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SilverStone Reveals Pumpless Liquid Cooling System

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

SilverStone's new liquid cooler doesn't have a pump, yet the liquid still moves.

Editor's Note: While Computex took place last week and all of the news announcements are behind us, we're still sorting through hundreds of in-person meetings and demonstrations, picking out just a few more of the most interesting items we saw up close.

Water cooling has gained a lot of popularity recently, but one of the bigger problems people keep running into is water pumps that break. If that's not an issue, cheaper water pumps are also often quite noisy, defeating the purpose of cooling your system with water.

SilverStone showed its new TD04 pumpless liquid cooler at Computex 2014. This unit is a 240 mm water cooling unit that plainly doesn't have a pump. The only parts include the water block, clear tubing, radiator, and the fans. The unit is filled not with water, but with a liquid with a very low evaporation point. As a result, it feels cool to the touch, yet the water keeps bubbling inside the loop, which looks quite magical. SilverStone won't reveal what liquid the unit is filled with.


Cooling power is not one of the TD04's strong points though, as it is rated at a maximum TDP of 200 W. The idea behind this cooler is not to break new ground with cooling power, but rather to create a system that is pretty much perfectly silent, assuming you use the right fans, of course.

Hopefully, we'll know more about this product as time goes by. We'd really love to test something like this to see if it is a viable option for long-term use. Do note that the unit is still a prototype, so it might never actually reach the market.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • -3 Hide
    firefoxx04 , June 10, 2014 1:43 PM
    This is a really cool idea and im sure it works similar to a Block Heater for a car engine / diesel engine.

    The hot fluid rises and forces the colder fluid down. You can break the laws of physics, should be pretty reliable as long as the fluid moves quickly (perhaps the hotter it gets the faster it moves as well).

  • 0 Hide
    mortsmi7 , June 10, 2014 2:05 PM
    Well, it's not exactly a new concept. Standard tower heatsinks already use this principle, as do many industrial water loops designed to maintain cooling in the event of a power outage.
  • 0 Hide
    sephirothmk , June 10, 2014 2:12 PM
    They aren't revealing what type of liquid they are using. What if it's something quite toxic?
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    dstarr3 , June 10, 2014 2:21 PM
    Isn't this how lava lamps work? The fluid nearer the heating element at the bottom becomes less dense, thus rises to the top, at which point it cools and becomes dense again, sinks to the bottom near the heating element again, repeat, etc?

    Would be pretty awesome to have a computer cooled by a lava lamp, must be said.
  • 2 Hide
    soccerplayer88 , June 10, 2014 2:44 PM
    Quote:
    They aren't revealing what type of liquid they are using. What if it's something quite toxic?


    I think it may have more to do with other companies trying to replicate what SilverStone has done. ; )

    Now what IS interesting is that this technology has been around for awhile, but not in a closed loop like they are showing (at least I haven't seen it). In an open loop, you can simply use evaporation to move the liquid and generally your heat source (or your block) would need to be higher then the radiator. But like firefoxx04 said, they might be using the same principle as a Block Heater although in reverse as that concept attempts to keep the engine warmer in a colder environment.

    Can't wait to see some testing done.
  • 3 Hide
    vmem , June 10, 2014 3:45 PM
    well, once it's open, I'm sure someone will buy one, cut open the tubing, and run it through some kind of chemical analysis system...

    chances are it's 70% ethanol or something. which would make sense since ethanol has a MUCH lower specific heat than water
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 10, 2014 3:45 PM
    @Dstarr3 Yeah seems like the same physics as lava lamps and @firefoxx04 car engines, the hot coolant comes out the top side of the engine to the top of the radiator. Water goes out from the bottom of the radiator into the engine block (thermostat is on hot side I think). Cars have a water pump to force the flow.

    Ford's Ecoboost turbocharging system doesn't need idling before shutting off because the coolant flows through the system without a pump too.

    Heatpipe technology can fluid (coolant?) in it that flows with the same concept.
  • 1 Hide
    DavidRitchey , June 10, 2014 3:55 PM
    This is a really good idea.

    I'm rather curious what thermal currents could do in a normal system using water, where the cooling tower is positioned higher in elevation, with the inlet on the low portion of the radiator and the return line on the higher portion of the radiator. Like the positioning of a passive solar water heating system.

    And...why isn't this product on the market yet?
  • 3 Hide
    alextheblue , June 10, 2014 5:52 PM
    Quote:
    Ford's Ecoboost turbocharging system doesn't need idling before shutting off because the coolant flows through the system without a pump too.
    I'd have guessed they just ran the cooling fans off battery power for a short while. That's what a lot of aftermarket turbo'd vehicles are reprogrammed to do.
  • 3 Hide
    sykozis , June 10, 2014 6:24 PM
    Ford uses an electric water pump.

    A "block heater" on a car, is nothing but a heating element that's inserted into the block. This idea is completely different.

    @Danwat1234 - Thermostat is usually on the outlet ("hot" side), but doesn't have to be. There are designs where the thermostat is placed in the inlet ("cold" side).
  • 2 Hide
    Mac266 , June 10, 2014 7:51 PM
    Magic!!
  • 1 Hide
    DarkSable , June 10, 2014 9:02 PM
    Well, this is a pretty fun idea... but I'm amazed it's taken this long for someone to take it to market.

    Some of us who are obsessive over silent PCs have been doing this for a while - if you design your loop well (and run it on an overclocked chip that doesn't throttle, so it has enough heat to keep going), it gives totally silent performance rather wonderfully.

    Its biggest drawback is there's no way you can have a GPU block that has low enough restriction to allow the system to keep working, unless you had the GPU on a flexible riser and a custom block that allowed the water / fluid to flow from the bottom up.
  • 2 Hide
    Transmaniacon , June 11, 2014 5:44 AM
    Quote:
    They aren't revealing what type of liquid they are using. What if it's something quite toxic?


    Don't drink it.
  • 0 Hide
    Eurasianman , June 11, 2014 6:28 AM
    For this to work though, would that mean that the radiator would have to be mounted the way it is in the picture?
  • 1 Hide
    anarekist , June 11, 2014 8:42 AM
    the liquid is something like 3M's Novec
  • 1 Hide
    manofchalk , June 11, 2014 8:56 AM
    Didnt Silverstone reveal this at last years Computex and its been on the market since?

    Quote:
    They aren't revealing what type of liquid they are using. What if it's something quite toxic?


    The stuff in a normal CLC is Ethelyne Glycol (main ingredient in Anti-Freeze), so its not like whatever their using in this is going to be much worse. If I remember correctly its some form of Ethanol.

    EDIT:
    Yup, 6:15 in this video. They showed this off at Computex 2013
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsf_oD-3nBY&index=18&list=PL8mG-RkN2uTyJKThbEAxoGGi8uXxNqnbb
  • 0 Hide
    lockjaw99 , June 11, 2014 8:15 PM
    This would be great for my HTPC.

    - P
  • 0 Hide
    WyomingKnott , June 12, 2014 5:58 AM
    Silent cooling! Hurrah!
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , June 12, 2014 10:57 AM
    Silverstone's view of this cooler from the article:
    Quote:
    "...The idea behind this cooler is not to break new ground with cooling power, but rather to create a system that is pretty much perfectly silent, assuming you use the right fans, of course..."


    Kind of a neat concept, but you still have to use fans. Fan noise, no matter which fans I've used, has always been far louder than any pump I've used; no comparison at all. Most pumps are pretty quiet. They are the last thing you hear in the system.

    This seems to defeat the whole goal of making the system quieter without a pump. Now give me a silent fan and you have a sale!
  • 1 Hide
    Braddo , June 12, 2014 11:48 AM
    I worked at Koolance back in 1998 and the engineer there was showing off his pumpless liquid cooling systems to me. Pumpless and silent was the big benefits he was selling me on. I left the company shortly after but a few years later I saw Koolance articles all over the tech sites promoting their home PC liquid cooling systems... using pumps.

    I wonder if Silverstone solved a technical issue Koolance couldn't or if Koolance realized something about pumpless cooling systems that made it not worthwhile that Silverstone hasn't.
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