As a PC builder, you might have noticed an increase in the hype surrounding liquid cooling, especially if you’ve been at it for years. While the “hype” is partly the internet’s algorithm making sure it tickles your nerdy fantasies; we can’t discount the fact that a lot of people are interested in this.
Join our time travel train as we go back to the year 2017. The Nvidia RTX 2080 was still a dream that would not come to life until November 2018. Unless you were into crypto mining or servers, there was really nothing you could do on a PC that needed the advantage liquid coolants brought.
With the launch of the RTX series, you could almost feel the shift in gears, almost as if we collectively said “now you’re talking”. Originally, only true enthusiasts could be bothered with setting up a liquid cooling system, it’s expensive and also requires a lot of technical knowledge.
The streaming community soon put a stop to that. Famous gamers showing off their RGB setups got the love of liquid cooling systems to any willing disciple. Now the time-travel train is back in 2022 when manufacturers are rolling out products in a frenzy to meet this demand.
Liquid Cooling: What’s Been Happening?
With the help of social media, it’s normal to think liquid cooling is a fairly new concept; the reverse is the case. Let’s go way back to 1964, this was when IBM launched the first liquid cooling system.
During this period, processors and other components were not nearly as efficient as they are now; this meant they generated a lot of heat, too much heat for the best fans to handle. Liquid cooling was the only way to handle heat transfer. IBM’s early system was bulky, but that is to be expected at that time. It worked by pumping cold water with the help of a liquid-to-liquid exchanger to the components that needed to be cooled.
Over the years, humans improved on the idea as we tend to do; this heralded the use of CMOS technology. With the adoption of this technology, the energy required to run certain components was drastically reduced, and this also reduced the heat output. If it weren’t for the use of CMOS, air cooling methods might have never had the edge they needed to be in the same conversation with liquid cooling methods.
In the year 2000, we saw the release of a hybrid cooling system by the Fujitsu GS8900 mainframe. The way it worked was pretty straightforward. First off, cold plates (material made of a heat-conductive metal) were attached to all the processor modules. Then an intricate connection of refrigerator pipes was attached to each cold plate. As you might have guessed, water was pumped through this system to cool the processors down.
With each year, humans made progress in the advancement of liquid cooling systems. Let’s skip the minor changes and go to the year 2012. This is the year we saw the use of two-phase immersion cooling systems. For once, gamers were not the ones cleaning out the shelf with this product. It was crypto miners, our neighborhood friends responsible for your inability to find an RTX 2060 online.
In 2022, unfortunately, a computer case with built-in liquid cooling is still not a thing, it seems like we unanimously decided the hybrid liquid system is the most efficient. Our predecessors could be seen using refrigerated water, yes, actual freezing water to cool things down. Now we utilize a radiator along with a fan, a pump, and connecting pipes to achieve the same result. It’s great to see how far we’ve come.
Liquid Cooled Laptops
We did say humans have come very far, who would’ve thought a liquid-cooled laptop was a remote possibility? A laptop is meant to be compact and portable, right now it’s still not possible to have the full liquid cooling setup inside (i.e, pump, fan, pipes, etc). But that doesn’t mean we can’t have our cooling system outside.
This is what brands like XMG and Powertracer have been able to achieve. Believe us when we say an external liquid cooling system is still a great feat of human ingenuity. Even though the main liquid cooler housing is external, water still enters the laptop, think about this before you get any ideas. Right now only laptops like the CyberPowerPC Tracer VI Edge Pro Liquid Cool and the XMG NEO 15 and so on; have the internal design to work with such methods.
It does promise to be very efficient, if you own a gaming laptop, you know that temperatures of 90℃ are easily reached under heavy gaming. A product like the XMG NEO 15 when paired with its Oasis cooling block, records levels in the 60℃ range. That’s the internet surfing temperature for a gaming laptop user.
GPU Prices Still Rising
If you’ve modified your PC build in the last 6 months, then you know that the prices of GPU and even liquid cooling systems are not what they used to be. From the year 2018 to 2022, we saw GPU prices move from $400 to $700+. Admittedly, the economy has not been great worldwide, but that’s not the only reason
It was still during 2018/2019 that the numbers of ETH and BTC miners surged. If there is one thing miners need, it’s the processing power of the best graphic cards out there. If this was the only issue, perhaps the price levels now won’t be so bad. Covid came and made things worse, many companies shut down, and we are sure you started working from home too.
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Unfortunately, graphic cards can’t be made from home, and supply issues became imminent. The basic economy principle tells us that when demand increases, supply reduces, and price increases. Major graphic card producers were no longer making new products, the ones that did, were not at their pushing enough pout to satisfy the consumers.
That is how it all trickled down to you in your room, just trying to order an RTX 3060 Ti from Amazon. As the pandemic gradually seizes, and we recover from its economic implications, prices should start dropping soon.