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Beer Cooling Comparison: International Edition

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September 6, 2007 5:30:48 PM

Shelton Romhanyi compares the PC cooling properties of three beers: Coors Light (US), Guinness (Ireland) and Franziskaner Hefe-weissbier (Germany).

Watch Video: http://www.tomshardware.com/site/flash_videos/beer_cooling_comparison_international_edition.html

Comments, questions rants and raves, we'd like to hear from you!

Also, from our last series people wrote in with different non-traditional products they thought should be used as coolants. Keep sending those in.

Thanks,
Ben
September 6, 2007 8:53:39 PM

Let's think about this for a second. Coors is ... beer colored water? I'm not sure, it's probably best suited for PC cooling over human consumption. Oh, BTW, it shouldn't represent the US either. Bud/Miller/Coors (BMC) isn't the best we can do ;)  Best selling "craft" beers: Sam Adams Boston Lager and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I'd choose the Sierra Nevada about 75% of the time between the two...and water over BMC.

Guinness, a stout. Thicker. Probably going to have a lower flow rate with the same pump. Direct consequence is decreased cooling capability.

Your hefeweizen is a wheat-beer. It is cloudy, because there are yeast in there. Probably not that great of an idea, again, higher density due to the yeast, which I'm assuming suck at absorbing heat. So you also have a lower volume capable of cooling.

Also, the hefeweizen was 5%, the Coors 4.2%, and the Guinness 4.1%. Since alcohol cannot absorb as much heat as water, higher alcohol contents actually decrease performance.

Of course, the Molson is also 5%, which means the Coors should have an advantage. Yet, your tests showed differently. I'm assuming you compensated for ambient temperature and are running the same methods on the same rig. It didn't look like your Coors got absorbed into the watercooling rig properly, maybe that affected it.

Anyways, beer shouldn't be used to cool a system. This also means that all forms of wine and liquor are also excluded.

I'm purely thinking theoretically right now, but there are 3 things I can think of that might (will) cool better than the Molson.

1 - Water. Simple, no big deal, it's better than Molson, you proved that.
2 - A non-alcoholic beer (0.5%). Again, not suited for drinking, put it in your rig.
3 - A mixture of ammonia and water. Ammonia is the only compound I'm aware of that has a higher specific heat capacity than water, per unit volume. There is probably a limit to how much you can put in water, especially considering it's a gas at room temperature. If you can figure that one out, it should outpeform water (theoretically).
September 6, 2007 8:58:01 PM

Also like to add that alcohol has a density of 0.79g/mL, where as water is obviously 1g/mL.

This means a 5% beer has less mass than the same volume of water. This means your pump can pump faster, increasing the flow rate.

I don't particularly want to get my Thermal Physics book out and try to figure out the optimal ABV. Though, that is an interesting problem.
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September 6, 2007 10:17:55 PM

Interesting video. Overall, I say we forget cooling our computers with the beer and just drink it!

On a side note, I think Yuengling Lager would be the best American beer for this test. It's not as heavy as Samuel Adams.
September 6, 2007 11:03:08 PM

Guys, I don't remember anything about chemistry from school, so, with all that stuff about alcohol and ammonia, which fluid would be the most effective coolant, in theory? Alcohol? Ammonia? Gasoline? A pack of Bud? I would try them all if I could, just for the fun of it...
September 7, 2007 2:03:02 AM

Heh, ammonia would by far be the best coolant. The trouble is it's only a liquid until about -50C, best ballpark (probably wrong, it's just ridiculously cold). This sounds good, but you have to keep in mind that straight ammonia liquid would require your room to also be that temperature. Somehow I doubt ammonia gas bubbles in room temperature water would cool better than just water, though...

Despite the obvious flammability issues with gasoline, it's specific heat capacity is less than water.

Also, only meant Sam Adams is the best selling "craft" beer. Nearly 2 million barrels/year, right near the limit of still being called "craft". Not sure if it is "heavy," I'd say it's only heavy in terms of flavor, something your waterblock can't pick up on ;) 

I do think the ultimate result is that cooling a PC with alcohol is at the very least a lower performance move than straight water.
September 7, 2007 8:41:32 PM

You know...Despite all the perks of working for a pc enthusiast website, I've never been jealous of the contributor's fringe benefits...until now. Free processors and gadgets are one thing, but free beer?!? Sign me up as a technology journalist right now!
September 7, 2007 10:13:41 PM

i would expect some residue on the cpu as the "beer cooling test proceeds" that is why the molson won??? - the Coors should have won this context, not just because that's what i drink, but since it has the least amount of non fermentable sugars.

the carbo's should plate out on the cpu??? did u check for a coating on the cpu?
September 7, 2007 11:48:54 PM

Whats next ? A computer that urinates.
Hold on..I got a pop up..
It says error, CPU beyond tempature threshold.
Please add 2 beers before attempting to continue.
OK,Ok..Does that mean to me or tothe computer? or both?
Dang it, now it says Sierra Nevada only.
September 8, 2007 12:08:57 AM

uh oh. Now it says "I LoveYou Man" and keeps repeating its self over and over.
geezs...That does it, I'm getting another PC, one that dosen't drink.
No...No...No...Not on the carpet.
Thats it. You're just gona have to overheat or what ever cuz u aint get'n any more beer.
September 10, 2007 3:34:04 PM

I don't think the temps were shown correctly in that vid... they were always 60/27 for a start, and 60/30 after load....
September 10, 2007 5:33:37 PM

Actually, I had an idea: To combine the Beerputer project, with CompuBeaver, with an external coolant tank (a keg), to make BeerCompuBeaver: A drinking, peeing beaver casemod. Haven't heard back from the CompuBeaver team on this one, unfortunately.

Hmm. Boiling vaporized ammonia fails the "Not cause me to die a horrible death" project requirement.

We're in the middle of working out how to thermally isolate the room and the computer, for proper hardcore testing, which is why the Molson vs Heffa-whut? can't be a true comparison.
!