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Our shopping list for the Munich computer mile is not particularly long: An AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 available for $1,079 as the processor - a GeForce 6800 Ultra PCIe graphics card costs $359. Among further components are a motherboard from Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI with an NForce-4-SLI chipset that costs just under $220 as well as DDR400 memory (1 GB) for $120, and an IDE hard drive from Maxtor with 320 GB capacity for the reasonable price of $155. We still have little things like a keyboard, mouse or 16-speed DVD burner available. In total that makes just around $2,000. At this point maybe a comparison is helpful: The typical Aldi PC including useless accessories goes for around $1,200.
The idea of building a liquid-cooled PC is not new. Back when tuning and overclocking topics were still in good taste, we thought about applying "massive" cooling concepts. But back then water cooling emerged, which initially squelched these thoughts. Shortly before Christmas we took up this topic again and undertook initial trials with distilled (de-ionized) water. Water as a medium has the advantage that, when the case is completely full, it still allows the components to be highly visible as a result of its transparency. And it offers a better thermal conductivity than oil. This is necessary above all when high-performance chips such as the Athlon FX-55 or a GeForce 6800 Ultra are being used.
The hardware was placed in a container in which five gallons of de-ionized water were poured. To everybody's amazement, the system ran solidly for a period of five minutes before crashing. We repeated the assembly numerous times after the hardware was dried. The expensive components had suffered no damage. Accordingly, this solution was deemed unviable.