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Adequate to Extreme PC Cooling Methods
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    Table of Contents:
  • Adequate to Extreme PC Cooling Methods
  • Your Own Phase Change Unit
  • Lifesaving Tips
  • Conclusions

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    Adequate to Extreme PC Cooling Methods

    (Page 1 of 4 )

    This is the third and last part of the "Adequate Cooling Methods" multi-part series. If you have missed either of the first two then I strongly urge you to read them prior to reading this one. All segments of this series were published here on Dev Hardware in the "PC Cooling" section.

    In this article, due to the popular requests I've received, we will get into the details of mostly over-the-edge cooling methods -- phase changes and refrigerators. I will also give out some tips that are useful for any kind of cooling endeavors and should not be neglected at all. Air cooling was discussed thoroughly in the previous part.

    Phase Change in Detail

    In the first part of the series I just hinted that phase change units, refrigerators and cascades are becoming popular, and that they are worthwhile only for enthusiasts. In this chapter, we will see exactly how a phase change unit works.

    In a nutshell, these kinds of units are based on the same design approach and methodologies as household refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioners. In all of the aforementioned, a propellant, mostly Freon, is used. Freon (chlorofluorocarbons) is a gas that produces cold. Other alternatives include propane, R-134a, CO2, R-290, and so forth.

    Keep in mind that some of these gases might be illegal. Purchasing gases requires an HVAC license and possibly other paperwork. Research the legalities if you're doing this on your own. Some of them are also very toxic. Be careful.

    Now let's see the series of stages through which the gas goes. At first, Freon (or one of its alternatives) is a propellant, and it is located in the compressor. It starts in a gaseous form at high temperature and pressure. Then it gets transformed into liquid, maintaining its level of pressure and temperature. This process happens in the top level of the condenser.

    After this, the liquified, now-fluid gas flows through a filter and then a capillary tube. It arrives at the evaporator. Think of the evaporator as a large mass/block of the unit that is mounted right on the top of processor (either CPU or GPU).

    In the evaporator the gas reaches the stage where phase-changing occurs. It changes from a fluid back into a gaseous form. Therefore, its pressure drastically decreases from a high value to a low one. Because this gas vaporizes at a very low temperature, we will have cold gas.

    This segment of the process is called evaporation. This is the most crucial underlying principle from household refrigerators up to our phase-change cooling units. Basically, in our case, we need to mount the evaporator onto our CPU to cool it down excessively.

    After the vaporized gas receives the dissipated heat from our processor, it releases its cold in exchange, and moves to the condenser because of the severely low pressure (negative pressure) in the gas pipe between the condenser and evaporator. We've returned to the initial stage. So, this is how phase change units and refrigerators work. This previously mentioned phase-changing process cycles over and over again.

    Check out the sketch below. It illustrates the whole process in a basic diagram.

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