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Liquid cooling for computers
Liquid Cooling for Computers
The components in a computer liquid cooling system consist of one or more “water blocks”, a pump, a radiator, one or more fans, tubing, cooling liquid, and may also include a reservoir and fittings.
The pump, radiator, fan(s), and reservoir may be mounted within the computer’s chassis, or in an external unit.
- The water block is attached to the computer’s CPU (or other component to be cooled) and is used to transfer heat to the cooling liquid. The water block is typically made of copper, and has a coolant inlet and outlet, and an internal channel for the coolant.
- The pump is typically an aquarium, pond, fountain, or other specialty pump, used to circulate the coolant.
- The radiator may be an automotive heater core, or a more compact specially built radiator.
- The fan(s) are typically 80mm -120mm 12 volt fans, sized to the radiator. The fan may be mounted directly to the radiator, or a fan shroud may be used.
- The tubing is typically 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch ID flexible plastic tubing (1/2 ID tubing is the most popular in the United States).
- The cooling liquid is typically 90% water and 10% antifreeze with just a drop of detergent to reduce surface tension. Other materials may be used to improve performance – for instance: some prefer to use something other than antifreeze, as antifreeze is more viscous than water and has poorer thermal characteristics.
- A reservoir may be used to hold additional cooling liquid (as loss does occur even in a “closed” system), and to provide additional thermal mass to even out temperature fluctuations. The pump may optionally be mounted within the reservoir.
Benefits of Liquid Cooling for Computers:
- Liquid cooling is much more efficient that air-cooling, resulting in lower component temperatures. This can allow the processor to be run at a higher speed (this is called Overclocking)
- Fewer and less powerful fans are required, resulting in a quieter system.
Problems with Liquid Cooling for Computers:
- Coolant leakage – not a problem with proper installation using hose clamps.
- Pump failure – rare if a good quality pump is used.
- Galvanic corrosion can occur if dissimilar metals are used in the water block and radiator, and a corrosion inhibitor such as antifreeze is not used.
- Limited space in a computer chassis for the additional liquid-cooling components - use smaller components, place them differently, or house some of the components in an external unit.
Sources for Liquid Cooling components
- Complete liquid cooling kits for retrofitting can be obtained online.
- Computer cases with pre-installed liquid cooling components can also be obtained online.
- Individual components can be obtained from automotive, home improvement, and aquarium retailers.
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