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Extreme overclockers use exotic cooling substances such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen to cool down computer hardware. Transferring that amazing cooling power to a computer CPU can be a complicated and difficult process. To simplify this complex problem, Bitspower International released special CPU cooler which has been designed to be used exclusively with liquid nitrogen (typically called a “pot”). We obtained a sample of their new cooler and will use it to overclock the Intel Core i9-10900K processor on the new Z490 platform.
With the addition of the CPU LN2 container, Bitspower now offers three different products designed exclusively for LN2 cooling. Whether you’re trying to break world records or just have fun with extreme overclocking, Bitspower has your needs covered for the CPU, memory, and GPU.
The new Bitspower CPU LN2 container is composed of three major components. The part that contacts the CPU is by far the most important aspect, and it has been machined with care from a solid piece of high-end copper. The other two parts that make up the container are the extender top and the mount retention system. While all liquid nitrogen CPU containers follow this simplistic recipe, Bitspower’s unique design makes it stand out from the crowd in one very critical way.
Not all CPU’s are created equal, it follows that not all containers are ideal for every CPU type. We’ll get into the unique design aspect later on, but the CPU LN2 container has been optimized for CPU’s which can operate at the full liquid nitrogen temperature of -196°C or -346°F.
In the table below are the particular details of the LN2 container being evaluated today.
|Bitspower CPU LN2 Container
|Motherboard Socket Compatibility
|Black with silver logo
Retail Packaging and Accessories
Even though it doesn’t have flashy full-color pictures plastered on the front, the retail packaging is nothing less than high-end. The container and accessories arrive safely packed in an all black, matte finish box. There is an embossed metal logo glued on the front and a branded factory seal. Given the nature of the product, we were pleasantly surprised to see such a classy box.
A premium box with an embossed logo wasn’t enough, Bitspower went the extra mile inside too by vacuum packing all of the critical elements. As we all know, when subjected to air, pure copper oxidizes. The vacuum packaging ensures that the cooper will not oxidize at all while the product sits on the shelf or is in long term storage pre-sale. There are soft foam sheets separating everything and insulating the products safe for transit.
The other components such as the socket retention system, are sealed on all four sides with bubble wrap. It’s clear that special attention has been given to the container and even extends to the retail packaging.
Meet the container
What we have here is more than just a fancy looking chunk of copper. The science of container optimization is complex and constantly changing as CPU’s evolve. Before we get into what makes this one special, we need to lay down a foundation to understand it. Extreme overclocking containers for CPU’s can be classified into two general categories. For mainstream CPU’s such as the Intel Core i9-10900K, a lightweight container is best. For the HEDT CPU’s, such as the Intel Core i9-10980XE, it’s generally accepted that a heavy container is best.
The reason for this distinction is that the two CPU’s listed above operate differently under liquid nitrogen. The HEDT CPU’s will typically shut down at temperatures below about -120°C. Conversely, the mainstream CPU’s can generally take temperatures as cold as liquid helium, which is about -269°C. Due to the differences in operating temperature, the containers ultimately need to be different to maximize overclocking potential.
When trying to control the temperature manually, such as keeping the CPU at -120°C, the mass of copper plays a big role. The bigger the mass of copper, the more resistant to change it will be. Therefore, controlling the temperature is easier, especially considering the 10980XE easily exceeds 1000W on LN2.
Because mainstream containers can handle the lowest LN2 temperature, or ‘full-pot’, they are generally optimized for speed. Manual temperature control is not needed and a large copper mass can hinder performance. As the CPU heats up under a full-pot condition, the rate at which LN2 can effectively cool the copper plays a role in overclocking potential.
This brings us to the Bitspower container. You might not know it just from looking at it, but this is a lightweight container designed and optimized for full-pot conditions. The total weight of the copper base is 880 grams.
The top extender piece is anodized aluminum and over-built in a good way. It’s incredibly strong and serves the purpose of base retention, as well as extending the LN2 volume. It is not connected to the base in any way and only loosely fits together. This is ideal for LN2 usage, however, no seal of any kind means that it will not be ideal for dry ice. Dry ice needs a liquid such as acetone to properly sublimate and reach its maximum cooling potential. Therefore, Bitspower recommends this cooler for LN2 usage, we concur.
Accessories and Socket Adapters
The container comes with everything you need to mount it on a wide array of different sockets. The only sockets it doesn’t support are legacy ones such as LGA775 and Socket 939.
The mounting system is built around an incredibly rare M3.5 threaded rod. This is because the sTRX4 socket uses that particular thread and all other sockets are not bound by any specific thread type. To purchase M3.5 threaded rod for the sTRX4 socket, there is only one location on the internet that will ship to a USA address. It’s incredibly expensive and no retail establishment stocks such a rare thread type.
It was an interesting choice to build the socket retention system around this thread type, but we don’t feel it’s a detriment at all because Bitspower includes everything required.
Temperature is critical with LN2 overclocking. A high-quality thermal probe and accurate digital thermometer are required tools of the trade. Bitspower provided a temperature probe hole, as seen below. Temperature probe placement and depth are two very big factors in determining the accuracy of the temperature readings.
The temperature probe hole is 10 mm deep and just a few millimeters away from the CPU mating surface. The thermal probe hole placement is truly perfect. We applaud Bitspower for taking the time to understand where the probe needs to be and giving us the best possible location for accurate temperature readings.
We will use a Fluke F1-II for the thermal readings, and a Fluke K-Type thermal probe. In the table below is the particular supporting equipment we are using.
|Intel Core i9-10900K 10-Core (Engineering Sample)
|Bitspower CPU LN2 Container
|ASRock Z490 AQUA (Engineering Sample)
|PNY GeForce GT 730
|Team Group 4800 CL19-22-22 (Engineering Sample)
|Solid State Drive
|Team Group L5 LITE 3D SSD
|Enermax MaxTytan 80+ Titanium 1250W
|Windows 7 SP1 x64
Extreme Overclocking with LN2
As we described in length above, the relative ‘speed’ of the container plays a huge role in the benchmark results. This container moves incredibly fast. That is to say, going from an idle state to full-load state, it responds quickly to the change in temperature. Furthermore, it has the ability to combat heat easier by cooling down the copper at a faster rate.
Bitspower designed it so the LN2 can effectively cool down the copper at a faster rate than most other containers we have seen. The two factors that determine this are the surface area of the copper, and overall weight.
The rate of cooling is about -5°C per second. Other containers we have seen are about half of that rate.
Modern CPU’s sometimes have ‘cold-bugs’, in which the system cannot boot CPU due to the cold temperature. This can happen after a system crash and in these events, the CPU may need to be heated up in order to boot again. Having such a lightweight pot is also very helpful for this situation. It uses less LN2 to cool down and ultimately is easier to heat up too.
Bitspower got it right with the container mounting surface. As the paste impression below shows, the surface is quite flat and the paste thickness was exceptionally thin. This is an ideal result for a CPU container.
Overclocking results are very subjective by nature and don’t realistically reflect the cooling potential of the LN2 container being used. As is the case with Intel and AMD CPU overclocking, the silicon quality determines about 90% of the overclocking potential on LN2. However, based on our experience, we can conclude the Bitspower BP-CPULN2 was a solid performer and right up there with the very best.
With our test CPU running Cinebench R15 on LN2, we observed a load wattage of 660W. With a binned engineering sample CPU, we were able to achieve a passable frequency of 6946 MHz.
We hazard to make a comparison because the test variables often change between different LN2 sessions. However, we attempted to keep all of the variables the same when we ran the same CPU using the Kingpin Cooling T-Rex container. With that container, we managed a passable frequency of 6970 MHz. We believe the T-Rex allowed a little more frequency because it’s heavier but still has an excellent surface area.
Our theory is that the T-Rex had a slight advantage because the 10900K is a very high heat output CPU. Mainstream Intel CPUs seem to have reached the tipping point in terms of CPU container requirements. They have traditionally favored extremely lightweight and ‘fast’ containers, but the recent results indicate that ideal may be changing. If the test was repeated with an 8700K for instance, we believe the Bitspower container would have an advantage over the T-Rex and indeed all other retail containers on the market.
Bitspower’s first release of an LN2 CPU container is a great success. They went above and beyond our expectations with the overall fit and finish. The attention to detail and copper base design is exceptional while the mounting system and aluminum parts are over-built and designed to last for countless years to come. They impressed us by going the extra mile and removing the nickel plating from the GPU mounting surface for the best possible thermal heat transfer.
When it came down to running benchmarks with LN2, it performed admirably. Running our 10900K at -196°C, with the Bitspower LN2 CPU container, the performance was within 0.3% of the top result with a different container. Essentially, the performance is tied with the very best containers for full-pot conditions. For lower wattage CPUs, around 500 W or less, it would likely have a small advantage when compared to other containers. However, the incredibly lightweight nature of this container means that it will not be effective at dealing with HEDT CPUs that cannot run below -120°C. If this was used to cool a 10980XE for instance, the Bitspower CPU container would undoubtedly be at a disadvantage. Even though it comes with mounting hardware for HEDT sockets, it wouldn’t be ideal for those platforms.
In terms of pricing, the Bitspower CPU LN2 container simply cannot be beaten. With a retail price of $269.95, it’s the most cost-effective LN2 CPU cooling solution available today. Competitors start in the $329 price range and go up from there. If you’re looking to cool your mainstream AMD or Intel CPU with LN2 and your wallet is a bit light, then we can’t think of a better container. However, if you are looking for an all-around cooling solution that would be suitable for all CPUs, including HEDT ones, then this might not be the best option for you.
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David Miller – mllrkllr88