Alternative Cooling at its Bestby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 24, 1998 2:46 PM EST
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A 5MHz overclock is hardly anything by today's standards, what was once thought to be an amazing accomplishment when you overclocked your 5x86-133 to 150MHz is now the bare minimum for overclocking. Users running their 300MHz Celeron processors at 450MHz will be the first to tell you that we've definitely come a long way from the days when a 386 running at 25MHz could win the front cover of a computing magazine. At the same time, we're reaching the limits of what a well manufactured processor and a $30 heatsink/fan can offer us. With the first barrier keeping us from overclocking the current generation of processors beyond the limits we've already pushed them to obviously being heat, the question has been posed time and time again, and now we'll take the first steps towards a simple answer...get ready to beat the heat as AnandTech takes a look at alternative cooling methods at their best.
If you can't stand the heat...freeze the kitchen
Here's the problem: We have a ceramic plate no larger than 2.5" x 2.5", running at 100 degrees Fahrenheit under normal conditions, and running at 120+ degrees overclocked...and we need to cool it down to more than half that temperature. This is the point at which air fails us, and where the creative mind must be allowed to roam free, it is this point at which a company started by a group of 5 people with a common vision attempted to solve the problems of the overclocking world with their cooling technology. The company, rightfully dubbed, Kryotech, developed a vapor phase refrigeration technique that can effectively cool a CMOS device (such as the processor in your system) down to -40 degrees Celsius, a fairly standard refrigeration temperature.
Much like placing your CPU in a freezer, the Kryotech design resembles that of your home refrigerator in terms of performance, and proportionally, in terms of size. The Kryotech design must be implemented in its own specially constructed case and shipped pre-configured in terms of processor choice. While this design (you can read more about the Kryotech design in particular at www.kryotech.com) offers numerous benefits, the release of a practical version of the design or even a remotely available version of Kryotech's most highly anticipated product, the CoolK6 (a K6-2 333 overclocked to 450MHz), have kept Kryotech from rising to their rightfully deserved position among overclockers. At the same time, the $1600 price tag of a Kryotech CoolK6 System (price includes case, cooling system, motherboard, and CPU) isn't too practical for even most high end users as a Pentium II 450 can be picked up for much less and offer similar performance.
But if Kryotech can do it...why can't anyone else? In preparation for an ongoing AnandTech special on alternative cooling, let's start off by outlining exactly what we need to have a successful cooling device, not only for processors, but for video chipsets and other such peripherals as well.