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Using Radiators to Cool CPUs 245

dan writes "Overclockers Australia have a review up of the CPU Radiator Zen, a new approach to cooling your toasty CPU's. Rather than taking the traditional approach of a heatsink with lots of fins and a noisy 7,000rpm fan it uses radiator/heat pipe technology. The implementation of the unit is a bit flawed, but it is interesting to see where the technology is heading.. and if it can be done right I personally think this is where it will end up."
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Using Radiators to Cool CPUs

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  • Silent? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chrysalis ( 50680 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @12:54PM (#2533083) Homepage
    How silent is this? It's cool for overclocking, but if it's silent, it could also be very cool for music makers.

  • by Andreas(R) ( 448328 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:01PM (#2533125) Homepage
    In most cases, using a radiator means pumping water into your computer. And THAT is one big source of trouble. Just imagine what happens if one of the pipes cracks, or if a joint falls off!

    And, my Athlon 1,5Ghz will instantly boil any water because it's ONE HOT MAMA!
  • by Sara Chan ( 138144 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:03PM (#2533141)
    I've got a 1998 Twinhead [twinhead.com] laptop that uses heat pipe technology for cooling. The laptop also has a fan, which almost never goes on, due to the heat pipe. (It was for the quiet fanless running that I bought a Twinhead.)

    Twinhead advertising claims that their heat pipe technology is patented. I've no further details and couldn't find anything relevant on their web site.

    Buy Windows XP. Give Bill Gates even more of your money.

  • by Count ( 107594 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:03PM (#2533143)
    Not that they are all practical but man they look so cool.


  • Other reviews (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alewando ( 854 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:07PM (#2533162)
    Other sites have also reviewed the Radiator Zen SCR325-2F:

    The reviews are all favorable, but it's not clear whether this is simply because the reviewers are blinded by the "hey, it's neat!" factor, or whether the Radiator Zen SCR325-2F actually has a legitimate technical advantage. But hey, it is neat, so I can't blame them.
  • so it would work! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xcjohn ( 64581 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:15PM (#2533204) Homepage
    I had used this same basic idea in a project about 2 years ago in a computer project. I've still got the 3d models for it too. My partner for the project and myself were told to design a computer for a specific market and come up with design, info, and a marketing pitch. Let's see if i can find the model.... ha! found it! http://lenin.nu/~jwhite/graphics/gallery/comp [lenin.nu]. basically we had coolant being pumped through a specialized heatsync, through a set up copper coils with fans next to each coil drawing the heat away and pumped back through the heatsync. I always wanted to see it actually implemented.
  • Re:Noisy Fans? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Peter Dyck ( 201979 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:31PM (#2533288)
    is fan noise really that big of a deal?

    Fans make noise. Period.

    I'm one of those individuals who are simply driven mad by excessive computer noise which means that anything over 50 dB is intolerable. In fact, some time ago I sold my 600 MHz Duron PC because I couldn't stand the noise the CPU fan alone made. A CPU fanless Sun Blade 100 with a low rpm hard drive was heaven after the previous noise polluter (the power supply still makes noise, though). I'm quite content with the trade-off I had to make between computer speed and noise.

    I still blame the CPU manufacturers for ignoring the heat problem (=noise problem) at the altar of unnecessary performance, though.

  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Atilla ( 64444 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:47PM (#2533351) Homepage
    If you would put a thermal generator on a CPU, would you be able to produce enough juice to run a fan? I mean, modern CPU's produce an enormous amount of heat calories...
  • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:48PM (#2533355) Homepage Journal
    I have heard of an infant that is calmed by a vacuum cleaner. The child used to cry when it's mother left it to shower. The child stopped crying when it heard the blow drier and knew mom was not far. The mom noticed and put a vacuum cleaner in the room with the child and it worked. The child often falls to sleep with the vacuum cleaner on. No the child is not deaf now.
  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @01:52PM (#2533369)

    I mean, you have a radiator which exposes the same surface area as a typical heat sync, but makes less effective contact with the heat source.

    The fluid is probably not doing anything significant at all, the two fans gushing past the aluminum tubes is probably doing all the work.

    I don't even think this thing is actively cooling. There doesn't seem to be any pump... they're relying on the thermal gradient to cause the vapourizing fluid to move to the cool side of the radiator and condense. It doesn't work that way. You need to have some way of forcing the fluid to move in one direction, you need to cause the liquid to vapourize by forcing it through a small opening, pulling heat from the CPU.

    If you can somehow get around that technical wizardry, then you have to find fluids which vapourize at the temperature of the CPU, but condense at the temperature on the other side of the radiator... whatever wimpy thermal gradient that might be... the pressure of the system also remains constant because the whole system is operating passively of course.

    In other words... if you have a CPU at 50 degrees C, and your cooling fluid vapourizes at 40 celcius, then the other side of your heat sync MUST remain lower than 40 celcius, otherwise you just have a bunch of tubes full of pressurized vapour. There is no reason for the cooling side to actually cool especially if the same area is exposed to the CPU as is exposed to the fans.

    On the other hand, if your fluid vapourizes at 60C, it doesn't actually DO anything until the CPU reaches that temperature.

    This is not to say that passive refrigerators do not exist, I just don't think they've built one. They've built a chunk of aluminum full of fluid with two fans blowing through it.

    They should have run another benchmark: Drain the radiator.

    Kryotech has this done right.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @02:17PM (#2533527) Journal
    One, water an electricity do no mix well

    Minor nit pick

    The conductivity of water is based purely on the impurites in it. If you had truely pure distilled water, it would not conduct.

    I used to work on a transmitter that had water cooled voltage regulator tubes. They regulated many tens of thousands of volts with big wattage. You measured the purity of the water by the measuring the electric conductivity in fractions of micro-mhos [dictionary.com]

  • by Jeff Bell ( 88747 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @02:56PM (#2533751)
    There was work done by Hamurgen and Fitch at DEC where they experimented with using heat pipe technology to cool chips way back in 1992.

    They needed a liquid with a high heat of vaporization, and a boiling point in the 30-50C range. They tried mixtures of water and alcohol, but settled on just water, pumped down to 1/3 ATM.

    They went looking through the "steam tables" and found that nobody had ever looked at the sub-atmospheric range of pressures, and had to derive all of the thermodynamic properties themselves.

    It was pretty quiet, but made a funny little 'tick' noise right when it started boiling.

    More details at http://www.research.compaq.com/wrl/techreports/abs tracts/92.1.html
    and http://www.research.compaq.com/wrl/techreports/abs tracts/90.9.html

    -Jeff Bell
  • Old news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmatlock ( 232136 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @04:43PM (#2534292)
    Uhm... my Dell Inspiron has a water tube cooled CPU, it links to a radiator/heatsink near the back of the machine... and I got it almost a year ago... this isn't really anything new and spectacular. Intel developed it to work with the M series of Pentium III's... it's even listed on their site under technology.
  • by muffel ( 42979 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @05:33PM (#2534582)
    Actually, thermodynamics wouldn't forbid this, as the cpu is not running at ambient temperature (in which case we wouldn't need cooling anyway).

    E.g. with a cpu running at ~50C, and a liquid with a boiling point of, say, 40C, you could build a little steam engine, letting the steam condense at room tmperature for the 'refill'. Voilà.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.