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Fanless (Passive) Water Cooling?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am sure people have tried this before, so Im looking for a little input on if I should attempt this.

Im looking to build an average spec'ed desktop, but its going to double as a HTPC, so I want it to be as close to silent as possible. Originally I wanted to watercool to remove all proprietary heatsinks/ fans and install my own ultra quiet fans on a radiator. Hopefully also increasing performance and lifespan of the parts.

I guess my question is do I need the fans on the rad? I will be putting the rad on top of the case (interior still) with plenty of space for the air to vent out. So my thoughts are that heat naturally rises, so maybe I can get away without them?

I am only going to be cooling a gtx770 and i7 Haswell CPU, and am not going to overclock.

Maybe I can just put a 200mm fan on the bottom of my case pushing air in to create a positive interior pressure to help influence the air to pass through the rad?

I always like trying new things in my builds that I haven't done before, so passively cooling a radiator would be interesting (if it will work :-p)

The main reason for wanting to remove the need for fans on the radiator is i'm using a BitFenix Phenom Micro case, and the Rad/fans block PCI ports, so if i can remove the need for fans, it also adds a PCI slot available.

Any input would be appreciated!
post #2 of 10
Yes, you can, with a few caveats.

Expect poor temperatures - fanless a radiator will not dissipate heat very quickly. It will be fine at idle or very light loads, like browsing / watching movies, but will struggle to keep up at higher loads (gaming).

You may need to limit / underclock components to keep them within thermal limits at load.

A large case fan will help, but not much.



A much better solution would be to put quiet fans (slim ones where space is an issue) on the radiator and use a fan controller to turn them right down / off when not needed. The fans on my sig rig go down to ~150rpm when the computer is idle (water temperature under 30°C) and are therefore inaudible.
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post #3 of 10
Like GingerJohn said, possible, but not ideal. You'd need a lot of radiator space to go completely passive and get decent temps. I would just get a low FPI radiator and some low RPM fans with good static pressure. My Gentle Typhoons are very quiet running at 1200RPM and my Coolermaster R4's are just as quiet running around 1000RPM. Working in tight spaces, an Alphacool ST30 with low speed Yate Loons, or a higher RPM fan turned down with a fan controller, would probably work real well. And since you won't be overclocking, you might be able to get away with 240mm of radiator space as long as you don't put too much stress on the system(Folding@Home, Bitcoin Mining, benching, etc).
Edited by morencyam - 3/26/14 at 10:40am
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post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
These are kind of the answers I was expecting :-p Im not too fond of underclocking to achieve it being slightly quieter. I was thinking of going with a low FPI 240mm rad @45mm thick for the passive cooling.

If the passive cooling isnt not possible, Ill probably go with a low FPI 240mm rad @30mm thick and throw some ultra quiet 25mm fans on it, really only adding 10mm.

I already have a Lamptron CW611 that Im not using (long story there), and I will most likely use this to keep the fans at a low enough speed to be silent when not under load.

Does that sound like a more realistic plan for achieving a quiet water cooling design?
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by RabidSnail View Post

These are kind of the answers I was expecting :-p Im not too fond of underclocking to achieve it being slightly quieter. I was thinking of going with a low FPI 240mm rad @45mm thick for the passive cooling.

If the passive cooling isnt not possible, Ill probably go with a low FPI 240mm rad @30mm thick and throw some ultra quiet 25mm fans on it, really only adding 10mm.

I already have a Lamptron CW611 that Im not using (long story there), and I will most likely use this to keep the fans at a low enough speed to be silent when not under load.

Does that sound like a more realistic plan for achieving a quiet water cooling design?

Yep, that sounds like a way better route. Inaudible is reasonably easy to attain - silent is very hard.

For reference, I had a Zalman Reserator, one of the big aluminium (eugh) towers, and whilst it was silent I got similar performance with a single 120mm rad and a low speed fan which was inaudible with the case closed. The Reserator was fine for low load, but as soon as I started gaming things would get a little too toasty for my liking.

I actually want to resurrect my Reserator for a very low powered HTPC (movies / browsing only, no games) - I just need to find an all aluminium CPU block.
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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Will a 30mm Rad be adequate cooling for the GTX 770 and i7 CPU? And if I use two 120mm fans to push air out of the case, can I skip that 200mm fan? I want to reduce quantity of fans for obvious reasons, So if I can get away with only those two top 120mm fans that would be great.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by RabidSnail View Post

Will a 30mm Rad be adequate cooling for the GTX 770 and i7 CPU? And if I use two 120mm fans to push air out of the case, can I skip that 200mm fan? I want to reduce quantity of fans for obvious reasons, So if I can get away with only those two top 120mm fans that would be great.

A 30mm rad that is designed for low speed fans would be preferable, something like the Alphacool NexXxoS ST30 for example. Thickness does not have a huge effect compared to surface area, typically 5-10%. Generally speaking thinner rads tend to be more tuned to specific fan speeds compared to thicker rads that perform well over a broader range.

With a 240mm rad you will not be seeing amazing temperatures but it will still work fine, especially since you are staying at stock. I'm hesitant to give numbers as every setup varies, but you should be somewhere in the region of better than stock cooler, approaching aftermarket air cooler on the CPU, and way better than stock cooler on the GPU (typically <50°C).
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thats the exact kind of information Im looking for. Like you said, Im not looking to do anything amazing, just keep it cooler and quieter than stock under high load. <50°C is exactly what I would call a successful build. I CAN fit a 45mm and 25mm fan, but that would place the fan right up against a PCIe card (most likely a sound card) so I figure it is better to have air space below the fans than it would be to have part of the fan covered by the card.
post #9 of 10
Not recommended, radiators are designed for air to move through them. You'll get really high delta temperatures with that setup. Alphacool actually makes a passive radiator which works really well from what I understand, problem is it has terrible build quality and often comes slightly damaged.

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/13793/ex-rad-269/Alphacool_Cape_Cora_HF_642_Konvekt_Black_Passive_Radiator.html

There's a lot of varying sizes, and you could make one that sits above the chassis. Because of the design of these radiators they do not need air moving through them, as the heat naturally radiates outwards since the heat isn't constricted to chambers. On a side note, heat does not always rise, it moves to the cooler spaces to achieve homeostasis. Since I can assume your HTPC is going to be in a confined space it isn't advised to use traditional rads in a passive fashion. You could always use really quiet fans on normal rads, you don't need much airflow to have it cool properly, I mean if you want it to cool in a performance sense you definitely do, but not if it's just for a noise sense.
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post #10 of 10
I (almost) do this. I have 3 rads, a 120, 240 and 360.
I only have fans on the 240, and they spin very low, I don't hear them. Temps are fine, 55c on the gpu mining 24/7 and the CPU never passes 55 while oced to 4.5ghz.

The only noise i can hear from my PC is the HDDs.
    
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