Zalman's Reserator 3 MAX Ultimate has a new big brother

Late in 2013, we took a look at Zalman's Reserator 3 MAX Ultimate. Like most of Zalman's chillers, it looked like nothing else on the market, and was the first AIO (all-in-one) liquid CPU cooler to use nanofluid tech. Now the company has upped the ante with the launch of that cooler's bigger sibling, the Reserator 3 MAX Dual, which features two radiator units. If you thought the original's radiator was impressive, just imagine two of them bolted together. The radiator unit measures some 276 x 122 x 73mm (LxWxD). That's a bit longer than a normal twinfanned radiator associated with water cooling, which shouldn't present any real problems when you're fitting it in your case. The same may not be true of that 73mm depth, which may be incompatible with smaller chassis designs.

Pretty cool

As with most things Zalman, the cooler is beautifully and cleverly engineered. The designers have taken two of the original dual-core radiators and joined them together so the fluid makes four complete passes around the cooler while being chilled by the fans. The radiator units are joined at the point where the two pipes from the water block enter and exit the cooler. The cooler radiators are made from copper with a black nickel-plated finish, and the fan unit is created from clear plastic with an aluminium trim. The fans and the water block are illuminated with blue LEDs. The water block is made from copper with an embedded pump, and the whole unit measures a mere 37mm tall. The water block uses a micro-finned base, which helps to move the heat quickly away from the CPU - Zalman claims it can pump up to 90 litres of fluid an hour. So what about that nanofluid stuff, then? Well, Zalman has added nanoparticles to the cooling fluid to help improve the performance. Keeping everything chilly are two nine-bladed 120mm fans, which spin between 1,000 and 2,280rpm and produce noise levels from 23.2dBA to 46.6dBA - or, to put it another way, from barely audible to very noticeable, especially when you're pushing the CPU.

To Zalman's credit, the Reserator 3 MAX Dual is pretty straightforward to put together and install on the motherboard. We have to stress that our scoring was carried out on a lab bench testing rig and not in a case. Nevertheless, it was still quicker to install than some other air coolers we have tested in the past. The Reserator 3 MAX Dual performs perfectly well, but there is a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that it should be doing a good deal better. At its best, it's only cooling the CPU by 10 degrees more than its single-radiatorequipped sibling, and it's not as effective as some much cheaper liquid coolers we've tested. Those twin fans come into play when the CPU is returned to its idle state from running at full chat, and the time it takes to get back down to the idle temp is really quite amazing. If only its performance the other way was a bit better.

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