Optimal Cooling Essay

Averi Peterson

Dr. Andrew J. Kunka

English 101

November 25, 2013

Guide to the Solution

            A long, long time ago I was still in high-school. I had a dream of building my own gaming computer and learning all there is to know about them. After the first semester I made up my mind to use the money I would get for graduation to build my own dream. I spent near $1200 in computer parts alone. Before I enacted this hectic trek, I had to do countless hours of research on parts, compatibility, brands, price to performance and much more important aspects. Luckily my best friend built on himself before I decided to do it myself. Having spent days talking to him about computers allowed me to know little tricks and small important things, like what not to do and what to do. I learned about Dead on Arrival parts, static electricity, and price vs. performance. These are important things to know about because static electricity can short out a component and then you would have wasted all that money on really expensive parts that are now useless. Dead on Arrival on the other hand is where the part you bought via the internet gets to you and doesn’t work. Lastly price vs. performance is really the most important part of any purchase, which is, how much the life cycle, longevity is or profitability vs. how much you think it’s actually worth.

            Those conversations among other big factors lead me to my degree choice for college which ended up being Computer Science. Now that I am almost done with my first semester of college, my computer – after countless hours of fun gaming – is having trouble regulating temperatures. Using software to monitor the Computer Processing Unit also called the (CPU), I can see that it runs at 37˚C average. To put this in perspective the CPU upon boot up of my computer runs at 18˚C and if I run a game at a high resolution it goes to 40˚C Maximum. For those who aren’t familiar with frame rates and screen resolution, it just means is how big the game needs be to output on the screen. Monitors have a wide variety of resolutions; the most common is 1080p or 720p. There’s simple logic behind resolution, the bigger the screen, the bigger the resolution. I have a 22’ monitor that’s resolution is 1650 x 1050, and a 19’ monitor that has a resolution of 1440 x 900. From that you can obviously see the difference 3 inches has in terms of resolution.

            Back to my main point of focus which is my CPU, there an abundance of cures to my problem. But here are the four main ones, the stock CPU cooler. This cooler normally comes with the CPU in the box from the retailer. Next is an aftermarket air cooler, which you buy separate from the CPU from a different retailer. After the Air cooler is a closed water loop which use a radiator with mounted fans in optimal positions. Lastly is a full custom water loop filled with coolant. The custom water loop uses radiators of varying sizes. But there’s always a consequence for having such parts.

            Starting with the most basic option, if I chose the basic stock CPU cooler it would come with either a 70mm fan or larger. Normally these CPU’s or fans are not for the purpose of over-clocking. Over-clocking is increasing the frequency of the CPU to get better performance. This is one thing people don’t know about if they are buying a new CPU for the first time, is that they could potentially get better performance out of their computer just with the click of a button and using a CPU cooler that doesn’t come with the CPU. The gain in performance scales with the overclock, so the higher the overclock the higher the advantages in performance. The gains of performance also depend on the CPU; some CPU’s only allow overclockability up to a certain point The CPU of reference overclocks to 8% more and is the AMD FX-8320 Vischera which has a base clock of 3.5 Gigahertz and can over clock to 4.0 Gigahertz. Using the stock CPU for any overclock would be just fantasy and would work at all, it would be too small and not enough surface area for heat dissipation making the CPU die. The only benefit of the stock CPU cooler is discreet size and for just regular use, like using the computer to surf the web or type a paper.

            For my computer I chose an aftermarket cooler mainly because I overclocked my CPU and I think computers aren’t just for performance but looks and aesthetics too! Aftermarket coolers are the entry level to over-clocking. Normally they are twice the size of the stock CPU for a greater amount of heat dissipation. There are a wide variety of shapes and features. For instance, my cooler has a thermal coating over the entire cooler for more efficient dissipation. I bought mine online for around fifty dollars; luckily I got ten dollars off due to the weekly sales. Buying online is a great option for items like these where you can get it cheap and fast. There are also aftermarket coolers that don’t use any fans; they just use natural laws like hot air rises.

The next, more significant option is the closed water loop, which use water or coolant pumped through tubes which leads to a radiator which cools the water. While this option is a step above aftermarket coolers the power consumption is increased due to size and functionality. The coolant is actually pushed through by a pump and has multiple fans. Along with this there are different radiator sizes, ranging from 120mm all the way 480mm. The larger the radiator the more cooling and heat dissipation it outputs because of more fans are connected to it. This in turn makes your CPU a lot cooler because all the heat is reallocated to those fins in the radiator. Most people choose this choice because it’s really quiet; no one really wants a loud computer. These systems are significantly quieter because there’s air being pushed or pulled through the dense radiator fans which act as a filter. Although this is a massive benefit it comes at a near double the price than the aftermarket CPU cooler price.

            Finally the best option would be a full custom water loop. Your expandability depends on the type of computer case you have. A full custom water loop is comprised of 6 key parts water blocks which are metal pieces that attach to the CPU or GPU. Radiators, large enclosed fins that are used for heat dissipation. A reservoir, which is a giant tube that holds the coolant when the computer is off. A pump, which pushes the coolant, threw the loop. Hose which is used to link the pump to the reservoir that pumps coolant to the water blocks, and the radiators. Lastly is the fittings that tighten the hose so there isn’t a leakage. Although this is the premium choice, the price to performance isn’t really worth it unless you have saved up for a while. It’s really expensive roughly about $500 to $1000, it really depends on what brands you get and how many radiators you want.

These are all great solutions for my problem. They all have those pros and cons but the most effective one for me is the closed water loop. The closed water loop would be the best choice for me because on a college budget I can only afford so much and putting small amounts aside I can get it relatively fast. The one I’m aiming for is the H100i by corsair, it’s got great reviews and corsair is well known for their products.