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Self-Contained PC Liquid Coolers Explored

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the very-small-submarines dept.

Intel 86

MojoKid writes "Over the last few years an increasing number of liquid coolers have been positioned as high-end alternatives to traditional heatsink and fan combinations. This has been particularly true in the boutique and high-end PC market, where a number of manufacturers now offer liquid coolers in one form or another. These kits are a far cry from the water coolers enthusiasts have been building for years. DIY water coolers typically involve separate reservoirs and external pumps. The systems tested here, including Intel's OEM cooler that was released with their Sandy Bridge-E CPU, contain significantly less fluid and use small pumps directly integrated into the cooling block as a self-contained solution. Integrated all-in-one kits may not offer the theoretical performance of a high-end home-built system, but they're vastly easier to install and require virtually no maintenance. The tradeoffs are more than fair, provided that the coolers perform as advertised."

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Combination (3, Funny)

Framboise (521772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407772)

When will we see the office PC combined with the coffee machine?

Re:Combination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407782)

Honestly, I'm more excited for PCs that come with their very own sandwich shop built-in.

Re:Combination (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407970)

Or perhaps with an ice-cream sandwich maker, to mention the Slashdot article two stories prior to this one...

Re:Combination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407982)

2002. http://boingboing.net/2002/12/08/coffeemaking-pc-case.html

Re:Combination (1)

rishistar (662278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408038)

Prognosis not good. The technology is just moving in the wrong direction. It's now commonplace to get PCs without cupholders [catb.org] .

Re:Combination (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408294)

I had a P4 that made an excellent coffee warmer, does that count?

Seriously if you need a good cooler that isn't gonna break the bank I can't recommend more highly the one i just got, the Coolermaster Hyper N520. the thing was only $35, easy to install, works on pretty much ANY Intel or AMD CPU, and right now I have a modest OC on my AMD 6 core, bumping it up to 2.8GHz with a turbo of 3.3GHz, and with all 6 cores slamming doing a video transcode and without the arctic silver settled yet (don't use anything else, nothing beats the silver IMHO) the machine is barely hitting 86 degrees F without even having an exhaust fan. The combination of a pusher AND a puller fan (comes standard) along with the copper heatpipes really sucks the heat away from the CPU and surprisingly even though the fans are 3 pin this thing is quiet as a churchmouse.

So while I may be trying to get more aggressive on my OC after the silly season thanks to how chilly the coolermaster keeps the CPU (and the fact the new Asrock has an excellent OC utility built in) frankly I couldn't be happier, hell it even managed to fit nicely in a mid tower without needing to break out a dremel tool. Frankly for $35 USD [tigerdirect.com] I don't see how you could ask for more in a CPU cooler.

Slightly OT but not really since we ARE talking about CPUs and some of my fellow /.ers may not have heard, but on Dec 5th AMD announced due to the fact that they were getting more orders for the Bobcat and Bulldozer APUs than they can fill (from what i heard the Bobcat really threw them, the OEMs went nuts for that chip and threw it in everything from netbooks to all in ones to HTPCs and blew through their stock, although HP and Gateway is also cranking laptops with the A-series quad like it's going out of style) they have halted production of ALL AM3 chips to give the capacity to Bobcat and Bulldozer. so all you guys that have been eyeing some AMD chip? BUY NOW. I had to go to three different eTailers before i could find a 95w Thuban, the 6 cores and the BE are going quickly and when the stock on hand is gone that's it friends.

I figure with this coolermaster and easily OCed Thuban loaded into an Asrock with 8gb of RAM and 3Tb of HDD space i'm set for the next 5 years, maybe longer barring some new killer app that actually needs more than 6 cores. So with that let me leave you with my new happy song! We Wish You A Merry Thuban, We Wish You A Merry Thuban, We Wish You A Merry Thuban, And A Happy Six Cooooorrrres! Yee haw!

Re:Combination (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408362)

I have a (Hyper 212 Plus) which is very similar to the N520, it's the size of the radiators used by these liquid coolers and it has amazing cooling ability. Even without fan it keeps CPU at only a few degrees above room temperature.

The only problem with these is that they take up a huge amount of real estate on the motherboard, making it hard to work around it. But in terms of cooling, they are much better than liquid coolers and easier to setup and cheaper.

Re:Combination (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408490)

Well with the CPU on the Asrock sitting high frankly with mine there really isn't anything to "work around". I've found it best to do the full assembly and testing BEFORE putting the completed unit in the case, just sit the board on a table with some foam backing and fire it up, just to make sure everything is set. With the N520 the heatpipes raise the unit up enough snapping in the RAM was a breeze, and surprisingly it fit right into a mid tower case with no difficulty.

I guess I've been in the biz too long because when i thought aftermarket i thought this thing would be the size of a radiator for a 74 vega, the old ones frankly weighed a ton and were a PITA to fit into anything short of a full tower, but the coolermaster dropped in easy peasy and its hitting....damned if it hasn't dropped to 84F while still cranking out transcodes! the arctic silver must be starting to settle. How can one complain about a $35 cooler that runs cooler on full bore than the stock did at idle? i'm definitely gonna be using these on my new builds as standard, this is just too damned nice!

Re:Combination (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409282)

damned if it hasn't dropped to 84F while still cranking out transcodes!

You must not be using all the cores, as the N520 can only keep a full 125W load at about 20 degrees Celsius over ambient, and I highly doubt that you have your computer in a 50 degree Fahrenheit room.

Run something like Prime 95 with 6 threads and see how it heats up.

Re:Combination (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38420850)

Don't have the 125w friend, I have the 95w 1035t. I just did as you suggested, Prime 95 64bit let it run for about 15 minutes and it maxed out at 97. I could hear the fans kick up when it did but that was it Once i killed the test it dropped down to 73f in less than 2 minutes which is damned near room temp in my apt. The room is about 72f BTW in case you're curious. gotta say i'm impressed, that is pretty damned good for a $35 cooler IMHO. Hell I could take a pic if you want, my last chip was hitting 139f on stock cooling so fankly anything below that would have made me happy but the combo of coolermaster plus arctic silver seems to be kicking some serious booty.

Re:Combination (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505838)

Don't have the 125w friend, I have the 95w 1035t. I just did as you suggested, Prime 95 64bit let it run for about 15 minutes and it maxed out at 97. I could hear the fans kick up when it did but that was it Once i killed the test it dropped down to 73f in less than 2 minutes which is damned near room temp in my apt.

For a 95W part, 15 degrees C over ambient is about right for that cooler, but the 212 Plus is still about 4 degrees better for the same price.

Re:Combination (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409188)

I have a (Hyper 212 Plus) which is very similar to the N520, it's the size of the radiators used by these liquid coolers and it has amazing cooling ability.

The N520 performs quite a bit worse than the Hyper 212 Plus. It was a step backward for Cooler Master. For the numbers of damn near every heatsink, see FrostyTech [frostytech.com] . They never drop heatsinks off their comparison, so the latest review always gives the full picture.

Although it's a little pricier now than when I bought, the Zaward Vapor 120 is the best under $50 heatsink by far, but the 212 Plus at $26 [macmall.com] is definitely worth it, and makes me wonder why the $34 at best N520 even exists.

Re:Combination (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409182)

I am a computer and coffee nerd, so:

The optimal temperature for brewing coffee is somewhere between 92 and 96C. That's way too high for a CPU. CPUs specs generally say that the max safe temperature is about 70C, the highest one I've seen is 100C, which would work, but is far too dangerous to operate at continously.

Add to that that unless you're going to be continously brewing coffee you need to exhaust the extra heat at any time you don't need it. And that a water cooling system's water (distilled, probably with additives to prevent algae growth) wouldn't result in good coffee. So what you'd need is a full water cooling system, and a full coffee machine, interconnected in the middle with a heat exchanger.

However, the people I've seen talking of using water cooling systems speak of having CPU temperatures of 35C or so. That's way too low to be useful, the machine would still need a decent heater to raise the temperature enough.

So, resuming: they're incompatible applications. Water cooling aims for low temperature and uses distilled water with additives that are probably unhealthy to drink, or at least would make for foul tasting coffee. Coffee needs high temperature with normal water with a mineral content that would quickly foul up a water cooling system. It seems highly impractical to try to put the two together.

Re:Combination (1)

AzN1337c0d3r (997208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410746)

No it's not. Nehalem era CPU are rated to run up to 105C. Sandy Bridge lowered it a bit at 100C but the maximum safe temperature is definitely not ~70C.

Re:Combination (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410958)

It depends on the CPU. Some AMD ones shut down at 70C [amd.com]

Also, if you need water at 96C, then you have all of 4 to 9 degrees of safety margin before the CPU performs an emergency shutdown, or starts skipping clock cycles. That's a pretty complicated problem: you have to provide just enough cooling at the heat exchanger that the CPU temperature doesn't go over the maximum, while keeping it hot enough for coffee. But cooling effect takes time to affect the CPU, so you may not be able to react fast enough.

Also, you'll have even less margin than that, because heat will be lost from the piping and the area around the heatsink on the CPU, so you need a slightly higher CPU temperature to compensate for that.

Re:Combination (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38412118)

Don't forget to take into account the thermal resistance between the CPU die and the coffee. the 70/100/105 degree limit is for the die temperature

Better question... (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409472)

When will we see PCs, refrigerators, sewers, and other waste heat sources combined with household hydronic heat transfer systems?

Re:Better question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410716)

This is a fine idea for recovering energy from waste heat when the HVAC system is in heating mode or water heating is required.
Unless you have a perfect balance of climate, heat rejection, and heat demand you're still going to need a boiler and cooling tower (or heat pump) to keep the water loop temperature within tolerances.

Print link (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407778)

Print link [hothardware.com]

The money quote (5, Interesting)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407790)

"In every cooler we tested, the pump noise was actually louder than the fans when the CPU was idling."

Re:The money quote (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407862)

Some labs have experimented with solid state pumps using a conductive coolant propelled using an electromagnetic system. Quiet as can be, but the expensive coolant (gallium alloy) renders them cost-prohibative.

Re:The money quote (1)

Imbrondir (2367812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407934)

Some labs have experimented with solid state pumps using a conductive coolant propelled using an electromagnetic system. Quiet as can be, but the expensive coolant (gallium alloy) renders them cost-prohibative.

Won't a conductive coolant corrode exposed heat sinks faster?

Re:The money quote (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408212)

Depends what the headsink is made of. Aluminium will be ruined, but copper is fine.

Re:The money quote (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408054)

What I dont understand with water cooling system is whats wrong with simply taking advantage of convection, rather than having pumps.

Is there something about water viscosity being too hard to overcome or something?

Re:The money quote (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408222)

Correct. To get convection alone moving the water fast enough would require an unacceptably high source temperature. Same reason even air-coolers have a fan on the processor and more mounted on the case.

Re:The money quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408246)

It may just be me, but I think the issue relates to hotspots, much like a car's coolant system. Oftentimes the 'highest spot' which is where heat would rise to, is inside the part of the circuit you want to cool. If this is the case then you're never actually getting proper convection going through the cooling circuit. Additionally I do not believe the thermal transfer rate of water/coolant is high enough to conduct away rapidly on it's own (that's why heat sinks are large and copper or aluminum.

Somebody correct me if I got anything wrong. I'm not a metallurgist or even a cooling system specialist, just someone whose dealt with a bit of each.

Re:The money quote (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408998)

then you would call it a heat pipe.

Re:The money quote (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410634)

Heat pipes tend to rely on phase changes and capillary action or gravity to complete a simple refrigeration cycle.
Convection alone would make a pretty weak heat pipe.

Re:The money quote (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408276)

Both water and conductive liquids seem like terrible choices for cooling electronics. A motherboard can be immersed in cooking oil and run fine with no fans. If you want to get fancy you can use fluorinert. A magnesium case like the NeXT would be good for radiating the heat..

Re:The money quote (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408530)

Virtually all cooking oil is far more corrosive than you would want to use with your PC. Mineral oil is probably the best cheap option. In a metal box with a metal lid and no airflow there should be virtually zero fire hazard, but I wouldn't take my word for it. The material of the case is less important than the color; a thin coat of flat black is what's wanted here. You may, however, want to keep a fan and heat sink on some of the components, because you can't count on convection circulating the liquid quickly enough to prevent localized heating. You could, however, undervolt a fan to keep it from trying to murder itself.

Re:The money quote (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408892)

Not such a good idea if you ever need to open it up to do maintenance/upgrades on it.

Re:The money quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38415752)

There is a company in the US that makes a synthetic dielectric cooling oil called OptiCool. Google it. OptiCool Fluid has been used for years to cool power electronics, either with a heat exchanger or with direct immersion of the circuit boards in the fluid. OptiCool is far more stable against oxidation and rancidity than vegetable oils, and transfers heat better, too. And it's far less expensive than fluorinated fluids.
Full disclosure: I invented OptiCool, but am no longer an owner or employee of its manufacturer.

Re:The money quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408640)

What about the Caterpillar drive. Coming to a Soviet sub near YOU!

Re:The money quote (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409020)

You mean impellers in a duct that run the length of the computer case?

Re:The money quote (4, Informative)

Yaotzin (827566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407900)

The HDD is sometimes louder than the fans when the CPU is idling, it's not a big deal. What's attractive for me is that they offer roughly the same performance as more expensive non-H2O coolers and weigh half as much. I have used Corsair's H50 and Antec's Kühler H20 620, which are made by the same company apparently, because they look exactly the same. Slightly annoying installation, but I am satisfied otherwise. Leaves a lot of space in my case, which is appreciated.

Re:The money quote (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408338)

Which is why I went with a DIY (i.e. non-preassembled) solution, mostly consisting of EKWB parts. That way you can choose fans, pumps and a radiator to suit.

The reason I went with water cooling wasn't extreme cooling performance, but noise. The CPU fan was fairly quiet but I have a 480GTX GPU that sounded like a jet engine, even when idling. Switching to water cooling eliminated a lot of noise, and I found that the pump noise can be reduced a great deal by mounting it on adhesive foam rather than screwing it directly to the case. Using a large radiator helps too, two fans at low RPM make a lot less noise than one fan on a small radiator working overtime.

For the rest, mounting fans and HDDs on rubber further reduces noise. My gaming rig will never be whisper quiet, but this water cooling setup beats any air based one I have ever used, and even under heavy load the GPU and CPU barely touch 45 degrees C.

Re:The money quote (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408656)

"In every cooler we tested, the pump noise was actually louder than the fans when the CPU was idling."

Apparently they didn't test the Corsair H50, the pump is quiet, very quiet once the coolant gets going. The fan on the other hand sounds like a jet taking off all the damn time. The sealed unit coolers have gotten better without a doubt in the last couple of revisions, the H60 was much quieter, the h70 was much cooler the H80 had more function and better cooling and was even quieter, and so on. Same followed with the Antec series, though to point out they're both made by the same company Asetek [asetek.com] I believe.

This isn't to mention the warranty either. Both Antec and Corsair have been covering CPU's, GPU's(some people like me use their watercoolers on their videocards too, on their products if the watercoolers fail. I had a H80 fail and it took my 560ti with it, corsair covered it and sent a check along with a replacement unit. EVGA sent a replacement card even though I was fully upfront with what I was doing. You know, for that these guys(EVGA and Corsair) have a lifetime customer for that, it was an aftermarket mod but they covered it anyway. The money if anyone is wondering went to the foodbank.

If you're short on cash and looking for a way to make your system quieter that with a set of whirly birds, these things can really help but they do have some serious limitations. You need to calculate exactly how much heat you're going to have to dissipate. But as it stands, if you have the money to drop on custom blocks, tanks and a pump it's still the better way to go. Besides at the $200/block price that some of these places charge, it's almost cheaper to get the dimensions yourself go find a CNC op at some metal shop and have them mill and smooth out a slop of copper for you.

Re:The money quote (1)

dead_cthulhu (1928542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415434)

Funny. I liquid-cool, and the only sound I here are my intake/exhaust fans. The impeller is silent, and the radiator fan is nearly so.

Re:Print link (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407842)

Your link doesn't work, they probably detect referrer and send user to normal version when link is not clicked from their site.

Re:Print link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407906)

You're right. Copy/paste (no referer string) works, though.
Also, "Redundant Array of Independent Developers" :) .

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Re:Classic British style wool coat with replica lu (0)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407818)

You just had to mention "collocation", didn't you?

Re:Classic British style wool coat with replica lu (1)

BagOCrap (980854) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407824)

I won't buy your replicas unless they come with preinstalled liquid coolers!

Disappointed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407912)

I read it as "Self-Contained PC Liquid Coolers Exploded".

Re:Disappointed (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408104)

Yeah, and I read it as Self-Directed DC Loquacious Comic Explained, but that's my problem. Seriously, I don't care about everyone's reading comprehension and/or spelling problems.

A good idea moving forward (5, Informative)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407928)

I've always appreciated Corsair's products; in an industry where the typical MO is to push out the newest widget, sell before everyone forgets about it or gets upstaged, and never look back, they are one of the few companies that seem to understand that you're making an investment with their hardware. For instance, I wrote them a thank-you email after discovering that they offered two Upgrade Kits for their flagship 800D chassis. When the 800D first launched, SATA6 and USB3.0 weren't included. Had this been LianLi or Silverstone they would have released the "801D" and tell you to upgrade by buying a new $200+ chassis. Corsair on the other hand, offered a couple of $10 kits; one a new backplane for the hotswap SATA board, SATA 6.0 compatible and a new front port assembly with USB3.0 support. I have no second thoughts supporting them.

For years those of us trying to make significant overclocks on our PCs, but not wanting to commit to an additional $500 or so in homebuilt liquid cooling, were left to HUGE air coolers that required $80-120 investment, plus fans and cooling paste. These were huge monoliths that were heavy and difficult to install. The advent of the Corsair self-contained coolers is the first "ready for prime-time" solution that fixes this issue. You are given equal or better cooling than high end air at an equal or better price, with a much easier install process. With Sandy Bridge-E and AMD FX, we're just dipping a toe back into the days when serious cooling is necessary to attain a high overclock, so its great that this hardware is maturing now.

For anyone with a high-end air cooler or looking to build a new system and overclock it, these are probably the best off-the-shelf solutions you're going to find these days that don't have the learning curve of building and maintaining a custom-liquid setup and for most people who aren't trying to break records, they'll give you a ton of extra performance through the overclock.

Re:A good idea moving forward (4, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407952)

Even if you're not overclocking, water cooling is good, especially for GPU heavy machines. There are companies which will assemble a water cooled 3 GPU setup. It looks inside like the kind of system which would be a hassle to do, but paying for it makes it hassle free. They generally have the gamer look which is kind of funny at work, but they work well. They are also very quiet considering the gigantic heat output.

Re:A good idea moving forward (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408334)

Even if you're not overclocking, water cooling is good

The mid to high end cooling market gave up on conventional heatsinks ages ago. Nowadays they use either heatpipes or watercooling (the so-called "high end air coolers" are heatpipe based). Conventional heatsinks aren't very good at getting lots of heat out of small spaces.

Both methods can take heat quietly from from a small and/or difficult to cool space (PC expansion cards suck from an air cooling perspective because they the motherboard and the connector plate on adjacent sides) and take it to a large radiator that can be more easilly cooled.

The advantage of heatpipes is you don't need a pump.

The advantage of watercooling is flexibility. Heatpipes tend to be (I don't know if they technically have to be) sealed copper pipes, slight bending is possible but there is little flexibility in the system and so the radiator has to be attatched to the pickup. This isn't a problem for a laptop where custom mounts can be designed in but in a conventional desktop it means you end up with the whole cooling assembly bolted to the heatsink mounts on the motherboard. This is bad for robustness and means you can't easilly route the heated air directly out of the case.

Sealed unit watercoolers give a bit more flexibility, enough to bolt the radiator to the outside of the case (which is obviously superior to just having it sit above the motherboard.

Full custom water loops are even more flexible but are more expensive and more hassle.

especially for GPU heavy machines.

Agreed, PC expansion slots were simply never designed for good cooling (if they were they would have the backplane opposite the connector plate rather than adjacent to it). So the only way GPU vendors can make a workable integrated cooling system for high power cards is to use a leafblower like setup.

Unfortunately they don't make third party cooling easy either, pretty much every GPU model and sometimes even different cards with the same GPU needs a different waterblock so you are unlikely to see sealed unit watercooling for GPUs.

They are also very quiet considering the gigantic heat output.

Probablly about a kilowatt or so at most. That is like a fan heater on it's low setting, it's not that gigantic really.

Re:A good idea moving forward (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415044)

Heatpipes tend to be (I don't know if they technically have to be) sealed copper pipes, slight bending is possible but there is little flexibility in the system and so the radiator has to be attatched to the pickup. This isn't a problem for a laptop where custom mounts can be designed in but in a conventional desktop it means you end up with the whole cooling assembly bolted to the heatsink mounts on the motherboard. This is bad for robustness and means you can't easilly route the heated air directly out of the case.

I recall reading about a laptop design where heatpipes went from the CPU to the back of the display, for a larger cooling area. I imagined there would be a hinge-like joint with two solid pipes, but even then it didn't seem too robust. Heatpipes need to be sealed and solid, because they need to work at a specific pressure, so even a flexible tube might distort it. The wick for returning fluid might also be a problem in a flexible tube.

Re:A good idea moving forward (1)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408044)

I picked up the 600D. Love Corsairs attention to detail. I picked up such a large case as it was difficult to find a case that would hold both an extended video card and multiple hdd's. While still looking like something other than a transformer.

Re:A good idea moving forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408748)

Just a head's up, while I love Corsair products as much as the next guy(sitting here with their mem, a new 650D, and other assorted goodies), their water coolers are not made by them. They have a partnership, with CoolIT, same as Antec does.

While CoolIT has been making these for awhile, it seems the long term robust quality is almost always an issue with their stuff unless buying the best they make.

I have experience personally with 3 seperate systems of theirs going bad, and a bud's H50 just sprung a leak last week. Another of my friends had a Domino ALC go, and take out one of his HD5850's. CoolIT did eventually replace his card, although it was not a make/model/price match to his thusly dragging his bench scores down.

I would take a cautious approach to any of the pre-sealed systems, as the intel one has a pedigreed beginning that wasn't all that stellar either.

I am however glad that strides are being taken to improve the tech though, but I fear the same old problem of cost cutting, and cheap design will eventually cost some folks far more than an annoying fan sound.

All these fancy coolers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38407958)

And you still use your computer to read Slashdot all day.

Re:All these fancy coolers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408290)

Car analogy? People buy fancy cars to just drive around.

Why IBM returns to water cooling for mainframes (4, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38407988)

Even IBM is returning to water cooling for their mainframes: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9183068/Water_cooling_returns_to_IBM_mainframe [computerworld.com]

The reasons:

. . . IBM saw fit to offer water cooling to help reduce overall data center cooling needs . . . the optional water cooling system can improve overall environmental needs by about 12%, which may help some IT managers "squeeze the last piece of floor space in before they go buy a new data center . . . Water is more efficient than air in removing heat . . .

Need a reason to justify the higher cost of your PC? Hey, it's "green" . . . !

. . . and my data center is getting full . . . I constantly trip over USB cables when I get up off the sofa . . .

for data centers will a big common water system (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408428)

for data centers will a big common water system work good vs small blocks in each box?

Re:for data centers will a big common water system (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409192)

A large common water system connected to an external evaporative cooler would be vastly more efficient than a traditional air conditioning system. Individual blocks on the outside of each system would at best allow better optimized airflow.

All in one (2)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408000)

liquid coolers are not attempting to compete with the liquid coolers we have known of for years. They are competing with high end air coolers. As someone who was looking in to some of the all in ones. I ended up with one of the high end air coolers. Granted my case had the room for one of the dual 120mm fans with the corresponding heat sink. Price, Noise and cooling capability for all in ones equal the larger traditional cooling methods. The other thing they are good for is getting people into water cooling with little risk. Less i not forget the "cool' factor of a water cooled rig.

Re:All in one (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408350)

I see a few advantages of sealed unit watercoolers compared to their heatpipe based competition

1:they tend to be smaller and lighter
2: there is some flexibility in radiator placement (good for those building small form factor systems)
3: they exhaust the CPU heat straight out of the case from the rad rather than relying on general case airflow to take it out
4: a large portion of their weight is mounted on the case rather than the motherboard. That means less risk of damage when moving the machine.

Re:All in one (1)

dead_cthulhu (1928542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38415450)

Only downside I've had from liquid cooling is that the fscking radiator needs to be dusted on a nearly weekly basis.

Re:All in one (1)

InvisiBill (706958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38416492)

Dryer sheets make decent disposable filters. Just stick them in front of your intake fans with magnets or tape or some other method that works well with your setup. As a bonus, your computer room will smell like a Fresh Mountain Spring Breeze!

Re:All in one (1)

InvisiBill (706958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38416468)

I see a few advantages of sealed unit watercoolers compared to their heatpipe based competition

1:they tend to be smaller and lighter 2: there is some flexibility in radiator placement (good for those building small form factor systems) 3: they exhaust the CPU heat straight out of the case from the rad rather than relying on general case airflow to take it out 4: a large portion of their weight is mounted on the case rather than the motherboard. That means less risk of damage when moving the machine.

A few tweaks to your points...

  1. 1. The water is just transferring the heat from the source to the radiator, the same as heatpipes or direct contact would do in other heatsinks. The amount of material is similar, and possibly even larger and heavier when you include the pump. You still need airflow through cooling fins to actually do the cooling, so the radiator tends to be pretty similar to the fin assembly of traditional heatsinks. However, the weight and size is distributed between the mobo and case as you mention in point 4.
  2. 2. While tubing is more flexible than a copper heatpipe, you can run into other issues. The hose barbs on my ECO A.L.C. hit my (large passive) northbridge heatsink when mounted one way, and my top case fans when mounted the other way. Most people probably wouldn't run into this same situation in their systems, but you're not completely negating mounting issues, just changing the details.
  3. 3. You actually get better results most of the time if you intake cool outside air into the radiator rather than using it as an exhaust fan. The cool outside air drops the CPU temps quite a bit, while affecting internal case temps very little (especially in a typical enthusiast case with exhaust fans on the top). Obviously this will depend on your particular setup, and you need to make sure that reversing that fan isn't completely destroying the airflow in your case, but overall it tends to work better.

Re:All in one (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408412)

Questions: Which unit did you go for? What are the temps? Did you OC? Because having previous exp with the bigger air coolers I figured that to get decent cooling to fit in this plain jane mid tower box I have, just an average black box with no extra fans other than the 120mm on the PSU, I'd end up having to break out a dremel but I was frankly surprised how much smaller and lighter some of the new units are.

I ended up having to go a little cheaper on the HS than I wanted thanks to having to change out the board (Lying ECS, saying their board would take a 6 when it wouldn't!) but frankly I was amazed when I fired the Coolermaster Hyper N520 [tigerdirect.com] up for the first time. When you look at the pics you'd think it was this monster but actually it fit quite easily in this mid tower and I've had the 6 core slammed all night doing video transcodes and my current temp is....damn, 86 degrees F! Hell that is lower than my Deneb idled at with stock clocks and I have the Thuban slightly OCed and the arctic silver hasn't had time to settle yet!

If any of the coolermaster guys read this? Thanks, its the little things that you remember, like how you provided a nice little socket with flathead adapter for bolting on the cooler, had instructions in actual English and a video on the website making it beyond simple to set up, and i don't know how they did it but these 3 pin fans are quiet as quiet can be, even with the CPU cranking out videos I can't even hear the unit running! That's nice, I think from now on i'll be including these babies as standard on my builds.

But I'm really interested in what unit you went with and how high you went as far as speed as i have a few 'must win teh benches!' customers and anything that will let those speed demons get a few more MHz is always of the good. I think for ordinary folks this Coolermaster will be all she wrote though, $35 and it keeps a chip THIS cold? While I like the idea of liquid cooling even the units in TFA won't fit your average mid tower so they are right out. Most mid towers only take 92mm exhaust fans so these units simply won't fit.

Re:All in one (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408520)

I paid $20 for a Hyper TX3 [coolermaster-usa.com] and I have my Phenom II X3 720 oc'd from 2.8 to 3.4, which wouldn't run reliably on the stock cooler. I don't know if that was a sale price or what but I am quite happy. I have a bunch of fans in my system but I can still hear the CPU fan when I am using the CPU, not so much otherwise. Maybe the additional $15 was spent making it quieter :)

Re:All in one (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409132)

Cool, what's the temps? I keep my apt at about 74 degrees and the N520 is keeping the chip under load at about 85 degrees F, so damned near room temp, not bad for a $35 cooler. I'll have to keep an eye out for the TX3 because if i could score them for $20 that would be a shoe in for the standard cooler.

I don't know if you heard but AMD announced Dec 5th they have halted production on ALL AM3 CPUs, so if there is some chip you've had your heart set on now's the time. Ever since i heard of the Thuban with those 6 cores of creamy goodness I've been wanting one so I pulled the trigger and must say i'm quite happy with the 1035T I got. Stock is 2.6Ghz-3.1GHz Turbocore, but I OCed it a little to 2.8GHz-3.3GHz Turbo and its quiet as a churchmouse. So if you've been dreaming of a 6 or a quad you might want to get one Drinkypoo in the next 60 days or so, as the 6 cores and blacks look to run out first, followed by the regular quads.

Re:All in one (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38410612)

It's about 70 in here and my CPU is 85, so a little warmer. But I should probably do a dusting in my PC.

Re:All in one (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38411288)

I'm fairly pleased with my current rig, although the two fans on the Noctua NH-D14 are noticeable when I turn off my air filter (I smoke). Video card is a MSI 460GTX and it's fan is relatively quiet - but then the most demanding things I run these days is Civ V and Silent Hunter IV with mostly default settings at whatever resolution fits in a window.

1090T is running stock (and if I remember correctly, cool&quiet and turbo are enabled), worldcommunitygrid is set to run all cores 100%, system is fast and responsive - more so, it seems, than when I set aside just 3 cores for the grid. CPU averages 40-43C, GPU about the same, although I've seen it get into low fifties now and then. Case is a HAF932 with stock fans, add-on dust screens (they raised temps 3-5 degrees.) Host OS is Ubuntu 11.10.

Looking at some of the reviews of sealed water coolers on Tom's Hardware, Frostytech, and a few other places, I expect that's what will go in my next build, probably late next year. While I can see there are some real advantages to custom DIY, I'm too old, lazy, and broke to get into it, and the current and projected crop of the better-rated off-the-shelf stuff is looking both affordable and effective.

Re:All in one (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 2 years ago | (#38412760)

Are you sure am3 cpus are discontinued? Google is only turning up rumors and nothing official from AMD to include second hand quotes.

Re:All in one (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38412968)

Yep fraid so, it was announced Dec 5th by the CEO himself. The skinny is they are having such a run on Bobcat and Bulldozer (Bobcat has become the "go to" chip for the OEMs, its in everything from netbooks to HTPCs to all in ones, and the A series is getting sucked up by HP and Gateway for quad laptops) that GloFlo and TSMC can't keep up with production of those AND the AM3s, so instead of losing their higher profit chips they just killed the AM3s. I originally read it through the email daily links I get from El Reg but here is an older link [motherboardnews.com] that says they planned to end them in 2012, so they only upped their plans by a couple of quarters.

Sorry I can't find the original link but I'm kinda swamped with the silly season ATM. you might want to try the reg as i'm pretty sure that is where I read it and they confirmed that it IS officially the end of AM3, all that is left is the last chips that came off the line and what is in stock. i know that after i heard the news i went shopping for a Thuban and it took me three Etailers before i found a 95w Thuban left, the rest was sold out. if I'd have known ECS were lying bastards and i'd have to change my board i'd have gotten a 125 watter, but with this 1035t idling at 72 f and under load less than 100 f I really can't complain. but if you want one of the new chips better pull the trigger friend, because they won't last long!

BTW if you have a board that can take it these Thubans are fricking swwwweeeeet dude! Six cores of creamy goodness, turbo for when you aren't using all six cores, and actually seems to use less power and generate less heat than my Deneb did. With this new Asrock board [newegg.com] (which I also recommend highly BTW, this baby has features I've only seen on $200+ boards) its just too nice. Anyway here is the chip [tigerdirect.com] and here is the cooler [tigerdirect.com] and I can tell you the three fit together like hand in glove. i had 8gb of DDR 2 RAM already so I figure I'm set for a good 5 years or more easy, since i haven't even OCed yet.

But if I was you and I wanted one i'd pull the trigger, because as you can see on the chart i linked to they were planning to kill AM3 by January anyway so its only a month off original roadmap, and man these chips are nice dude, damned nice. Score you a good 6 or quad and you'll be set for awhile, otherwise you'll be looking at the board needing replaced as well.

Not needed in 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408026)

When we have a quantum proc that factors qubits using the Heisenberg principle applied to muons, it will automagically pump heat down e p-brane to an alternate universe. This will be both quiet and so efficient we may have to use CPU warmers!

That is old school. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408084)

Nobody uses water any longer. Oil [youtube.com] is silent and more efficient.

Re:That is old school. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38408846)

Real overclockers use liquid metals with magnetic pumps.

Re:That is old school. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38410886)

Considering the original Cray machines ran in a CFC solution, I'd say Oil is the REAL old-school technique...

Classic British style wool coat with replica luxur (-1)

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water cooled gpu (1)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408616)

my gpu gets so much hotter then the cpu and makes a lot more noise.

They did? (3, Funny)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408738)

I read, "Self-Contained PC Liquid Coolers Exploded"

This all well and good (-1, Offtopic)

klingens (147173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38408970)

Dear Youtube/Google,

UMG clearly violated other people's copyright, acted in bad faith, and committed countles crimes against innocent kittens. All water under the bridge right now.
However, what measures do you, Google, enact immediately so UMG cannot commit such an unlawful act again? This time, UMG is the only culprit and you only a stupid patsy who wasn't very clever when you made a contract. Now you and the public at large see how there is a problem with this contract, so how do you propose to fix it? Will you revoke UMGs direct access? Will you make another contract with fines for unlawful censoring? Will you protect your lawful users from companies like UMG at all?

Re:This all well and good (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409780)

Hahahahah

nice nice nice good for your self (-1)

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For me, not needed (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409640)

I use to use a cooler on my old P4 HT computer...back when I played video games. Computer ran almost 5 years, without a hitch, til it was time to retire it. It was a HUGE external affair, with two big cooling tubes. Loud, but under no load or full load, the CPU temp hardly ever moved 5 degrees one way or the other. I think that is the ideal thing for a cooler. Keeping the CPU stable and not the up & down temperature swings, I think, keeps a CPU running longer. I don't play RPG or FS games any more, so when I got a quad core CPU, I just use the stock cooler/heat sink.

Meh, I read "exploded"! (1)

Lispy (136512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38409700)

That would have been a headline.

I've had one for a while (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38411504)

I did it for one reason: less noise. My case already had a 120mm exhaust fan, so I simply added the radiator to the back of it, eliminating one fan from the case altogether. The fact that the radiator is the last thing exhaust air sees means very little CPU heat is being relieved inside the case.

My i960 is clocked at 4GHz and I see a water temp of about 40C at idle at 50C at full load, and the case is nearly silent with the exhaust fan on low (3-speed Antec fan).

Hard to maintain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38411888)

I had a two year old one. After two years the coolant fluid got specs all in it. It was next to impossible to change out the fluid like the manufacturer (Coolant Masters) recommended let alone the motor assembly. Also the space inside the case that the radiator takes is impossible.

I don't get it (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38414588)

Asetek specifies a Rth of 0.124 K/W for the 570LC [asetek.com] . While official values are hard to find, for a high end air cooler like the NH-D14, frostytech found 11.2 K [frostytech.com] rise above ambient for 125 W, which is 0.09 K/W - with (slow) stock fans. So you'll need a 240mm cooler like the H100, which is only slightly better, or something like the EPIC 180, which is not available standalone, to get better than air cooling. Or you can strap more powerful fans on the NH-D14, which is what I did.
There must be a reason why I have never seen an air vs liquid cooler comparison.

Re:I don't get it (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38419922)

I just purchased a heatsink for my new system and decided to go with air after looking at frostytech charts. These liquid cooling units cost as much as, if not more, than the high end air coolers and don't cool better. But of course that depends on where you look. I think HardForum has better results for the liquid coolers. If you have the space for a high end air cooler you're better off with it in my opinion. Either go air or get a real liquid cooling setup.
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