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Zalman’s Reserator is a silent, fanless cooler that needs no introduction. Though we’ve praised the previous versions of this water cooler, Zalman has seen fit to completely redesign the newest Reserator model. And in doing so, it addresses the few issues people had with earlier versions, while unceremoniously introducing a few new issues.
The Reserator 2 differs in almost every way from its predecessor, the Reserator 1 Plus (reviewed Holiday 2005). The biggest change is the redesigned reservoir/radiator tank. We’re not too stoked about its looks, but we love how small and thin it is—it’s about the size of a desktop-replacement notebook. Zalman has also switched from the previous huge-tank-of-water-with-a-pump design to using natural convection to move the water through the system. Water flows through vertical channels that rise and fall through the tank’s midsection in a snaking S pattern, transferring its heat to the tank’s aluminum chassis to radiate heat out of the system.
Zalman includes the same low-flow pump used in the Reserator 1 Plus, so it’s virtually inaudible. Using a Molex power pass-through, you can even configure the pump to turn on and off with your PC—a nice improvement from the previous model, which was always off or on.
We love the flow meter on the front of the unit. It’s much easier to see than the in-line meter on previous models. Zalman has also added an alarm to the meter, so if the impeller stops moving for 10 seconds, an alarm begins beeping quietly, allowing you to shut down your rig and investigate. There’s also an LED above the flow meter, which you can turn off using the LED shut-off button on the front of the unit.
The radiator is not the only thing that’s new: Zalman also included new water blocks featuring slightly improved designs. The CPU block now sports an acrylic cap and uses a more efficient pin-matrix design, as opposed to the simple row of blocks found on the previous Reserator. The GPU block has tube-mounting barbs that rotate freely (usually they’re fixed in place), which reduces the chance of tube-kinking significantly.
In a puzzling departure from the previous model, Zalman left off the RAM heatsinks for the videocard this time around. Zalman says RAM sinks are insufficient for high-end GPUs, so they weren’t included. Instead, it’s suggested you purchase an optional Zalman RAM water block—which is bunk. Considering the unit’s price, a RAM water block, or at least RAM sinks, should be included.
The kit also doesn’t support socket AM2 right now, but Zalman says you can request an AM2 retention mechanism if you need it. Who wants to do that? Zalman says eventually AM2 support will be included in the box. And like before, motherboard removal is still required for all S939 and LGA775 processors. Phooey on that as well.
Installation took about an hour, and was relatively painless (aside from motherboard removal, of course). Performance was impressive on our test bed, which includes an FX-62 CPU and nVidia 6800 GT videocard. Both parts ran at decent temps under full load for several days, with nary a peep to be heard.
In the final tally, the new Reserator is definitely improved, but still has shortcomings. The price surprised us as well—this thing is way expensive, and in our opinion, not worth it. The Reserator 1 Plus costs half the money and runs just as quiet.
Month Reviewed: November 2006
+ J. NO: Good performance and silent running. Handy flow meter.
- J. LO: Too expensive. Must remove mobo to install.