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Liquid Cooling

PostPosted: 28 Sep 2005, 06:43
by The00Dustin
I hate the idea, but my computer runs too hot and if I leave it on all the time it heats the house, obviously a water-cooling kit will make the system put off more heat, but it should keep the processor cooler, which is what I am looking to do. I need to leave my system on all the time and right now I am afraid to. Anyone have any information / experience with water-cooling systems? I want to find a kit that doesn't require any special mounting assuming I have a 120mm fan I can attach it to and 1 5.25" bay to attach it in. I would be glad to use 2 5.25" bay sections if the unit taking those spaces had usb, firewire, power, and reset buttons. I want it to all attach without modification for simplicity and so I can feel safe moving the case around, which happens a lot, I certainly don't want to spring a leak in a move. I would like the computer to be make less noise, but I am much more concerned with temperature, I don't want my processor to hit 65°C eery time I start using it, and I don't like that the CPU fan has to hit 4700RPM to keep it there, so...

PostPosted: 28 Sep 2005, 11:27
by TorbenGB
I spent a lot of time a while back looking into this, for similar reasons. So here are my thoughts on your post - it might help you.

Most importantly, watercooling systems involve pipes, water tanks, pumps = GEAR! So if you're moving your computer a lot, all this extra gear not only means weight but also added risk of damages. Coolants are usually plain distilled water so it won't damage directly, but a leak would still be a jolly good mess. If you intend to keep moving your computer around a lot, I strongly suggest that you look into other cooling methods (see below).

Secondly, most watercooling systems rely on a sort of external radiator; a heat dissipation unit that's normally mounted on top of the computer, with large holes cut into the top of the case and with one or more large fans to ensure airflow through the radiator. So almost regardless which kit you choose, there'll be a certain amount of cutting and drilling. Not for the fainthearted, and most people use a few band-aids in the process too.

Obviously, your main concerns about your current system is a) heat and b) noise, in that order, right? In order to combat the heat, you need cooling, but cooling usually means more noise so you'll lose on your second objective. Probably your best choice would be to use a number of large fans. This has several reasons:
1) Large fans move more air. More air means more cooling. You solve your heat problem.
2) Large fans can spin slower than small fans to move the same amount of air. Less RPM means less noise. You solve your noise problem.

So how do you do this? I would look at your current system in terms of airflow: is it too small to allow enough air and enough fans? If you don't have a medium-sized computer case (midi-tower) that's what I would get, and I would get a power supply that's much more powerful than you need so that it runs on low load and therefore itself requires little cooling and makes less noise. The computer case should have room for (and mounting holes for) a 120mm fan on the lower front, and the same on the rear below the power supply.

You should also consider buying a good CPU-cooler because the one you have might make a lot of noise by itself, but perhaps this won't be necessary. If the air surrounding the CPU is fairly cool, then the CPU-cooler doesn't need to work as hard and makes less noise because of it.

Finally, you should ensure that the cables to your disk drives (hard disk, floppy, cd/dvd) do not block the airflow; use longer cables that are easier to fold away from the central space of the case to allow the air to flow easier.

I highly recommend sites such as for their sensible reviews of computer cases, watercooling systems, and much, much more.

PostPosted: 28 Sep 2005, 19:54
by Rqyteqto
First issue, what is your current rig? Case, mainboard, CPU, graphics card, type, size and number of drives, other peripherals. Its much easier to figure out where to go if you know where you are starting from.

One good site for cooling is, especially the forums. This site is heavily biased towards SFF computers but those are often the cutting edge these days. Check out the modding forums in particular.

Another good site is Ars Technica, which has several articles on water cooling. Ditto for Extreme Tech. You might also want to take a look at Silent PC, especially for low noise, low heat PSUs. XOXIDE, Coolerguys are a couple of others. If you just google pc water cooling you will be overwhelmed.

Torben has covered most of the general points. Recently there have emerged a number of water cooling kits, pretty much Plug & Play. All are going to require some physical modding.

You might also look at your physical situation. Typically a computer will put out between 200 to 500 watts, depending on your computer and what you do with it. That's 2 to 5 100 watt light bulbs which really isn't a lot of heat. What's the size of the room your rig is in? What does it have for ventilation?

As has been said about VWs (the older kind) all car engines are air-cooled, just some use an intermediate process involving water. So, if you really want to reduce noise and heat inside, you may want to consider putting your radiator outside, preferrably out of the rain and in permanent shadow, with good ventilation. I did this with an early rig and it was enormously successful, for both cooling and noise reduction. I live in Hawaii and at the time was on a point of land with heavy wave action on three sides so protecting the rig from corrosion was my primary goal. I enclosed the rig inside a sealed box, but that meant I had to get the heat out. I used the guts from an undercounter refrigerator to cool the inside of the box. The radiator was placed in a duct that pulled air in from the eaves on the north side of the house and exhausted it above the roof. It was, as you might imagine, a very involved project. However, because nothing was attached to the computer itself, that was fully mobile should I have needed to move it somewhere else temporarily.

PostPosted: 28 Sep 2005, 21:19
by ivanw
If you are not any near this PC's hell of a place called Hawaii, you may try something simpler first :twisted:
Setting aside Rqyteqto's level of involvement, I agree with Torben on the simplicity of big 120mm fan(s) solution. This is mainly because I solved a similar problem yesterday by installing one at the right place :roll: ...with some good result at first sight.
My own problem was having a big old full size Tower but no air enough to get the heat out. I had the idea to put a big fan right in front of the main heat source, thinking that a big amount of cool air should bring some result. Any tower shaped case leaves more than the 25mm space sufficient to install most of these 120mm strong-slow-silent fans right in front of the CPU!
Before I installed this fan in a big hole I made near the center of the left side panel, a one minute torture-test with Prime95 would get my Pentium D 820 (a well known oven) up to 64°C.
The new fan in now in place, so far, so good: the CPU does not get over 57°C when stressed 100% on one core for more than 10 minutes.
Anyway, this solution is worth an easy first attempt before getting involved in the water-cooling fantastic adventure. But I must admit that these heat-pipe things are beautiful objects to play with - good for who has much time and money to go the happy tuners way... :wink:

More About My Situation

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 03:41
by The00Dustin
Alright, here's the deal. I have a CM-Stacker, so they don't get much bigger than that. I have 9-10 hard drives, three of which are behind the CMStacker's inbound 120mm fan, it also has an outbound 120mm fan in the back. Both of these run full speed constantly, that is not a noise issue; I am mainly concerned about temperature, but I don't like the volume that the processor fan gets to. I have a Supermicro drive cage that has a 90mm server fan blowing in full strength and an 80mm fan on the top blowing out (up). If I had something to attach to the processor fan so that it was pulling air in from the side of the case, that might be good enough, I just haven't seen anything that could easily be connected to the 3GHz Pentium D processor fan. I am running it at 3.6 and it doesn't get over 65°C all that often. I am running with a Dual Channel DDR 800 memory bus and all other busses at non-overclocked speeds. I also know the processor has definitely never gotten up to 70°C (alarm set there has not gone off) and the case temp has rarely gone above 42°C, but that is mostly because I like it pretty cool (in my living space). That may also be because I don't keep the computer on, though it has been gamed on for pretty long periods of time with no issues. I could definitely put a few of the water-cooling kits in with no modding by sacrificing my floppy drive, but I want to find one can put in with no modding without doing that, and/or I at least want to put in the best $/performance one around if I'm going to put one in. I have seen all of the tomshardware water cooling articles and looked at several all in one systems, I just have this ideal of what a system should be and haven't seen one, so I'm hoping someone can point me at it.


PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 03:46
by The00Dustin
For clarification, my case has one free 5.25" bay and the floppy drive taking up what could be another one. It also has one free slot left in the rear panel. That makes all of the 2U radiator and pump in the drive bay solutions installable without modification. Thing is, I want to find a similar solution that is 1U instead of 2, obviously this would require a separate radiator, but I can deal with that, I can turn the rear 120mm fan around to make it bring in cool air to the attached radiator. I would also prefer not to have to run anything through a rear slot. Finally, all of my drives are SATA, so I have a pretty free airflow, even though it isn't all tucked away. I hope to find time to look at the many websites that have been mentioned thus far, but it may be a while as things keep getting stacked up on me. Thanks to all of you for your help thus far.

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 13:55
by TorbenGB
Wow Theo, that's a pretty big machine you run there. Impressive.

Ivan's concept of putting a 120mm fan right over the CPU is a good one for your situation. It would blow directly onto the CPU cooler.
Did you know that you can also get so-called fan adapters that have (for instance) one 80mm end and one 120mm end? With those you could simply remove your CPU fan, replace it with an adapter with a much larger end, and place a suitable (large, slow, silent) fan on that. Perhaps this thing alone will help you enough -- since you seem to say that only the CPU heat (and fan noise) is bothering you.

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 17:54
by The00Dustin
Good point, Torgen, that might be a valid solution. The fan on the heatsink is round and has no shroud, so I will have to measure and see if it is standard. Even piping air in from outside would solve the problem, which is to say that even with the 80mm fan, an adapter might help. I've already upped the thermal compound to Arctic Silver 5 (did that during original install, for maximum efficiency), and I'm sure that is helping and would help even more with more airflow.

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 22:48
by nomaded
FWIW, I used to have a nice Thermaltake HSF on my CPU (this was a couple years ago) and it kept it reasonable cool, but the fan was quite loud.

Eventually, I replaced it with a cheapo HSF from Compoosa, and now it's much quieter and is about as hot.

Personally, I would go the route of biggest heatsink w/o a fan and the put a 120mm fan near it, blowing out.

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 23:41
by TorbenGB
nomaded wrote:biggest heatsink w/o a fan and the put a 120mm fan near it, blowing out.
In that case I'd make it blow in rather than out. Better to get clean cool air in through the fan and let it seep out through the cracks than sucking dusty air in through the cracks...

PostPosted: 29 Sep 2005, 23:50
by nomaded
TorbenGB wrote:In that case I'd make it blow in rather than out. Better to get clean cool air in through the fan and let it seep out through the cracks than sucking dusty air in through the cracks...

Hm. True enough. Just make sure you wrap some pantyhose around the fan(s) that are sucking in air into the box.

PostPosted: 30 Sep 2005, 00:24
by ivanw
I agree with the "blow in" option because the focused high pressure you install will make cool air blow right in front of the fan.
On the other side, when you "blow out", you concentrate warm air outside of the case, which is worth nothing. Heat will be extracted all right but cool air will not be channelled properly.

Trying an Alternative

PostPosted: 16 Oct 2005, 09:37
by The00Dustin
Incidentally, my case fans are blowing in and front to back, almost all of them are filtered already, so all is well there. I thought everyone might like to know what I went with, so here are the links...
Definitely want a clean processor to apply thermal grease to... ... 6835100011
Also want a high quality thermal grease (the same grease I used with the Intel heatsink, and it made a world of difference there)... ... 6835100007
Finally, a heatsink that I found when searching for available options... ... 6835118223
I didn't have any good way to pipe air from directly outside into the heatsink, but with the heat pipes (sort of liquid cooling) blowing more air through a bigger, solid copper heatsink, I was able to get reasonable temperatures with lower RPMs, I hope... (I haven't had a chance to try gaming yet, but I thought I would post this update before leaving town)