|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Phase Change cooling, what is it?|
|Posted by Dexter K.|
|Thursday, 19 April 2012 21:31|
Thats right, now for future reviews we will be featuring results for extreme cooling. Motherboards and some video cards will be cooled to sub-zero temperatures just for our lucky Funkykit viewers. That means this hardware will be pushed to its extreme limits and have what most people would consider to be excessive amounts of voltage used.
Some of you might be thinking, What is Phase Change cooling?
Phase change works much like a refrigerator in that it takes a coolant or gas and compresses it in order to achieve freezing temperatures. There are a few basic components to a phase change system.
There is the:
Compressor- The compressor takes the gas and compresses it in order to change the coolant used from a gas to a liquid
Suction line - This applies the cold block to the heat-source and also removes the heat load where it is pushed back into the cooling system
Condensor - This is pretty much the radiator of the system. The coolant/ gas is cooled down and the heat is pushed into the air with the use of fans. Much like a watercooling loop on a computer, or a cooling system on a car.
If you want to get generic, a phase change system is much like a watercooling loop except that it changes a coolant from liquid to gas and that is what makes the sub-zero temperatures. On a normal watercooling loop the heat is carried away in the water but it does not change physical states. In a Phase-change unit the coolant changing states is what causes the sub-zero temperatures
Why Phase Change?
For people who do extreme benchmarking a Phase Change setup can be a lifesaver since it can provide extreme temperatures on demand. Many people go about achieving extreme temperatures through one of a few different ways.
One of the most popular ways is by using a CPU or GPU pot paired with some sort of cooling agent. Liquid nitrogen is a popular cooling agent since it hardly makes any mess and pouring it is very easy. However, it can be very expensive depending on your area and since you can only have so much of it at a time depending on the size of your dewar(the container to hold liquid nitrogen) it makes long sessions or 24/7 use impractical.Not to mention since it is so cold (-196*C) there is a good chance that you will have condensation build-up after using it for awhile. The cost of being setup for liquid nitrogen is anywhere from $90-300 for the pot, $200+ for the dewar, and $1-5/ litre of liquid nitrogen.
Another popular cooling agent is dry ice. But much like Liquid nitrogen you can only have so much of it, and using it for 24/7 use is not practical at all. Dry ice is usually cheaper than liquid nitrogen (but is also not as cold, around -80*C), and does not need a specific container to hold it in like a dewar. But with dry ice you must keep in mind that it will usually evaporate within a day if you do not use it. This makes using it for daily cooling impractical. Much like liquid nitrogen the costs are $90-300 for the pot, no need for a dewar, and dry ice can be bought for $1-5/LB.
Enter phase change cooling
Phase change is great because unlike liquid nitrogen or dry ice you can use it for your 24/7 daily cooling. Depending on your unit, you can expect to achieve temperatures around -50*C with a single stage setup. This is no slouch at all!
Another great feature is that you do not really have to worry about condensation bulld-up if you properly insulate your motherboard or video card since it does not spread the cold in the same way that liquid nitrogen or dry ice do. This means it is very possible to install a phase change unit and enjoy -50*C temperatures non-stop.One of the drawbacks though is that is is more noisy than dry ice or liquid nitrogen since the pump constantly has to be working to change the coolant back into a liquid state. This is about as loud a refigerator so if that noise does not bother you, there is nothing to worry about. A single-stage unit can cost anywhere from $200-1000 depending on how big of a heat load you want it to deal with.
For people that are not content with a Single-Stage phase change cooler there are also two or three stage phase units. These are called Cascades. A cascade works much like a single-stage but it uses multiple stages to further compress the coolant, and often uses different types of gasses/ coolants to achieve better temperatures. The heat-loads are generally the same as a Single-stage, but a two-stage can usually hit from -70 to -100*C and a three-stage can hit from -100 to -175*C. When it comes to price, if you need to ask it is usually too much. A decent single stage setup can cost from $1500-2000 easily. More fancy ones go even higher in price. While the startup cost is more than liquid nitrogen or dry ice you can have cold temperatures on demand and over the long haul it ends up being cheaper if you bechmark enough.
Well, thats cool and all but what kind of unit does Funkykit have you might ask?
Funkykit will be using a Single-Stage unit for select reviews. This unit is a custom unit made by the builder Sdumper who builds custom units for anyone in the US or Canada. People in Europe can look to Little Devil who makes great looking units.
This Sdumper unit is rated to cool a 300w heat load to -50*C. That means this is one of the most powerful single-stage cooling units out there. Some of the older units like the OCZ Cryo are rated for 150w at -40*C or the Vapochill Mach1/2 at even lower heat loads.
Keep your eyes open for results with this Phase unit.
It will soon be tested with the Intel 3930k processor and results will be on the front page!