator 1 Plus

by Steve Kerrison on 15 April 2005, 00:00

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Zalman's Reserator 1 Plus

Zalman's Reserator 1 Plus

It's been nearly a year since we brought you a look at the Zalman Reserator, a passive water cooling system aimed at silencing your computer. Since then, Zalman has been working on some improvements to the Reserator and they were showcased at QuietPC's booth at CTS this week.

This isn't so much a new version of the Reserator, more of a revision and improvement upon the original, hence the "Reserator 1 Plus" moniker. However, the original design was itself very impressive and certainly did the job of keeping CPU (and optionally the GPU) fairly cool without making a noise.

Inside the 'Reserated' system

Zalman have redesigned the GPU block. It will now fit onto NVIDIA GeForce 6800 cards. What does this mean? Reserator plus will cool your SLI rig. Of course, the RAM still needs cooling, but passive heatsinks seemed to do the job for the demo system on show.

Water-cooled SLI

The board used in the demo PC was the ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe (which we pitted against DFI's SLI board in this review.) These SLI boards have small chipset heatsinks which are usually coupled with rather small, but noisy fans. Part of the reason for this is to allow clearance for the heatsink of the primary graphics card. With a couple of water blocks on the graphics chips, clearance isn't an issue, so all that remains is silencing that chipset fan. Zalman have that covered with their new chipset block.

The number of noise producing devices in this system is dwindling, but there's one more component covered... the PSU. Clearly water and electricity do mix (almost.)

Water-cooled PSU

With no less than five sources dumping heat into the cooling loop, you have to wonder whether a passive cooling solution can keep up? Apparently so. The GPUs were running at temperatures equivalent to that of air cooling, although ambient was a little higher than usual. CPU temperatures were similar to that of air cooling as well. The reservoir, where the heat is dispersed, was quite warm, the large mass of metal absorbing the heat from the water and slowly dissipating it. As such, the Reserator 1 Plus is not going to appeal to overclockers, but it's not meant to.

Reserator Reservoir

One concern of mine was that other components within the system would suffer at the lack of air flow - the voltage regulation circuitry, for example. However, the MOSFETs near the CPU had a heatsink which was warm to the touch; nothing to worry about. It would still be wise, in my opinion at least, to have some 7V or 5V modded fans drawing a bit of air through the system for the sake of your hard drives and case temperatures.

If the original Reserator didn't quite have the features and compatibility you sought, then the Reserator 1 Plus might be worth a look. Cooling performance isn't going to be stellar with all those components cooled by a passive radiator, but it is a fair trade-off when you consider the blissful sound of silence.