C.O.P. submersion testing

serpretetsky

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Computer Oil Project.

So i've decided to do some oil submersion testing. I'm interested in which oil / fluid performs best per price.

I've been mesmirized by submersion cooling for quite a while because of two unique properties it has that other methods of cooling do not.

a) completely silent
b) complete cooling of ALL components (not unique peices like cpu, NB, gpu, etc)

it's also interesting to note that submersion cooling is not nececessarily exclusive of other types of cooling. You can still get better heatsinks, insulated water cooling loops, and possible below-zero cooling systems (choose your fluid wisely!).

===============================================================================================================================================================
TEST #1 "will engine oil kill my computer"
I'm beginning with testing of engine / motor oil. I've been going all over the internet and besides a tom's hardware article that recommends using engine oil instead of vegetable, i can't find anybody who's used engine or motor oil to cool computer. Most people have told me that it will probably eat away at plastic and rubber components (capacitor seals, the boards themselves, bla bla bla). Well... i'm hoping to find out if that's true.

I've assembled an extremely high end computer consisting of:
pentium 3 600mhz
asus p3b-f mobo
geforce 2 gts
250watt PSU
512MB pc100 sdram

computer passed 24 hour stability test before oil consisting of:
prime95 small fft
hci memtest
villagemark




OIL poured in.




,I have submerged this computer in formula shell 5-30 oil (the cheapest i could find...)

It is currently being stability tested in oil.

I am not monitoring temps too closely because i'm not concerned with that in this part of my testing. Temps did drop from 58C to 42C on cpu as i poured oil, but that was before i let the oil settle to final temps. I do also have three fans running in the setup: cpu, gpu, psu.

UPDATE 4/3/09:
24 hour stability test in oil has passed. The oil has grown pleasantly warm. Right after I closed the stability test i decided to check bios really quick for temps. CPU was hovering from 60C to 62C, NB was around 42C. The cpu temp is fine, however, im getting the feeling NB might be higher than it would be without oil because of being heated from oil.

I've also began to wonder about the Power Supply being submerged in oil. The only benefit PSU sees from being submerged is being silenced, i'm not sure any added cooling for the PSU benefits me at all. On the other hand, is the PSU heating up the oil noticably and causing all the other components to be warmer than i want them?

All of the electronics in a computer convert most of the energy they draw to heat. The PSU is inputing a certain amount of power from the wall. If the PSU is around 70% eifficient, that means 70% of the power will go to the electronics, which convert it straight to heat anyways, and around 30% of the power the PSU will turn into heat. So then anywhere from 1/3 to 1/4 of all the heat being generated in my little system is from the PSU. Is any of my math wrong here?

I also do not want to remove the PSU completely from the oil, because although this is all theoretical testing, I'm doing it from the standpoint of creating an actual case designed for custom hardware and oil. If such a case were to be built, trying to keep the PSU separate from the rest of the components would be a pain in the ass.

I've been considering creating some sort of an insulating barrier with holes for cables between the PSU and the rest of the components, but i would have to make sure that the PSU has less than 1/3 of the total surface area of the tub and surface of oil to be used for cooling. Otherwise, if i just create an insulating barrier down the middle, I would probably get the opposite of what i want, with my PSU being cooled even better than before, and everything else heating up more.

UPDATE 5/6/09
So the computer has been running strong with no issues. I try to use it like a normal computer but with a lot more stress testing. Usually I leave it on, sometimes i have different stress tests going, once in a while i'll turn it off overnight, and then boot it back up in the morning. I took it out of the oil yesterday to inspect it, no difference so far. All the fans spin just fine too (PSU , video , and cpu). Also, as a side note, i've noticed all of the other oil projects have trouble with oil seeping up the cables coming out of the oil, interestingly, i have not had this problem at all. I have felt the cables just two inches above the oil level and they are completely dry.

UPDATE 5/9/09
I have put the computer back in the tub for further testing. While i was doing this, i have felt the first effects of the motor oil. Sure enough, most of the plastic parts on my computer have become quite brittle. I didn't realize it at first, but after attempting to bend my round ide cables, i found they simple wouldn't bend. The round plastic cover they use to cover the 80 or 40 wires is not bendable at all anymore. I then checked the insulation for all the smaller cables (PSU wires , cpu fan wires, etc) and sure enough, they are all a little more brittle and "springy". Finally, I tried bending my video card (just a little) and found it to be harder than my ati card which it used to bend the same as.

UPDATE 6/30/09
have lost some of my enthususiasm for this project, none the less, i still have the computer up and running. Passes prime95 small fft + HCI memtest + villagemark running at the same time over 24 hour period no problem. No issues, will need to check to see if all the fans are still running in the future. Last stress test was started during 100 degree fahrenheit weather.

UPDATE 10/6/09
So i came to check out the computer about 3 weeks ago and it wasn't booting anymore. Due to lack of time, i have delayed messing with it. Today i have finally taken it apart to see what was up. The machine wasn't posting, nothing was being displayed. I pulled the whole thing out of the oil and tested it. All the fans were still working fine, but for some reason no video is going to the monitor. I grabbed the setup i was using for the overclocking section and found that it didn't boot anymore either (using the same PSU). Unfortunately i can't really investigate what exactly failed. The overclocking motherboard was never properly cleaned after it's overclocking run, so it's been sitting in a layer of the same oil as the endurance run. The PSU obviously provides power to the boards (all the fans start up) and the PSU fan works as well, however, i suppose it's possible something in the PSU fried somehow, and now it's provided proper voltages on one of the lines.

This test has come to its end. The computer, after 6 months, has failed. I could only conclude that one of two things happened.
1) the oil messed up the PSU somehow
2) the oil messed up a critical component (cpu or mobo) on BOTH the endurance machine and the overclock machine.

I'm sorry i didn't get more indepth, i had to clean out my test setup as its in the way of some other stuff, plus i don't have more equipment to try to and isolate which component failed exactly.

I would, through personal experience, not recommend using motor oil to submerge your computer

p.s. as a sidenote, it's interesting that all the plastic has gotten quite brittle. Different plastics seem to react differently. The AC cable still has some flex to it, the plastic cover that coevered my round ide cables is completely solid (it was very soft before). All the pcb boards are a little stiffer.

===============================================================================================================================================================
test #2 Does engine oil affect any thermal grease used?

The other concern i had was whether or not engine oil has any effect on thermal paste (dissolves it? chemically reacts with it?) For this test i simply took three different samples: Arctic Silver 3, Arctic Silver ceramique, and generic thermalright grease, and submerged them in a tube of engine oil. I will be checking on it once every two days to see if the mass of grease has changed or if the consistency is different.

UPDATE 4/4/09
I have only been giving the greases visual inspections, i decided i don't want to mess around with them for about 3 weeks, when i can do a direct before and after photo comparison and then play around with them. The Silver ceramique and thermalright grease (both generic white looking) are visually the same. The Arctic Silver 3 has taken on the appearance of dried mud.

UPDATE 5/8/09
Pulled the thermal paste out of the test tube and also took photos, here's some before and after photos

BEFORE------------------------------------------AFTER


Both the white pastes haven't changed, however, the arctic silver has noticeably changed. The arctic silver has become very liquid like, it was dripping off of the stick as i pulled it out and put it to drain.

UPDATE 6/30/09
The only thing left of the arctic silver is a silvery puddle, not the original dab that used to be there. Both the white pastes are still "dabs".

UPDATE 10/6/09
arctic silver is just a stain now,both the white pastes look exactly the same as when i put them on. I am concluding this test. Arctic silver seems to be a no go for regular motor oil.
===============================================================================================================================================================
TEST #3 : Overclocking Test

I am going to test maximum overclock of a computer in air, as well as in motor oil (same oil as in TEST 1). As usual, i have gathered amazing hardware:
amd k6-2 (unknown stock clock)
unknown motherboard
64mb 100mhz sdram

(yeah, im missing some information, give me a break, it's 1:00)

maximum overclock achieved in air is 95mhz * 4.5 @ 2.9V cpu (tried 3.1V and 3.2V, didn't help. These things can take a lot of beating though)
maximum overclock achieved in oil is 95mhz * 4.5 @ 2.9V cpu (couldn't do anything higher, no matter how much i played around with voltage or fsb/multiplier settings)

As a side note, trying to overclock a computer with jumpers for fsb, mult, and Vcore while it's submerged in dark oil is the most annoying thing possible. I will have to try this test again later with a slightly more modern machine with more voltage controls.



===============================================================================================================================================================

While this test is underway, I'm gladly accepting advice on testing as well as different fluids to test. I know i wanto compare engine oil to mineral oil (assuming engine oil passes my first tests...). Tell me if there's any other fluids you want tested. I'm also gladly accepting computer hardware ( i'm going to need 2 or more identical computers, same PSU's, same CPU's, same mobo's... it can be old hardware...)

I'm still not 100% sure how i will do a comparison test of different fluids because I
a) do not have control of environment temperature
b) am cheap.

I know i will be focusing on stable overclockability and NOT temperature, but I don't know if i will be using multiple identical computers or if i find some other method.
 
Last edited:

The Red

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nice experiment... but buying some oils will be pricey.

I'm doing my own experiments right now with using EVOO for lubricant. It'd be interesting to see if it can be used as permanent coolant in which a PC can be submerged. I dont think it deteriorates plastics, rubber, or metals. In fact, it has a lot of anti-oxidants that preserve not just people but metals too. There are certain other oils with more anti-oxidants than EVOO though, if you want to look into Oil as a PC component preservative.
 

serpretetsky

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nice experiment... but buying some oils will be pricey.

I'm doing my own experiments right now with using EVOO for lubricant. It'd be interesting to see if it can be used as permanent coolant in which a PC can be submerged.
oil going rancid... ewww. olive/vegetable oil might be part of the test but i'm not sure. Does rancid oil have any negative effects?
 

BrainEater

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:D

cool !

I look forward to seeing what yah come up with.

-------------

Yes your PSU is adding considerable amounts of heat to the system....best to decide now if you want it submerged.Personally I've stopped submersing the PSU's in my test stuff.....

------

As far as whether or not motor oil will affect stuff , Yes , it most definitly will.

But you don't have to take my word for it....A quick look for 'materials compatability' of rubber,PVC,styrene,nylon ..etc , in regards to motor oil will answer that question.

Basically what happens is the oil dissolves the 'plasicizers' in the rubbers and plastics.

It will also dissolve some thermal greases....

But you will learn all of this. ;)

-----------

Rancid oil won't be any worse that motor oil , other than more smelly.

--------

If you want some oils to try :

You have the hydrocarbon oil covered.

Some of the other bases to cover :
-pure synthetic motor oil. I'd venture a guess that synthetic would attack the plastics/rubbers a lot less.....
-Silicone oils.The industry standard for submersion.
-Silicone replacement oils.The MIDEL7131 I used in the thinktank is a silicone replacement.

----------

GL , have fun !
 

serpretetsky

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:D

cool !

I look forward to seeing what yah come up with.
thx!
Yes your PSU is adding considerable amounts of heat to the system....best to decide now if you want it submerged.Personally I've stopped submersing the PSU's in my test stuff.....
i'm definitly going to keep the PSU's submerged.


As far as whether or not motor oil will affect stuff , Yes , it most definitly will.
we'll see how long it takes then

Rancid oil won't be any worse that motor oil , other than more smelly.
any worse in terms of destructivness to my electronics?
I wonder how rancid oil behaves differently in terms of viscosity, heat capacity, heat conductivity, and electrical capacitance?
guess this might be something i might want to look into as part of the test: old rancid oil vs fresh.
If you want some oils to try :

You have the hydrocarbon oil covered.

Some of the other bases to cover :
-pure synthetic motor oil. I'd venture a guess that synthetic would attack the plastics/rubbers a lot less.....
-Silicone oils.The industry standard for submersion.
-Silicone replacement oils.The MIDEL7131 I used in the thinktank is a silicone replacement.

----------

GL , have fun !
thx!

I was thinking about synthetic oil when i was in the store buying oil... but it was twice as expensive... for prettty much the same thing.

I definitly would love to try the silicone oils, i just gotta find some cheap. Cheapest i can find now is $38/gallon. Also, i would definitly have to try that with the thermal grease test. I know the white generic guys are all silicone based, what is arctic silver based on though, same thing?

oh, and midel7131. They say it's biodegradable based on "OECD 301 D Closed Bottle Test". I can't find any information on the procedure of the test, except that it involves oxygen over period of 28days. Midel7131 doesn't degrade with simple contact with oxygen does it?

also found this: "***** PVC may release plasticisers into Midel and after prolonged immersion become brittle." -MIDEL® 7131 Materials Compatibility (pdf on www.midel.com). Wondering what parts of my system that affects if any.

options:
-engine oil regular
-engine oil synthetic
-vegetable oil
-rancid vegetable oil
-mineral oil
-silicone based oil
 
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OmegaAvenger

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shouldn't there be some way to circulate the oil you are using as a coolant thru a radiator of some kind?
 

serpretetsky

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shouldn't there be some way to circulate the oil you are using as a coolant thru a radiator of some kind?
that is definitly possible, however not something i'm really too interested in.

Ideally, i want my resevoir of oil to also act a radiator (part of the reason you see my setup is in a metal tub, and not an aquarium or tank).

In terms of circulation, i'm honestly not sure if it's necessary, I still need to get a thermometer to measure any hotspots around my system.
 

BrainEater

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I'd personally stay away from rancid oils.

Now it varies from oil to oil , but one of the major oxidization by-products of 'edible' oils is carboxylic acids....These can cause unwanted corrosion , and worse , acids tend to conduct electricity a lot better than oils....

-----

Arctic Silver is also silicone based.

-------

Yes of course Midel 'degrades' with contact to Oxygen.That is the nature of Oxidization. ;)

Generally , submersed electrical equipment is in a sealed enclosure of some kind , so oxygen is not really a big issue...The Midel I have oxidized only slightly (it went from clear to a very pale yellow), but with all the crap it dissolved who knows what's actually happening.

The big thing to avoid with Midel ( and a lotta other oils) is exposure to Ultraviolet light....

------

PVC is used as wire insulation.

When you take your rig outta the oil , try sharply bending some of the various wires that were in the oil.I think you'll find some will snap or crack.

The test for electrolytic capacitors is to pull on the aluminum case.If the rubber's dissolved it'll pull right off.

:D
 

BrainEater

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You are welcome !

Submersion is cool so I try to help when I can . :D

Yep , great review/shootout eh ?

I actually use MG silicone thermal compound for about 95% of my stuff.

If you have any questions , feel free to let me know , I'll help if I can.
 

serpretetsky

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anyone know of any adhesives/cements/whatever that aren't dissolved by engine oil?

silicone sealant?
super glue?
rubber cement?
elmer's white glue?
epoxy?
 

leSLIe

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to really get somewhere with submersion, you have to stir that fluid, air bubbles are not enough, you need some kind of propeller, and also a heat exchanger to cool the oil

very interesting stuff no doubt :)
 

BrainEater

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anyone know of any adhesives/cements/whatever that aren't dissolved by engine oil?

silicone sealant?
super glue?
rubber cement?
elmer's white glue?
epoxy?


------------

Sure.

Silicone sealant is your best bet.It's only affected by silicone oils.

Super glue a.k.a. Ethyl-2-cyanoacrilate , can be dissolved by acetone , MEK, nitromethane and methylene chloride .......It would most likely soften and fail in engine oil , but there may be resistant varieties.

Rubber cement : it's rubber , oils and rubbers generally do not play nice together.

Elmer's white glue a.k.a. Polyvinyl acetate is a synthetic rubber.......I'm guessing it won't like engine oil either.

Epoxies , well , some might some might not.There are so many varieties it would be hard to say.

:D
 

serpretetsky

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thank you. i'm wondering about sealing that annoying little hole on the hard drive. Pressure Equalization be DAMNED!
 

BrainEater

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Ballsy.

You'll need to seal more than that hole tho.....seal every seam.......It still might die right away.....

GL !
 

mwin

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I would try to keep things that don't need to be submerged, unsubmerged (PSU and HD's). I guess PSUs are optional, but I could see HD's reacting very badly to being full of oil.
 

OniExpress

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PSU, imho, isn't worth submerging unless you really hate the noise or are one of the apparently many folks on here with massive dust allergies.

HD I would not personally do. Better to cool it outside the oil than to take the risks involved with trying to seal it up. A solid state drive would work, but then you're risking the effects of oil on that as well.
 

serpretetsky

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UPDATE 10/6/09
So i came to check out the computer about 3 weeks ago and it wasn't booting anymore. Due to lack of time, i have delayed messing with it. Today i have finally taken it apart to see what was up. The machine wasn't posting, nothing was being displayed. I pulled the whole thing out of the oil and tested it. All the fans were still working fine, but for some reason no video is going to the monitor. I grabbed the setup i was using for the overclocking section and found that it didn't boot anymore either (using the same PSU). Unfortunately i can't really investigate what exactly failed. The overclocking motherboard was never properly cleaned after it's overclocking run, so it's been sitting in a layer of the same oil as the endurance run. The PSU obviously provides power to the boards (all the fans start up) and the PSU fan works as well, however, i suppose it's possible something in the PSU fried somehow, and now it's provided proper voltages on one of the lines.

This test has come to its end. The computer, after 6 months, has failed. I could only conclude that one of two things happened.
1) the oil messed up the PSU somehow
2) the oil messed up a critical component (cpu or mobo) on BOTH the endurance machine and the overclock machine.

I'm sorry i didn't get more indepth, i had to clean out my test setup as its in the way of some other stuff, plus i don't have more equipment to try to and isolate which component failed exactly.

I would, through personal experience, not recommend using motor oil to submerge your computer

p.s. as a sidenote, it's interesting that all the plastic has gotten quite brittle. Different plastics seem to react differently. The AC cable still has some flex to it, the plastic cover that coevered my round ide cables is completely solid (it was very soft before). All the pcb boards are a little stiffer.

============================================================ ============================================================ =======================================
test #2 Does engine oil affect any thermal grease used?


UPDATE 10/6/09
arctic silver is just a stain now on the test strip,both the white pastes look exactly the same as when i put them on. I am concluding this test. Arctic silver seems to be a no go for regular motor oil.
 

thaltek

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oils have a nasty habit of acting as a solvent to certain plastics so it is quite likely that any number of components could have been destroyed.....

also i am not sure if i read that right.... you are using motor oil?

i would have personally would not have used a regular motor oil..... for starters it can be fairly viscus when it comes to oils..... meaning that fans where probably working overtime just to circulate the stuff....

but i don't think that was the direct cause of failure.... i suspect it had more to do with thermal breakdown of the oil as a consequence of limited circulation....... that is that the properties of an oil change overtime as a combination of heat and other factors slowly breakdown the oil... this will result in variances in thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, and viscosity..... this is part of the reason that you change the oil in your car's engine.....
 

Bcuz

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UPDATE 10/6/09
arctic silver is just a stain now on the test strip,both the white pastes look exactly the same as when i put them on. I am concluding this test. Arctic silver seems to be a no go for regular motor oil.

regular motor oil normally has detergents to clean sludge in engines so that might be causing some of the problems. If you are going to try more testing I would suggest non-detergent motor oil or a synthetic. It would be interesting to see the results in those.
 
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