Build your own computer...submerged in oil.

By Paul Michael on 13 May 2007 (Updated 9 June 2007) 18 comments

oilpc

It's one thing to build a PC. Pah, everyone's doing that. But imagine the look on your friends' faces when you show them a computer in an aquarium filled with mineral oil. I'm still taken back by it, and I've seen the video...twice.

This all came from a post I did recently on case mods . I found the article but just couldn't bear to let this one sit in with the other modfications. It's just way too cool.

WHY AN OIL-COOLED COMPUTER?

Apart from looking ace, the guys with the huge brains over at Puget Systems explain it all here in their own words...

"We built this system because with all the oil cooled projects out there, no one built a system that looked good and functioned well! After seeing all the other projects, we had a lot of ideas of how we could do it better and more easily. Many projects used vegetable oil, which would go rancid after a short time. The mineral oil does not have this problem, and is completely clear. We also wanted to use an appropriate enclosure -- the Toms Hardware system used a clear acrylic case, and they had to painstakingly seal each rear connector to keep the oil from leaking. We wanted to put the ports on top to solve that problem the simple way. Other people have built systems in aquariums before, but they were always oversized and square. When we found the Eclipse System 6 Aquarium, we were excited to see an aquarium that was absolutely perfect in size -- you couldn't go any smaller. In addition, we had questions about performance and long term effects. Our initial tests, which we go over below, answer the questions about cooling performance. We'll post a follow up to this page in a few months to let you know how a system like this performs in the long term."

Equipment needed is standard (apart from the fish tank and mineral oil). Everything you need to know is on the Puget Systems site. So, without without further ado I present the 'Making Of' video...awesome. And if that's not enough, Fat Boy Slim's Weapon Of Choice accompanies. Double-good taste.

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Guest's picture
Guest

I can't see where they put the CD/DVD drives, but they must be there somewhere.

Guest's picture
Oil me up.

You people commenting obviously did not go to the site link, the video shows it all, including the external SATA drive. The fan spins, albeit slowly. It's an electromagnetic fan, so I can't see any problems with longevity issues, if anything, it will last much longer running in oil than air.

Guest's picture
Guest

the hard drive is hidden up in the plastic lid casing, there is no cd drive, they use a usb external one when they need to

Guest's picture
Guest

they made a plastic case at the very top of the tank and stuckhte harddrive up there

Guest's picture
Guest

Where is the hard drive at as well as the CD/DVD those abviously are not in the tank.

Will Chen's picture

My guess is the sink, or the toilet.

Paul Michael's picture

I am no techy. BUt I will look into this and report back.

Guest's picture

I can't see where they put the CD/DVD drives, but they must be there somewhere.

Paul Michael's picture

I suspect they are under the aquarium hood, but I'm contacting the makers to find out.

Guest's picture
markus

A cool idea... but those fans aren't made for that kind of pressure. I'm curious as to how long they last before the motors burn out.

And yeah - where are the drives? :)

Guest's picture
Guest

more important guys.. where are the fish man?!

Guest's picture
Happy Campter

To be surprised by something is "taken aback." To remember something is to be "taken back."

Guest's picture
Guest

They took the fans out because you wouldn't need them, oil naturally disperses heat

Guest's picture
Heppner

Interesting!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have woundered if the hard drives are there but I believe that they are in the hood part of the aquarium

Guest's picture
Panchristo

Can't imagine the procedure needed to move the case just to clean your desktop a bit. Seems like 30 kilos(8gl=32lt approx) or more for this thing.

Guest's picture
Guest

is a stupid idea

Guest's picture
abestic28

A few answers to your questions:

- Certain fans MAY have problems working due to the higher amount of force needed to start up/keep constant, but that usually won't be a problem because 1) you can rely on passive cooling due to the massive surface area of the oil, or 2) just use a high pressure 120mm fan (high CFM).

- The reason the CD/DVD drive and hard drive aren't submerged (though I think it is POSSIBLE to do with a hard drive) is because they both have mechanical components. Hard drives have holes to equalize pressure inside. Solid-state hard drives are probably best for this, if you can afford them. The CD/DVD drive cannot be submerged because the liquid will distort the optical laser from reading a disc. I also can't imagine an optical drive reaching a good speed in liquid either.

- While a very good cooling solution for people who like quiet computers, I can't imagine this being overall a reliable setup:

1) It doesn't short circuit, which is a good thing, but any impurities in the liquid can be dangerous,

2) I'm not sure how oil could affect this in the long term, but it could be acidic or corrosive in some respect. I'm not a chemist, so I might be wrong,

3) Could you imagine trying to upgrade your RAM or Video Card?

I might do this sometime soon, but I'll stick to my air cooling for now, even if it means dealing with a bit of humming.