Step 6: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts
As of now, it seems to be functioning alright, but keep a couple of things in mind; velcro, as I have found out, does not hold down case fans too well. The one black fan as shown in the images and video started to fall over, but luckily was caught by the other case fan's cord. Phew! One other thing is that the case feels quite hot! Maybe it is because our summers here are pretty warm and humid. I guess certainly no hotter than it was prior in the cirulating air environment. I will certainly keep you posted in the forums about how long this piece of machinery is lasting. I am hoping that if it survives the summer, than it has passed the hardest test on any computer. And by the by, this is one of the heaviest PC's you will ever carry. Since mineral oil is 64 oz. per gallon, and there are 5 gallons plus the weight of the PSU, etc. it should be around 25 pounds. In terms of noise, it would be COMPLETELY silent, if there was no hard drive. Since the hdd is 9 years old, it was not built for silence+performance. Hope you enjoyed this somewhat of a loose tutorial, enjoy the pics and video, and try this on your own if you have computer parts to spare!

Here are some finished product pics.
walshlg4 years ago
May I remind you of some basic thermodynamics: You seem to be using the oil as a heat sump. THat's fine if you understand that the heat must go somewhere or it will just keep heating up! So eventually, the heat consumed will equal the heat radiated through the walls of the aquarium. The aquarium is not a very good way of dissipating heat! So it will get very hot, the question now becomes how hot?

The next point is that mineral oil is a very good solvent of organics, like wiring, glue that holds labels onto the powersupply, plastic connectors that the wiring plugs into, wiring insulation.

In summary, this approach will probably not last long. If you want to cool your computer really well then check out the DangerDen forum and learn how to water cool, its most excellent and your machine is guaranteed to weigh less than 80 pounds!

I know someone who tried this with a 10gal glass aquarium instead of the acrylic one shown. The mineral oil eventually dissolved the silicon sealant that held the tank together and caused a wall to fail. Of course it happened in the office... over the weekend... ruined the carpet.


He's did not weigh eighty pounds more like 25

maybe if you tried adding a peltiere cold plate to the top of the tank? you could rely on the convection inside the tank to bring warm oil up to the plate then it will sink as it cools?

Malkaris1 year ago
I've got a machine I've been running submerged for a while. A few observations
1. The oil never "wicked" up the wires, I suppose in some special case it might, but I never experienced it.
2. Depending on the watts you may not need external radiators to cool the oil. As a server under light load it would hold a temperature (a little warm but it was safe)
3. Don't try phosphorescent powder, it's too dense to stay suspended :(
4. Never had any problem, I use it for ASIC bitcoin mining and CPU litecoin mining
5. For the CPU mining I added a small (very small) aquarium pump with a pair of oil radiators striped from a Ford Explorer, they word well to quietly cool the system.

The best way to think of oil cooling is a universal heat-exchange adapter. The oil nicely takes heat from your device and transfers it to where you'd rather the heat go. So if you've got a 1000 watt PSU, if you use a large enough (1BTU/hr ~= 0.3Watt) radiator to "balance the equation"

alexs5563 years ago
btw for the guy who made this saying its very hot thats just because it has almost no way of dispersing the heat
Would this work on a xbox? or would it get to hot since xbox 360s seem to be pretty sensitive.
it would probaly work with an xbox btw maybe i will do that after i finnish my computer build but it will work but i suggest a radiator to disperse the heat or you can buy a prebuilt case from http://www.pugetsystems.com/aquarium-computer.php it also has a radiator connected to it to disperse the heat
Sure would. Just make sure you run a USB hub and the power adaptor/video plug to a dry place so you can hook it up and unplug it.
mrdudej4 years ago
I don't understand how the parts still function?
all the parts still function because mineral oil does not conduct electricity it is also a good idea just because mineral conducts heat slower than air but you need something like a radiator connected to it to disperse the heat because oil is harder to move around than in air.
jb8350i4 years ago
I herd of a dude who did this kinda thing a few years back, only he did it with a medium sized fish tank, split the tank 50/50 front to rear with a piece of plexiglass caulked (or cemented?) into the tank. The front portion was filled with H20 and fish, with some rocks and stuff, then the rear was filled with the mineral oil, amd some more rocks/fake plants, just like the front.

The plexi disappears with the two clear liquids on ether side, and looks like your gear is all in the take with the fishes.

Even cooler would be to add a bubble bar or whatever those are called to spew bubbles up overtop of the mobo. I've been wanting to make one of these for awhile now.
ntrider19915 years ago
i am wondering if you ever considered lighting strike and than the computer starting on fire  because mineral oil is


so there could be a possible fire if that should happen
best to keep out side
it should work fine outside until -10F

glj12 (author)  ntrider19915 years ago
 What? No.
What? yeah! you can't ignite (liquid) gasoline by dropping a match in it either.
Huh? Really? If lightning strikes my house, the last thing I am going to be worried about is the stupid computer...
Mineral oil is combustible in the sense that you can make an oil lamp out of it. But it's not gasoline: if you drop a match in it, the match will go out. 
weazle5 years ago
I did this with a ten gallon tank, a twin fan Thermaltake radiator(cooler) with a Thermaltake750 pump. Running a AMD 955 Black Edition Quad-Core CPU with all four cores overclocked to 3.95GHZ! I installed a Digital Water Temp Gauge to monitor the temp of the oil - at idle it is around 95-96 degrees F. While playing WoW - 102-106. The Video card is a Radeon 9650HD 1GB card which normally runs very hot (60-90 degrees Centigrade have been reported with it running fine) runs at 44 degrees... OVERCLOCKED ~25%!!! Put a strip of blue LED's along the top pointing down into the tank for a very cool nighttime effect! Here's some pics for Facebook members: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=22090&id=1817906041&ref=pb
I looked at the photos of your project and it looks amazing, i was thinking that it would look cool with leds, and i envy the beverage cooler.
weazle weazle5 years ago
Sorry - misprint - the video card is the Radeon 9800HD Crossfire card... I recently switched from an NVidia card and confussed the two!
onemoroni14 years ago
Most interesting. The submersion of electrical components in oil for spark suppression is and old method from the relay logic days (not so in you application). I know you sealed yours, but it would be interesting to add an aquarium pump to add bubbles in the oil for effect.
I really enjoyed this and I think i will do this with my old computer. i had one question though.. I could put a solid state drive in the oil without it getting destroyed, correct?
luckly yes you can, good luck
egal4 years ago
thats cool man...great idea
hairyyy04 years ago
For all those questioning the theory.
They have a very nice Frequently raised questions section that explains all of this.
hippyrob4 years ago
Is this useful to protect against dust accumulation? Would this system usually have an external radiator and/or heat sink? Do HDD's really have holes in them?
(Am I being ignorant in asking these questions?)
joshka894 years ago
A really good mod for this is to create a small reservoir outside the case and attach it with 2 80mm hoses to the main case.
At each end of the hoses place some fans.
Have one hose blow into the case from the reservoir and the other blow out of the case.
This way the oil flows and has a chance to cool off in the reservoir, which helps with heat in hotter systems. Using this technique you can Overclock Everything without heat damage.
shortw5 years ago
Oil is a bad media to exchange heat, oil is slow to absorb heat and slow to give up heat. You have a fancy fish tank made from Plexiglas, that is not good either. Plexiglas is a insulator and will not give up heat very well. A glass fish tank would be a lot better. You are lucky you did not burn your motherboard or power supply up yet, because of running your fans in oil. More drag or resistance on fan's= higher amps, higher amps = bad for motherboard or power supply. Keep all wires above fish tank, I have seen fluids run inside along wires between copper and insulation and making a big mess. Oil have different effect on wires and it depends of the material the wires are made of. I have seen insulation of wires swell up and also I have seen it harden up and crack..... Don't call me crazy...but, have you tried to use '' real '' distilled water instead of oil? Not the one you buy at the grocery store which by the way is just filtered water and still has traces of minerals and metal. Real distilled water will not conduct electricity .
joshka89 shortw4 years ago
Mineral oil gets warm. That's because it absorbs heat well.
If you don't understand thermodynamics it's easy to assume that because the liquid is warm, then the computer is warm. The fact is, if the oil gets hot, it is absorbing a lot of heat from the computer. If you reached in and touched part of the computer (don't) you'd feel that it is cooler than the surrounding oil.

The oil is somewhat of a drag on the fans, but its also a lubricant and often the fans perform better than before.

Real distilled water actually would work, but you'd need to place both ends of a coper or zinc wire into the water to keep it from oxidizing (yes water can oxidize in a non sterile environment, i.e. stuff in the water like mobos).
You'd have to change out the wire a lot. Or alternately place two large copper/zinc panels and each end, attached by a wire.
1badgt7 years ago
just wandaring how does the motherboard work when its submerged? wouldnt it short cercuit????
No actually the mineral oil would the bus of the motherboard tranport data quicker
glj12 (author)  1badgt7 years ago
Read about mineral oil, and you will see why it does not. It is a lubricant, and does not conduct electricity.
pbates1235 years ago
Oil has been used as an insulator and heat transfer solution by transformer manufactures that make Mega Transformers the size of a small houses down to smaller units, those seen on power poles for years. Unfortunately older transformers used oils that contained PCB's to improve the transfer and isolation characteristics. PCB's are known to cause cancer. Often after transformers have been hit by lightening the oil is simply filtered to reconstitute its ability to insulate. Filtering removes metal and carbon particles.
jf785 years ago
Awesome instructable. I have a Xbox 360 Elite console that RROD'ed on me due to over heating. I'm going to try this and see how it works... I will post back on the results.
laef925 years ago
This is brilliant, I will definitely be making my own now. Thanks for the instructable, it's set my imagination running and I've got some killer ideas for improvements and fun stuff. You guys rock!
i might not know much, but i think this may help. thought of it when someguy posted his idea. as far as i know, by my pyromaniacal ways, copper works pretty well. especially a hollow tube. he could use aluminum for the lid (great heat-sink when working with copper), but put a copper tube with a sealed end (the sealed end into the water) so that the air when heated up inside the tube is let out and colder air is pulled in due the the vacuum left behind. this may maintain a cooler environment inside because the copper REALLY likes to steal heat.
Ahmedqatar5 years ago
I think there will be a problem when the temperature go very high!!
The idea with the oil is to disperse the heat so that the temperature does not get very high... If the temperature inside the oil is a problem, then don't even try to run a PC in the open air - POOF! Talk about a problem...
paulpropst5 years ago
I have an idea that might make this even better to look at while helping cooling.  Put a large aquarium air pump next to this thing and use that to drive several submerged airstones, or maybe...one of those aquarium decorations that has an old fashioned deep sea diver and a pirate chest with the lid bouncing up and down with the bubbles.  Also a small (laptop) format harddrive would be nice and quiet and couls be concealed in a sign on the top that says "Caution...diver below!"
Also, introducing air into the tank (via an airstone) would also add some degree of water (from humidity in the air) - that's why the tank is sealed to begin with.
Air stones have bean tried and they made almost no difference, and caused some of the oil to escape as a mist.

some_guy895 years ago
To keep the oil cooler, you may want to instead make the lid out of some sort of metal and some how attach some fins to it that reach down into the oil. This will help conduct some of the heat out of the oil as the glass or plexi-glass works as an insulator to keep the heat in.
jacob56805 years ago
Some day, when I have some cash to spare, an empty tank, and if Wal-Mart sells oil, I shall do this. :] I love the second last picture. A very crystalline look.
DartTHX11387 years ago
I have a few small questions. 1. Do the CD and/or DVD drives work? 2. If you could somehow put an air tube going to the hard drive, could you put it inside?
You can seal off the HDD if you like, the hole is there to equalize pressure so as long as you don't change altitude (It would take a 1000ft or more to be a problem) it will work just fine.

CD/DVD drives won't work in the oil because of the drag (they wouldn't be able to get the disk up to speed) and besids wy would you whant your disk coverd in oil.

It would probably be worth wile to get a smaller power supply and a thinner tank so that it is a bit lighter, then maby a small oil cooler, if you mount the cooler above the tank you won't even need a pump, hot (less dense) liquids rise  (thermosiphon).

ntrider19915 years ago
also the tank could break being outside in temperature like -10 but most places dont get that cold anymore
muberblob5 years ago
i used an 2 year old dell since the casing was crap, i figured why not
 How about replacing the hard drive with a Compact Flash - to - IDE adapter and a CF Card?  That would eliminate the hard drive noise.
jj.inc5 years ago
 I am definatly going to do this now all I need is a computer I can lose. 
 I wonder if you could use it as a heater or set up some kind of cooling thing.

nicobot6 years ago
pero dejate de joder boludo, como le vas a hechar aceite mineral ahi, dios, no tenes nada ke hacer , ademas hacete esta pregunta: si le tenes ke poner un hardrware como haces? jajajjaj, dedicate a otra cosa flaco
sparten6 years ago
i will build one my self i love this thing. perhaps not heat sinks not fans smaller power supply add some led effects, use a separate water pump to circulate the oil to a cooler or radiator and return it to the solution. also i will build a purpose built enclosure custom fit to the unit and reduce overall amount of oil. this has some potential. wounder how hot i can run the cpu? overclock the sucker. hmm many ideas flowing now. thanks for this instruction able. warren
superbogus6 years ago
Hi. I have soo many questions: Are the fans connected in the PSU and the CPU cooler? Can they spin in that oil? Why you didn't get rid of them? Does the PC still work? The PCB's didn't get softened and deformed? Thank you for your answers!
Some PSU's require a fan just to run whether or not it's actually cooling the PSU.
dodo916 years ago
what would I need a lot of minutes for?
w0ot!6 years ago
No offense man, but your video left a lot to be desired. Aside from not being able to see what was supposedly going on on the screen, that loud music was annoying. 17 (0u|d 83 7h47 1'm 0|d 7h0u6h...
glj12 (author)  w0ot!6 years ago
Yeah, the video wasn't that good. I expected that one could read the tutorial and comprehend it, though. ;)