120mm Water Cooler Round Up Part 2 – Looking Inside

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The Zalman LQ315 and Zalman Reserator 3 Max Compared

Zalman pumps in a row

Laying the parts out for the LQ315 (bottom) and the Reserator 3 Max (top) the two are quite similar. Going left to right you have the top sections, then the mid-section, gasket, the cold plate. 

Zalman impeller cavities compared

Looking closer at the top and mid-sections two are darn near identical in layout. Just the Reserator 3 Max (top) has the snail shape for the impeller on the top half rather than in the mid-section like the LQ315.

Zalman impellers compared

The impellers were also found to be interchangeable. If it wasn’t for the staining on the Reserator 3 Max’s impeller I would have had a hard time keeping track which one went with which unit.

Zalman cold plates compared

Same for the cold plates, if it wasn’t for the staining from the Reserator 3 Max’s coolant it would have been real easy to mix them up as they were again interchangeable. It looks like the cold plate and sheet metal parts can be pulled off one unit and put on the other. 

Zalman cold plates gaskets compared

Where the two designs change paths the most is the cold plate gasket. On the Reserator 3 Max (left) the gasket is a solid plastic piece that connects the cold plate to the mid-section and adds to the overall height. For the LQ315 (right) the rubber gasket acts as the seal between the cold plate and the mid-section.

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  • Bansaku

    ” I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how little liquid there is in these things, especially the Zalman Resorator, I mean, how does the pump go about pumping essentially little-to-none liquid in the loop? ”

    1/2 cup in the loop is plenty! One has to consider two things; The fact that the channels running through the radiator are extremely thin, and when liquid heats up, it expands. In my automotive experience, I can tell you that when coolant heats up it is no different than any other liquid in regards to the fact that it bubbles. When doing a radiator flush on a vehicle, it is very important to have the engine running as hot as possible with the rad cap off. This is to bleed out any excess air, and to attain the proper boil level of coolant. Adding too much coolant or not properly bleeding the bubbles can result in the loop literally bursting due to the liquid/air’s expending pressure. In the case of auto motives, either the hoses blow, or the head gasket on the engine block. Now think of that happening inside you case. :P

  • arterius2

    I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how little liquid there is in these things, especially the Zalman Restorator, I mean, how does the pump go about pumping essentially little-to-none liquid in the loop? is this really how much the loop can hold? (it does seem a lot bigger from the outside). Is it filled to the top or is the pump pretty much pumping air half the time? I’m quite baffled how these things can perform “relatively” well considering what has been revealed here. I’m just not understanding the science here. it’s my understanding that you need a reasonable amount of liquid to absorb the heat and transfer them to the radiator to dissipate it, it seems to me it would be difficult to fulfill that role without enough liquid to even wet my pants with.

  • basroil

    As a mechanical engineer (and computer enthusiast), I love articles like these. Good job!

    “Zalman Resorator Max had only about ¼ cup of what Zalman calls Nano Fluid; but
    smells and looks a lot like ethylene glycol that has been dyed blue.”

    You might want to check out “Enhanced thermal conductivity and viscosity of copper nanoparticles in ethylene glycol nanofluid” , Zalman probably applied a similar method to increase thermal conductivity of the fluid. Considering that those nanoparticles are made with copper sulfates, it could explain the blue tint in the liquid and even the “stains” on the fins. The half volume of the fluid is easily explained by the difference between the heat pipe method that device used vs the radiator method of everyone else.

    Any chance you would be up to burning the solutions (just a small bit) to see if there are differences in a flame test? (if you do, I’m sure people will be clamoring for videos) If there’s Cu(II) in there, it should burn more green than the rest.

  • jack

    why is page 3,4,5,7 are blanks? where is the rest of the review?

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Jack, Should all be there now… Had a formatting issue.

      • jack

        much thanks!

  • Will Lyon

    Are you sure that’s a plastic impeller shaft and not a ceramic one? Kinda looks like white ceramic to me.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      We can double check!