Heat Pipe Wine Chiller PC Cooling

[Gordon Johnson] sent in one of the odder active cooling mods I’ve seen. Initially he planned to use lots of pennies to create the heat pipe, but ended up using some copper pipe with some pennies tacked on to mate to the cpu. The pipe carries the cpu heat from the case into a… wine cooler. Judging from the size, I’d guess that the cooler is one of the peltier variety. To see the final creation, I had to go through the slide show youtube video.

29 thoughts on “Heat Pipe Wine Chiller PC Cooling

  1. that system was a P3.
    If it were a P4, I would not trust 4 pennies arranged like that to cool it. I would have liked to seen a proper cpu mount instead, even if it was just the pipe jammed into a coper 3rd party (or even stock) heatsink.

    I don’t understand the reasoning for sealing every part of the case, that just prevents natural air flow (no fans in the case). If it was for noise, he could isolate the harddrive alone, with a big heatsink connected…

    Still a great idea. What model cooler is that, and how much do they cost?

  2. #1 if you had read the article you might have noticed this:

    “4 Pennies between 1962-1982*”, “(I used these years because it contained the highest amount of copper, 95% copper and 5% zinc)”

    btw cool idea, etc. but ultimately not very practical or efficient. Which is fine, the fun is in building it :).

  3. #3 Adreed, looks like more fun than anything, as it’s not really practical.

    Probally could have just used large passive heat sinks to do the same.

    I bet if he remove the chiller, that the pipe would be enough to cool the cpu.

  4. Interesting idea, but from experience i can say that these mini fridges are not designed for permanent use.

    We bought one of these to cool the milk for our cappuccinatore, it seems to be the same model. We just drilled on tiny hole for the milk hose. After two days permanent use the fan died, which we replaced. After one year of 24/7 use, the cooling performance seems to degrade even though the fan is still running. Do peltier elements degrade after long term usage?

    Another thing, this fridge is not really quiet.

  5. why are people obsessed with using pennies as a source of copper! As stated earlier, most of them are mostly zinc, and the pure copper ones don’t cost $.01 any more…

    Also, what he built is by no means a heat pipe, as the term ‘heat pipe’ implies that the cooling is mostly dependent on the ‘working fluid’ in the pipe, which transfers energy by evaporating on the hot side and condensing on the cold side.

    I suppose that just with the sheer copper mas can can cool a p3 (putting out like 30w?), but don’t expect to be able to pull a stunt like that with any modern processor.

    I will give it to Will, it was ‘odd’

  6. I’ll try and answer most of your questions here:

    It is an Emerson wine chiller, and surprisingly enough, it was only $30. Just froogle that name and it’ll come up.

    About the noise of the fridge, maybe I’m deaf, but it seems fairly quiet to me. Thanks for the heads up about the fridge being unstable.

    About the heatsink alone cooling the CPU, that is correct since the CPU is merely a P3. But, after much tests of the Emerson wine chiller in use/not in use, I did notice a significant performance difference. Without the wine chiller, it got to about 120 (pipe near the base, and it was 92 degrees outside) and with the wine chiller, it was 2 degrees below the outside temperature.

    Also, the heat pipe phrasing, I just called it that since, well, its a pipe, and transmits heat, but I do appreciate the correction. :)

  7. Those peltier junction based coolers are power hungry and create a fair amount of heat themselves.
    They themselves probably have better heatsinks and fans then your CPU did originally!

    For an interesting project it’s awesome, but there’s no real advantage here, just trading heat for more heat eleswhere and more power consumption for your trouble.

    Save the middlemen and just transplant the wine cooler’s heatsink and fan onto your CPU, problem solved! :D
    (though admittedly not nearly as fun!)

  8. I’m generally all for throwing paper calculations to the wind and just trying something, but thats not to say science and or common sense should go out the window with it.

    for starters, $5 and a trip to the hardware store would net either a sheet or bar of copper that would serve far better than a few pennies. Trust me on this one: pennies are terrible heat conductors (even high percentage copper ones). ask me how I know? A highschool solar cooker failure proved that point to me. (certainly an argument could be made that everyone needs to find out the hard way.. but this was a perfectly bad waste of good effort.)

    second: the thermometer in between the cpu and the chiller?!?! whats that going to pove? and, is it taped on? I cant tell.

    Merely smushing the thing onto the pipe wont tell you anything (accuracy approaching zero). drilling a hole and jaming it in there (in which case, it would come out perpendicular from the pipe) will only tell ambient pipe air temp (*IF* you stubbed the tip so that less than 1/4 the length was exposed to outside air, since thermometers of that type tell the average temp over its length) . brazing the thermo on to the pipe is at least a solid step in the right direction.

    Theres another problem though. measuring the temp between the cpu and the fridge does not tell you either piece’s temp. *assuming* the ‘heat pipe’ and fridge are actully doing something, the temp reading will only be the *net effect* temperature. In otherwords, the difference in temp between the measurement and the fridge, will also be the difference in temp between the measurement and cpu. Thats right, your cpu is actually running significantly higher than you are reading. like.. *a lot higher*

    before making any more claims to performance, you should have done two things: 1 – attached a proper thermocouple device to the cpu. 2 – took measurements of the *unmodified* system as compared to room temp and then repeated the tests with your so called upgrade.

    I hate to sound harsh.. but you have no ‘reality points’ on this mod.

  9. @ #8
    Inside the cooler, since the door is thick, I used grommets on either end, thus making it sturdy. From there on in, it remains open pretty much about a 1/2 inch away from the back of the cooler.

    @ #9
    Haha, that would be interesting if it were. But no, just an Emerson chiller I found online for 30 bucks.

    @ #10
    I don’t necessarily call 36 watts (yes, 36, I don’t know why it isn’t 35). That’s about half the wattage of the lowest watt light bulb. And in terms of trading heat, try 2 degrees cooler than the outside case temperature (from 92 to 90). I call that a big advantage. And about transporting the heatsink and fan… no, that just doesn’t make sense. That’s not how it works at all. It circulates a grade of freon around to cool the air inside it. As per heat that it gives off, it feels about 80 to me, I’ll get back to you with the temps that the fans put off, but really, hardly anything to mention.

  10. @ #11
    How is “placing the air thermometer on the base of the copper heatsink (right next to the CPU)” not a fairly accurate reading of the heat being dispersed by the copper? I don’t really have any other means testing the tube’s temperature. Also, the motherboard did not have a temperature sensor…

    When I measured the temperature of the copper alone outside of the unit, it was to see if the cold air was traveling at all from the wine chiller to the copper at the other end.

    And yes, temperatures were taken with and without the Emerson wine chiller. But of course, those weren’t to your liking. I will try and get my hands on a thermocouple, and let you know if there is that large of a difference in the readings.

  11. I have an old shuttle XPC kicking around, and it has a ‘heat pipe’ cooler, kind of along the same lines of this, except its copper pipes are filled with a fluid that evaporates from the processor end, and condenses at the cooling end, running back down to the processor. I dont know what the chemical is, possibly condensed freon, or perhaps just alcohol, however It hasnt always been reliable, and I have nearly fried my processor from it before. To cut a long story short, I really wouldn’t trust the copper pipe alone cooling method..I would at least try filling it half up with a coolant, and seal the other end (oh and make sure the cooling end is raised higher than the processor). I think that the heatsink would be alot more efficient this way…

  12. I seriously doubt that wine chiller has any sort of compression/decompression based heat transfer system, more likely, its just one of those peltier based types, which could’ve been moved into the case pretty easily…

  13. @ #15

    Possible condensation, risk I don’t really want to take, and the wine chiller would be way too small to fit everything.

    @ #14
    I don’t think that it would be alcohol, it would evaporate wicked fast. I remember hearing something from a friend of mine stating that copper tubing by default sometimes comes with mineral water in it? Not too sure though…
    This project is purely experimental during this phase, I will be sure to keep all of you posted about the temperatures (obviously to the best of my ability considering the fact that the mobo does not have a temperature guage).

  14. Like I said, it really doesn’t work that way with a thermal cooler. It would be more efficient to place the unit in a freezer while taking several precautions such as coating the wires and other items from possibly being corroded, and to somehow limit the condensation, etc.

    But good thought, keep the ideas a comin’ to improve this beast.

  15. I know the author didn’t mean this to be an actual heat pipe, but the misuse of heat pipes now is getting ridiculous.

    These things work on gravity. The heat source at the bottom heats up a liquid with a low boiling point, the heat makes it rise, when it gets to the cooler top part it condenses and drips back down a braided wick.

    If the heat source is higher then the cooling element then the heat pipe effect won’t work. The amount of products that I see made this is astounding and shows a concerning lack of knowledge on the part of buyers who should probably know better. The only way these move heat when not used properly is through conduction, so using solid copper would actually work better.

    It hurts every time I see some idiot that had spent $100 on a heat pipe cooler and mounted it upside down or sideways. These people are making computer nerds look as nutty as audiophiles.

  16. I didn’t title the article as such, just an FYI. Though I did mis-use the term a few times within my article. Bare in mind, at the time I was thinking of the following: copper + shape of a pipe + heat transfer = heat pipe.

    And lol @ audiophiles. :D

  17. # 20 Thats pretty much what I said in #14! Anyway after some research I found out they use a chemical made by 3M, however I looked it up in work, i’m now home and I have forgotten the name of it…D’oh, but as I said the heat source needs to be lower than the cooling end for it to work… however they don’t all use wicks. Some of them just let the liquid run freely inside…i’m contemplating cutting open the copper piping from my XPc heatpipe just to see whats in side..not sure how much a new one would cost though! Perhaps I could just use a standard heatsink..

  18. #20 – I thought the “gravity” and the “wick” heat pipes were two different things?

    “In the case of vertically-oriented heat pipes the fluid may be moved by the force of gravity. In the case of heat pipes containing wicks, the fluid is returned by capillary action.”

    Aren’t most large p4 heat sinks now heat pipes? Laptops too? How can either of those be mounted vertically?

  19. @ #26

    With magic of course!

    You could use a grommet to hold it steady of mounted partially outside of the case. I am assuming that you are making reference to the project.

    But for the general use of the term heatpipe, I am not really sure how it could be upright, considering the liquid inside it.

  20. ….Which brings me back to my original post.. My heatpipe operates using gravity, and it contains ethanol!! (I decided to cut it open just to find out..) Pity i hadn’t seen the wikipedia article first!

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