Zalman Reserator1 Fanless WC System

Cooling
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TESTING

The uniqueness of the Reserator1 required the development of a testing methodology that is unique as well. The resulting testing procedure is notable as much for what it does not test, as for what does: Simply put, the Reserator1 is designed, sold, and intended for use primarily as an integrated system. For that reason, it will be tested as a system, with only limited amounts of attention paid to the performance of individual components.

For the tests, the Reserator1 was assembled in the same manner, with all the same components, as it would likely be used in reality. The goal with the testbed is to recreate the same conditions that the unit will be asked to perform under, not to necessarily produce the best possible scores.

The test loop consisted of:

  • Reserator
  • ZM-WB2 CPU waterblock
  • ZM-GWB1 VGA waterblock
  • Flow indicator tube
  • Quick disconnect fittings
  • About 1 meter of tubing

Testbed

For previous Socket A reviews we've relied upon processors with <70 Watts of max heat. While perfectly acceptable at the time, the pace of CPU heat output has now passed them by. With current CPU's now breaking the 100 Watt barrier, it was time for a testbed upgrade.

Several criteria were established for the Socket-A Torture Testbed:

  1. It would need to have easily adjustable CPU Wattage, to be about to reproduce a variety of real-life usage conditions
  2. The max CPU Wattage had to be as hot as the hottest processors on the market today.
  3. The temperature sensing and reporting system had to be accurate and reliable to make any comparisons meaningful.

The first two conditions were met by some careful rummaging through the spare parts bin. A combination of an Abit KR7A-133 motherboard, and an unlocked XP-2100 T-bred was selected to serve as the primary components. The motherboard was socket-modded to over-volt the CPU to 1.85v. Using the FSB and Multiplier ranges available with that motherboard/CPU combo allows a range of dissipated power from as low as 62.2 Watts at 1300Mhz, to as high as 105.3 Watts at 2200Mhz, as calculated with CPU Power by Kostik, a software utility that you can find in the SPCR Software Downloads section.

The third condition, accurate temperature readings, was achieved by bypassing the stock in-socket thermsistor and reading the temperature directly from the CPU die with an external reader soldered to the CPU pins. This device reports its readings through the SMBus.


The Maxim MAX6657 thermal monitor chip in action.

Once assembled, the temperature monitor and motherboard/CPU combo were run through a laborious series of temperature testing to calibrate the sensor's readings.

The other testbed components are stock components from around the lab:

  • Seagate 7200.7 HDD
  • 512mb of PC2100 RAM
  • Fortron FSP300-60PN “Aurora” PSU
  • Windows XP Pro/SP1
  • Kill-a-Watt AC meter for accurate readings of the total AC draw of the system.

To isolate the effects of adding the VGA cooler, the water-cooled 9500 was replaced by a passively cooled SiS 4mb AGP for some of the tests. For these tests, the 9500 remained in the water-cooling loop, but was not powered.


Look Ma', no heatsink! Behold the power of 1x AGP/4mb graphics.

Test Procedure:

  • Each test was conducted multiple times, and the average temperature calculated.
  • Ambient temperature was 23°C, unless noted otherwise.
  • CPU Load temps were achieved by running CPUBurn for a minimum of 12 hours. (The extended time run was required to have the temperatures stabilize completely)
  • 3DMark03 was run as a continuous loop to achieve VGA load.
  • Idle temps were recorded at the Windows desktop.
  • Motherboard monitor was used to record the temperature readings from the Maxim MAX6657, via the SMBus.

TEST 1: XP2100 at stock, no VGA in cooling loop.

XP2100 @ 1733Mhz, 1.60 volts: 62.1W
 
Idle
Load
°C/W @Load
CPU
36°C
46°C
0.37
System AC Draw
80W
104W
-

Ancient SiS VGA card used for this test.

This first test was conducted to provide a direct comparison with the previous SPCR Socket A tests.

If compared to the best air-coolers tested on the basis of temperature, the Reserator's results are quite respectable. The 0.37°C/W thermal conductivity is on par with a ThermalRight SP97/L1A combination @ 10 volts, or a Zalman 7000a @ 5 volts. That's lofty company to be in league with. But if the noise level is factored in, the Reserator is simply in a league of its own.

Acoustically, the Reserator1 is about as close to the holy grail of silent cooling as is likely possible. The pump, dampened by 2.5 liters of water and 7kg of aluminum, is virtually noiseless. About the only noise from the pump is a low frequency vibration transferred through the shell of the Reserator. It is more felt than heard. Setting the Reserator on a hard floor surface exaggerates the vibration: on carpet it is undetectable until you place your hand on top of the unit. The biggest noise producer of the entire system is actually the flow indicator. It produces a slight clicking noise as it rattles around inside its plastic chamber. Not an obtrusive noise, and you'd have to have very low ambient noise levels to even notice it.

TEST 2: XP2100 at 2.2 Ghz & 1.85 volts, no VGA in cooling loop.

XP2100 @ 2200Mhz, 1.85 volts = 105.3W
 
Idle
Load
°C/W @Load
CPU
47°C
63°C
0.38
System AC Draw
110W
159W
-
Ancient SiS VGA card used for this test.

Now we really turn up the heat. 105 Watts of heat puts this CPU up into the same egg-frying category as the P4EE's and Prescotts, and substantially beyond the hottest of any of the AMD CPUs available currently. 12+ hours continuous CPUBurn is far beyond the sort of stress any typical user will put the system under. As previous tests have shown, running a CPU loading application such as Folding at Home will not produce the same levels of CPU heat production as CPUBurn. Under such conditions, 63°C is an impressive result. It's safe to say that the Reserator1 has the cooling power to be used with any current CPU available today. (At least at stock speeds)



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