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CPU Cooling Insanity

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the everyone-needs-a-hobby dept.

Hardware 319

moonboy writes "I saw this over at Ars Technica. This dude submerged his entire motherboard in mineral oil. As if that weren't enough, he then and got a 5,000 BTU (window?) unit and circulates the oil through the coils to keep it all cool." Don't expect Gateway to be offering these any time soon... I suspect it will a bit more than just void your warranty. It'll probably make motherboard engineers come to your home under cover of darkness carrying loaded shotguns :)

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Re:What a doofus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874779)

Any suggestions as to what would make an effective heat-exchange fluid? Anyone know a readily available insulating low viscosity high boiling point liquid with a high thermal conductivity and high specific heat capacity? Preferably non-toxic?

Oops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874780)

My friend left his cookie on my machine. For the record, the above comment was not posted by Dovaka.

How about diamond? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874781)

I'm not a chemist or a physicist, but the way I hear it, diamond is just about the best conductor of heat known. I'm pretty sure that it's also a good electrical insulator. Of course, there is the slight problem that coating a motherboard in diamond is just a teeny tiny bit beyond what can realistically be done. Just a smidgen.
Anyway, regardless of the substance used, wouldn't it be a bit of a pain to have to remove this coating and then recoat in order to change a card or something?

Re:OOOOOHHH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874782)

Troll? Perhaps -1, too funny to understand...

Re:One doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874783)

Strange, a valid reply to a +2 post gets -1... Anyways, here's my take on it (guess I'll get a -2, if that's possible :-), under the new system).

I think that when the two pieces of metal rub against each other, enough of the oil will be removed to make the connection good again. This is unlike corrosion, which takes more than a single scrape to remove... Just my opinion, though.

Water would freeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874784)

Water would not work better because it would freeze at 0C

Re:hope it doesn't leak! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874785)

Hope the guy who built that box doesn't read slashdot at level 0...

Anyways, very much agreed. I've gotten mineral oil on clothes before, and you're left with a patch of clothing that is usually just a little darker than the rest, that never gets clean again (until it's been washed a couple of times). Just imagine with a carpet, you can't run it on the spin cycle for an hour... :-)

Re:N2 cooling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874786)

If it is well insulated, the heat let off when it is recooled shouldn't be much more than your computer releases. Since your computer is currently releasing its heat into the air, there shouldn't be a noticeable difference.

Re:Not just low conductivity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874787)

But electrolysis requires that the water is impure, doesn't it? I remember coating a few of my mothers silver spoons with lead while experimenting with electrolysis when I was a kid... She got rather mad :-)

One doubt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874851)

Won't the oil cause problems when you remove a jumper and put it back in other position? Won't it insulate the current via a thin layer of oil in that case?

Re:Mineral Oil? - is an insulator (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874852)

One of the things you can do with mineral oil is to use it as a dielectric in high voltage capacitors, so yeah, it's an insulator.

Re:Overclocking in General (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874853)

Wouldn't really work very well. Since there is only vacuum out there, there will be no heat transfer through convection, only through radiation.


Re:Overclocking in General (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874854)

Others have pointed out that a vacuum is a pretty good insulator. Maybe you can use the asteroid as a heat sink. Of course, there's still the problem of cosmic radiation. You might be able to use the mass of the asteroid to shield the computer from one direction, but you'll have to bury it to shield it from every direction. All in all, that's a lot of trouble. In any case, the space station would probably have some kind of central cooling system to take care of everybodies heat problems. Provided your computer actually produces much heat that far into the future, it would probably be hooked right to a vent of the station's cooling system.

Re:Hard drives are NOT sealed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874855)

Sealage (not real word I know) is generally a relative term, you can only seal something so well, underenough pressure anything will break. But oil is rather thick I doupt that it could break the seal anywhere around sea level

Re:How does this work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874856)

That's really cool. In engineering liquid cooling systems are known to be more efficient than air ones. Even Porsche now realizes this. In electronics liquid metal cooling of speakers' voice coils has been known for years.
I think this is a very valuable experiment and the hardware manufacturers sooner or later would have to start offering systems based on liquid cooling design. I still wounder though: what happened to the super-conductor based chips taht were promised to us more than 10 years ago?
Alex Aitouganov

Re:Mineral Oil? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874857)

Epoxy also used to be one of the insulators used for deep sea cables.

Re:Fun with liquid nitrogen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874858)

Several commercial computers are N2 cooled, but I'm not sure if the circuitry is immersed in it. Crays spring to mind...

How about alcohol? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874859)

It seems like all that oil has to eventually cause contact problems on the PCI cards and SIMMs. How about using alcohol instead? It has a low freeze point, doesn't conduct, but best off has a low boiling point. That means after DrFreeze gets tired of his experiments he can take it out of the bath and dry it out in a few hours. With mineral oil his MB is never going to be the same.


Re:Not just low conductivity. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874875)

Many motherboard makers clean their motherboards with water since CFC are illegal now for this purpose (otherwise the resin left from the solder paste eventually corrodes the connections).

I actually saw this at a tour of Intel's motherboard factory. It was really weird feeling to see a chain of motherboards in a conveyor belt being taken for a dip. Of course they use de-ionized water, the motherboard itself is not powered yet (duh!), and they immediately go into a dryer after their water bath.

Re:N2 cooling... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874876)

This will be a silly question, I suppose. But from what I've seen liquid nitrogen do, once the material is taken out of the nitrogen, it's as brittle as a thin sheet of glass. I'm wondering just how safe this would be for the motherboard, with all the materials (fiberglass, copper, plastic, aluminum, etc...) contracting at different rates, would something not crack? If you immersed it slowly would that help? And last, but not least, if the material is as brittle as I figure it will be when removed, won't the motherboard break the first time you try to upgrade a card in a slot?

Thoughts on water. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874877)

Couple of thoughts on your design.

You may want to make the 'super cooler' case larger, (so that any water that does devlop will be on the bottom. Then place your mother board on some sort of expect the water, just work around it.

Then, if you add some sort of valve at the lowest point in your 'super cooler' case, you could then drain off any water condensation that develops. Check with an airplane junkyard or some place like that, pilots have to go through this same sort of stuff all the time.

Re:Silent cooling (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874878)

Some houses use liquid cooling systems instead of conventional air conditioning. You could fit your house with a liquid cooling system using oil, and redirect one of the pipes through your computer casing :-)

Liquid cooling systems are typically used because they are very silent. The only thing I heard of the cooling system where I used to worked before, was a slight sound when the system was just turned off, and the pipes were being filled with liquid.

How does this work? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874880)

Its not a sealed system. You'd think condensation would fry it within a few minutes of operation.

Re:What a doofus (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874881)

Fundamental law of nature: when theory and experiment conflict, experiment wins.

On my case (Enlight mid-tower ATX), I get a drop of 5C if I take the front of the case off, and more if I take the side off.

The problem with the front seems to be the stupid little holes that are supposed to let air in for the front case fan are way to small.

If I run everything by the book according to Enlight, the motheboard temperature will be 25C over room temperature, and on warm days that is enough to go over the 50C limit in the BIOS.

Re:Conductivity. (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874885)

Why would it be a problem if the power supply or the hard disk fell in.
If you take for granted that the oil conducts as much as air, you can submerse anything in it you want.
The hard disk is sealed anyway, so no oil could get in there.
And as far as the other parts go, everything that can be exposed to air should be able to be exposed to oil.

I saw another post of someone worrying about a thin layer of oil insulating the jumpers.
Well, for the same part you could worry about a thin layer of air insulating jumpers in a regular setup.

This is really a brilliant idea, since the oil conducts heat much better then air. Maybe one day we'll all have liquid submerged pc's.
Actually, pc-makers would like this, because you'd have to buy the liquid from them, and they could make it impossible to get hold of the liquid unless you're oem, therefore forcing you to return your pc for any upgrade. Finally a way to control us completely, even better then intel's not-so-secret pIII tag.

Subs do it! (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1874886)

The electronics on some deep sea submarines are encased in mineral oil. Though immersing electronics in oil might sound strange, it is not an uncommon practice. Here are some research papers on the topic:

A Dylan hacker

How Cute (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874890)

Seymour would be so proud . He always said he was a plumber, not an engineer.



gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874892)

Posted by brent_clements:

So it was mineral oil that should be used...I've been using sprite for the past few times I tried to cool my motherboard...

Ow ow ow stop sparking me you damned motherboard!!!!


Overclocking bit... (3)

Masem (1171) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874895)

If you go back to the link on the end of the URL
given, he's got the overclocking info: according
to him, a AMD K6 300Mhz overclocked to 500Mhz
and working fine based on the one shot with
the computer on and the cooling bath going full.

Re:Conductivity. (2)

ry4an (1568) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874897)

I'm skeptical about the hard drive, but I know that the fan can't go it. Oil may have the same electrical conductivity as air, but it sure doesn't have the same viscosity. I'm guessing the power supply fan would make it about four rotations before it bogged down and poped the fuse.

Not just low conductivity. (2)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874902)

I was wondering at first why ultra-pure water wouldn't work better, given that it would probably transfer heat faster. But are there any bits on the motherboard that would corrode?

Re:Another Idea (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874908)

No, the oil will not hurt the connections. We use special grease at work to protect high current connections made of aluminum and other metals. It is necessary to prevent oxidation. Oil will not hurt this application, unless it chemically breaks down into basic carbon compounds.

Re:Not just low conductivity. (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874909)

Last year, I made a discovery at the paint section in a closeout store. Among the paint cans was a case of "Flux and circuit board cleaner" and it caught my eye. The ingredients listed trichlorotrifluorethane (freon!) and methylene chloride. At 88 cents per can, I got the case. The had no idea what they were selling!

The stuff does wonders for cleaning boards in ultrasonic cleaners. Its magic!

Re:Mercury!!!!!!!!!!! weeeeeee! (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874910)

Mercury is used in some high current relays. If you want an industrial relay where the contacts just don't wear out under a heavy hammering, its the way to go.

The only problem is when they retire, they have to be disposed of in a sealed rubber lined steel drum approved by the EPA. It has been said that one drop of mercury can destroy a whole lake for things like fishing.

Re:Mineral Oil? (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874911)

At the bottom of an aquarium? Clear epoxy. Some types of outdoor and industrial transformers are filled with epoxy and sand as a filler. They are impervious to water and dissipate heat well. Get it by the can!

Re:Conductivity. (3)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874917)

The only problem with the power supply in the oil is that if on of the parts, such as a capacitor decides to self destruct, it could spray oil and sparks into the air. Not likely, but not fun to think about either. If you work with oil where there is potential for high releases of energy, an iron case would be ideal to contain any mishaps. Lets say I would not leave this unattended in my house and might be comforted by a fire extinguisher that works...

Fun with liquid nitrogen (4)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874922)

Speaking of liquid nitrogen making things brittle and shatter, once I was in a chemistry lab late one night when an evil cockroach happend to skitter across the floor. Well, we scooped the bugger up and let him join the fun in our flask of liquid nitrogen.

Yup, he was instantly converted into a deep sleep. Then, we tossed the baby and his bathwater onto the floor in those pretty balls of steam as liquid nitrogen is famous for. The cockroach landed in two peices. He eventually woke up and couldn't find his feet!

Has anyone ever tried to run an electronic circuit in temperatures that cold? I suspect the doped regions of transistors would behave differently and have different gain characterstics. I'm not sure a computer would compute.

Transformer oil (5)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874923)

At work we have two types of transformers: open core and oil filled. The oil filled are much smaller and can handle voltages a magnitude higher up to 150,000 volts at a few megawatts 100% of the time due to the circulation and insulating properties of the oil and large heat fins. The open air type transformers a much larger and require natural convection and only see 14,400 volts. The only advantage of the open air might be the large magnetic core to dampen voltage fluctuations.

Needless to say, the oil filled transformers are sealed to prevent contamination of the oil and prevent oxidation and cumbustion. If they are ever overheated, the oil tends to break down over time, lose its dielectric properties, and eventually short. Some oil filled transformers have large fans on the heatsinks to keep the oil at reasonable temperatures.

I'm not sure what blend transformer oil is for our applications as we have a contractor repair our damage, but you can get it in 55 gallon drums. I'm sure any other oil, including mineral oil would be just fine in this application (provided moisture does not contaminate the oil over time.)

I could imagine a much "prettier" setup where the case is made of painted iron, closed, sealed, and painted. Then lower the freon pressure in the air conditioner to allow much lower temperatures when the gas expands inside the coils.

Then people might think this is cool and not be offended by the "scraps of styrofoam" and parts laying around everywhere. Looks like a prototype to me...

Sorry, but that won't work. (3)

Jim McCoy (3961) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874926)

Sorry, but a vaccuum is a perfect insulator. The only way your motherboard would be able to get rid of hid would be to radiate it as IR. The big problem in space travel is not keeping things warm, you have several humans generating kW of heat to do that, the problem is getting rid of the heat. That is why the space shuttle has to open up the cargo bay doors as soon as it gets into orbit, to radiate away heat. If the doors don't open they have to come back real quick or else you end up with braised astronauts.

Kryotech, sure, but... (3)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874929)

...they don't do it like this. This story isn't so much about the results as it's about some guy pushing the limits of sanity :-)

In fact, this story doesn't even mention how much the guy was able to overclock the damn thing. Can we have that bit of information, please?

Silent cooling (3)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874930)

This is only half-way on topic, and perhaps it should be on ask-Slashdot, but here goes:

I want the latest and gratest CPU, mainboard, and 3D GFX card AND I want them silent. Less noisy is good, real quiet is better, but what I really, really want is total silence.

That's why this cooling method appealed to me at first -- it looked like it might be really quiet. Fans pushing air around are noisy, but with liquid you avoid that. Then I saw the pump and the air conditioner and figured they'd probably be anything but quiet.

Am I alone in my quest for quiet computing?

What about nitrogen (2)

jsholovitz (4243) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874931)

Okay, so it might not be too practical for everyone, but I was thinking that you could just submirge the whole motherboard in liquid nitrogen in a good vacuum-insulated container. I would assume that the chemical properties of nitrogen don't change when it's in liquid form, so it would be non-reactive and non-conductive. Then, the only problem is continuously replacing the nitrogen which boils off due to CPU heat (room heat would have little effect in a good insulated container. Any thoughts?

Re:Mercury!!!!!!!!!!! weeeeeee! (2)

jsholovitz (4243) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874932)

One other thing about mercury... it boils at relatively low temperature, and you just don't want to have to deal with mercury vapor...

Evaporation (2)

jsholovitz (4243) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874933)

Here's an idea on silent cooling... evaporation. Evaporation is a exothermic process (gives off heat) and thus is a cooling process. So if you immersed something (like the cooling fins on the CPU) in a cheap liquid with low vapor pressure (perhaps methanol) then the temperature of the fins cannot increase beyond the boiling point of the liquid while the liquid remains. You could then construct a reflux system to allow the methanol vapors to re-condense and return to the cooling fins. Just another thought!

Re:N2 cooling... (3)

jsholovitz (4243) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874934)

Two good points raised.

First, how will the heat be let off. One way is by keeping the system at atmospheric pressure by allowing excess pressure to escape. That would release heat by evaporation (boiling) of the nitrogen. The other way is to keep the system at high pressure to keep all of the nitrogen liquid; the heat would then need to be replaced through a heat exchanger of some sort.

And as for why nitrogen vs. helium, it is much easier to obtain large quantities of liquid nitrogen; liquid helium is more expensive to obtain and requires more-expensive containers to keep it liquid (high pressure) at room temperature.

But since I work in a chemistry laboratory, I have lots of access to liquid N2, but we only have enough liquid He around to cool off the NMR magnets...

Re:What a doofus (1)

dwdyer (5238) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874941)

There are silicones and polymeric fluorocarbons that would meet that requirement, but they're not readily available. Regardless, condensation is going to be a big problem, as water will eventually become entrained in the cooling liquid causing corrosion, if nothing else. Besides, that mineral oil is NOT anhydrous to begin with.

Re:Another Idea (2)

dwdyer (5238) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874942)

Remember that things contract when they're cold, and since boards are made of a variety of materials, you'll have a problem with warping and subsequent mechanical/electrical failures.

Re:Mineral Oil? (2)

wynlyndd (5732) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874943)

After reading about a guy who had his computer components hanging from the ceiling as some kind of mobile, he mentioned his next trick was to put the computer at the bottom of his fish tank. This got me thinking about something you described. What kind of polycarbonate crystalline substance (i'm not a chemistry person so i'm guessing here)could we encase the motherboard and all cards so that it is an electrical insulator and yet conducts heat away very well? Unfortunately, you'd have to be pretty sure about the jumper settings before encasing the board and immersing it. However, give this guy some kudos for using mineral oil for I was still thinking of mere water. Those of you out there with the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics blah blah blah what would the best substance to immerse it in?

Re:How does this work? (3)

Jeff Monks (6068) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874944)

Its not a sealed system. You'd think condensation would fry it within a few minutes of operation.

The bottom of the page says he's working on the second iteration, which will submerge the coils completely and resolve the condensation problem, so yeah, he must be getting some water in there, and is apparently aware of it.

Since oil & water don't mix, it's likely that a small amount of water in the system wouldn't be much of a problem, as the thin layer of oil covering everything (eeeeww...) would probably insulate the components well enough. But run the thing long enough, and you'd have a gallon of water in the thing, and that might be a bit much...

If it was me, I'd send it back in under warranty (oozing oil all over the place) just to hear the response...

Hard drives are NOT sealed (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874953)

Notice the specs which say up to 15,000 feet or so. Drives are filtered but not air tight. You lose too much air pressure, the head stops flying...

Don't think it would spin well in oil, nor would the heads fly well, and the seek time would definitely slow down.


Re:How does this work? (1)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874960)

Imagine the look on the repair center Tech's face when he gets a box with oil spots on it.
Just tape a note to it that says "It just stopped working, don't know why."

-- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

Re:Not just low conductivity. (3)

scrytch (9198) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874964)

> But are there any bits on the motherboard that would corrode?

Copper. Now you don't have pure water either.

What a doofus (3)

scrytch (9198) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874965)

This guy had fans on the thing six ways to sunday then says he never had the cover on. Hello, covers speed up the airflow, they keep the thing COOLER.

Re:What a doofus (1)

Freshman (9729) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874967)

170 GPH doesn't seem like that much. That's 21760 ounces an hour, or about 6 ounces pumping per second at a spread rate. Distributed over the surface area of the MB, and it would SEEM like a light breeze.

Re:How about diamond? (1)

Freshman (9729) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874968)

when I did my research paper on Star Wars/SDI a few months ago, an old MNTEX video from '89 mentioned the orbiting supercomputers that would have diamonds used in them one way or another.

mmmm, ill have to look that up again

Re:Overclocking bit... (1)

psaltes (9811) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874969)

Also, if you look around a little bit more, you discover that this 200mhz overclocking is being wasted guessed it...Windows 98. With the hope of upgrading to NT 5. Its a shame....

Re:How Cute (3)

JoeyLemur (10451) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874972)

First it was cabinetmaker, then plumber... :)

I currently work for Network Computing Services, a supercomputing center in Minneapolis that used to be part of Cray. A few months ago, we shut off our Cray-2, which use dimmersion cooling: all the components were submerged in florinert that was kept at around 45 degrees farenheit.

Modern Crays just run coolant through metal plates, which cool the chips. Its amusing to think that Cray T3Es are just piles of DEC Alphas hooked together.

You all would do well to look up the history of Seymour Cray and his systems, for a nice perspective on cooling and overclocking. :)

hope it doesn't leak! (1)

Splork (13498) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874977)

Mineral oil on carpet is -such- a joy to clean up...

Isn't this stuff denser than water? (2)

Dovaka (14158) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874978)

See title. I may not know what I'm talking about, but isn't this stuff denser than water? I know that the chunks of sodium they had at my highschool were kept submerged in mineral oil to prevent them from touching water. It wouldn't make much sense to do so if any water in the oil would form an impossible to remove layer on the bottom of the jar.

Re:Hard drives are NOT sealed (0)

nester (14407) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874981)

ok, then feel free to go stick your hd in oil and see what happens

Re:Not just low conductivity. (1)

Noehre (16438) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874991)

Water won't stay pure for very long.

Silent is good =) (2)

Anonymous Shepherd (17338) | more than 15 years ago | (#1874996)

Well, if you don't want to overclock, and you want total silence, you really do need a totally passive cooling system, right?

I actually don't know how well mineral oil conducts heat; I do know that water 'stores' quite a bit of heat, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you were to use a large enough bath of mineral oil, the oil will definitely suck up heat as long as it's cooler than the components.

Now you'd need some really seriously weird casing for the system; it would need to be a huge heat sink, with larger surface area than volume, if possible. *Everything* would be in contact with the oil, and the case would then be a heat exchanger...

So like you'd need thin aluminum fins *within* the case and aluminum fins outside the case; you'd need more outside fins because air would conduct heat less efficiently than oil, I think...

For an entire system submerged in mineral oil, you could employ a high torque low velocity fan that makes little noise, because it needn't move fast to move the oil, just move a lot of it. Like maybe 3rpm, or 10rpm, for example.

Then you could have a really low noise cooling system!



Re:Silent cooling (2)

tap (18562) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875001)

I have ones of those pumps for a water cooling system I'm building. It's silent. The AC is probably somewhat noisier. You could remove the compressor from an AC system and use just the heat exchanger. See this link for a water cooling design

With no moving parts except for a submerged pump, and the hard drive in oil, you have a modern system about as quiet as the come.

What's the big deal? (2)

Victor Ng (18609) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875002)

Uh - there's a company who's been doing this for a while. Kryotech makes AMD systems cooled to -47 Celsius.

Re:Another Idea (4)

Hunter Rose (18860) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875004)

>How about inserting the motherboard into a
>freezer with some kind of humidity control to
>eliminate condensation. That way you could
>overclock the entire system bus.

Essentially, the idea is to replace standard atmosphere with something that conducts heat as well or better and can be cooled more effectively,
AND is inert/non corrosive/non electrically conductive, right? So why not a pure nitrogen atmosphere? Of course, having a sealed unit would be a pain.
Pure antifreeze? Rubbing alcohol? (Things
that wouldn't freeze solid.) (Baby oil == mineral oil plus fragrance.) Of course, the problem with 'water'-cooled anything is the pain of the maintanance.

Re:And change the wipers while you're at it... (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875005)

> So now we'll have to take our systems into Jiffy Lube every 3,000 hours?

No, you'll have to have your residence "wired" for coolant, and the next generation of modems will have a little brass tube alongside the phone jack.

Extra! Quake Triggers Global Warming

(That'll be Quake the game, not an earthquake.)

Re:One doubt (0)

elixir (21353) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875012)

That is what I was wondering...

Hmmm... I will take my PCI video card out and replace it with this AGP one.... oh damn... don't work.

Mercury!!!!!!!!!!! weeeeeee! (3)

delmoi (26744) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875018)

that conducts heat really well...
heh heh :)

I think the main reason he wanted minral oil was that it didn't freez at -40C. you could only use de-inozed water to cool to 0C. The propertys you want would be: Low freezing point (less then -60C), large heat capacity, and an insulater
Chad Okere

Re:Not just low conductivity. (2)

beav (27845) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875020)

From memory pure H2O conducts, due to the auto-ionisation of water. Sure, it's only 1.0E-7
molecules per mole, but it is _something_

Another thing is that unless the water was vacum-sealed, O2 and CO2 would dissolve into the water from the air (and other nasties) and add some impurities, making it conduct and be very slightly acidic.

But I could be wrong. :)

Re:What a doofus (5)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875024)

Yeah, I wondered about that too. Apparently the guy didn't understand conventional cooling methods, so decided to try something completely different.

Mineral oil? It has a very low electrical conductivity; otherwise, the board would short out. However, it also has a very low thermal conductivity, which means the components not directly in the garden pump path are probably net effect being heated.

There's also the pressure problem. What's the MTBF while being hit with 170 gallons/hour? MB components weren't designed, nor were they attached, with that kind of abuse in mind. My suspicion is that he'll get a critical failure inside a week of continuous use.

Conductivity. (3)

a.out (31606) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875027)

So I take it that Mineral Oil has a Very low conductivity. If not, would the small amount of electrical loss(?) outweight performance.

It is very interesting indeed, I have water cooled reciently but what are the advantages of submersing the motherboard over just cooling the exterior of the chip? I know the obvious cooling advantage, but is this worth it?

It would be nice to know the results (speed increases, cpu temp etc.)

I could just see the power supply falling in, or even worse the hard drive.

Dr. Ffreeze has more guts than I do.

Re:Not just low conductivity. (5)

thales (32660) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875028)

It will work better. I was a radar tech in the Navy, and the SPS-49 radar uses a water cooled klystron. Pure water has very low conducivity. We had no problems even though the klystron is powered at 40 KV. Corrision wouldn't cause any problems because water dosen't cause the problem, electrolyss caused by impurities is the cause of corrision. The drawback is keeping the water pure. You have to perform daily checks for water purity and have extra water on hand for changes. A far simpler way to keep any air cooled device working is to keep it clean. We used air filters and cleaned the filters once a week. The inside of the equipment was cleaned once a month. We also kept the equipment in air conditioned rooms, with the temp set below 70. You could get some dryer vent hose from the hardware store and duct air from the vent directally to the air intake on your PC.

Low conductivity, but high energy density (3)

Bubblehead (35003) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875031)

Actually, conductivity of mineral oil is not that great. But it can hold much more specific energy. I.e. To head up one cubic inch of oil absorbs much more energy than heating up one cubic inch of air. This means that oil can carry away much more heat, if you make sure that the fluid has a proper flow.

A typical application for mineral oil as a coolant is to cool transformers for high-power overland power lines. This technology has been in use for decades.

Re:Isn't this stuff denser than water? (3)

Gorth (35695) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875032)

No, the oil is less dense than water. The sodium is submerged to keep it from reacting with the moisture in the air, if one pour some water into the jar with sodium and mineral oil, then the water would sink to the bottom and react with the sodium

Re:How does this work? (2)

BigDaddyJ (38640) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875038)

Ah, but think... we could put the mainboard up on plastic stilts... and then have a release valve at the bottom to let off the water...

Damn, this is ridiculous :)


Re:Conductivity. (2)

BigDaddyJ (38640) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875039)

But then, who needs a fan? You could crack the PS case and disconnect it...


Re:Another Idea (2)

BigDaddyJ (38640) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875040)

Even worse, the oil could start seeping into the connected cards, since they aren't held into place firmly. With motions of the cards side-to-side, I'm sure there will be conductivity problems. Not immediately, but soon enough...


Re:Not just low conductivity. (2)

wimpy (39015) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875043)

Almost every contact would start to corrode because of
the electolysis! You would end up with a filthy smudge (well
that's what I remember from when I was a kid).

-- Ewald

Re:How does this work? (2)

wimpy (39015) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875044)

Since oil & water don't mix, it's likely that a small amount of water in the system wouldn't be much of a problem

Well the water will sink to the bottom right where the motherboard is and it will cause mayor problems.

Re:N2 cooling... (1)

aaronl (43811) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875052)

That is a problem. Not so much if you gradually heat up the components, the same way you'd have to cool them when you immersed them.

There is a chance that you would break a connection somewhere, but most of the components are fairly well connected. You'd have to hope that they would all cool fast enough to not be a problem.

The motherboard probably would break, but regardless you'd have to be very careful. If you were putting the amount of money necessary to do this into a system, I have a feeling you wouldn't have to worry about it though. ;-)

Alcohol is flammable though! (1)

aaronl (43811) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875053)

What if something *did* go wrong in this setup? That would be a pretty dangerous "oops"...

N2 cooling... (2)

aaronl (43811) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875055)

Well, you don't really have to replace the nitrogen. The hard part would be cycling it around through a cooling system... the heat let off when it's recooled would probably be quite tremendous. This is used to some extent already in many different applications. If you are going for this level of cooling, why not use liquid helium? At that tempreture your computer would nearly superconduct, and performance approximately doubles. Also, helium boils at
-268.6C, vs -195.8C for nitrogen.

Re:N2 cooling... (3)

aaronl (43811) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875057)

Either way, liquid cooling using N or He isn't really feasible for almost anyone. :)

Definitely true, cost would be ridiculous for using helium. A liter of 3He is about $100,000... but an interesting idea!

The N2 solution would be incredibly less expensive, but still, the required components for containing, cooling, and safety would probably be quite a lot of money!

Think of using something like this with some high-output TEK (Peltier) panels... that would be quite a cool[sic] system.

(NMR.. yummy ;-)

Re:Kryotech, sure, but... (1)

m|sTaMoFo (50402) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875065)

It appears (after at his older site) that this is a k62 300 overclocked to 500 mHz....Kryogen has nothing on Dr. Freeze IMHO...

Another Idea (5)

EEPROM (50820) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875066)

That guy has a good idea, but he seems to have overlooked that if he removes a card, a thin layer of insulating oil would form over the connections, and it would be near impossible to clean it off.

If you just wanted to overclock the CPU, you could mount a peltier on the CPU, put a thermistor (sp?) on another part of the CPU, and built a simple thermostat that keeps the CPU at just the right temperator. That way you don't have to worry about condensation if the CPU halts for some reason and the peltier supercools it.

How about inserting the motherboard into a freezer with some kind of humidity control to eliminate condensation. That way you could overclock the entire system

Interesting concept (3)

British (51765) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875067)

Q: Why don't the British make computers?
A: They could not figure out a way for them to leak oil.

While it may be looked at as cooky, Dr. Freeze might be onto something. This working prototype looks as sloppy as ever, but I'm betting with some more design(and more importantly, testing on not-so-pricey hardware) he could have a cool(but not right now cool lookign)setup.

Mineral Oil? (0)

jedaustin (52181) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875068)

Unless he coats the entire board (cards and all) in a fine later of acrillic or something I wouldnt
think submerging a powered board in mineral oil would be very good... Maybe Im wrong, is Mineral Oil a bad conductor?? If mineral oil does conduct, wouldnt the stray electricity cause intermittent failures?

What is ridiculous? (0)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875073)


Prototype = function testing (1)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875074)


Revision S is for the sexey stuff! :)

Dr. Ffreeze

PS. Pricey hardware... wait a month.. ok now cheap! :)

Water kicks butt, but.. (1)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875075)


Water (if it were to remain ultra pure) would be great! That ultra-pure clause gets you every time. :(

Plus, as someone stated it would ffreeze. Sure you could add antifreeze but how would it react to the plastics?

I was not going to gamble with water because of the EXTREEME need for purity.

Dr. Ffreeze

Is you middle name doofus too? :^) (1)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875076)



Dr. Ffreeze

Older site was just a goal... sorry (1)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875077)

nuf said...

Dr. Ffreeze

Messy, messy... (2)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875080)

Hello All,

Thank you dattaway! Mineral oil is also used to help make telsa coils. That is where I got the idea.

Scraps of styrofoam, parts, and clutter. welcome to my Computer room. That has nothing to do with my skills, intelect, or theories. I think that dattaway hit the nail on the head again, PROTOTYPE. :)

Dr. Ffreeze

I am not an MIT PHD.... (2)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875081)


Not really a big deal but it was fun doing it. It is cool realizing that ALL of my components can be overclocked. CPU, RAM, and Video card. Plus I can adapt it to any system board.

Dr. Ffreeze

Benchmarks... (2)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875082)


Sorry, as I mentioned before this site was mostly for me. I had no idea that there would be this much interest. FrontPage98 is giving me fits and I am now caught answering ICQ and emails. I have no benchmarks because I hit a speedbump. I got frost/ice buildup. Did I not know that this would happen? Yes, but I am in testing. This box was actually for my old K6-2 300 ASUS T2P4 (still love that board!). When box 2 is done Tue. I hope I will have some hard numbers!

Sorry for lack of #'s,
Dr. Ffreeze

Yes, I am aware of water (4)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875084)

Hello All,

The second box will be completed on Tues I hope (if I stop ICQing everyone AND stop responding to all of my emails). :)

Dr. Ffreeze

No. (4)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875085)


I have softmenu. Abit BX6 Rev. 2. But I have removed cards and put them back in with no problems.

Dr. Ffreeze

No, just a bit more unstable. :) (5)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875086)

Hello All,

I can't wait until I get to work on my site. Work and such. This project was for me and so was the web site. I was just tinkering. I talked about it and no one listened or said that I was crazy. Ok. Not a problem. BLAM. 20,000 in on day! Questions out the wazoo. I will answer all emails but it will take some time. I WILL be updating with some benchmarks (dugh). I will get very detailed if the desire to know is out there. I am still in TESTING. Box 2 Tuesday 5-31-99 should allow for all out AC operation with no worry of condensation. Box 2 will come complete with LID!

Dr. Ffreeze

Doofus is my middle name! (5)

Dr. Ffreeze (54841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875087)


Might I share a bit? "Didn't understand conventional cooling methods, so..." Not true. Not true at all.
True. Very True. I am still in testing. The web page was mostly for my tinkering, otherwise I would (and will) offer MUCH many explinations. The 170 GPH pump is temp. Box 2 will allow the coils to be submerged in the oil.
Pressure? Not when the oil gets cold. It's like Mapel Syrup on a cold Winter day. I knew that I needed TONES of capacity if it were to pump the oil when it got to extreme temps. I was wrong in that the pump (or any for that matter that would fit) is not strong enough. I will have to look at other ways to agitate the oil.
Possible suspicion, but faulse. 3 weeks and running. :)

Dr. Ffreeze

PS. Not trying to be rude.

Overclocking in General (0)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 15 years ago | (#1875094)

Personally, I'm too paranoid to overclock. Someday, when They open up an apartment complex in orbit around a deep space asteroid somewhere, I'll move there, then hang my motherboard outside the window for a Natural Kelven Zero ;) ..Although Upgrades would be a Pain... But then, Who needs upgrades? By that time, I'll be using a 233thz Computer, +the overclock would make 600thz at least. Can you Say Lethal CD Drives? If not, I hope you can read it, 'cause there it is.
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