bit-tech.net

Hardcore Computer launches immersion cooled PCs

Hardcore Computer launches immersion cooled PCs

The new Reactor system from Hardcore Computer totally immerses the components in non-conductive liquid coolant.

Some of you might remember the Amari XMP we had a look at when we visited i34, an ultra high end system where the components were completely immersed in a bath of supercomputer coolant rather than such archaic methods as air or mere water. While it was an unquestionably cool piece of kit, we never thought we’d see the concept make it to retail – the cost of the coolant alone made it highly impractical.

How wrong we were then, as US based system builder Hardcore Computer has just launched its Reactor line of premium systems, featuring a patented total coolant immersion system which allows even triple SLI GeForce GTX 280 setups to operate without any fans at all – all the heat is carried away from the components using custom heatsinks which disperse the heat into the coolant, which is then cooled using a radiator.

Because the coolant is entirely non-conductive, the hardware has no problem operating in its submerged environment, and the additional cooling capability allow for a great deal of overclocking headroom for all the components inside.
What’s even more impressive is that Hardware Computer have managed to produce the Reactor at a cost that, while some will no doubt balk at, is pretty reasonable considering the cooling setup on offer – prices start at around $5000 for a quad core system with a single GeForce GTX 280 – steep yes, but not entirely unaffordable, and considering the exclusivity of owning such a unique system we’re sure there’ll be plenty of demand.

Our friends over at Custom PC had a chance to interview Chad Attlesey, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Hardcore Computer about its Reactor series of PCs, including the ins and outs of how the revolutionary cooling system works.

It’s certainly a big step forward in home hardware cooling, and while only just making it into the market place, we’d love to see more of this kind of kit, although swapping out hardware might become something of a damp experience. Tempted to import yourself a Reactor system? Or do you not see the point in total immersion cooling? Let us know in the forums!

30 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
WildThing 23rd October 2008, 13:12 Quote
Wow that's pretty cool, although I'm guessing it will be a while before/if it becomes mainstream.
badders 23rd October 2008, 13:44 Quote
When are you getting one in for review?

Also - the radiator is cooled by fans, although it is very quiet.
DaMightyMouse 23rd October 2008, 14:42 Quote
Cool beans, want one ... although replacing a part will be quiet tricky
Dr. Strangelove 23rd October 2008, 15:30 Quote
Maybe I'm missing something but why are there tubes going to what looks like "old-style"water cooling heat blocks, surely the idea would be that the components that got hot would have air style heatsinks and the heat would be transferred to the liquid all around the system. Otherwise this would just be a "water" cooled system with "water" around it (guess makes it less of an issue if there is a leak ;) )

have a look here http://www.hardcorecomputer.com/ProductCategoryDetail.aspx (under the quality tab)
Nikumba 23rd October 2008, 15:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove
Maybe I'm missing something but why are there tubes going to what looks like "old-style"water cooling heat blocks, surely the idea would be that the components that got hot would have air style heatsinks and the heat would be transferred to the liquid all around the system. Otherwise this would just be a "water" cooled system with "water" around it (guess makes it less of an issue if there is a leak ;) )

have a look here http://www.hardcorecomputer.com/ProductCategoryDetail.aspx (under the quality tab)

I see what you mean, I think this is probally needed to move the fluid over the CPU, as shifting all that fluid at a rate to move heat away I would imagine would need a hefty pump, this way they can keep a sustained flow over the hotter parts

Kimbie
Dr. Strangelove 23rd October 2008, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikumba
I see what you mean, I think this is probally needed to move the fluid over the CPU, as shifting all that fluid at a rate to move heat away I would imagine would need a hefty pump, this way they can keep a sustained flow over the hotter parts

Kimbie

Sure but with all the engineering that has gone into making this.. you would think they could come up with a cooler (pardon the pun) solution. Maybe use the pumps to just shift the coolant around the case?
steveo_mcg 23rd October 2008, 15:56 Quote
I think we decided in the other thread that it was for performance since the pre cooled oil is dumped directly on to the hottest parts of the unit.
Dr. Strangelove 23rd October 2008, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
I think we decided in the other thread that it was for performance since the pre cooled oil is dumped directly on to the hottest parts of the unit.
To me that just ruins the whole thing.. I would even take a performance hit to make it work without waterblocks...
Xenith 23rd October 2008, 16:55 Quote
i would love to see someone here at bit-tech do a project with the pc components completely immersed in a coolant >.>
really i just want to see how its done and what kind of precautions and such need to be taken when doing something like that ^.^
_DTM2000_ 23rd October 2008, 17:12 Quote
Droool, I really want one of those. I'd have to see some benchmark scores etc first though.
Seen as they even custom make the motherboard, it would be interesting to see how it compairs against similar spec systems.

I bet the shipping to the UK is a killer though, seen as they weigh over 50KG.
Not to mention the hefty import tax bill you'll get raped for by Mr Darling.
proxess 23rd October 2008, 17:14 Quote
How is the PSU hooked up and working in these conditions? Can someone explain? I know the liquid is non conductive but still wouldn't it normally do something terrible to the PSU?
Nikumba 23rd October 2008, 17:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
How is the PSU hooked up and working in these conditions? Can someone explain? I know the liquid is non conductive but still wouldn't it normally do something terrible to the PSU?

Not really, the PSU i imagine will either be in the fluid or sit out of it, either way if the fluid is non conductive, there will be no problems. If you saw the danger men program on C5 last week, you would have seen them washing 500,000 volt powerlines in a helo with pure water with no issues, so i dont see how a small 240v psu will casue problems
Thacrudd 23rd October 2008, 18:16 Quote
The PSU is immersed as well. If you read the interview, there's actually 2 PSUs in there! This is way cool, I'd love to have one. These guys did it right.
themax 23rd October 2008, 19:26 Quote
Maybe it's because I'm not a huge computer buff in the sense of overclocking and such, but what is the point of a $5000 Immersion cooled computer?

It definately looks cool, and sounds nice to have, but it's priced way, way out of what I could afford. For $5000 I would rather pay closing costs on a house or make a downpayment on a car. I don't think things like this really help the PC market when so many manufacturers price optimized gaming hardware/setups out of the mainstream reach. Sorry, just had to say that. Again, that whole setup is definately cool, but way too expensive.
Dr. Strangelove 23rd October 2008, 20:04 Quote
btw I remember being part of the group discussing the original immersion computers (on overclockers.com and one problem was the caps which "pop'ed" after some time ... is this solved??
Redbeaver 23rd October 2008, 20:31 Quote
metarinka 23rd October 2008, 20:57 Quote
octools has done this before... crica 2000 http://www.octools.com/index.cgi?caller=articles/submersion/submersion.html

for the record you can put every solid state piece of equipment under the coolant including the power supply. In fact many transformers for power lines are oil submerged.

The problem with say submersion cooling over directed cooling is that you're adding a lot of waste heat to the system. For example you can buy a perfectly reasonable air cooled powersupply that is silent and has no need for further cooling. By submersion cooling this part all you are doing is adding more heat that needs to be extracted. Same goes for south bridges, and other smaller controller chips that don't need additional cooling.

That being said it is a nice looking case. I've always wanted to build a partial submersion rig using transformer oil
Lazarus Dark 24th October 2008, 00:19 Quote
Somebody has to say it...

But can it...

Bitstream HD audio?

:|

Seriously, in my professional opinion... This is pretty fricking cool. (no pun intended)

I don't mean submersion. It's been done. I've got some drafts around here I did for one a couple years ago, though I never got around to building it. It's just very difficult to do and be practical.
But this. This, I am impressed with. It is sleek, well designed, fully thought out (the handles for removing the mobo are genius). I have not even considered buying a prebuilt in five years, I wouldn't even get one of the fancy ones if I won a million dollars... until this one. Starting at five grand? So, they are selling this at cost? My guess is, these guys just wanted one for themselves and throw out the R&D time and cost as just fun time (wouldn't you enjoy such work?). The case is gorgeous and the exclusivity would be an egotrip. I love the whole design, from the board to the way the vid cards mount, to the cord management. This is some fine looking case.

I would though really love to see some benchmarks comparisons, especially if this is really a custom mobo.
LordPyrinc 24th October 2008, 00:33 Quote
Looks cool. Only time will tell if it truly creates a niche in the market. Regardless, advances on already existing ideas are always a positive push forward in our discovery of the next great invention.
ZseLotH 24th October 2008, 01:19 Quote
First problems occurs when you're adding 2nd GPU, Next one from that will be cleaning your pci-e slot from the coolant. :D
DLoney 24th October 2008, 03:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZseLotH
First problems occurs when you're adding 2nd GPU, Next one from that will be cleaning your pci-e slot from the coolant. :D

the coolant isnt a problem, and ya can add up to 3 GPUs in SLI. Slick system build if you ask me. The premium price seems to come from somewhere this time...
Project_Nightmare 24th October 2008, 06:13 Quote
Cool but pointless. I have seen people immerse their computers in stuff like oil and water and it is nothing impressive. I agree that this system will need a strong pump and some way to keep the cpu and gpus cool. I'd like to see the finished product but will never buy it.

And why hasn't anyone talked about an accidental leak yet?
rjkoneill 24th October 2008, 09:15 Quote
cool - would be interesting to se how this performs compared to the similar system featured in custom pc recently
ZseLotH 24th October 2008, 13:35 Quote
But to think than you have to empty the whole thing during the hardware update and also you have to clean all unused unprotected slots from the coolant. As the coolant is not responsive to electricity it will be pain in the neck when you are adding more memory or GPUs.
steveo_mcg 24th October 2008, 13:55 Quote
The motherboard lifts from the unit out the top so you don't have to drain it, there is also a notch to hold the motherboard to allow it to drain while you disconnect all the wires.
Nexxo 24th October 2008, 20:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus Dark
Seriously, in my professional opinion... This is pretty fricking cool. (no pun intended)

I don't mean submersion. It's been done. I've got some drafts around here I did for one a couple years ago, though I never got around to building it. It's just very difficult to do and be practical.
But this. This, I am impressed with. It is sleek, well designed, fully thought out (the handles for removing the mobo are genius). I have not even considered buying a prebuilt in five years, I wouldn't even get one of the fancy ones if I won a million dollars... until this one. Starting at five grand? So, they are selling this at cost? My guess is, these guys just wanted one for themselves and throw out the R&D time and cost as just fun time (wouldn't you enjoy such work?). The case is gorgeous and the exclusivity would be an egotrip. I love the whole design, from the board to the way the vid cards mount, to the cord management. This is some fine looking case.
Absolutely. As I said in this thread (alecamused got there first, guys. Sorry) it is so elegantly designed I could cry. It is without doubt the best immersion-cooled PC I have seen, ever. And that includes the Armari XPC.

Although I would fill it with Fluorinert. :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Project_Nightmare
And why hasn't anyone talked about an accidental leak yet?
Should we? Looks like a pretty sturdy design. Conventional watercooled PCs don't exactly spring leaks all the time either.
Ending Credits 24th October 2008, 21:45 Quote
What if you replaced the Rad with a low power TEC with a huge passive heatsink.

Could you fit it? Would it make any difference to cooling performance? Would it be awesome if you got rid of the physical HDDs and ran a completely silent PC? :D
barry99705 25th October 2008, 18:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ending Credits
What if you replaced the Rad with a low power TEC with a huge passive heatsink.

Could you fit it? Would it make any difference to cooling performance? Would it be awesome if you got rid of the physical HDDs and ran a completely silent PC? :D

It doesn't need the external drives. There's space inside for ssd's. I think they said they're working on a peltier cooled design for down the road.
The_Beast 25th October 2008, 19:00 Quote
I can do that too and it doesn't cost $5000
mnpctech 1st November 2008, 15:17 Quote
I'll get to see it up close. I'm meeting with Hardcore Computer's CTO, Chad Attlesey next week to discuss ideas for a mod project to help promote the Reactor PC.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums