Back when I was first getting into building custom PCs, there weren't too many companies out there offering anything much for water cooling your components. Along with parts from companies like Danger Den whose sole purpose was to offer water cooling oriented products, I do remember Zalman being one of the few big name companies that were already making air cooling solutions to actually venture over to the water cooled segment of sales. They had CPU blocks, memory blocks, and even a large tower that would sit outside your PC, taking fluid through it, and passively releasing said heat through a round array of thick aluminum fins. This unit was called a Reserator, and even made it into a second revision, but it goes to show that Zalman was at one time way ahead of the game for mainstream manufacturers to accommodate to water cooled builds out there.
While everyone else on the planet either jumped on the Asetek or CoolIt trains, it is strange now to reflect on this: Zalman never made a move into this market sooner. I will say this though, even with the wait finally over, you aren't going to see the typical AIO you are accustomed to from all the other makers putting their sticker on other AIOs. In fact, this is more of an air cooling/water cooling hybrid cooler. Zalman had the idea to essentially take, say a CNPS9900, enlarge the heat pipes to accept water flow through it, and somehow were able to stick a smaller version of a radiator inside of a larger version, doubling the amount of fins that the water carrying pipes make contact with. In this design, the coolant is able to pass through this radiator four times before re-entering the head unit and removing heat from the transfer plate inside of it.
Usually as a new AIO comes out, the performance usually gets a boost, and each successive AIO is slightly better than the other AIO offerings released before it. With the old test system, those temperatures were making their way to almost equaling the results found in a full on custom loop. Eventually the law of diminishing returns has to apply to the AIO community at some point, doesn't it?
With that in mind, let us have a look at what we are getting in this new AIO design, and let the testing show us if Zalman is late to the game with a cooler that is already bested, or do they come a tad late to the party just to create a sense of drama at the event, where they are the best thing to hit the floor since man figured out how to make fire. I will let the Zalman Reserator 3 MAX do all the talking as we find out just what this design can bring to the table.