Mineral Oil-Cooled Old Laptop




Introduction: Mineral Oil-Cooled Old Laptop

About: Hi I'm Steve. I am a mechanical engineering graduate from Canada.

I will start off with why I did this to a laptop in the first place so if you don't really care, skip to the other steps.

The Asus UL80VT served me well for two years until the screen started flickering with white lines and squeal with a high pitched sound inherent of a dying capacitor . For a while, I would just tap the screen and it would go away. Sometimes the screen would get increasingly more white lines until the screen would just be totally blank. I used it as a desktop replacement with an external monitor for a while until I actually needed to carry it around. The warranty on the machine was only two years so I ended up cracking it open to see if I could fix the problem. When doing so I, destroyed one of the WiFi antenna cables. The touchpad also stopped working (I have a horrible reputation of doing things like this).

I ended up building a new desktop during the holidays and attempted to sell the laptop. I put up an ad on an online classifieds site posted as working if you use it with an mouse, external monitor, etc. and almost immediately got a buyer. The problem was he didn't speak English very well nor read very well (my area is Bilingual). He didn't  know that it had all the problems it did other than when he showed up at my house I showed him that the trackpad didn't work. 

For reasons I will never know, when he got home he realized all the problems and tried opening up the laptop himself without knowing how to do so. The next day he came back and asked for his money back. When checking if he had done anything to it I realized he absolutely destroyed the keyboard trying to remove it. He got really upset at me for apparently not letting him know all the issues which was clearly stated in the classifieds.

Anyways, I returned his money and kept $20 for all the damage. The problem was I had a 'laptop' that I could probably not sell... so I decided to rip out the motherboard and do something fun with it...

Step 1: Oil

I used 7 bottles of unscented baby oil to which cost $3 per bottle. Each bottle contained 592 mL of mineral oil.

The only other mineral oil I found in my area was heavy laxative at $8 per 500 mL.

Step 2: Motherboard

I didn't document a dis-assembly but the chances are that if your laptop is (or once was) popular, there is guide to doing so.

To save the amount of oil I would have to buy, I removed the bottom I/O board in the bottom left corner. Nothing very vital was located on the board so it didn't matter. It had a ethernet port, a usb port, SD card reader, and the mini PCI-E which had a WiFi card in it. 

Because the cables were damaged, I figured I'd hook up an external USB WiFi adapter anyways.

Step 3: Vase

I used a 8" diameter clear glass vase that cost $13. 

I decorated the bottom with smooth rocks and a Intel stock heatsink to reduce the volume of oil I would need.

Step 4: Active Cooling

I was able to mount a Cooler Master 120 mm fan to two random holes on the motherboard. The fan circulates the oil so that all the warm oil doesn't linger around the hot components.

I had to widen the holes on the board to get the bolts I had to fit through.

I used rubber washers to prevent shorts from the nut.

Although this fan regularly runs at 12 V, I was able to connect it to the stock laptop fan's header with some modifications and run it at 5V. The spins significantly slower as seen in the video.

Step 5: Top Cover

The top cover will prevent any debris from falling into the oil.

I simply measured the diameter of the vase and milled a groove into a bamboo cutting board of the same diameter. The edge of the vase sits inside the groove. I also milled a 1.5" diameter hole to route all the cables through which include: DC power, HDMI cable, USB extension to a USB HUB, and a 3.5 mm audio jack extension cable.

Step 6: Final Assembly

LED lights from an old Christmas ornament were soldered to the leads on the CD drive power and connected to the second SATA connector on the bottom of the motherboard.

An OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB SSD drive was installed as the main drive which makes this totally silent.

This is a great addition to a living room as it has a unique look.

UP! Contest

Participated in the
UP! Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

      Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge
    • Super-Size Speed Challenge

      Super-Size Speed Challenge
    • Audio Challenge 2020

      Audio Challenge 2020

    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    How this system is doing? Is it still working?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi. I am trying to do something similar and I am in trouble getting my motherboard to power up again. How did you solve the issue with charger jack and power button? I de-soldered power jack and extended it with some wires to keep charger plug out of the oil. I also extended wired for power button. My question is, was there any issues for you when booting the system up?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    To save money on oil, I actually shortened the motherboard by disconnecting a part of the board that contained the power button (and one USB port and LAN port.) Instead, I shorted the ASUS Expressgate powerup button and didn't install the firmware. Therefore, it would boot and not detect the expressgate installed and rebooted into windows. I had to start up by switching on a power bar.

    I had issues when the BIOS battery was installed... and eventually disconnected it, so it was a pain that I had to reset the time every time I reset the system.

    These are all issues specific to the laptop I used, though.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    you are literally the only person who I have found who has done this with a laptop i have been looking for an instructable wondering how i would do it and for the most part it seems fairly straight forward I was just curious what could and couldnt go in the oil. power supply battery etc


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You can really put anything into the oil and have them function but the problem with any wires coming in contact with oil is that they become very stiff over time. It is not good to have any USB or video cables that you constantly use touching the oil. If you look at the majority of tutorials online the I/O ports are above the oil level because of this. It is not recommended to put mechanical hard drives into oil without the proper modifications to allow the air holes to breathe (I have seen this elsewhere); that is why I used an SSD, it's just much simpler.

    Hope that helps.


    If it is working it probably will not for long. The some of the capacitors have an electrolyte in them that will be eventually washed out. It is really cool though. I hope it does continue to work.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not an expert in electronics but there are many builds out there using $1 000 computers (or used to be worth that much at the time) that seem to have been running fine.