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Water Cooling 3!

by David Ross on 27 October 2000, 00:00

Tags: Thermaltake (3540.TWO)

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There are several issues involved in designing a water cooler. The first issue is what type of pump to use. there are two basic kinds, submersed and in line. The most suitable are aquarium pumps. These are designed for continuos operation and have been known to last for several years. The inline variation allows you to make a completely sealed system but they are more expensive than the submersed type which requires a reservoir to operate in.

The next issue is radiators. Some people like stacked plate transmission coolers, I am partial to heater cores, others people use no radiator at all, relying on melting ice or evaporative cooling. I have done no tests, but the transmission cooler is aluminum and designed to transfer heat between transmission fluid and air, while the heater core is designed for water to air heat transfer. I am also partial to copper water blocks so the brass heater core will not have any galvanic corrosion issues. If you use an aluminum water block, the tranny cooler will be a better choice. Evaporative cooling works, but you have to add water, and it will increase the humidity of the surrounding area.

As you can probably tell, I prefer a sealed radiator cooler. They allow portability, low maintenance, and less chances for disaster. That is not to say that the other types won't work just as well, I am just not willing to deal with the consequences of the other designs.

I will start where the heat does, at the processor. If you want to super cool, you need to get a peltier element. They are a solid state heat pump, basically one side gets hot and the other gets cold. The problem with these is that they produce more heat for your cooler to deal with, but if you have a good water cooler, it should handle it well.

If you do get a peltier element you will need two additional things that a straight water cooler will not need. The first is a cold block. This acts as a buffer for the heat from the CPU. It will reduce the temperature fluctuations of the CPU. The next is the Peltier element itself which will also need a power supply, but that is an issue for another article.

Every water cooler will need a water block. If there is less material between the heat source and the water, the temperature gradient will be less. This will result in more efficient heat transfer from the processor/peltier element to the water.