Mineral Oil Cooled PC
Project Ready DIY Kit for the PC Enthusiast
Over the years, we have seen many custom pc projects on the web that cooled a computer using common vegetable oil, including a very popular video by Tom's Hardware. We felt that by building a computer in an aquarium using clear mineral oil, that we would be able to accomplish a much more attractive result, with less work. We were happy with the results! We are pleased to show you the systems we have designed and built, and give you the information and resources you need to make one of your own!
Note: Puget Custom Computers is a custom computer company, but we have no intentions of selling mineral oil submerged computers. This is just a fun project we've been wanting to share! We do offer do-it-yourself kits, if you would like to build one yourself.
Why Build One?
We pursued this project because with all the oil cooled projects out there, no one built a system that looked good and functioned well! After seeing all the other projects, we had a lot of ideas of how we could do it better and more easily. Many projects used vegetable oil, which would go rancid after a short time. The mineral oil does not have this problem, and is completely clear. We also wanted to use an appropriate enclosure -- many other projects used a clear acrylic case, and they had to painstakingly seal each rear connector to keep the oil from leaking. We wanted to put the ports on top to solve that problem the simple way -- with gravity. Other people have built systems in aquariums before, but they were always oversized and square. We wanted to use our tools and experience to custom build a solution in exactly the size we needed. In addition, we had questions about performance and long term effects. We freely share the results of our testing, including thermal performance, and long term effects. We have been running mineral oil submerged PCs in our office since 2007, so we have many years of data and experience to share!
How It Works
1. Submerge componentsStandard computer components are submerged in mineral oil. The mineral oil is non-conductive, so the electronics do not short out.
2. Transfer heat to oilHeat generated by the PC is transferred into the mineral oil at a rate over 5 times better than air.
3. Dissipate heatThe mineral oil is pumped through a radiator to dissipate the heat into the ambient air.
Do-It-Yourself Kit V3
|We explore the concept of mineral oil submersion, testing with a power supply, then a low end PC, then finally a high end PC.||After 3 years of experience, we launched of our 3rd revision to our do-it-yourself kits. This video showcases the features and improvements we made.|
Frequently Asked Questions
- What's the point of this project? Crazy overclocking?
Answer: This project is intended as a cool conversation piece, and a fun do-it-yourself project. Due to the risk of tank failure if the oil reaches temperatures above 75C, we do not recommend submerging overclocked or extremely hot hardware in this system.
- Why doesn't the mineral oil fry the electronics?
Answer: Mineral oil is not conductive. It may look like water, but it behaves very differently. Pure mineral oil does not have the free electrons necessary to conduct electricity.
- What mineral oil do you use, and where do you get it?
Answer: We use a White Mineral Oil from STE Oil called "Crystal Plus 70T". It's odorless, clear, and very electrically resistant. You can order this oil directly from our vendor at http://store.steoil.com/mineral-oil-pc-kit/
- What about using Glycol, Motor Oil, Mono Ethylene, Mono Proyplene, Vegetable Oil, etc?
Answer: We have not tested any other oil types in our aquarium system. We recommend using only Crystal Plus 70T White Mineral Oil for this project.
- Won't the mineral oil put too much load on the fans, causing them to fail?
Answer: No, we have not experienced this. Even if they did fail, it wouldn't matter. We left them running just because they were fun to look at, and to answer just this question! After years of operation, our fans are spinning exactly like they did at the beginning.
- Won't the mineral oil eat away at the rubber, making capacitors blow or components fall apart?
Answer: We've seen many variations on this question. Some people say the motherboard will fall apart, others that the acrylic tank will dissolve away to nothing! In reality, we have seen absolutely zero effect. All components are perfectly intact, and the system remains rock solid. The only impact we have seen is on adhesives -- the label stickers on the memory came off, and the adhesive backing on the weather stripping became useless. However, it seems somewhat selective. The label stickers on the video card and motherboard are just fine. But to answer the cries of doom and gloom -- we've seen no indications yet. All the rubber seals are intact, and the capacitors are completely unaffected. It seems as if we'll be able to run this system for quite some time, if not indefinitely.
- Won't the air bubbles introduce water through air humidity?
Answer: Any water introduced would sink to the bottom because it is more dense than the mineral oil. This is good, because there is a gap of about a half inch before it hits any electronics. So, we should be able to see it pool there and have plenty of time to react. After many years, with the bubbles running 24 hours a day, we do not see even a trace of water. It is possible it will be hard to make out since the mineral oil is clear, but the difference in density should give us a slight "lava lamp" type appearance.
- How often do you have to add more oil?
Answer: Our first setup had a problem where oil would wick down the cables, causing a very slow "leak." We solved this issue by having no cables run directly into the oil, but rather use a connector at the top of the tank. This breaks the suction or siphon effect. Since then, we have noticed absolutely no drop in oil level.
- This is fake, there is no way this would work.
Answer: You're welcome to come by and give it a look in person! Directions to our Seattle facility where it is on display can be found on our Contact Us page.
- Where is the hard drive and CDROM?
Answer: We didn't submerge the hard drive, but rather hid it inside the plastic molding on top of the aquarium. There is no CDROM drive -- we plug in a USB drive when needed.
- Why didn't you submerge the hard drive?
Answer: There is a good amount of debate as to whether we could have submerged the hard drive. We still think it is right that we did not. While the oil is not conductive, it is viscous. We were not confident that the hard drive was entirely water-tight (in fact, some cite that there is a hole in the hard drive casing, designed to allow pressure differences to equalize). If oil were to get into the hard drive, that would be the end of the drive -- the platters wouldn't be able to spin at full speed, and the read heads would be restricted from free motion. So, we opted to be safe and keep it out of the oil. However, SSD drives would definitely be no problem.
- Where did you get that radiator?
Answer: Our original radiator is imported from Germany, and is no longer available. We now keep appropriate radiators in stock ourselves.
- Dood! Put fishez in ur tank!!!1
Answer: No. They would die.
- OK. No fish, but how about C:\HORSES ?
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