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What is a Phase Change unit?

post #1 of 14
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I see them alot, and I've heard that they will put a CPU heavily overclocked under -10C, so what is this thing? I mini refrigerator?
Edited by White Fire - 2/17/12 at 10:47am
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post #2 of 14
Its basically a air conditioner unit in your PC.

compressor, evap, condenser, etc.

from wiki

Quote:
Phase-change cooling is an extremely effective way to cool the processor. A vapor compression phase-change cooler is a unit which usually sits underneath the PC, with a tube leading to the processor. Inside the unit is a compressor of the same type as in a window air conditioner. The compressor compresses a gas (or mixture of gases) which condenses it into a liquid. Then, the liquid is pumped up to the processor, where it passes through an expansion device, this can be from a simple capillary tube to a more elaborate thermal expansion valve. The liquid evaporates (changing phase), absorbing the heat from the processor as it draws extra energy from its environment to accommodate this change (see latent heat). The evaporation can produce temperatures reaching around −15 to −150 degrees Celsius. The gas flows down to the compressor and the cycle begins over again. This way, the processor can be cooled to temperatures ranging from −15 to −150 degrees Celsius, depending on the load, wattage of the processor, the refrigeration system (see refrigeration) and the gas mixture used. This type of system suffers from a number of issues but, mainly, one must be concerned with dew point and the proper insulation of all sub-ambient surfaces that must be done (the pipes will sweat, dripping water on sensitive electronics).
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazloisdavrock View Post

Its basically a air conditioner unit in your PC.
compressor, evap, condenser, etc.
from wiki
Quote:
Phase-change cooling is an extremely effective way to cool the processor. A vapor compression phase-change cooler is a unit which usually sits underneath the PC, with a tube leading to the processor. Inside the unit is a compressor of the same type as in a window air conditioner. The compressor compresses a gas (or mixture of gases) which condenses it into a liquid. Then, the liquid is pumped up to the processor, where it passes through an expansion device, this can be from a simple capillary tube to a more elaborate thermal expansion valve. The liquid evaporates (changing phase), absorbing the heat from the processor as it draws extra energy from its environment to accommodate this change (see latent heat). The evaporation can produce temperatures reaching around −15 to −150 degrees Celsius. The gas flows down to the compressor and the cycle begins over again. This way, the processor can be cooled to temperatures ranging from −15 to −150 degrees Celsius, depending on the load, wattage of the processor, the refrigeration system (see refrigeration) and the gas mixture used. This type of system suffers from a number of issues but, mainly, one must be concerned with dew point and the proper insulation of all sub-ambient surfaces that must be done (the pipes will sweat, dripping water on sensitive electronics).

Holy crap, do you think that is practical to use? I know they're insanely expensive, but man, I would really like -30c on my CPU thumb.gif
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post #4 of 14
To maintain temps that low would be a large power draw considering you are taking a processor capable of generating 70C while in use and mantaining the temp 100 degrees lower. Not to mention compressors are not the most quiet pieces of machinery in the world. The initial cost and setup are off putting as well, especially if you want to make it look nice. Condensation will alway be an issue.

Water and to a lesser, but more cost effective extent, air, are fine for stable, continuous overclocking. If you want to see big numbers, you can go Dice or LN/LH.
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post #5 of 14
Buying a new one is a bit pricey but at the same time, they last for a long time (can't say 'forever' but I've only ever seen one compressor die on a single stage cooler and it was because of a fan failure) and the new ones do have a pretty universal mount. So it'll last through many cpu and board upgrades.

Sometimes you can find a used one that's good though, for a much more reasonable price. The only hitch is knowing it's good. Some coolers are ok for 24/7 and some are more geared to benching.

Generally speaking the colder it is, the harder it can be to run full time.

But if you could find either a nice cased custom cooler or a used Cooler Express unit or something for a good price, sometimes you can get one for the same price as a high end water system. I mean, you 'can' spend 300+ on water cooling just a cpu right?

But the only decent commercially available cooler left you can buy new is the Cooler Express and it's good, but it is high end and pretty expensive.

Occasionally on Craigslist and on the different websites you'll see people selling nice used coolers though. If one came up cheap and was ok for the load of modern cpu's (I like to see at least a 300w max capacity so you can use most of the high load cpus and there room to overclock) then it could be worth a look.


Gray

Oh, and power consumption is a factor, but not as much as it would seem. Just depends what you're willing to put up with and if you'll run it fulltime on the chip. A small cooler that would do -30ish under load (evap temp, not cpu temp) is likely to use 150 to 350w of power (power consumption changes with the amount of cpu load) so at most a 24/7 'standard' of cooler would be the same as 3 old style light bulbs or so. Not as expensive as you'd think really.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Mole View Post

Buying a new one is a bit pricey but at the same time, they last for a long time (can't say 'forever' but I've only ever seen one compressor die on a single stage cooler and it was because of a fan failure) and the new ones do have a pretty universal mount. So it'll last through many cpu and board upgrades.
Sometimes you can find a used one that's good though, for a much more reasonable price. The only hitch is knowing it's good. Some coolers are ok for 24/7 and some are more geared to benching.
Generally speaking the colder it is, the harder it can be to run full time.
But if you could find either a nice cased custom cooler or a used Cooler Express unit or something for a good price, sometimes you can get one for the same price as a high end water system. I mean, you 'can' spend 300+ on water cooling just a cpu right?
But the only decent commercially available cooler left you can buy new is the Cooler Express and it's good, but it is high end and pretty expensive.
Occasionally on Craigslist and on the different websites you'll see people selling nice used coolers though. If one came up cheap and was ok for the load of modern cpu's (I like to see at least a 300w max capacity so you can use most of the high load cpus and there room to overclock) then it could be worth a look.
Gray
Oh, and power consumption is a factor, but not as much as it would seem. Just depends what you're willing to put up with and if you'll run it fulltime on the chip. A small cooler that would do -30ish under load (evap temp, not cpu temp) is likely to use 150 to 350w of power (power consumption changes with the amount of cpu load) so at most a 24/7 'standard' of cooler would be the same as 3 old style light bulbs or so. Not as expensive as you'd think really.

Dang, so If I were to get one, I'd need to get a new PSU, or another cheap one just to power this thing..


I was thinking of getting a 400$ water cooling setup with some huge radiators for my CPU and GPUs, but man, if I could find one of these for cheap, that'd be great.
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post #7 of 14
there's a guy on here that makes/builds them..I'd get one from him over say..the ocz one that's been
@ frozencpu for eons and has no warranty.A-HA! ..he's been here all along..It's Gray Mole! :lachen.gif:
Edited by Schmuckley - 2/17/12 at 4:53pm
 
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post #8 of 14
They have their own power unit, which you plug in directly to the wall. I have mine connected to a Kill-O-watt and it really doesn't seem like it costs much. I don't run it 24/7 but the kill-o-watt gives all sorts of values and it wasn't much. Now the sound on the other hand, there's no way i can put up with that for 24/7. I have it in a room on the second floor of the house and you know it's running as soon as you come in the house. If it's not the noise, it's the vibration it causes. You also have to worry about condensation.
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post #9 of 14
Yeah, there's 2 basic varieties of phase unit.

1. and it's the 'norm' lately - the benching unit. They're great, but tend to be 'all out' cooling without discretion for noise or power. Whether it's a large reciprocating unit, or a rotary (of any size, though smaller is more liveable) compressor, they're fairly loud. 'Cold as possible' is the idea and they do that job well. For someone looking for great bench scores on a bench rig they're all about that and not a lot else.

Tend to be high on the insulation factor, but if you run it 24/7 and at night, have no real load on it but running idle, the motherboard can get so cold it condenses moisture too.

2. and it used to be way more popular - The 24/7 unit. They're still cold, and I've made a few that were pretty quiet as well as cold. Unfortunately the last one I made/sold was damaged in shipping but it was very close to a water setup. The compressor was a recip, and pretty low on noise. It should be back for a patch up pretty quick, I might just youtube it to show the noise level. I made one a while back with an older (less efficient but super quiet) compressor type and it was so quiet it was hard to tell it was running.

So they can be quiet, and the 2 quietest ones I made were still tuned for high (350+ watt) load. Ran around -40c unloaded, -15c at 350w. That's the evap temp, you'd see more like 10c in the positives on the cpu give or take but that's at serious load if you could even get that high a wattage out of the cpu at that kind of temp.

The OCZ unit would be the ideal unit IF you got it modded. That is, get a better or dual condensor and a retune along with a couple tweaks, and it'd be super quiet (run more condensor capacity and you can run close to silent fans) and still cold enough for way better than water overclocks, 24/7.

So yeah, that's long and short I guess. There used to be the Vapochill and Prometeia units commercially available and while the Cooler Express has really surpassed them for modern cpu capability and compatibility, the CE unit is louder then they were, especially the Vapochill.

There really isn't a really quiet 24/7 commercially made unit out there right now that's good for high load. They can be modded up for it, but either way it can start to come up in price whether you buy a cheap older unit for a 'modernization' or you get a full custom that's ideal for what you'd be after in a quiet cooler.

And yeah, I suppose I make them too wink.gif but I avoid as much custom work as I can these days. I have a couple cases around (need to get a few things to finish them, been kicking around a while so I'd have to refinish) but when I get through the one custom I AM doing (man it's a big one) I might throw one or two good 24/7 coolers together again.

My recommendations if a person wants a 24/7 unit?

1. Get a Vapochill or OCZ unit and have it upgraded for 300w+ as well as quiet fan operation. Prometeia Mach2 as well, but not as quiet a compressor.

2. Get a custom unit made by someone, but expect it to cost a bit unless he's not that into money.

3. Find someone that's already had a unit modded that's good and quiet and is willing to part with it cheaper if he's getting away from the subzero stuff.

Shame, there was a guy on CL had a couple coolers for really cheap (was pickup only) that needed a bit of cleaning up but would have been ideal for a quiet cooler mod.


Gray
post #10 of 14
The easiest way for me to explain phase change to someone is with a visual.

The next time you fry some food in a skillet put the pan under water while its still hot. Notice the water turning into hot steam and the pan getting colder.
Thats phase change turning water from a liquid state into a vapor state.
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