Asetek bring liquid cooling to laptops

March 23, 2012 // 11:40 a.m.

Tags: #alienware-m18x #asetek #cooling #gaming-laptop #heatpipes #heatsink #laptop #liquid-cooling #thermal-management

Cooling specialist Asetek has announced it is moving into a previously uncharted market: liquid cooling for laptops.

Designed for high-performance desktop replacement systems, and equally at home in slim form factor all-in-one PC designs, Asetek's system packs genuine liquid cooling technology into the smallest space yet. The result, Asetek claims, is the ability to use top-rated thermal design profile (TDP) parts in laptops, and potentially even to overclock components.

The problem with traditional cooling solutions whereby the GPU and CPU are given a dedicated heatpipe-based heatsink each, the company claims, comes from the load characteristics. When the GPU is loaded, the CPU is often below full capacity; when the CPU is loaded, the GPU sits near idle. The result is that cooling potential is wasted on components that don't need it, while the hot-running parts are given only half the cooling area they could otherwise have.

That's where Asetek's liquid cooling system comes in. Running a loop which interconnects both the GPU and CPU, the cooling system offers its full capabilities to either component on demand. Coupled with the greater thermal mass of liquid compared to air and the lower thermal resistance of the liquid cooled 'cold plates' compared to traditional heat pipes, it's a system which promises to vastly improve laptop cooling.

While the key feature of Asetek's cooling system is in its performance, there are other benefits too. The company claims that by fitting multiple heat exchangers and slowing fans, the system provides equal or better cooling to traditional technologies with vastly reduced noise. Considering the jet-engine tones of many desktop replacement laptops, that's no bad thing.

In a video demonstration, the company shows off an Alienware M18x laptop fitted with Asetek's new cooling system. Featuring an Intel Core i7-2920XM processor and dual AMD Radeon HD 6990M GPUs, it's a beast - but Asetek claims the liquid cooling system means overclocking to new heights is a very real possibility.

Using the new liquid cooling system, Asetek was able to boost the peak clock speed of the Core i7 processor from 3.5GHz to 4.4GHz, while the GPUs were boosted from 680MHz to 800MHz. These speeds, Asetek claims, were simply not possible using the Alienware M18x's traditional cooling system.

Thus far, Asetek hasn't announced which original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) will be taking on the patent-pending technology, but if it proves as efficacious as the company claims it's sure to find its way into future generations of gaming laptops.

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