Custom Water Cooling (with a chiller)

I'm not really sure what category to put this in but because it mostly deals with overclocking I'll put it there.

Recently I stumbled upon this video:
It details a hacked up 5000 BTU conditioner with the cooling element inserted into a bucket to cool off liquid used in homebrewing.

I know that there are already tons of stickies and forum posts about sub-ambient cooling and I've already read a ton of them but because they are so old all of the pictures are missing they aren't very helpful. Hopefully this post can help somebody else who was like me and couldn't find the answers they were searching for elsewhere.

I was wondering if it would be possible to create a custom water loop but instead of using radiators to dissipate heat a chiller like the one detailed in the video would cool down the liquid. The cooler full of liquid would serve as a reservoir and the other components (Pump, tubing, blocks, fittings) would be standard. Theoretically, if the motherboard was properly insulated, the components could be cooled to sub-ambient and overclocked to the moon without fear of overheating. My case even has rubber grommets in the back to accommodate external water loops.

Currently I have an FX 8300 cooled by a be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 and it gets really toasty even with this beefy cooler when clocked at 4.6GHz+. I know that the thermal dissipation of the cooler is holding me back because in the winter I opened my window and got up to 5.1GHz stable @ 1.52v.

The first thing you are probably wondering is "Why is he trying to go sub-ambient on such a dated platform?" and the answer to that is that for right now this platform fits my needs perfectly fine. I really want to squeeze out every last drop of performance until I have enough money to buy an AM4 CPU, AM4 motherboard, and fast DDR4.

Because I eventually plan on upgrading to AM4 I was thinking of buying the XSPC Raystorm Pro for AM4 because it also fits AM3+ and then I wouldn't have to change out anything in the loop to upgrade. If I do it this way, when I do decide to switch platforms, I'll have an insanely fast CPU and extreme cooling to push it as far as I care to.

I understand that air conditioners are generally noisy and energy hogs but I'm willing to put up with the energy and additional noise. This idea only came to my mind because I was looking on a local auction site and people are selling air conditioners for practically nothing.

These are the questions I have regarding this kind of setup at this point in time:

1. In order to keep water at sub ambient temperatures and not have it freeze I would have to add antifreeze to it. Would soft tubing (Primoflex) react with the antifreeze and degrade?

2. Say I can get my CPU to 1.55v at a safe temperature with this kind of cooling. Will the voltage alone severely limit the lifespan of my chip? I know the normal answer is "blah blah overvolting and overclocking will always pose a risk blah blah" but what I'm looking for here is somebody who actually has had a FX CPU at 1.5v+ for daily usage and for an extended period of time and could tell me if it actually killed their chip or not.

3. The unit that air conditioners are measured in is BTU. The unit is somewhat foreign to me and is actually quite strange because it is defined as "he amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit" which is pretty useless because computer temperatures and in Celcius and water is normally measured in liters or gallons.

This calculator tells me that 5,000 BTU/hour (standard AC unit) is equivalent to 14,565 joules/second (watts). I have an RX 480 and FX 8300. Both when extremely overclocked do not come anywhere near producing 14,565 watts of heat. Does this mean that my water would be way too cold and freeze (or create condensation) because my components would not be hot enough to balance out the chiller?

Those are the three main questions that I have as of right now. To some this idea may not seem practical at all and to be honest it isn't super practical but would still be a ton of fun if I could get it to work. I would appreciate any and all feedback you could give me on the execution of something like this and I thank you for taking the time to read my novel of a post :p

PS: I apologize in advance if my grammar or spelling is poor, I didn't proof read at all :lol:
Reply to TheSilentHorker
6 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about custom water cooling chiller
  1. Best answer
    If you are going for sub-ambient cooling, normal water cooling blocks will do. But if you want close to 0 degrees, you will have to start worrying about condensation building up inside the case.

    2. Generally, exotically cooled pc's aren't really meant to be overclocked at high voltages all year round 24/7. Higher voltage means higher chance of instances of electromigration, which will degrade the silicon on the cpu die. Otherwise, all us enthusiasts would have already made a nation in Antarctica as an overclocker's paradise.

    3. With simple math, you can simply convert the BTU to something we can relate to....or you could use an online calculator like you already have.

    The 14565 J/sec will be the amount of heat it can dissipate from the water in your "reservoir". The formula for heat is Q=mcΔT, while the specific heat capacity of water is 4184J/kg. Lets say we make the reservoir to be around 10L (I am guessing it could be like an average bucket of water).


    Your cooler will be dissipating 0.348degrees of heat from the water per second. If your machine doesnt heat the water faster than the cooler dissipates it, it will continue to drop. Though if we simple increased the size of the bucket of water, we can effectively reduce the rate at which the cooler is cooling down the bucket; this is simple due to the shear volume/mass of water that needs to be cooled. Though, you would also need a MUCH more stronger pump.

    This is fine and dandy, but I am think you might be better off upgrading due to the massive costs that old air conditioner would be costing you. Even the smallest AC is rated for 500W. Assuming your system runs for 8hours a day & 365 days a year and that electricity costs around 0.12$ per kWh, it would cost you an extra 175.20$ every year. A medium sized one, like the one in the video, would be 900W and cost you an extra 315.36$ per year. The 315.36$ can easily be more than half of the money you need for a great cpu+mb upgrade.
    Reply to LowlySkeleton
  2. in addition to lovely (very comprehensive and good) by LowlySkeleton, I want to add few points.
    Liquid cooling cost is high. We are talking about 250-350$ for CPU alone at least for a decent loop. By no means, liquid cooling is an effective way to upgrade performance.
    Simply put, 350$ is a price of new and shinny i5 system (CPU+MB+RAM) that will beat your FX practically in any real world usage task. If your religion labeled Intel platform as "not kosher", ryzen 5 will do the same with slightly worse gaming perfromance compared to i5.
    the "legit" use cases for liquid cooling are:
    1. I want my system both REALY compact and/or REALLY quite.
    2. I want it beautiful
    3. I'm a plumber and like to do it - kinda hobby :)
    It is starts to make sense when you already have the top tier CPU and top tier (or top -1) GPU and great PSU and great storage and great RAM and case. only than it makes sense to invest in liquid for performance bump.
    Please note, that on pascal cards, I was able to achieve about 25MHz more with liquid than with air. Liquid cooling CPU will give you another 100-200MHz at most (for practical 24/7 overclock) compared to high end air coolers like noctua.

    If you just love the idea of sub ambient cooling, this guy (ryan) did amazing projects and is very educated on the subject:
    Reply to n0ns3ns3
  3. 4ryan6 is no longer active on the forum, so the information on the thread is primarily as-is. Also, I think he's moved all the links to the photos for embedded images, so those are no longer displaying.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  4. ooops. shame.
    ryan was the reason for me to stay here and start trying to help lost souls here :)
    actually it was only you and him that tried to answer my question (using copper shims instead of thermal pads for large gaps). but than we had very long and interesting conversation with Ryan in PM.
    Eventually i had to find it out myself by experimenting. and for my use, it had no advantage since ram does not output that much heat. was tricky and messy, but doable.
    Reply to n0ns3ns3
  5. Not sure where he is these days, but probably could assume between a couple other forums. He and I were pretty close for quite some time, but things changed toward the end of his time on the forums here, just before his leaving. He is a really good guy but we did have some disagreements on things unrelated to helping folks here.

    As far as the OP's original link - this is something that I am currently piecing together for temperature controlled beer fermenting - I'm an avid home brewer and always enjoy a project. Typically I use a normal fridge or freezer with a temperature controller, but this could provide better stability in temps, assuming you don't have any failures in cycling the system on and off over time.

    But yes, you could easily see higher power bills if this was your primary cooling solution without another backup to use in the interim.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  6. @rubix_1011
    When and if I'll move to Canada/US (relocation or permanently), I'll have a basement and garage full of fun projects. Making my own beer is one if them :)
    Reply to n0ns3ns3
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