Zalman's fanless WC rig reviewed: Reserator1

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Zalman's fanless WC rig reviewed: Reserator1

Post by MikeC » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:57 am

Last edited by MikeC on Thu Aug 05, 2004 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by sgtpokey » Tue Aug 03, 2004 9:47 am

great review and thanks for doing it!!

The performance with the VGA card exceeded my expectations.

Soon, the options for building a silent/quiet computer lend themselves to an "octopus" computer building style. What I mean is the case no longer needs to enclose anything and you can build an octopus computer to spread the heat sources outward:

1. Zalman Reserator to take the CPU and/or VGA card heat out of the case
2. The upcoming external Zalman 400 watt PSU to take the PSU heat out of the case
3. External SATA drives to take hard drive heat out of the case (and enclose them in your own sound deadening enclosure)
4. The case then becomes an ornamental thing to place your media drives into

All this sounds messy EXCEPT when your designing a computer that isn't designed to be portable AND you have a lot of hidden working space to distribute these external components around. Which is exactly what I'd be looking at with a big TV cabinet and a little HTPC/game machine/fileserver...

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Post by tay » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:02 am

Yeah pokey, like you, i thought of all the ways you could change the classic case around with these external cooling setups.

Nice review, the price is comparable to other systems in this class. Hell its only 30-40 more than the Thermaltake Aquarius ;)
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Post by lenny » Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:43 pm

Thanks for the review. Looks promising. Hope that the price will dip over time. I may bite at a lower price point when it's time to build a new machine.

One question regarding the pump - it looks like it's AC powered. Is there any mechanism to ensure that the pump is running when the computer is started up?

I would love to see this design integrated into the case. The outer shell of the computer will be the water tank / radiator. I prefer my computer to be in one piece as much as possible. With two monitors, mouse, keyboard, ethernet, speakers and power cables, I have more than enough cables running around.

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Post by zds » Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:54 pm

I recently bought this one, and I absolutely love it. It was maybe the best 250 euros I have ever spent. As I do not live in acoustic chamber, I just jave not been able to hear any sound from it, under any circumstances.

The review was good, but it could have used some pictures of the actual test setup rig; with this kind or outside-the-case system it could have been useful to see how the resetator tower and computer case were located and what kind of case was used. But that's just details, very nice review anyway.

As I want my main machine to be close-to-higher-end gaming rig, keeping it silent and cool, especially the display adapter, during summer time and long gaming sessions has proven to be difficult. This beauty solves that problem, and does it amazingly well.

As asked in earlier posted: yes, it takes power straight from AC outlet. I'd love to have the pump automatically started when machine is powered up. I think this is the only real misfeature in this product.

It is pricey, but by looking at the amount of precision-crafted metal in it, I completely understand it. I do not suppose this will ever be sold at bargain price, as the craftmanship and metals always cost money.
Last edited by zds on Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by RaNDoMMAI » Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:55 pm

May interest some people who have this already to know

Recall of something
http://www.zalman.co.kr/usa/support/rma/recall.asp

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Post by zds » Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:26 pm

As I am not the reviewer, I cannot know for sure, but I suppose it's just impossible to measure noise generated by this device. It is just below anything measurable. I have number of ultra-quiet components at my home, and from all of them I can hear _some_ sound, even from the quietest fan at lowest voltage; from this one I just can't hear anything.

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Post by MikeC » Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:30 pm

Russ does not have access to the kind of hyper-sensitive SLM and super-low ambient acoustic space needed to measure such a quiet device. From conversations about the unit that we've had, I think it is safe to say that it is probably below 15 dBA/1m -- below the level of the very quietest notebook drives around.
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Post by acaurora » Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:00 pm

I, honest to God, must say that this unit is pretty much DEAD silent. At least it WAS in the beginning. I have gotten reports from other people, as well as myself, that some type of clattering sound begins to occur after a while, like, a few months of use. Maybe we're the lemons. Also, Zalman is doing a voluntary recall of the flow indicators as other reports of the flow indicator leaking/breaking. I have spent a month trying to fix my Reserator, to no avail. I probably will just buy a new Eheim 300 or 1048 pump and that'll fix it for sure. Zalman says they won't RMA my unit unless i SENT THE ENTIRE FRICKING 40 LB thing to them just to replace a $20 pump. -.-;;

EDIT: Didn't someone else here review the Reserator in the forums? I remember someone tried using a 1048 pump, with marginal gains.

EDIT #2: Just a tip for anyone that has a problem with their Reserator or wants to look at it: I'd recommend that you remove the grey flow selector clip on the Eheim 300 pump, as well as the blue screw cap on the compression fitting. That way, you make sure that with everything loose being gone, the only POSSIBLE moving part is the pump. Also, be very cautious when removing the bottom plate: it is a b#$ch to remove. Russ provided a useful tip: use the rubber grips of a needle nosed pliers (and I do quote: "Take off the plastic compression fittings first!") and insert them into the inlet/outlet of the Reserator to help you unscrew it. Took me like 15 minutes of twisting and turning to get it off =[

EDIT #3: Also, those screws that hold down the metal bracket, they're not stainless steel. Mine are getting rusty. Just wanted to let that out too -.-;;
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Post by Rusty075 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 4:02 pm

A group response to some of the questions raised:

lenny: As Zds mentioned, there isn't any way built in to ensure that the pump is on when you turn on the machine. There are some aftermarket AC pump relay devices around that acheive that though. But in reality, with this unit, there is no real to ever turn the pump off. Having it on adds nothing to the noise of the room. That's probably the logic behind Zalman not making provisions for it. Of course there is always the "what-if" scenarios about the pump accidentally being off, but even with my 100 watt+ CPU, the temps rose slowly enough without the pump even being on that you would have time to realise something was wrong, and for the automatic overheat protections on the motherboard to kick in. (sometimes being forgetful turns into an educational experience :wink: )

zds: I know I've got pics of the entire assembled thing. I'll see if I can't dredge them up. Essentially the entire thing was just sitting side by side on the workbench, with the mobo in my flat testbed mounting.


CactusInvasion: It's exactly as Mike describes; I simply do not have the tools necessary. Actually I doubt that even he does. Think "notebook drive under a blanket" as an analogy for the sound. If the Res isn't setting on a hard surface, you really do have to touch it to know its on. But setting it on a hard surface, particularly an uneven one like my floors, greatly amplifies the sound, making it quite noticable.


Poor, poor Acaurora: :lol: So far, it appears that the problems plaguing your unit are rare. Unpleasant, but rare. Eheim pumps are generally pretty highly regarded for reliability.
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Post by acaurora » Tue Aug 03, 2004 4:12 pm

Yah well, I have been known for bad luck. =[ In any event, check your mail, I have some more questions I wanted to ask you.
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Post by PhilgB » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:13 pm

I'm not sure of how the flow of water works in this tank, but would there be a way to take the water from the top of the reserator before it goes into the computer, and put it back in the res. at the bottom of the tank? If so, what kind of gain would there be? I would think the water at the top would be a bit cooler..
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Post by Rusty075 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:17 pm

Actually, Phil, just the opposite. Hot water rises due to its density, so the water at the bottom is the coolest water in the tank.

You may be able to improve efficiency slightly by having the return water be dumped into the top of the tank. As-is, both the intake and the outflow are both at the bottom, so there's bound to be some recycling of just-returned water back into the loop.
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Post by PhilgB » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:40 pm

Yeah I was going to edit and suggest the opposite as well. I just figured since the source of the hot water was at the bottom, most of the heat might have been transfered out of the fins by the time it go to the top.

But returning the hot water at the top does sound like a better idea. Is there a connection for a tube on the pump inside the tank? (That blue connector in the same pic mentioned)
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Post by Rusty075 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:43 pm

Yup, its exactly the same compression fitting used everywhere else. A short piece of tubing could be connected to it pretty easily.
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Post by swivelguy2 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:44 pm

Why doesn't Zalman do that already?

If I were to design the reserator, I would certainly carry the incoming hot water to the top in a skinny tube that has its own heatsink fins, but is thermally isolated from the cold-water reservoir and its fins.

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Post by Rusty075 » Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:06 pm

The more tubing you push the water through, and the higher up the tank you try to push it, the lower the flow rate, and thus the higher the temps. If you were to add a tube to the inlet, I'd keep it short.

If you were to attach a tube to the pump and aim it straight up, it wouldn't even be able to push water to the top of the tank....it only has an 18" head.

By putting all the water in one big tank you maximize the amount of time the water spends in there, giving it more time to dissipate the heat out through the fins. The difference in temperature between the water leaving the tank and the water coming in is surprisingly small in WC'ing systems, probably less than 2°'s.
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Post by acaurora » Tue Aug 03, 2004 9:33 pm

Yah. See the slit in the Eheim pump on Rusty's review? That's where the water gets sucked in, pumped down into the bottom plate. The blue compression fitting next to the pump is where the water returns from the CPU. I haven't tried attaching tubing, and I already did think of that idea with keeping hot water on top and cool air on the bottom. I might try that once I get my Eheim 300 replaced.
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Post by Bluefront » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:31 pm

Interesting device.....but not for me. I do have a device here that would solve the problem of turning on the pump automatically when the computer starts. I bought it at Radio Shack a few years ago....don't think they sell it anymore.

It acts like a surge protector strip with one difference. You would plug your computer into the first outlet and your other external stuff (the pump) into the other outlets. When the computer starts (current draw) the other outlets are then powered up. There is a sensitivity knob you can adjust for a low power primary device.

I have this thing working on a computer setup that uses an external AC powered fan......the fan only turns on when the computer is running. This setup has been working w/o problems for years. Cost about $50.

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Post by acaurora » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:50 pm

heh, cool!
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Post by sensei » Wed Aug 04, 2004 1:27 am

Nice review. Too bad about the missing dB ratings, but hey, if it's that quiet, guess theres nothing you can do...

I just thought that the pump looks prime for some rubber vibration damping. That'd probably take care of the vibration prob on a hard floor. The gains would be marginal though, all that water should be taking pretty good care of vibrations.

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Post by zds » Wed Aug 04, 2004 1:48 am

I get an impression that vibration levels vary greatly; Rusty reported the vibration causing notable sound if reserator is placed on the floor, but I have mine on light wooden _desk_, that should by my understanding echo the vibration quite readily, and yet I am to hear anything from the pump.

I have had to acousticalle decouple my PC case from the same desk due to vibration from HDD and fans, because that desk really amplifies vibrations to noise, but still reserator pump can not be heard. I'll take it that either the rubber in bottom of the reserator does its job well, or I have just been lucky to get a very low variation pump with my reserator.

Did the review sample have those rubbers under reserator feet?

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Post by jmke » Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:53 am

excellent review, 1st class work!

I'm especially interested in the "the Maxim MAX6657 thermal monitor"

do you have any guide/howto on how to assemble or set up a similar thing? which pins need to be soldered, what port on the motherboard needs to be used? where to get the maxim max6657 thermal monitor, what software do you use to read from the SMbus and how to configure this?

thank you in advance for any information you can provide to help me out with this!

keep up the good work!

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Post by HearNoEvil » Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:01 am

Very nice review!
The only thing I would like to know before wanting to buy one of these is: How would the temps be together with one of the newest GPUs such as the ATI 800 or nVidia 6800? Does anyone know?
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Post by jmke » Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:05 am

found a link for the DIODE sensor: http://www.overclockers.com/tips1175/

:lol:

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Post by luminous » Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:00 am

Nice review, I've been waiting to read this for a while. Looking at the results you got it should be able to cope with a 100W GPU and 100W CPU. I have heard of poeple running setups like this without any problems.

I've also heard a lot of people complain about the resorator getting very loud after short/medium periods of time. Hopefully Zalman will be on top of this issue very soon.

Without getting my hands on a Resorator I cannot say this for certain. It does appear to have sufficient space to suspend the pump within the unit. Little brackets could be glued to the inside of the Resorator and then something like Stretch Magic could attach the pump to the brackets.

Since Zalman have called this thing the Resorator1, I'm sure that they are working on version 2. Hopefully they will be looking for feedback for ideas for the new version, so here we go:-
1) Suspend the pump within the unit
2) Depending on the success of suspension, consider a pump with a higher flow rate
3) Have a system so that the pump automatically turns on with the computer (this is something that a lot of people would really like to see)
4) Consider the potential for the Resorator to be a central cooling hub. There are a few people who have already managed to cool more than one computer using only the one Resorator between them. If the Resorator 2 is more has a more powerful pump it may well be feasible to have one cooler for 2 up to date machines. I know that the market for this is probably limited, but most of us who have more than one machine know that space is at a premium. I personally do not have the room for 2 resorators, but I do have more than one machine.

Thanks again for doing the review.
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Post by sthayashi » Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:12 am

How's the instruction manual on maintanence? I suspect that the reserator will be a lot of people's first steps into the watercooling arena and it would be good for them to see instructions that told more than just how to put it together.
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Post by Ralf Hutter » Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:35 am

Russ - In light of these sort of comments:
a smattering of posters wrote: I've also heard a lot of people complain about the resorator getting very loud after short/medium periods of time.
-How long have you run your system with the Resorator?

-Will you continue running it as a "long term test" to see if your particular Resorator develops this pump noise?
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Post by Rusty075 » Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:59 am

On the Maxim reader: There's a recent thread over in Fans & Control that covers some of the issues: Maxim MAX6657 thermal monitor? There are a couple of online guides for how to assemble a reader, the best probably being at Procooling.com. Overclckers.com actually has several; the most recent one, that jmke linked, is not one that I'd recommend following. His whole premise is based on faulty understanding of how the diode works, and the rest of it is just a rehash of previous articles.

If there is enough interest in it, perhaps we should spin this off into its own thread. I'd be happy to share what I've learned about the diode reader, but I don't want to bore readers who actually want to stay on topic. :lol:



And speaking of topic:

I imagine that there probably is some variation in the noise...there always is. That combined with differences in environment (my "test lab" is a very acoustically active space: hardwood floors, high tin ceilings, no carpet or draperies dampen reverb) and differences in hearing sensitivity, will always make noise a subjective thing. (or at least until we all buy $3K SLM's :wink: )

And as always, if someone would like to donate a 6800 Ultra for testing, we'd be happy to put it to use. (be sure to include Doom3 for testing as well) :lol:


Ralf: My sample ran pretty much continuously for about 60 days with no apparent change in noise. (see, that's why the review took so long! I was "endurance testing" ) It has since been taken down for Testbed reconfiguring, but it will probably find a home somewhere here in the lab shortly. I'll keep you posted.
Last edited by Rusty075 on Wed Aug 04, 2004 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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