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AMD's and Intel's End-of-Year CPU Buyer's Guide

Upside Potential: Water Cooling

The Basic LC from Innovatek is one of many water-cooling systems for processors now on the market.

Premium XXS is the luxury water cooler with universal heat sink and 12V pump.

If a conventional computer with up to 3.2 GHz no longer does the job and not even quiet fans are quiet enough, the only solution left is water cooling.

It is an interesting alternative because the thermal conductivity of water is many times higher than that of air. The processor is placed on a metal sheet (copper or silver) that is then suffused directly by a closed water cycle (see picture below). The water is pumped through a heat exchanger at a suitable place in the housing, magnifying the surface of the water flowing through to such an extent that the stored thermal energy is easily emitted. A slowly turning fan behind or in front of the heat exchanger is then sufficient.

In fact, it represents a departure from an ideal price-performance ratio since a cooling system of this kind costs more than the actual processor.

The installed cooling system on a Pentium 4...

... and on an Athlon64.