PSU's for watercooling mod...

undertheradar

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I dont need 1300 watts, I dont want to pay $600, and I dont trust Koolance. I told BFG and Thermaltake in their last customer surveys that a more 'mainstream' line of watercooled PSU's would be awesome (PSU's maybe more like 700, 850, and 1000 watts)... but until they get back to me on that :D Im thinking I will mod up my own PSU for water cooling (I want 100% cooled, no fans, no moving air, etc...).

At that, my idea is to open up a PSU and replace the 12-14cm fan with a waterblock of similar size... perhaps resting right on the caps and sinks to allow for good heat transfer. OR, should I remove the sinks and put in copper ones that attach to the waterblock? Are these power rectifiers the only parts that get warm enough to need cooling, or are there other components that need to be cooled?... will a total lack of airflow cause problems with other internals that dont have obvious/visible cooling attached? Anyone have any idea? I suppose I might have to crack the sucker open and shoot a pic with a thermographic camera to see what gets hot and what doesnt... but I would like to know ahead of time to know what I am going to have to deal with before I start. Dont worry... I know I have to watch out for the voltage in the caps... I wont kill myself... only the PSU maybe...:eek:

The PSU I am considering for this is the Corsair TX850w, since its internals are nice and flat on the inside, with a good 1"+ up top for the waterblock (run the 1/2" in/out lines through the back to the outside of the case). If anyone else has any suggestions for a good PSU that looks like its internals would be 'moddable', let me know.

The plan is to have the waterblock take up where the fan is though, and the hole for the fan gets enlarged so you can see the waterblock, and the waterblock will have an acrylic window on the top (like a Danger-Den waterblock) so you can see it running as it will be upside down (window up) in the bottom PSU mount of a Lian-Li PC-A77.

I can do the main waterblock itself out of some 1" thick copper plate... I have access to a CNC mill/router to carve out the internal channels and 'pins' for cooling so it should be plenty of cooling. Then I can attach 1/2" or 1/4" plates that run down to the rectifier pins... attachment done with soldering, or maybe threaded holes/bolts and thermal paste between.

When I get it up and going (Im on this as soon as I can figure out all the parts), Ill post a log here or in the modding forum... should be fun... DIY 850watt water cooled PSU!!!
 
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What significant benefits does such a thing bring to the table?

I'm not trying to be an ass, I'm just curious as to what it is I'm missing. :)
 

larrymoencurly

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Water cooling and high voltage always scare me, and PSUs are supposed to be designed to be safe even when run without a 3-wire grounded AC cord or AC outlet protected by a ground fault interrupter. That means the heatsinks for the high voltage components aren't supposed to have any contact with the outside world, in case the thin insulators between them and their high voltage transistors fail.

But if I absolutely had to water cool a PSU, I'd leave the high voltage stuff untouched.

Really, is it that bad to have a big, virtually silent, fan?

How much of an improvement could you get by just converting all the heatsinks to copper?
 

undertheradar

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Benefits: No fans, as in, 100% water cooled, noiseless, and no air movement. This means no dust buildup on internal components as well, which means longer life. The other benefit of this to me, and the reason for wanting to eliminate fans all together, has to do with my severe dust allergy.

Computers buildup alot of dust, and are breeding grounds for the spores that cause aggrivated breathing conditions for people like me. On the allergy scale of 0(no response) to 4(high response), my reaction was the highest my allergist has ever seen... scoring me at a '4+++'. My bedroom looks like a hospital 'clean room'... a bed and a nightstand, special sheets that I boil every week, a hepa filter, etc. So water cooling appealed to me from the 'passive cooling' aspect. No longer does the 'box' have to be a dust collector and 'redistribution' method for what makes it hard for me to beathe... hence the reason I want to eliminate ALL of the fans. My radiator for instance, is a DIY version of the Innovatek konvekt-o-matic, but I used 1" ID starfin pipe that is 6' tall (6pcs) for a passive tower that can transfer about 6000BTU/h (about 2000 watts at most, but with a lower delta between room and water temps, Id say about 1000watts).

I am an Electrical Engineer, so I am not afraid of the high-voltage aspect. I have made my own coil-guns, and metal halide ballasts for my reef aquarium lighting... those starter caps are even bigger rapid discharge caps (M80 HQI ballasts). I just want to get this right, and just being an EE doesnt mean I know everything about PSU's (my area is more with electric motors and pumps). Im starting to think that maybe cracking it open and running it so I can take a thermographic picture isnt a bad idea. I was hoping that those with some experience with testing/modding PSU's might know some things less obvious to help get me off in the right direction... like what would be a good PSU to try for this, and what I all need to cool.
 

undertheradar

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Water cooling and high voltage always scare me, and PSUs are supposed to be designed to be safe even when run without a 3-wire grounded AC cord or AC outlet protected by a ground fault interrupter. That means the heatsinks for the high voltage components aren't supposed to have any contact with the outside world, in case the thin insulators between them and their high voltage transistors fail.

But if I absolutely had to water cool a PSU, I'd leave the high voltage stuff untouched.

Really, is it that bad to have a big, virtually silent, fan?

How much of an improvement could you get by just converting all the heatsinks to copper?

The PSU will still be isolated as the block will not touch the PSU walls directly... thats the reason for the acrylic block cover, and the connects will use hose after all... so it will all remain grounded.

As for the 'high voltage stuff'... isnt it all 'high voltage' in there?
 

OniExpress

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Computers buildup alot of dust, and are breeding grounds for the spores that cause aggrivated breathing conditions for people like me. On the allergy scale of 0(no response) to 4(high response), my reaction was the highest my allergist has ever seen... scoring me at a '4+++'. My bedroom looks like a hospital 'clean room'... a bed and a nightstand, special sheets that I boil every week, a hepa filter, etc. So water cooling appealed to me from the 'passive cooling' aspect. No longer does the 'box' have to be a dust collector and 'redistribution' method for what makes it hard for me to beathe... hence the reason I want to eliminate ALL of the fans. My radiator for instance, is a DIY version of the Innovatek konvekt-o-matic, but I used 1" ID starfin pipe that is 6' tall (6pcs) for a passive tower that can transfer about 6000BTU/h (about 2000 watts at most, but with a lower delta between room and water temps, Id say about 1000watts).

Not to be a hindrance to the topic, but wouldn't it be more practical to simply install air-permeable filters of the psu fans? Situations that would normally be considered "eventual issues" in watercooling could become "oh heck, I seem to be dead" in this case.

Your initial proposal seems to be functional, in the sense that it should cool as intended and get the job done. I just don't personally see enough benefit to balance out the long-term risks.

Best of luck, and keep us posted. :D
 

undertheradar

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Installing HEPA grade air filters would choke your typical computer fan... if its fine enough to filter out dust, it needs more pressure than most axial fans can provide. So putting filters on a PSU would kill it without some other means of cooling.

Just so you know... modding PSU's to be watercooled isnt just a 'company' thing...
http://www.vonslatt.com/proj-cc2.shtml
 

owkia

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Wouldn't eliminating fans completely be a bad idea due to components that need at least slight airflow? RAM, HDDs, any capacitors or whatever that might get a bit warm on the motherboard. All of those tend to continually build up heat if you don't have any airflow at all.
 

undertheradar

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The case is Aluminum, and well vented. Still, you pose a good question. Im thinking the thermographic camera is a good idea for this. Even if heat doesnt get 'convected' in an active manner, it still convects... the main idea is that you just make sure the heatsinks are large enough to compensate for the lower air flow, and that the case is vented as well as possible for passive cooling. I have a Lian Li PC-A77, and a PC-V2000... both which 'convect' a good deal on their own. Still, Im thinking that I will mod the top panel on the PC-A77... replace it with 100% mesh for good convection.

My PC-V2000 is a dust magnet though... I have two extra 120mm blowholes up top... the case easily does 300cfm's, if not more... and thats a huge concern when it comes to allergies... not to mention... all the dust that gets caked in the PSU anyways...seems to me that if all that dust doesnt matter, not having SOME components cooled 100% must not be so critical.

RAM doesnt really need that much for cooling. Many of those heatpipe cooled models are pure show. They simply dont have the voltage/wattage to create that much heat in the first place. I know there are several sites that have gone over this. A simple heat spreader is all you really need... and if my limited airflow is a concern, I can always get heatpipes for the RAM or add waterblocks.

My Raptors have Zalman heatpipe coolers (so I can mount them in the 5.25" bays rather than in a HDD cage).

Caps shouldnt get THAT hot, and even if they did, since all the newer mobos are sporting ceramic caps, this shouldnt be a problem at all. The MOSFETS are my only concern. If I have to, Ill add a block there too... or Ill add a massive heatpipe/sink solution. I plan to keep on top of the thermodynamics. I have laser pyrometers, and access to a thermographic camera... I wont let things get out of control.

I really would just like more info on specific PSU concerns... like WHAT all needs to be cooled, or what is most important... and of course, what PSU's might be the easiest to mod up for this. So far, the Corsair still seems #1... but Im open to suggestions. My Enermax Rev though, as expensive as it is, is off limits though... too much $$$. I can afford to screw up a Corsair though. Maybe that new Antec 'CTX' unit... Im sure my case has the room for it... its just a matter of waiting until someone reviews it so I can see the internals.
 

larrymoencurly

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The PSU will still be isolated as the block will not touch the PSU walls directly... thats the reason for the acrylic block cover, and the connects will use hose after all... so it will all remain grounded.

As for the 'high voltage stuff'... isnt it all 'high voltage' in there?
Emphasis on "in there". ;)

Because you're an EE, why not just raise the efficiency (synchronous rectifiers?) or install higher temperature components (I had an ancient army tank of a VCR with electrolytic capacitors rated for 125C) so no water cooling or fans are needed? I've gotten samples of switching power modules rated for 85C.
 

Matthew Kane

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Dec 1, 2007
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Who cares if I were you I'd just shoot water at my pc with a water hose...rofl..

lol...sorry mate...just couldn't help it...
 
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