Zalman Reserator 1 Plus and More!

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Zalman Reserator 1 Plus and More!
Northbridge Cooler, System Performance and More

Product(s): Zalman Reserator 1 Plus, ZM-RF1, & ZM-NWB1
Provided By: Zalman USA
Price: $249.95, $44.95 @ MemoryExpress
Reviewed By: Ryan Ward

I’ve been using water cooling in my system for a number of years. I never had enough coin to put together a complete system, so I mixed and matched pieces and it worked remarkably well. The system I was using for ages was an old used Maze 2 waterblock, a used original black ice radiator, a new vga block, and a new hydor 185 gph pump. The entire system was 3/8” with the exception of the vga block. It worked pretty well. A few months ago Zeus sent down his PolarFlo system. The PolarFlo system should have had a lot more thermal dissipation power than what I saw, but I had just the PolarFlo cpu block, a giant black ice II radiator, a hydor 320 gph block, and no vga block. All parts were ½” and I ran 2 degrees cooler. I run an OC’d Prescott system, so I’m pumping out lots of heat:

System Specs:

  • Pentium 4 3.0C @ 3.75Ghz
  • Asus P4C-800E Deluxe
  • 1 Gig Crucial Ballistix
  • Sapphire X800 GTO
  • Audigy 2 ZS
  • 72 Gigs of WD Raptor RAID
  • Total 370 Gigs Mixed Storage
  • Plextor PX-716AL Slot Load DVD-RW

When Zeus called me up and said, “Zalman wants to send a Reserator 1 Plus kit for you to try out. Are you interested?” It was hard stopping myself from rolling on the floor laughing. I thought there was no way a passive cooling system would be able to perform anywhere near that of my current PolarFlo setup. But what the hey, I’ve never had a complete engineered kit before.


There's a huge spec list for each component which you can check out here, but here's a few fun facts:

-Dissipation area - 1,274m² (50157 Inches)
-Weight - 6.5 Kgs (17.4 Lbs)
-Capacity - 2.5L (0.66 Gal)

- CPU block made of pure copper base with gold plated anodized finish. Aluminum top
- GPU and Northbridge blocks made of pure aluminum

The box for the Reserator kit is quite large. Upon opening the box you’ll find the manual and the high quality blue silicon hose. After removing the first layer of styrofoam you’ll find the CPU and GPU waterblock, bottle of corrosion inhibitor, flow meter, quick couplers, backing plate, and miscellaneous hardware. Under the second layer of Styrofoam is the Reserator itself. The styrofoam protecting the Reserator is 2-3” thick in places and provides ample protection for the Reserator fins. The CPU block and GPU block are retail packages just added to the Reserator kit.


Installation instructions were simple, well written, and easy to follow. See the picture below for the finish on the CPU block. The gold anodized coating is very cool, the finish is superb and shows the reflection of the quarter perfectly. You can’t see it in the picture, but there are minor imperfections/scratches if you hold it to the light just right. My setup took advantage of the stock socket 478 heatsink bracket and installation was a snap. The clip holds the waterblock to the cpu with ample force.



Installation of the GPU block was just as easy and straight forward. The finish on the GPU block is nowhere near the quality of the CPU block, but was to be expected. The GPU clip has a decent amount of clamping force, but personally I would have liked to see the block held a little tighter. I had some trouble getting the ramsinks sticking to the ram chips. Once they’re attached be careful not to nudge one by accident. If they fall off once, they don’t have the same amount of stickiness and can be a pain to try and get them to stay put. Once they survive a few heat cycles they seem to bond better though.

After cutting and fitting the hose, installing the flow meter and quick couplers I was ready to fill the Reserator and perform a leak check. The quick couplers connect very easily and didn’t leak a drop during the leak check.

When I un-screwed the top off the Reserator and had a look inside, I was amazed to see how tiny the pump was. Seeing how small that pump was reassured my thoughts that this kit wouldn’t perform well at all. The pump specs list output at 300 LPH, or about 80 GPH, which is less than half the flow rate of my original Maze 2 setup. The system was easy to bleed after filling with coolant by lifting the Reserator assembly up above the system case. It bled out in about 20 seconds. Once you see the flow meter bobbing back and forth you know you’re good to go!

Fan Kit:

Along with the Reserator kit, Zalman shipped along their add-on fan designed to sit atop the Reserator and add a little more cooling performance. Here are the ZM-RF1 specs directly from the Zalman website:

1. Duct Assembly
- Dimensions: 163.5(L) X 163.5(W) X 190(H)mm
- Materials: Poly Carbonate (Duct, Fan Support), ABS Polymer (Grill)
- Weight: 334g

2. Fan
- Dimensions: 140(L) X 140(W) X 25(H)mm
- Bearing Type: 2-Ball Bearing
- Rotation Speed: 800rpm ± 10% (Silent Mode), 1800rpm ± 10% (Normal Mode)
- Noise Level: 20dB ± 10% (Silent Mode), 32dB ± 10% (Normal Mode)
- Operating Voltage: 5V/0.1A ~ 12V/0.4A
- Power Consumption: 5W or lower

3. FAN MATE 2 (Fan Speed Controller)
- Dimensions: 70(L) X 26(W) X 26(H)mm
- Output Voltage: 5V ~ 11V ± 2%
- Power Consumption: 6W or lower

The ZM-RF1 slides onto the 4 rounded fins. The kit includes wire clips to help conceal the fan wires in-between the Reserator fins. The fan also has a blue led to light things up a bit and looks cool in the dark. Included is a Fan Mate 2 speed controller and a cable to connect to a motherboard header. The cable Zalman supplies to power the fan is long enough, but Zalman provides no way to get the cable from your motherboard to the outside of your case. Luckily my Stacker case has enough little holes here and there, I was able to sneak it outside my case. I’d drill a hole if there wasn’t one, but who wants to drill holes in their case, especially for a fan power cable?  Zalman didn’t even provide any suggested methods of getting the cable out of the case either. It was almost like, “Uhh…here it is, you figure it out.” A possible solution would be to include a 3 pin pass through header on the supplied backing plate the water hoses pass through. Then run a cable from the mobo to the backing plate, and from the backing plate to the fan.