Instructables

Watercooling a laptop on the cheap

Featured
Picture of Watercooling a laptop on the cheap
How to watercool a laptop...or pretty much anything
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Step 1: Don't be a moron

Disclaimer: If you break something doing this it is your own damn fault. You REALLY ought to know better than to mix electronics and water. DUH!
For those of you willing to continue despite the risk to life and limb and inevitable financial loss; go to the next step.

Step 2: Procure laptop

Get a laptop from somewhere. I happened to have an old compaq presario 700 laying about. It would only run for five minutes then lock up from heat. Soooo, I decided to get my feet, er, wet in the world of water cooling, using the cheapest methods I could think of.
Some of the methods could be done better, much better if you are not a cheapskate like me.
If you are a cheapskate, you could potentially use similar methods elsewhere and save a buck or two.

Step 3: Get other stuff

Tubing:
I used 3/16 ID vinyl tubing from the hardware store, it is strong yet flexible it has an OD of 5/16
More tubing:
I used 5/16 ID for this, if you can't see where I'm going with that...
A pump
I got one from ebay $20 shipped with power supply. If I were to do it again... I'd get a proper water cooling pump.
Radiator
I'm using an add-on transmission cooler from O'reilly auto parts. It comes with mounting hardware and looks pretty nice. It should have the thermal capacity of 800 of the laptop's built in heat sinks.
Fans
Whatever. I'm using two thermaltake fans wired in series with a temperature controller. One fan is a smartcool the other is a thuderblade. Both together were $29 shipped from newegg. If I were doing this over, I'd skimp on fans and splurge on pump.
Reservoir
A gerbil water bottle from petsmart. It has a detachable clip on the back and 3/16 tube fits right in the hole where the metal drinking tube went.
Power supply.
I'm using a 13.5 v psu for the fans and a 12v psu for the pump (the one that came with it)
7PieceMeal9 months ago
Awesome, a bit large but I dig it. Now do you have to use rubber tubing or can there be one long copper tube loop?
While your computer is disassembled you may want to use some thermal grease on older laptops if it is dried up.
I have a Compaq Presario cm2000 1255 about 14 years old (older than me) it still works like a charm. couldn't pass up a 5$ laptop
axel58902 years ago
what is the part number on that radiator you used?
zack2472 years ago
to cool the ram youd probably need to make some waterblocks, but i dont see why it wouldnt be possible.
You could install a low pressure check valve. works like a carburetor neddle.
I would have mounted somthing like this on the bottom of my computer because of it's mass. I used tanntraad's "ible" to make a tiny removable radiator for my comp. My Dell inspiron 1500 has a nasty habit of reaching temperatures capable of burning your lap if you use it for more than 30 mins, but with the new cooling system the fan hardly turns on at all.
p0o0p3 years ago
goood work but how to make bump

gangster4296 years ago
Yes. Any radiator would work. I use a 10' coil of copper tubing I got at my local hardware store.
jack ruby (author)  gangster4296 years ago
I don't see why not. It just looks like a big heat exchanger to me. Finding tubes the right size might be tough though.
or dont connect the two colored wires to each other lol. that causes a big boom. always yellow or red to black
???
sqeeek3 years ago
 Just a random idea, would coolant fluid like what I'm always filling my car's radiator with work any better than water? 
no, ethylene glycol (normal green car coolant) actually lowers thermal conductivity. its only there to lower freezing point, heighten boiling point, inhibit rust, and lubricate parts like the water pump. your computer isn't subject to as adverse conditions as you car's engine.
Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.
sqeeek3 years ago
 Awesome, I thought those were solid copper. This looks like it's a heck of a lot easier (perhaps more effective, too) than building your own water block, nice job. 
Harbor Freight, a tool company that sells mostly junk, has some tiny water pumps for really cheap. I got one that works pretty well for $3. I guess the only problem there is that it's meant to be plugged in to a household 110V outlet rather than, say, a USB port for power.
jack ruby (author)  pinstripebob6 years ago
Do you have a part # ? The pump I was using has died and a cheap replacement is in order. Thanks for the tip!
www.kidwind.org/xcart/product.php 
Try that one. 

Lol if you get one from Harbor Freight, be sure to buy at least 5, you'll need to keep replacing them. ;)

Bought a Sawz-all from them once... lasted a good 3 minutes. But now I have an awesome 110v speed controlled motor to do something fun with, so no complaints :D
If you go to http://www.harborfreight.com/ and search for "mini pump," you'll find a couple that are under $10. The only problem is that they need to be submersed in fluid. You could just stick it in a soda can and seal it with some silicone.
mods, mods, and more mods. hack it to run off a battery, and hack it to not need to be submersed. this is all about modding.
submersion keeps the pump cool so that it doesn't overheat.
Add some copper tubing on the inside, and make the pumped water go through the copper tubing to cool it and have a pump. =D
You could also use a windshield washer pump.
sqeeek3 years ago
 Lol actually water's not that conductive unless it's a solvent, i.e. saltwater. Also, any power found in a laptop (with the exception of the inverter for the screen, which can hit as much as 200v) isn't gonna do much harm to yourself, i'd be more worried about the laptop getting zapped than yourself. 

Interesting thing is that when my dad can't figure out how to clear the BIOS of a wireless router that's been partially overwritten or something, he chucks it in a bucket of saltwater for half an hour, then rinses it, then sets it out to dry... Shorts out everything on the board, sometimes has the effect of clearing the BIOS as well. 

Anyway, sweet instructable :D i'm gonna try this with an old Toshiba I've got. It has a desktop processor in it instead of one of the low-heat mobile ones, and always tries to murder itself... 
Kasm2794 years ago
What's that HP laptop in the last pic? 
Kasm279 Kasm2794 years ago
 err first pic*
jack ruby (author)  Kasm2794 years ago
 It's my *other* old laptop. Although at the time, it was my main computer. Just an HP laptop I bought from Walmart :)
 What model is it specifically?
seabee8904 years ago
Amazing job on the cooling fan, would be steampunk if you could get a bronze or copper radiator and a black light for the fan.  What are you running to generate that much heat ? lol   wscottc60, be careful how much you redneck this type of project, a intube because it has "a threaded bit at one end" may be a cheap way to cause a expensive problem. also if you want to power this with usb, make sure the usb does not cause a draw significant enough to counter the cooling system.   I want to make something lie this for a suitcase nuke style xbox 360 traveling system with tv included. wooo hooo. 
wscottc604 years ago
I was thinking about using an expanding balder for a reservoir capture tank. Something like a piece of innertube, might could even use the valve stem in as much as it is threaded.
iProton4 years ago
Oh noes! I spilled the system onto my laptop, fused the motherboard, blacked out the city and gained the ability to see future! LULZ.
lol dude you prolly dont even need those fans, with that massive surface area the radiator would have, but awesome job
junits155 years ago
I see that you used two diffrent oumps, where did you get them?
nice instructable. can't wait to try on my laptop...but i should probably wait until i have an alternate computer...I was surprised that you didn't use a blackice radiator or something...though this definitely qualifies as 'on the cheap'! The main question is, how effective is it? you should definitely post the temp. idk what would work with ubuntu tho...
djr67895 years ago
i just got a compaq presario for free but the graphics card is faulty the screen goes all fuzy
jack ruby (author)  djr67895 years ago
:( sorry, I broke the screen on my old presario. I just use the vga out.
Darkeru6 years ago
this is really sweet and I'm working on a related project and wanted to know instead of using water to cool a system, can i use something like alcohol?
Alcohol is a perfect substitute, but in some cases I think it depends on the cooling blocks.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!