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Upgrades NASA Hardware Science

Cutting Open a Heatsink Heatpipe To See Inside 132

An anonymous reader writes "Frostytech gets to the heart of Zalman's CNPS11X heatsink by cutting a section of heatpipe from the CPU cooler to inspect its inner composite heatpipe wick structure. Now that's an in-depth heatsink review! Interesting photos of the dissected heatpipe's composite wick — sintered copper powder on top and axial groove wick below — that you're unlikely to see elsewhere. In the late 1960s the first commercial heatpipes were used by NASA to stabilize satellite temperatures; now they stabilize multi-core processors."
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Cutting Open a Heatsink Heatpipe To See Inside

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday October 27, 2011 @03:48PM (#37860414)

    That's pure heatsink pr0n, those heatsinks don't stay inside cases.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )


      Funny enough though, I get the feeling with the current generation of CPU's, we're just about at the end of basic air cooling. Especially since sealed liquid cooling units are becoming dirt cheap. For the price you pay for this one, you can pick up a sealed unit that has half the noise ratio. So if you really want to build a nice quiet system you can.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Huh? with heatpipe tech I can go fanless, that's 800X quieter than a sealed liquid setup.

        There are massive i5, i7 and amd heatpipe setups available. you nee a giant case for it, and some guys even add more supports, and if you set up the case right you get a chimney effect that causes good airflow without any fans AND still running full clock speeds.

      • by Jeng ( 926980 )

        It looked like it might have been the end of basic air cooling with the Pentium 4.

        Chips keep on getting more and more efficient, producing less and less heat for the same amount of work being performed.

        It used to be that water cooling was almost required, but now people are getting over 4 ghz on air cooling.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "we're just about at the end of basic air cooling"

        Not even close.

        See this? [] This is 300w in a 30mm x 30mm package.

        Regular aluminum/copper/combo heatsinks simply won't cool it.

        A copper-cored heat sink covered with high-pressure blasted carbon dust has zero issues keeping it cool.

        Bear in mind I had to use an Itanium II MX2 heat sink (already rated for 260+w TDP) and modify it a bit (pure copper wouldn't dissipate/radiate heat fast enough) but we're by NO means done with air cooling.

        Especially with Mesophasic C

    • That's pure heatsink pr0n, those heatsinks don't stay inside cases.

      Sorry if this is a dumb question, but is this fancy heatsink stuff akin to audiophiles and their speaker wire? How much of a performance gain are we really talking about? I only have a bunch of crappy laptops, so I really have no idea.

      • No, heatsinks can either make you able to go fanless, or go to overclock heaven, your choice. :)

        Speaker wire, however, is worth what you can get someone to pay for it, apparently.

        I have actually had someone show me a car stereo system that he believed sounded better with 12awg stranded silver speaker wires. I wish I'd sold it to him, lol.

        I'm an Analog Engineer, and listen mostly to mp3s from a sound card. Zip cord will work just fine... :)

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          Depends on the zip cord. I've had common, clear vinyl-insulated zip cord turn all gross and corroded inside down the entire length, and while that may not actually affect things much, it does make good (clean) connections rather difficult to accomplish.

          I use direct-burial low-voltage lighting cable a lot, these days. It's cheap, easy to find, heavily insulated (durable), has a high strand count (ie: flexible), is UV resistant, and it's always been bright and shiny when I cut into it. Oh, and it's black b

    • "LostCluster as of 10/27/11 is being held in captivity involuntarily by Dr. McGarry of Worcester State Hospital."

      So, is it for you or for us?

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @03:52PM (#37860488) Journal

    > In the late 1960s the first commercial heatpipes were used by NASA to stabilize satellite temperatures

    Why didn't they just use fans?, what? ...Really? Oh. Never mind.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      The space program has been a giant government boondoggle that has produced nothing of value for the citizens of the United States. The free market certainly would've far surpassed the successes of NASA if not for regulations and taxation. /s
      • That is so incredibly untrue that I don't even know where to begin.

        • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

          That's certainly an irrefutable argument you've got going for you there.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          You might want to start with the /s at the end.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        The above post brought to you by the american Tea Party.

        • Not that I've ever heard. The Tea Partiers I know of understand that we got more than TANG from the space program, and are really excited about private space exploration.

          • Which is it? Do they know we got more than TANG from the space program and want to fund it properly and continue it or do they support pushing "private alternatives" which basically just means cutting funding.

            Being really excited about the "private alternatives" sounds pretty consistent with "The free market certainly would've far surpassed the successes of NASA if not for regulations and taxation." Which really just translates to 'random bs that sounds good' so we should reduce taxes for the wealthy.

            • > Which is it? Do they know we got more than TANG from the space program and want to fund it properly and continue it or do they support pushing "private alternatives" which basically just means cutting funding.

              Which is what? That's a false choice. Being familiar with the benefits of, say, the run-up to the moon shot, is differenting from "want to fund it properly", and "properly" is a whole 'nother discussion. There is a school of thought that the government funded process of deploying a spacecraft h

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > Why didn't they just use fans? ...

      That is because the fans may act as propellers... and push/pull the satellite away? ...Oh wait,... may be solar wind is free up there so no fan is needed?

      • I realize I'm in danger of sounding like Dr. Sheldon Cooper, but since this is Slashdot, I'll assume you meant that as humor. I've had so many science arguments in the movies newsgroups, that I despair of ever having an intelligent conversation again. My last argument was with someone who insisted that a hole in a spacecraft would logically result in all the air exiting the spacecraft at the speed of sound. "Why the speed of sound? I mean, why that particular speed?" "Because, you know, that's the spee

  • Just cut the heat pipe open, so that the heat will flow out of it instead of being trapped inside. Now you're getting way more cooling!

    • Nah, that doesn't work, then you've got heat spilling out all over the floor. That's no good.

      • Well, you've got a heat sink, a heat pipe... where's the heat toilet? It's probably backed up again.

      • by md65536 ( 670240 )

        Cut a hole in the floor. Let the heat pour through it into the basement.
        You can also set up a heat engine in the basement and use it to power the computer. The more heat you spill, the more power you'll generate, the faster your computer will be. No more electricity bills!

        • by jschen ( 1249578 )
          That's silly. We all know that heat rises. It's true that you want to cut a hole in the floor, but it's to get the cold air. (Don't worry... that heat engine will still work.) You need another hole in the ceiling for the heat to escape. Straddle the hole and hold your laptop right there, and you'll get the best cooling. If you don't believe me, just try it!
        • You can't just dump the heat into the basement! That's heat pollution!

          You need to dispose of it properly!

          • Do this. Seriously, the EPA is the most evil of all gov't entities when you piss them off. The last thing you want to do is release heat emissions that contribute to global warming.

    • The boundary effect will foil your evil plan.
    • by md65536 ( 670240 )

      A better idea is to cut open the processor itself, so that its insides are exposed to the cool air, instead of having all that hot metal covering it.

      Actually, why do they use hot metal for heat sinks anyway??? There must be better metals... most metal things that I know are cold. Something inside the computer must be heating up the metal. If they detach the heatsink from the rest of the computer and thermally insulate it, it should stay a lot cooler and thus remain much more effective.

      If they do all these t

    • True story:

      I once helped a friend with his computer. He had recently built a computer and was trying to overclock it, but the thing was severely overheating constantly, even when not overclocked. He asked me to look at his setup. I expected to see an unplugged fan, or maybe missing thermal paste or something.

      Well, it turned out that he decided to get the most massive heatsink/fan combo he could for his Core i7 (they had just come out, I think) ... and it was just a hair too big for his case.

      He cut off th

    • lesson for today: don't use heatpipes on your laser printer:

      % tail /var/log/messages


        lp0 on fire

      gotta go, now!

  • It looks like it makes it easier to clean than the Zalman I currently have. The fan is in the center of a loop with the fins between the fan and the pipe so it's a little harder to get in and clean out the misc dust and cat hairs.


  • "He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."
    • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

      "He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."

      Gandalf lived in a land of make believe with faeries and hobbits. He's off the path of reality!

    • obviously gandalf didn't know any hackers
    • These guys [] might take exception to Gandalf's advice :)

      (completely disregarding the fact that the guy in TFA did, in fact, know what the thing was; he just wanted to find out what made it tick)
  • by bromoseltzer ( 23292 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @05:24PM (#37861596) Homepage Journal

    There's a working fluid there somewhere, it must have come out, and it might be toxic. Or it might give you a high. The review is silent on this.

    • by Tjp($)pjT ( 266360 ) on Thursday October 27, 2011 @06:51PM (#37862516)
      The working fluid is often water. Sometimes ammonia but usually not for electronics. It is under lower pressure so that its boiling point is near the working temperature of the device. Boils off or evaporates, condenses in the cold side of the heat exchanger, then capillary action sucks it back faster than it would otherwise travel to the hot side. My favorite heat pipe was a flat grill ... awesomely uniform temperatures. Not sure what the working fluid was. Other ways besides fans are to immerse the cold side heat exchanger into more water at normal pressures and that can have even more surface area to cool the reservoir making an effective heatsink area that is HUGE...
    • Or it might just be water.

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.