Nathan Edwards Jun 25, 2008

Zalman Reserator XT

At A Glance

Zaphod Beeblebrox

Crispy-cool; smaller than the old enormous Reserators.

General Zod

Still friggin' huge; pretty annoying to set up; cranking the fan doesn't really increase performance.

Zalman is no stranger to gigantic external liquid-cooling devices. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing its huge, tower-like Reserator coolers that we nearly choked when the 15-pound Reserator XT arrived in our Lab. For starters, it’s not a large, awkward-to-carry cylindrical column. The rectangular apparatus is comparably compact and sleek, more akin to a subwoofer than a home-theater speaker.

While the rectangular device works wonders as a doorstop—even better once you dump 1.25 liters of fluid into its aluminum bay—it serves far better as an external cooler for your CPU, provided you don’t mind a little bit of a setup, that is.

We expect a bit of a construction process when we cross the line from snap-and-clip air cooling to where-are-the-napkins liquid kits. The Reserator XT tested our patience by riding the delicate balance between annoying and infuriating. Instead of priming the machine by pouring liquid into the reservoir, you must jostle the whole device back and forth (while turning it on and off, while a beeping alarm is blaring) just to get fluid into the special “degassing” tube. Attaching the water block to the Reserator XT forces you to pry the special no-spill nozzles off of the ends the degassing tube (not fun) and reattach them to the virginal 3/8-inch tubing. Apparently, the concept of giving you two extra nozzles didn’t cross Zalman’s mind.

As for the cooling, the chart says it all. This thing poured a pitcher of rock-out all over our air coolers, beat all the lame, preconstructed water-cooling units we’ve encountered, and even rivaled our favorite peltier coolers in terms of degrees cooled. Our only hesitation comes from the lack of a difference in performance when the fan is running silently versus cranked. That’s awesome for those who like quiet low temperatures, but it would have been nice to see increased performance when the device is at full power.

  Stock Cooler Zalman Reserator XT (low)
Zalman Reserator  XT (high)
Zalman CNPS9700
Idle (C) 32
100% Load (C)
54 35.5
33 37.5
Best scores are bolded. Idle temperatures were measured after 30 minutes of inactivity, and full-load temps were measured after running CPU Burn-in for one hour.

Zalman Reserator XT

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