Usually a heatsink is attached to the integrated heat spreader IHS , essentially a large, flat plate attached to the CPU, with conduction paste layered between. This dissipates or spreads the heat locally. Unlike a heatsink, a spreader is meant to redistribute heat, not to remove it. Passive cooling involves no fan noise as convection forces move air over the heatsink. Another growing trend due to the increasing heat density of computers, GPUs, FPGAs, and ASICs is to immerse the entire computer or select components in a thermally, but not electrically, conductive liquid.
Although rarely used for the cooling of personal computers,  liquid immersion is a routine method of cooling large power distribution components such as transformers. It is also becoming popular with data centers. The coolant used must have sufficiently low electrical conductivity not to interfere with the normal operation of the computer. If the liquid is somewhat electrically conductive, it may cause electrical shorts between components or traces and permanently damage them.
A wide variety of liquids exist for this purpose, including transformer oils , synthetic single-phase and dual phase dielectric coolants such as 3M Fluorinert or 3M Novec. Non-purpose oils, including cooking, motor and silicone oils , have been successfully used for cooling personal computers. Some fluids used in immersion cooling, especially hydrocarbon based materials such as mineral oils, cooking oils, and organic esters, may degrade some common materials used in computers such as rubbers, polyvinyl chloride PVC , and thermal greases.
Therefore it is critical to review the material compatibility of such fluids prior to use. Mineral oil in particular has been found to have negative effects on PVC and rubber-based wire insulation. Evaporation, especially for 2-phase coolants, can pose a problem,  and the liquid may require either to be regularly refilled or sealed inside the computer's enclosure.
Immersion cooling can allow for extremely low PUE values of 1. Where powerful computers with many features are not required, less powerful computers or ones with fewer features can be used. Computers can be powered with direct current from an external power supply unit which does not generate heat inside the computer case. The replacement of cathode ray tube CRT displays by more efficient thin-screen liquid crystal display LCD ones in the early twenty-first century has reduced power consumption significantly.
A component may be fitted in good thermal contact with a heatsink, a passive device with large thermal capacity and with a large surface area relative to its volume. Heatsinks are usually made of a metal with high thermal conductivity such as aluminium or copper,  and incorporate fins to increase surface area. Heat from a relatively small component is transferred to the larger heatsink; the equilibrium temperature of the component plus heatsink is much lower than the component's alone would be.
Heat is carried away from the heatsink by convective or fan-forced airflow. Fan cooling is often used to cool processors and graphics cards that consume significant amounts of electrical energy. In a computer, a typical heat-generating component may be manufactured with a flat surface. A block of metal with a corresponding flat surface and finned construction, sometimes with an attached fan, is clamped to the component.
To fill poorly conducting air gaps due to imperfectly flat and smooth surfaces, a thin layer of thermal grease , a thermal pad , or thermal adhesive may be placed between the component and heatsink. Heat is removed from the heatsink by convection , to some extent by radiation , and possibly by conduction if the heatsink is in thermal contact with, say, the metal case.
Inexpensive fan-cooled aluminium heatsinks are often used on standard desktop computers. Heatsinks with copper base-plates, or made of copper, have better thermal characteristics than those made of aluminium. A copper heatsink is more effective than an aluminium unit of the same size, which is relevant with regard to the high-power-consumption components used in high-performance computers.
Passive heatsinks are commonly found on: older CPUs, parts that do not dissipate much power, such as the chipset, computers with low-power processors, and equipment where silent operation is critical and fan noise unacceptable. Usually a heatsink is clamped to the integrated heat spreader IHS , a flat metal plate the size of the CPU package which is part of the CPU assembly and spreads the heat locally. A thin layer of thermal compound is placed between them to compensate for surface imperfections.
The spreader's primary purpose is to redistribute heat. The heatsink fins improve its efficiency. The same technique is used for video cards that use a finned passive heatsink on the GPU. Dust tends to build up in the crevices of finned heatsinks, particularly with the high airflow produced by fans. This keeps the air away from the hot component, reducing cooling effectiveness; however, removing the dust restores effectiveness.
Modern TECs use several stacked units each composed of dozens or hundreds of thermocouples laid out next to each other, which allows for a substantial amount of heat transfer. A combination of bismuth and tellurium is most commonly used for the thermocouples. As active heat pumps which consume power, TECs can produce temperatures below ambient, impossible with passive heatsinks, radiator-cooled liquid cooling , and heatpipe HSFs.
However, while pumping heat, a Peltier module will typically consume more electric power than the heat amount being pumped. It is also possible to use a Peltier element together with a high pressure refrigerant two phase cooling to cool the CPU. Liquid cooling is a highly effective method of removing excess heat, with the most common heat transfer fluid in desktop PCs being distilled water. The advantages of water cooling over air cooling include water's higher specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity.
The principle used in a typical active liquid cooling system for computers is identical to that used in an automobile's internal combustion engine , with the water being circulated by a water pump through a waterblock mounted on the CPU and sometimes additional components as GPU and northbridge  and out to a heat exchanger , typically a radiator.
The radiator is itself usually cooled additionally by means of a fan. Besides active liquid cooling systems, passive liquid cooling systems are also sometimes used. Downsides of these systems are that they are much less efficient in discarding the heat and thus also need to have much more coolant — and thus a much bigger coolant reservoir — giving the coolant more time to cool down. Liquids allow the transfer of more heat from the parts being cooled than air, making liquid cooling suitable for overclocking and high performance computer applications.
Disadvantages of liquid cooling include complexity and the potential for a coolant leak. Leaked water and any additives in the water can damage electronic components with which it comes into contact, and the need to test for and repair leaks makes for more complex and less reliable installations.
The first major foray into the field of liquid-cooled personal computers for general use, the high-end versions of Apple 's Power Mac G5 , was ultimately doomed by a propensity for coolant leaks. While originally limited to mainframe computers, liquid cooling has become a practice largely associated with overclocking in the form of either manufactured all-in-one AIO kits or do-it-yourself setups assembled from individually gathered parts.
The past few years [ when? Sealed "closed-loop" systems incorporating a small pre-filled radiator, fan, and waterblock simplify the installation and maintenance of water cooling at a slight cost in cooling effectiveness relative to larger and more complex setups.
Liquid cooling is typically combined with air cooling, using liquid cooling for the hottest components, such as CPUs or GPUs, while retaining the simpler and cheaper air cooling for less demanding components. The IBM Aquasar system uses hot water cooling to achieve energy efficiency, the water being used to heat buildings as well. Since , the effectiveness of water cooling has prompted a series of all-in-one AIO water cooling solutions.
A heat pipe is a hollow tube containing a heat transfer liquid. The liquid absorbs heat and evaporates at one end of the pipe. The vapor travels to the other cooler end of the tube, where it condenses, giving up its latent heat. The liquid returns to the hot end of the tube by gravity or capillary action and repeats the cycle. Heat pipes have a much higher effective thermal conductivity than solid materials.
For use in computers, the heatsink on the CPU is attached to a larger radiator heatsink. Both heatsinks are hollow, as is the attachment between them, creating one large heat pipe that transfers heat from the CPU to the radiator, which is then cooled using some conventional method.
This method is usually used when space is tight, as in small form-factor PCs and laptops, or where no fan noise can be tolerated, as in audio production. Because of the efficiency of this method of cooling, many desktop CPUs and GPUs, as well as high end chipsets, use heat pipes or vapor chambers in addition to active fan-based cooling and passive heatsinks to remain within safe operating temperatures. A vapor chamber operates on the same principles as a heat pipe but takes on the form of a slab or sheet instead of a pipe.
Heat pipes may be placed vertically on top and form part of vapor chambers. Vapor chambers may also be used on high-end smartphones. The cooling technology under development by Kronos and Thorn Micro Technologies employs a device called an ionic wind pump also known as an electrostatic fluid accelerator.
The basic operating principle of an ionic wind pump is corona discharge , an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air. The corona discharge cooler developed by Kronos works in the following manner: A high electric field is created at the tip of the cathode, which is placed on one side of the CPU. The high energy potential causes the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the air to become ionized positively charged and create a corona a halo of charged particles.
Placing a grounded anode at the opposite end of the CPU causes the charged ions in the corona to accelerate towards the anode, colliding with neutral air molecules on the way. During these collisions, momentum is transferred from the ionized gas to the neutral air molecules, resulting in movement of gas towards the anode.
The advantages of the corona-based cooler are its lack of moving parts, thereby eliminating certain reliability issues and operating with a near-zero noise level and moderate energy consumption. Soft cooling is the practice of utilizing software to take advantage of CPU power saving technologies to minimize energy use.
This is done using halt instructions to turn off or put in standby state CPU subparts that aren't being used or by underclocking the CPU. While resulting in lower total speeds, this can be very useful if overclocking a CPU to improve user experience rather than increase raw processing power, since it can prevent the need for noisier cooling.
Contrary to what the term suggests, it is not a form of cooling but of reducing heat creation. Undervolting is a practice of running the CPU or any other component with voltages below the device specifications. An undervolted component draws less power and thus produces less heat. The ability to do this varies by manufacturer, product line, and even different production runs of the same product as well as that of other components in the system , but processors are often specified to use voltages higher than strictly necessary.
This tolerance ensures that the processor will have a higher chance of performing correctly under sub-optimal conditions, such as a lower-quality motherboard or low power supply voltages. Below a certain limit, the processor will not function correctly, although undervolting too far does not typically lead to permanent hardware damage unlike overvolting.
Undervolting is used for quiet systems , as less cooling is needed because of the reduction of heat production, allowing noisy fans to be omitted. It is also used when battery charge life must be maximized. Conventional cooling techniques all attach their "cooling" component to the outside of the computer chip package.
This "attaching" technique will always exhibit some thermal resistance, reducing its effectiveness. The heat can be more efficiently and quickly removed by directly cooling the local hot spots of the chip, within the package. This ideology has led to the investigation of integrating cooling elements into the computer chip.
Currently there are two techniques: micro-channel heatsinks, and jet impingement cooling. In micro-channel heatsinks, channels are fabricated into the silicon chip CPU , and coolant is pumped through them. The channels are designed with very large surface area which results in large heat transfers.
Unfortunately, the system requires large pressure drops, due to the small channels, and the heat flux is lower with dielectric coolants used in electronic cooling. Another local chip cooling technique is jet impingement cooling. In this technique, a coolant is flowed through a small orifice to form a jet.
The jet is directed toward the surface of the CPU chip, and can effectively remove large heat fluxes. The heat transfer can be further increased using two-phase flow cooling and by integrating return flow channels hybrid between micro-channel heatsinks and jet impingement cooling. Phase-change cooling is an extremely effective way to cool the processor. A vapor compression phase-change cooler is a unit that usually sits underneath the PC, with a tube leading to the processor.
Inside the unit is a compressor of the same type as in an air conditioner. The compressor compresses a gas or mixture of gases which comes from the evaporator CPU cooler discussed below. Then, the very hot high-pressure vapor is pushed into the condenser heat dissipation device where it condenses from a hot gas into a liquid, typically subcooled at the exit of the condenser then the liquid is fed to an expansion device restriction in the system to cause a drop in pressure a vaporize the fluid cause it to reach a pressure where it can boil at the desired temperature ; the expansion device used can be 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 liquid flows into the evaporator cooling the CPU, turning into a vapor at low pressure. At the end of the evaporator this gas flows down to the compressor and the cycle begins over again. This type of system suffers from a number of issues cost, weight, size, vibration, maintenance, cost of electricity, noise, need for a specialized computer tower 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.
Alternately, a new breed of the cooling system is being developed, inserting a pump into the thermosiphon loop. This adds another degree of flexibility for the design engineer, as the heat can now be effectively transported away from the heat source and either reclaimed or dissipated to ambient.
Junction temperature can be tuned by adjusting the system pressure; higher pressure equals higher fluid saturation temperatures. These systems are, in essence, the next generation fluid cooling paradigm, as they are approximately 10 times more efficient than single-phase water. Since the system uses a dielectric as the heat transport medium, leaks do not cause a catastrophic failure of the electric system.
This type of cooling is seen as a more extreme way to cool components since the units are relatively expensive compared to the average desktop. They also generate a significant amount of noise, since they are essentially refrigerators; however, the compressor choice and air cooling system is the main determinant of this, allowing for flexibility for noise reduction based on the parts chosen.
The larger chamber is as close to the heat source and designed to conduct as much heat from it into the liquid as possible, for example, a CPU cold plate with the chamber inside it filled with the liquid. In a typical installation of liquid nitrogen cooling, a copper or aluminium pipe is mounted on top of the processor or graphics card. Evaporation devices ranging from cut out heatsinks with pipes attached to custom milled copper containers are used to hold the nitrogen as well as to prevent large temperature changes.
However, after the nitrogen evaporates, it has to be refilled. In the realm of personal computers, this method of cooling is seldom used in contexts other than overclocking trial-runs and record-setting attempts, as the CPU will usually expire within a relatively short period of time due to temperature stress caused by changes in internal temperature. Although liquid nitrogen is non-flammable, it can condense oxygen directly from air.
Mixtures of liquid oxygen and flammable materials can be dangerously explosive. Liquid nitrogen cooling is, generally, only used for processor benchmarking, due to the fact that continuous usage may cause permanent damage to one or more parts of the computer and, if handled in a careless way, can even harm the user, causing frostbite. Liquid helium , colder than liquid nitrogen, has also been used for cooling. Also, extremely low temperatures can cause integrated circuits to stop functioning.
Cooling can be improved by several techniques which may involve additional expense or effort. These techniques are often used, in particular, by those who run parts of their computer such as the CPU and GPU at higher voltages and frequencies than specified by manufacturer overclocking , which increases heat generation.
The installation of higher performance, non-stock cooling may also be considered modding. Many overclockers simply buy more efficient, and often, more expensive fan and heatsink combinations, while others resort to more exotic ways of computer cooling, such as liquid cooling, Peltier effect heatpumps, heat pipe or phase change cooling. There are also some related practices that have a positive impact in reducing system temperatures:. Perfectly flat surfaces in contact give optimal cooling, but perfect flatness and absence of microscopic air gaps is not practically possible, particularly in mass-produced equipment.
A very thin skim of thermal compound , which is much more thermally conductive than air, though much less so than metal, can improve thermal contact and cooling by filling in the air gaps. If only a small amount of compound just sufficient to fill the gaps is used, the best temperature reduction will be obtained. There is much debate about the merits of compounds, and overclockers often consider some compounds to be superior to others.
The conductivity of the heatsink compound ranges from about 0. Heat-conductive pads are also used, often fitted by manufacturers to heatsinks. They are less effective than properly applied thermal compound, but simpler to apply and, if fixed to the heatsink, cannot be omitted by users unaware of the importance of good thermal contact, or replaced by a thick and ineffective layer of compound.
Unlike some techniques discussed here, the use of thermal compound or padding is almost universal when dissipating significant amounts of heat. Mass-produced CPU heat spreaders and heatsink bases are never perfectly flat or smooth; if these surfaces are placed in the best contact possible, there will be air gaps which reduce heat conduction. This can easily be mitigated by the use of thermal compound, but for the best possible results surfaces must be as flat as possible. These large flat cables greatly impede airflow by causing drag and turbulence.
Overclockers and modders often replace these with rounded cables, with the conductive wires bunched together tightly to reduce surface area. Theoretically, the parallel strands of conductors in a ribbon cable serve to reduce crosstalk signal carrying conductors inducing signals in nearby conductors , but there is no empirical evidence of rounding cables reducing performance. This may be because the length of the cable is short enough so that the effect of crosstalk is negligible.
Problems usually arise when the cable is not electromagnetically protected and the length is considerable, a more frequent occurrence with older network cables. These computer cables can then be cable tied to the chassis or other cables to further increase airflow. This is less of a problem with new computers that use serial ATA which has a much narrower cable. The colder the cooling medium the air , the more effective the cooling.
Cooling air temperature can be improved with these guidelines:. Fewer fans but strategically placed will improve the airflow internally within the PC and thus lower the overall internal case temperature in relation to ambient conditions. The use of larger fans also improves efficiency and lowers the amount of waste heat along with the amount of noise generated by the fans while in operation.
There is little agreement on the effectiveness of different fan placement configurations, and little in the way of systematic testing has been done. For a rectangular PC ATX case, a fan in the front with a fan in the rear and one in the top has been found to be a suitable configuration. However, AMD's somewhat outdated system cooling guidelines notes that "A front cooling fan does not seem to be essential.
In fact, in some extreme situations, testing showed these fans to be recirculating hot air rather than introducing cool air. However, this is unconfirmed and probably varies with the configuration. Loosely speaking, positive pressure means intake into the case is stronger than exhaust from the case. This configuration results in pressure inside of the case being higher than in its environment.
Negative pressure means exhaust is stronger than intake. This results in internal air pressure being lower than in the environment. Both configurations have benefits and drawbacks, with positive pressure being the more popular of the two configurations. Negative pressure results in the case pulling air through holes and vents separate from the fans, as the internal gases will attempt to reach an equilibrium pressure with the environment.
Consequently, this results in dust entering the computer in all locations. Positive pressure in combination with filtered intake solves this issue, as air will only incline to be exhausted through these holes and vents in order to reach an equilibrium with its environment. Dust is then unable to enter the case except through the intake fans, which need to possess dust filters.
Desktop computers typically use one or more fans for cooling. While almost all desktop power supplies have at least one built-in fan, power supplies should never draw heated air from within the case, as this results in higher PSU operating temperatures which decrease the PSU's energy efficiency, reliability and overall ability to provide a steady supply of power to the computer's internal components.
For this reason, all modern ATX cases with some exceptions found in ultra-low-budget cases feature a power supply mount in the bottom, with a dedicated PSU air intake often with its own filter beneath the mounting location, allowing the PSU to draw cool air from beneath the case.
Most manufacturers recommend bringing cool, fresh air in at the bottom front of the case, and exhausting warm air from the top rear [ citation needed ]. If fans are fitted to force air into the case more effectively than it is removed, the pressure inside becomes higher than outside, referred to as a "positive" airflow the opposite case is called "negative" airflow. Worth noting is that positive internal pressure only prevents dust accumulating in the case if the air intakes are equipped with dust filters.
The air flow inside the typical desktop case is usually not strong enough for a passive CPU heatsink. Most desktop heatsinks are active including one or even multiple directly attached fans or blowers. Each server can have an independent internal cooler system; Server cooling fans in 1 U enclosures are usually located in the middle of the enclosure, between the hard drives at the front and passive CPU heatsinks at the rear.
Larger higher enclosures also have exhaust fans, and from approximately 4U they may have active heatsinks. Power supplies generally have their own rear-facing exhaust fans. Rack cabinet is a typical enclosure for horizontally mounted servers. Air typically drawn in at the front of the rack and exhausted at the rear. Each cabinet can have additional cooling options; for example, they can have a Close Coupled Cooling attachable module or integrated with cabinet elements like cooling doors in iDataPlex server rack.
Another way of accommodating large numbers of systems in a small space is to use blade chassis , oriented vertically rather than horizontally, to facilitate convection. Air heated by the hot components tends to rise, creating a natural air flow along the boards stack effect , cooling them. NeweggBusiness - A great place to buy computers, computer parts, electronics, software, accessories, and DVDs online. With great prices, fast shipping, and top-rated customer service - once you know, you Newegg.
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A liquid cooling system consists of a pump with tubes that end with a metal plate, which sits on your CPU. When the liquid reaches the metal plate, it absorbs excess heat from the processor. A PC radiator expels hot air, usually using one or more fans.
Liquid coolers can be challenging to install, but many brands offer pre-built, all-in-one systems. These coolers undergo several quality assurance tests at the factory, so they're not likely to leak. Many all-in-one liquid coolers come with clear tubes and a colorful coolant to create a fashionable look inside a window-panel computer case. If you plan on using your PC for general computing tasks, like browsing the internet or working on spreadsheets, then a CPU air cooler is a suitable choice.
Consider DIY cooling systems when you shop. Coolers work by moving hot air from the CPU to a heatsink using fans. High-end air coolers feature strategically-placed fins and copper plates, which are effective at conducting heat. Since coolers rely on fans to perform their job, they may be noisier than a liquid cooling system. Also, advanced models can be bulky, so they won't fit into smaller computer cases.
Like many modifiable computer accessories , a CPU air cooler requires minimal maintenance. For example, it's advisable to clean the fans every once in a while, as dust and debris can obstruct their movements. Another advantage of using an air cooler is that there's no chance of dangerous leaks. U-type air coolers feature curved pipes in the shape of a U.
This type of construction makes air coolers very efficient at dissipating excess heat. C-shaped coolers have C-shaped pipes, allowing the installation of multiple fans in the same unit. This makes for increased cooling performance. Low-profile coolers have a smaller form to fit most laptops.
All coolers will maintain the efficient operation of your PC. Power Search. Sold by Newegg. ON OFF. Intel LGA AMD Others. AMD Socket Intel Others. Intel LGA v3. Show More. OEM Industries. Cooler Master. Mimo Tech. Lower than 30mm. Taller than mm.
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Fan only. Heatsinks only. As the name indicates, a case fan is a kind of fan used to cool the case or enclosure of the computer host. There are other names for this type of cooler like SYS fan. And, when the CPU cools down, the case will slow down.
How to cool down laptop if you find the machine is becoming hot? This post shows you 5 effective tips to keep the laptop cooler. Read More. How to Cool Down Laptop? Follow 5 Tips to Keep It Cooler.
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