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The monolith

The Reserator towers over a cube

The Reserator's defining feature is a massive radiator that measures nearly two feet tall and about six inches across. Depending on your tastes, the radiator will either be an ugly eyesore or an interesting piece of functional industrial sculpture. I tend to lean towards the latter, but perhaps only because I have a fetish for anodized aluminum.

Speaking of anodizing, the Reserator comes in any color you want, as long as it's blue. I quite like bold colors, so the blue doesn't faze me. However, it's a shame that Zalman doesn't offer the tower with a more subtle black or silver anodizing that might be more appropriate for home theater systems and traditional decors. Anodizing protects the Reserator from corrosion, so it's more than just a cosmetic treatment. I just wish a more palatable color were available.

If you can't stand the Reserator's metallic blue color, you can always tuck the tower away in a corner or behind a house plant. There's no getting around the tower's size, though. A tall tower with loads of surface area is essential to the Reserator's fanless design, which relies on natural convection currents to dissipate heat. As the Reserator's temperature exceeds a room's ambient temperature, heat flows from the tower to warm the cooler surrounding air. This warmer air rises up the height of the tower and is replaced by cooler air from the rest of the room, creating a subtle air flow without the assistance of fans. With a two-foot tower, the Reserator definitely has loads of height to encourage natural air flow. The tower's 44 cooling fins also provide a whopping 1.23 square meters of surface area to dissipate heat.

However, the tower's reliance on natural convection makes me wary of the Reserator's ability to handle warmer climates and higher ambient room temperatures. Zalman cautions against positioning the tower next to heat sources or in direct sunlight, too, which makes me wonder if the Reserator can handle the 30-degree Celsius temperatures typical of the sweltering Benchmarking Sweatshop.

Although the Reserator relies on natural convection to dissipate heat, transferring warm fluid from the system processor to the cooling tower requires a pump. If only convection worked as well with water.

Staring down the barrel of the Reserator

To keep fluid flowing, Zalman straps a 5W water pump to the bottom of the Reserator's cooling tower. This little pump is nearly silent, especially when the tower's 2.5 liter coolant capacity is topped off. Rated to flow 300 liters per hour, the pump should be more than powerful enough to keep water moving through the system as long as things are relatively level. The Reserator's maximum lift is only half a meter, though. Installing the tower too far above or below a system could impede or even halt fluid flow.

If the Reserator's 5W pump doesn't have enough muscle for your needs, Zalman provides the necessary hardware and instructions for the pump's replacement or removal in favor of an external unit. Of course, Zalman takes no responsibility for performance losses that may result from using an external pump that's not compatible with the Reserator's plumbing. Keep in mind that a beefier external pump may compromise the Reserator's low noise levels, too.

Plastic screw-on fittings at the base of the tower

The Reserator's plumbing is anchored to the cooling tower with a couple of plastic compression fittings. The fittings are easy to use and feel more secure than spring-based clamps that could loosen with time or continued use, but the plastic feels a little cheap next to the metal fittings used elsewhere in the system.