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Zalman's Reserator 1 fanless water cooler

An audacious attempt at silent cooling

Manufacturer Zalman
Model Reserator 1
Price (street) $201
Availability Now

THERE WAS A TIME that that the guttural growl produced by my dual Pentium III workstation was music to my ears. I was running a pair of PIII 700MHz chips overclocked to nearly 1GHz in a monstrous tower brimming with close to a dozen 80mm system fans, and the machine sounded every bit as powerful as it was. With all the fans spinning away at full throttle, you could hear the system coming from a mile away, and that was just the way I liked it.

My how things have changed. Today, I cringe at the noise produced by most systems and wonder how much hearing loss I suffered at the hands of my old workstation. Of course, I haven't gone completely soft. I still drool over high-performance systems overclocked to their limits, but I prefer a stealthier approach to cooling that shuns fan-infested full tower cases in favor of smarter and quieter designs.

This fascination with quiet cooling started out innocently enough, but it's rapidly blossomed into an obsession as I try to integrate PCs into other rooms in my home. In the Benchmarking Sweatshop, I can deal with the inevitable hum associated with processor activity. However, that hum becomes a distracting annoyance in the living room and bedroom, leading me to seek out a completely silent cooling solution.

My search for silence led me to Zalman's Reserator 1 fanless water cooler. Standing nearly two feet tall, the Reserator cuts a mean profile on the horizon, but can the fanless radiator keep a processor cool in the steamy confines of the Benchmarking Sweatshop? And more importantly, can it do so while barely making a sound? Read on to find out.

Cue Thus Spake Zarathustra