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Old 07-20-2006, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mbengtson
Hello! Thank you for looking at this; I'm struggling here.

I was wondering if you would mind giving me some advice on a high school science project. The project is based on heat conduction and CPU water cooling.

I am interested in CPU cooling, and wanted to relate it somehow to my year-long senior science project. I have arrived at several problems concerning this project, however, and would appreciate any advice you could give me.

CPU water cooling is meant for PC enthusiasts who "overclock" their processors. Overclocking is done primarily to increase the performance of the CPU so that, say, a $200 CPU acts like a $350 one; faster. There are drawbacks to this practice, one of which being increased heat output. Normal computer fans simply aren't a practical solution, as this increases noise and energy consumption. I'm not sure whether or not water cooling is more efficient yet; I will have to research how much a computer normally costs (electrically) to run with fans vs a water pump.

Water cooling is one alternative to the fans that are typically used in home PCs. The WC (watercooling) system consists of tubes, a water block (that allows the coolant to run across the surface of the CPU to draw heat away via convection), a radiator, and a pump.

What I will be testing will be the coolant chemistry. The coolant consists of one part water (majority), and one part something else (ie bleach, soap, antifreeze). I will be testing different proportions/mixtures of the water + additive and record the results (temperature) to hopefully come up with a conclusion regarding which mixture is most effective.

The goal of my project is to demonstrate how WC can be a safe, sound, and efficient way to cool overclocked PCs. I would possibly propose a solution regarding school computers. The PCs the school buys run along the $1,000 range. If they built their own computers and overclocked them to provide the speed needed for school applications such as Mathematica, the price tag could possibly be reduced to $600 or maybe $500 per computer, and the water cooling would allow for completely silent operation of the lab.

One problem I have encountered is the sophistication of this project; Do you think that this could be considered a high-school senior project?? I am worried that it will come across as being too simple. Although the testing process will be tedious, it is, in fact, quite simple. I will be cleaning the tubing of 5 computers that I have, and testing each coolant twice on each computer, yielding 10 data per coolant. It will be time consuming as well,
as the computers will be ran for 1 hour under each coolant, so that's 2+ hours per coolant. Does this seem viable to you?

My father suggested that I wouldn't learn anything from this project. I think I will; I will be learning the thermal properties of liquids, and how different chemicals effect the heat conductivity of a fluid. Do you think that this is enough? Thank you SOOO much for your time and help!!!!


This is more complex than some of the high schools projects, definitely. It's really how far you want to take it. I'm sure you can think of other ways to do this experiment. For example, you can test for the optimized amount of WC you're using, or other optimizations, or different conditions, etc.

It would work out, don't worry.
God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I could, and the wisdom to know the difference.
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