Hardcore PC Users: Watercooling Overkill?

I can understand the need to watercool the CPU and the videocard, but it is possible to watercool hard drives, RAM, and even chipsets.

It sure looks cool, but is this needed? Is it possible to construct a consumer PC with such high performance that watercooling the RAM, etc… is required?

I don’t know about it being needed, but the watercooling on the last generation Apple G5’s has been one of the biggest problems with those machines, which are otherwise rock-solid. I’m a G5 Quad owner, and I’m not looking forward to a leak…

It’s possible to drive up the speed and voltage on RAM and the chipset to the point that watercooling is helpful. I’m not so sure about the hard drive.

You know those people that take old cars apart or play with their stereos for weeks at a time. It is the same mentality although watercooling does work to some degree. I get some extreme computing magazines like Maximum PC and they are always trying out extreme watercoolers. This month, they tried to build the fastest PC possible which they did for $12,000 in parts and they used a lot of watercooling. In those magazines, you will notice that they give a lot of attention to “overclocking potential”. That gives them room to take a stock chip and watercool it and otherwise screw with it to get the fastest speed possible out of it. Mere mortals simply wait 6 months and buy an equally fast chip off the shelf at Best Buy. Most of it is just a hobby.

One of the other goals of watercooling is quieting. To take advantage of that you need to reduce the number of fans in the case and the reduction in airflow can cause overheating of the other components. Watercooling everything with an external radiator can even lead to a sealed case; no fans, no dust, very low noise. They also have watercooled power supplies :eek:

Or you could mount your components in an aquarium and fill the whole thing with 6 gallons of mineral oil. No fans at all.

As a historical note, the Cray-2 supercomputer was one of the first liquid-cooled computers. The logic modules were immersed in circulating Fluorinert and there was an external “waterfall” heat exchanger. (The blue thing in the center background)

You can do it with cooking oil to that way can double as a deep fryer.

And now, my MacBook has more computational power. sigh

When had just started in tech support, I got a call from the networking gods where I worked to let my users know that the mainframes were about to go off-line due to a plumbing problem.

It was some time before I understood what one had to do with the other.

Is running a marathon needed?
For some folks, the answer is yes. The rest of us get by somehow.

No, I mean: Can you build a PC with such high performance that it will malfunction w/o watercooled RAM, chipsets, hard drive, etc…

Easily. If you take stock parts and overclock them, they will need extraordinary cooling methods to keep from burning up. What’s happening internally is that the chip needs more power to run faster, so the voltage supplied to it needs to be increased, resulting in the chip needing to dissapate more watts of power. (otherwise known as heat)

You really can’t overclock a hard drive, but it’s easy to nudge up the clock speed and what’s called the “core” voltage on a CPU to speed it up. The chipset and RAM will be sped up as well as they’re clocked by the CPU - they pretty much just follow whatever the CPU is doing.

The two primary hazards of overclocking are shorter component life and bus timing errors - either your CPU and RAM will “wear out” sooner than normal, or they’ll break down instantly, and the sneakier problem is when things like the AGP bus can’t keep up and the system starts dropping data internally, resulting in garbled displays, corrupted data or random crashes.

I see the oil-cooled system does indeed have fans, for the power supple and video card. How long will they last, I wonder, steadily pushing the oil around? Maybe they could be replaced with a more sturdy albeit slow-revolution stirring mechanism or, as the website describes, pumping the oil through a radiator.

I remember another mod that explained how to build a system inside a mini-fridge. The big hassle was condensation.

So… build the one in the aquarium filled with mineral oil, then house that in a mini-fridge. You could even circulate the oil, running it outside the fridge, into a reservoir, inside a second mini-fridge. :smiley:

If you read through to the bottom of the site about the oil-immersed system, they mention that the fans probably have zero use, but they looked cool, so the fans were left in.

Years ago a geek cow-orker of mine was cobbling together some sort of water cooling system with copper tubes. I told him he was going to fry his motherboard. He fried his motherboard.

Best argument that water-cooling is just a geek hobby was on the late great TechTV show The Screen Savers. Host Patrick Norton rigged up a cone over a motherboard/CPU so he could fill it with liquid nitrogen and then proceeded to see how high he could overclock it. He still couldn’t get above 18% without the system becoming unstable (i.e. crashing). And an 18% increase is negligible. (the clip is probably on YouTube).

Granted, it was impractical and ungainly but it still proved the point about squeezing usably more performance out of a processor via cooling (namely, that you can’t).

I have always found the Crays to have a beautiful design. definitely the sheik in super computers. Their latest unique task was to model ways for natural glass formation during a meteoric event.