Zalman Reserator 3 MAX Nanofluid AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review


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Zalman Reserator 3 MAX Detailed Features

Let’s take a closer look at some of the detailed features of the Reserator 3 MAX.


The copper base is machined to a smooth finish – it may not be mirror quality, but it seems as good or better than other coolers in this price range.  The block and radiator are constructed of copper, with the radiator fins plated in nickel to prevent discoloration over time.


This is probably the most tedious part of installation.  Choose your bracket, then proceed to fasten it to the water block using eight screws.  Eight!  It seems a silly thing to complain about, but if you swap sockets/hardware often, this will get old really fast.  Thankfully, you’ll only need to do it once…


…unless of course you don’t read the manual!  In my defense, the Reserator 3 MAX that I received did not include a manual (which is not unusual for review items).  I’ve installed many CPU coolers, and figured I would be just fine without it.

I was wrong.  Find the manual and read it!  The first testing run I performed didn’t seem to fit what I had expected – while the initial idle temps of the FX-8320 were reporting around 1C (yes, that’s one degree above freezing!), the load temps quickly climbed higher than any other water coolers I have tested recently.  Look closely at the image from the manual above – can you see where I might have messed up the first time (pay special attention to the caution area)?  Don’t worry, I corrected my mistake (I had installed that mounting ring upside-down).  However, it would be nice if there was a “this side toward CPU” stamped on that mounting ring; you know, for people that can’t be bothered to read the manual…Rsrtr3_Plate

I think one of the reasons I had so much confidence installing the Reserator 3 MAX at first was due to the back plate.  As far as I can tell, it is identical to the one used by my Zalman CNPS-9900MAX and is assembled in the same manner.  Depending on your socket, fit in the mounting posts and snap the covers over them – if you haven’t used a bracket like this before, please read the directions in the manual!  It is important to get the load block (the plastic square in the middle) in the correct orientation and on the right socket – if you do this part wrong, you could damage your motherboard, or end up with far too little mounting pressure on the CPU.


Only having one back plate probably saves some cost, but accommodating several sockets just means you’ll end up with some extra material.  As always, on a full ATX board you shouldn’t run into any clearance issues, but mini-ITX boards are notorious for having components in the socket area.


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  1. David Ramsey

    I think you mean “90 liters per HOUR” pump, not “90 liters per MINUTE”.

    Although the latter would be cool. Literally.

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      Ha! An excellent catch, thanks for pointing that out (it should already be fixed in the article). I even made sure to reference the manufacturer’s page…and apparently just made up my own units. However, I agree that it would be cool – perhaps it was just wishful thinking on my part 😉 Hopefully Zalman will include the…uh…time compressor…on a 140mm model 🙂

  2. Xantosh

    managed to stumble across this fan on a parts list page the other day, was wondering how good its cooling is for vrm’s/NB, cause i have a GA-970A-D3 and in ambient temp of 32c, during gaming i see close to 70c, so judgin by your excellently written review, it would be perfect for my upgrade im going to do,

    Current: http://au.pcpartpicker.com/b/J5a
    Note: i couldn’t find my actual CPU on that site, its a PhenomII X2 560BE oc’d to 3.8GHz (can run stable at 4 but due to high heat here, i don’t flly OC it on the stock air cooler!)

    and this is what i want to add to it, (mostly just CPU bottle necking! and also the vidcard is a maybe, want to see how much alone the CPU will boost system performance!

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      Hello Xantosh, and thanks for reading the review! In your new/potential build you linked, you’re also using an 8320 so similar performance wouldn’t be out of the question – of course, with different components, it’s always hard to say what the specific result would be. Using the M5A99FX Pro R2 and the FX-8320 from my testbed, I saw an approximate 10C reduction in the temperature of the VRMs (the heatsink, really) which I could only attribute to the cooling effect from the Reserator 3 Max. It still cooled the CPU adequately too! My one recommendation would be to make sure the motherboard you choose has adequate PWM fan controls, as the results were obtained with the fan (and CPU) running at 100% – it’s a 120mm fan, so it can get pretty loud at full RPM, which you shouldn’t see under normal loads anyway. It’s certainly a unique cooler, and not for everyone, but I appreciated the VRM cooling it provided along with cooling the processor. I hope that helps!

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