Zalman Reserator1 Fanless WC System

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TEST 3: XP2100 at 2200Mhz & 1.85volts, with ATI 9500 in cooling loop.

XP2100 @ 2200Mhz, 1.85 volts + Ati 9500
°C/W @Load*
System AC Draw
*CPUBurn + 3DMark03

These results require some interpretation. Comparing the idle temps first, we see the immediate impact of adding the 9500 to the water-cooling loop. The idle temp jumps by 4°, and AC draw is increased by 25 Watts, just from adding the idling 9500. However the full load temperature increases only by 1°C.

If we assume that my 300 Watt Fortron Aurora PSU has efficiency similar to the 350 Watt version reviewed by Mike, we can work backwards to get a rough estimate of the total DC loads:

Mike's testing showed that a 90W DC output required an input of 137W AC (66% efficiency). So 135W means the system was drawing 91W DC in idle.

The same review showed that a 150W DC output required an input of 217W AC (69% efficiency); as is the norm for PSUs, efficiency rises with increased output. Since the 189W system AC power draw at load is between 135W (66% efficiency) and 217W (69%), an estimate of 68% seems reasonable: This means the DC output at load is 189 x 0.68 = about 129W.

If we subtract the 105W for the CPU from the 129W total DC draw, we get 24 Watts of DC power left to be consumed by the rest of the system, including the ATI 9500. At idle we saw the 9500-equipped system draw approximately 17 watts more DC than the SiS VGA system did. A jump from 17 watts to 24 watts for the 9500 at load seems unbelievably small. A check of MBM's CPU load log after an extended testing session revealed the source of the apparant error: the CPU load was often well below 100%. The combination of CPUBurn and 3DMark doesn't stress both the CPU and the GPU fully, simultaineously. This definitely complicates things.

A variety of different applications, benchmarks, and priority settings were tried in an attempt to fully load both the VGA and the CPU simultaneously for the 12+ hours needed to stabilize the temperatures, but nothing approached the 189 Watts of maximum load seen with CPUBurn and 3DMark. Without the CPU being fully loaded, there is no reliable way to determine what portion of the 129 total DC draw is caused by the CPU, and what portion stems from the VGA. (It also calls into question the VGA Wattages calculated by other websites who use the differences between idle and load Wattages as indicators)


The performance numbers really speak for themselves. For the noise level, the temps are quite simply far beyond what is currently achievable with even the best of air-cooling. Compared to other high-end water-cooling systems, the temperature results are decent, but unspectacular. But in reality, comparisons of the Reserator1 to conventional water-cooling kits are probably unfair. It is designed for users wanting the maximum in silence, and ease of use, not maximum cooling power.

Question: Could you select individual components from a variety of manufacturers to assemble a system that will outperform the Reserator?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Would it be as quiet?

Answer: Doubtful. If it has even a single fan it would be louder than the Reserator.

The Reserator clearly succeeds in achieving its designers' goals and represents another major achievement in silent computing for Zalman.


  • Near total Silence.
  • Watercooling-newbie friendly instructions.
  • Quality of fit-and-finish.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Better-than-air (at the same noise level). performance.
  • Convenience of a single-source water-cooling solution.


  • Pricey.
  • Inconvenient if you move the PC often.
  • Some lingering QC issues with the reports of cracked flow indicators and pump noise increasing over time. (Neither detected in the review sample.)

Much thanks to Sharkacorp for the Reserator1 review sample and for their patience.

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Discuss this review in the SPCR Forums.

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