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  1. #1
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Types of cooling

    Well if you have reached this far you must be interested in some of the ways that people have found to cool their PC's. You probably know about heatsinks, fans, and possibly that people can water-cool PC's but what else is out there? Well if you do enough digging you will find that there are a lot of differen't types of cooling being used on today systems. Nearly all newer components are putting out more heat and thus requiring large bulky heatsinks. I believe this post is a nice primer for those looking into other cooling methods but are unaware with what is involved in setting them up, we start at the beginning and go into some rather extreme methods, I hope you enjoy.

    Passive: Usually just a hunk of aluminum or copper with fins. No fans to drive the movement of air. About as basic as you get, you will see this on older chips and some North Bridges on motherboards.
    • Advantages: Simple, no moving parts, noiseless, and cheap.
    • Disadvantages: Cannot handle a large amount of heat.
    • Required Materials: Heatsink, possibly some thermal paste.
    • Price Range: $0(cut up some old ones) to $50.00
    • Example: Zalman ZM-NB32J Passive NB Cooler
    • Would you like to know more?

    Active Air: Same principal as passive cooling just using a fan to move air over the fins. Can include the use of heat pipes to further increase cooling potential.
    • Advantages: Common, relatively cheap, and moderate performance.
    • Disadvantages: Low limit on cooling potential, can be loud.
    • Required Materials: Heatsink, fan, thermal paste.
    • Price Range: $10-60.00+, depends on quality and fan combination.
    • Example: Thermalright SP-97 (Socket A)
    • Would you like to know more?

    Active Water: This is your basic water-cooling setup consisting of a pump, a radiator/heater core, waterblock(s), and optionally a reservoir. Water carries the heat from the waterblock(s) to the radiator/heater core where the heat is dissipated into the air.
    • Advantages: Better performance, quiet, fun.
    • Disadvantages: Can be costly, risk of hadware loss, moderately difficult to setup.
    • Required Materials: Waterblock(s) (CPU, GPU, NB, Ect), Pump, Heater Core/Radiator(s), Tubing, Distilled Water, Fans/Shrouds (For any radiators) Anti-Corrosion/Algae Additive, Hose Clamps, T-Line/Bleed Kit/Resivour (Can be Optional).
    • Price Range: Average $120-150 but can be MUCH higher.
    • Example: Project: Flush Zero
    • Would you like to know more?

    Passive Water: This is the method of cooling with either the radiators, pump, or both removed. A system without radiators generally involves finding a way to remove heat without them and their associated fans. Most people do this by burying copper tubing underground but other methods are possible. A pumpless system is much more difficult to acheive as it contends with a hige number of variables.
    • Advantages: Very quiet, can acheive moderate to great performance.
    • Disadvantages: Extremely difficult to setup.
    • Required Materials: Same as basic water-cooling without fans and shrouds.
    • Price Range: $100+ Depending on method used.
    • Example 1 (No radiator): Ron Wlock's Passive Water-Cooler
    • Example 2 (No pump): The 'Convection Plant' Prototype
    • Would you like to know more?

    Evaporative Water: While most water-cooling systems use a raidator to remove the heat this method uses the cooling effect of evaporation. It is usually done in one of two ways, either with the use of 'towers' or a 'bong' system. Towers are usually a grid of rods where the water travels up them and out the top only to fall down the sides which are covered with a absorbant material. As the water travels down this material it evaporates and removes heat from the water. A bong is usually a large PVC tube with a shower head in the top and a fan mounted into a connected joint. The water is pumped into the shower head and its sprayed on the walls of the PVC, as it travels down the sides it evaporates removing the heat. The problem with these setups is that you will need to refill them over time as a good protion of the water evaporates depending on your humidity.
    • Advantages: Ability to achieve great temps depending on enviomental conditions (works best in low humidity)
    • Disadvantages: Can be noisey, requires a moderately powerful pump in most cases, may dislike look of tower.
    • Required Materials: Same as basic water-cooling without the radiator and the inclusion of a cooling tower.
    • Price Range: $50 (tower alone)-$250
    • Example: Wes Bower's Cooling Tower II
    • Would you like to know more?

    TEC/Peltier + Active Water: A water-cooling setup with the inclusion of a Thermo-electric Cooling unit or TEC. When an electric current it ran through the TEC it drops to sub-zero temperatures on one side while heating up the other. The difficulty comes in insulating your system from condensation and powering the TEC itself. Most TEC's will require their own power-supply to work effectively. There is also the issue of cooling the hot side of the TEC itself, this is usually accomplished with a Active Water system due to the fact that a Active Air solution would not be able to dissipate enough heat risking destruction of the computer.
    • Advantages: Sub-zero CPU load temps, quiet.
    • Disadvantages: Condensation, huge power requirement, moderately difficult to setup.
    • Required Materials: Appropiate Peltier/TEC's. a second PSU, an insulation kit, basic water-cooling setup.
    • Price Range: $100+ (TEC's & PSU)-$250 (with water-cooling setup)
    • Example: Dr Rom's Peltier Cooling
    • Would you like to know more?

    Chilled Active Water: Your basic water-cooler with the addition of a 'chiller'. Chillers can come in many forms and will usually work using TEC's or a compressor-driven refrigeration unit. Water is usually pumped through the chiller where it is cooled and piped back into the cooling loop. Chillers come in various forms and can be found in everything from lasers to drinking fountains.
    • Advantages: Can reach sub-zero temps.
    • Disadvantages: Condensation, can be difficult to setup, may take up a large amount of space, and large power requirement.
    • Required Materials: Inline cooler (Usually TEC based) or refridgerator/air conditoner guts.
    • Price Range: $100+ (Fridge/Air Conditoner)-$250+ with the cost of the water-cooling stup included.
    • Example: Stevo's Water Chiller
    • Would you like to know more?

    Refrigeration/Phase-Change: Not for the light of heart or wallet phase-change systems can obtain temperatures of -50 or even lower. This system uses a four step process to cool. A gas (usually Freon) is sucked into a compressor after phase-changing (from a liquid to gas) in the evaporator. The gas is then pressurized until it turns back into a liquid and flows into the condenser (a radiator) that removes the heat caused by the evaporator and compression. It then goes into a thin copper tube known as the capillary that lowers the pressure before reaching the evaporator. Once in the evaporator the liquid absorbs the heat and turns into a gas once again. Commercial systems that do this are made for 'reasonable' prices by VapoChill and nVENTIV (Prometeia).
    • Advantages: Possible -50C temps, commercially available.
    • Disadvantages: Very expensive and large power requirement.
    • Required Materials: None if commercially bought, if DIY: Refrigerant gas, compressor, condenser, evaporatpor, capillary tube, housing, and HVAC training (reccomended).
    • Price Range: $800+ (VapoChill LightSpeed)- 1,160+(Promethia Mach II GT)
    • Example: VapoChill PE
    • Would you like to know more?

    Extreme Phase-Change/Dual Cascade: Same concept as a standard Phase-Change system but with twice the equipment required. These systems are about the best sustainable system any OC'er could hope to have. With temperatures under -100C they definitely deserve the 'extreme' title. As far as I know there are no commercial Dual Cascade systems for PC's, they are about as DIY as you can get. The sheer amount of time, cash, and design one of these beasts requires deters most sane people from attempting them. They can also be dangerous, the use of advanced cooling gasses and high-pressure compressors is not recommended for the timid or careless.
    • Advantages: Able to achieve -111C Temps.
    • Disadvantages: VERY dangerous, extremely difficult to build/setup, condensation, very expensive, large power requirement, and huge size.
    • Required Materials: Twice the materials it takes to build a single phase-change system. HVAC training and other various related materials are required in almost all cases.
    • Price Range: $1000+
    • Example: Dual Cascade -111C Cooling Unit
    • Would you like to know more?

    LN2/Liquid Nitrogen: For the absolutely senseless or those with cooling addiction there is only one path left, liquid nitrogen. With recorded temps of -190C it’s hard not to envision the possibilities. The problem with LN2 is that it is not sustainable; you can only run a system using it for limited periods of time since your LN2 will evaporate without a very elaborate condenser system. It is also EXTREMELY dangerous for obvious reasons. LN2 cooling is suitable for experiments in OCing ability but not much else.
    • Advantages: Insanely low temps.
    • Disadvantages: Not sustainable, hard to obtain, difficult to setup.
    • Required Materials: Liquid Nitrogen, large open space, Heatsink/container, insulation, and guts.
    • Price Range: $125 (LN2 heatsink/conatainer), $2/Gallon for LN2
    • Example: 5Ghz Project
    • Would you like to know more?

    Hybrid Systems: I would classify a hybrid system as one with multiple types of cooling. Such as having a VapoChill cool your CPU while you water-cool everything else. A great deal of combinations can be compiled based on my findings above.
    • Advantages: Ability to use unique combinations, gaining expierence with differen't cooling methods.
    • Disadvantages: May be difficult or expensive to setup.
    • Required Materials: Nearly anything
    • Price Range: Depends on cooling methods used.

    I hope you learned something from my little brief on the subject or possibly got some ideas of your own, I know I did while researching to make it. Any comments, fact clarifications, or suggestions are welcomed.
    Last edited by I.M.O.G.; 02-05-13 at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Member dead_man311's Avatar
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    Very nice and informative , Good work

  3. #3
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Eh, thought it might be helpful.

  4. #4
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    This thread has been a pet project of mine for the last week, worked on it when I got bored. Im seeing if I can have it made into a sticky. Let me know what you think.

  5. #5
    THE Senior FANMAN archilochus's Avatar
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    Looks like a winner, or Sticky to me..You have my vote..
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  6. #6
    Forums Super Moderator Lead Editor

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    Looks good to me - I have pointed this thread out to eobard, its his decision whether the thread glue gets applied or not .
    David J. Nelson MChem(Edin) PhD(Strath) MRSC [ResearcherID: D-3927-2011] [Google Scholar]
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  7. #7
    Member clocker2's Avatar
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    Brilliant job.
    I particularly like the way that the information is presented without bias- "Just the facts, ma'am".

    Now fascinated with the concept of passive watercooling...
    Last edited by clocker2; 05-11-04 at 09:21 AM.
    "Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn."
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  8. #8
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    I like it. very nice. Got my vote

  9. #9
    Give me a break Senior
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    Works for me. *snap*
    Thank you Baby. I love you.

  10. #10
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot for the support everyone. Glad I could do something deemed useful.

  11. #11
    All round good guy Jognt's Avatar
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    wow.,.. thanks, now i finally know how TEC and peltiers work
    Are you new? Introduce yourself!

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  12. #12
    Member NiTrO bOiE's Avatar
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    Hey, you could probably add another disadvatage for Chilled Water, " Slight increase in monthly power bill".
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  13. #13
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Almost everything below Evap. Water has a high-power consumption, will update them.

  14. #14
    Uhhhh you forgot dry ice. Dry ice is a lot safer and cheaper than LN2. I think the container is around 20 dollars??? Dry ice itself is pretty cheap, and ddr-pIII made a dry ice guide. I think the most you would spend on it is around 50 dollars.
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  15. #15
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Will add it when I get home from class.

  16. #16
    A good guide thanks.

  17. #17
    Member VAdept's Avatar
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    Sorry about the delays updating this. I will have some time to work on it more soon.

  18. #18
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    Thumbs up Exellent job mate ...

    I've only just got to this one but i have to say it's one of the best posts on here matey
    and will probably help out a fair few people too, nice work ...

  19. #19
    Registered bsfalcon's Avatar
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    what about heatpipe stuff (passive cooling)? it works on cpu's and gpu's without noisy fans, seems like it should be included.

  20. #20
    Member TheGreySpectre's Avatar
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    good work
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