The next job is to feed the hoses out of your case. You could simply drill two holes through the side opposite your motherboard but it would look a little weird. The alternative is to use the two unions that Zalman supplies, which fit into an unused PCI slot on the backplate of your case. Connect the hoses from your water block(s) to these unions then run two more hoses to the Reserator, fitting the inline Zalman flow indicator to one of them. Make sure that the Reserator is more or less on the same level as your PC so the pump isn’t trying to fight gravity, fill it with 2.5 litres of water and you’re ready for action.
The Reserator pump is mains powered with its own plug so it doesn’t need to use the PC power supply, and that also means that you can run the cooling system on its own to check for leaks. You could also forget to turn it on, which is the reason for the flow indicator. This is a clear plastic cylinder with an orange plastic float tethered on a short chain. When the water is flowing the float flutters around as a visual check, or you can feel the water hoses, which pulse gently to the touch. In fact the flow indicator is also useful to check that you have remembered to turn the Reserator 1 off once you have shut your PC down. The 5W pump has a flow rate of 300 litres per hour, which is very low, and it is so quiet that you can’t hear it in operation.
The system works superbly well thanks to the huge amount of water in the reservoir and the enormous surface area of the Reserator. After half an hour of hard work the temperature of our Opteron 148 stabilised at 36 degrees Celsius, and both the CPU water block and Reserator were barely warm to the touch. By contrast our Ti4600 graphics card (which has a passive Zalman heatsink) got so hot we could barely touch it.
The Reserator 1 is an excellent product that has only one minor flaw to our eyes. Once it’s connected up you will find it very awkward to move your PC as the Reserator weighs 6.5kg empty and isn’t the sort of kit that you’ll transport to and from LAN parties. Indeed, once all set up we had no desire to transport the Reserator back into the office for a photo shoot, which is why we have had to use the images from Zalman’s website instead of our own, as is usually the case. Zalman supplies a couple of clamps that you can use to pinch off the water hoses while you disconnect the Reserator, but this is very much a system that you’ll want to leave in a fixed location. The price may seem a little steep too, but you get a great deal for your money.
As you get older and more crotchety you appreciate a bit of peace and quiet, and the drone of noisy cooling fans becomes ever more unbearable. It comes as a complete surprise that the answer to this particular problem should be found in a finned, blue aluminium tower that costs nearly £200, and at first glance the Zalman Reserator 1 looks like the answer to a question that no-one has asked. Once you’ve connected the Reserator up and have used it for a few hours it becomes apparent that Zalman thought up an entirely new question and then answered it in a clever and innovative way. The current new question is ‘How come hard drives are so noisy?’ because that’s all you can hear when the Reserator is in action.