Detailed article to adapt a “cube” fridge for watercooling. — Nicholas F. Singh.
A couple months ago, I made my own water-cooling system from a custom-milled copper block and piping, soldered together in my basement. The copper block had 5 holes drilled through it length wise, and the 2 pipes on the side were machined to fit the exact curvature of the block. This design, I felt, would be the most efficient due to the fact that a very high volume of water can be passed through the block at a slightly lower speed than normal – the ideal condition for heat transfer via water.
I placed this block on top of my 1.33 GHz Athlon, 266 MHz, and secured it down with the decidedly crappy clamp I got from Danger Den. Careful – that thing is an outright socket lug killer! I snapped off 3 of my lugs before I got the hang of this dumb thing. Epoxy anyone?
I decided to put my water input/output points where my power supply was originally mounted. I decided to cut out the upper portion of my case, move my power supply up, and design a custom plate to cover the hole left by the supply and hold the barb-hose fittings. The size of my massive “old school” Gateway 2000 case allowed for this.
After measuring, drilling, and threading up a storm, I got two ½” brass male hose-to-barb fittings into the custom plate, which were secured down by two ½” conduit locknuts.
I then simply ran two reinforced hoses out to a crappy Rubbermaid water reservoir with a fish tank submersible pump. Needless to say, the water got very hot, very fast. I always knew I’d try to upgrade this cooling setup, and Christmas Break was my opportunity to go nuts.
The focus of this article is not on the design of the water block, but rather the method by which I used a small refrigerator to super-cool my system’s circulating water.
Three words: Size, Size, Size.
That’s all that matters when it comes to selecting your refrigerator. The smaller the better, because you will move it around a lot when drilling holes and while testing for water leakage. And also, if you’re like me, you don’t have the much room for a massive fridge next to your computer! In addition, the smaller they are, the less expensive. This is not always the case, though. I suggest getting an older one with dimensions around 19″ cube.
I got mine on eBay for $20. It had a big dent in it as you can see, but I could care less. Aye, as long as it works! Unless you’re finicky about the cosmetic condition of everything in the vicinity of your PC, and unless you’re loaded with money, don’t bother buying one new – you’ll spend enough on the parts for this cooling design! (New mini-refrigerators can cost upwards of $100)
My design calls for two ½” hoses to circulate water through the unit. I cut two 5/8″ holes in to the left side of the fridge about 4 inches apart. The width between holes isn’t that important, but I suggest you cut from the inside out. As you’ll see in the next picture, the ice cube tray and temperature controls can get in the way of your drill. If your holes are too high, you’re going to have a tough time in the future.
This drilling will create a bit of a mess due to the foam core, so do this outside or in your basement. Use a rotary tool to clean up the jagged edges of the outer metal casing, or take a round file to it. It will need to be smooth, so do a thorough job of it. And, WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES. You’ll be thanking me when little scraps of metal clank up against your goggles as you drill.