Introduction: DIY Wall Mounted Water Cooled Computer
Hello and welcome to one of my favourite builds. Unfortunately the whole project has not been throroughly documented as i would like it to, due to the fact that it was completed in a non scheduled way. I considered though that it is quite interesting for anyone and might provide people with fresh ideas. Therefore this is probably more of a documentation than a how to guide.
Living in a small apartment calls for unexpected solutions to the limited available space. I always thought that we tend to "decorate" our houses with beautiful yet unpractical objects, for example paintings vases etc. Why not then take full advantage of a rooms most naked side? The walls. A guted computer mounted on the wall is an excellent piece of art, both saving space and providing a fully usable tool.
As a second thought, i found air cooled computers with stock heatsinks too noisy for my taste. Also a bigger aftermarket heatsink is a total no, since its weight does not allow me to suspend it from the wall.
The solution? water cooling. More cool parts to hang on the wall, very silent, very efficient cooling and also a personal bet to create such a system on a small budget.
Step 1: Parts List
Since i purchased and built this a while ago ill do my best to recall and write down the necessary parts.
Water pump: (preferably with three cables and pwm mode) I purchased mine on ebay for a really low price.
Waterblock: The piece attached to the cpu for heat transfer. Can be found at very low price too, but will need to be changed frequently due to galvanic reactions, every 1-2 years depending on use.I ended up using a different waterblock than the one pictured in the tests, because the tubes wouldnt fit.
Waterblock support piece: in order to mount the waterblock on the CPU a support piece is required. You can purchase it too i think, yet i decided to fabricate my own by cutting a piece of metal to the proper lenght and punching two holes on the ends.
Nuts, Bolts, Plastic Spacers: These will hold the waterblock in place through the motherboard holes.
Plastic/vinyl water tubing: Measure the waterblock and pump diameter and purchase the aproppriate size and lenght.
Water servoir: (you can buy one , or make your own as i did ) Ebay sellers use plexiglass boxes, but i really prefered an empty antifreeze car liquid bottle.
Copper Tubing Radiator: ( Is used to make the radiator. get as much as you decide is needed for your pc performance. You can buy the radiator too if you prefer a better looking result ) The radiator is basically tha part that is going to exchange heat between the water and the enviroment. Bigger radiator means more efficient heat dumping.
Galvanic Corrosion: From wikipedia "Galvanic corrosion (also called bimetallic corrosion or contact corrosion) is an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially to another when both metals are in electrical contact, in the presence of an electrolyte."
If you can create/purchase a radiator from the same material as the waterblock do it. The life span of both parts will be highly extended.
Computer: ( this instructable is not about cellphone water cooling sorry)
Highlighting marker: will be used to colour the water, you can also order glowing paint.
Antifreeze car liquid will be mixed with water to form the liquid agent. It is used for its antibacteria properties and to prevent algae growing.
Teflon tape: will make our fittings tighter and more leak proof
Optional water clamps: as many as needed for the connections to be totally leakproof.
Big cylindrical object
Needle nose pliers
Step 2: The Cooling System
What we want to do now is set up a quality control for our system by checking the parts for faults and modifying whats needed.
The basic preparation will be the following :
#1 Create a radiator
Using a cylindrical object, i started making spirals with the copper tubing around it. The idea is to form a coil of medium density. Keep it compact but with enought space between the coils for the air to move freely.
#2 Setting up a draft of our water circulation system and testing it
Knock together the parts without measurements, we just want to test them .Using a spare motherboard or PSU, submerge the pump in a container with water. Test the system for leaks by surrounding the waterblock with paper and securing it with rubber bands or zip ties.
If the system requires leakproofing from now on you should purchase smaller tubing.
Let the system run for 10 minutes and then remove and check the paper.
#3 Create a water reservoir
Using the cutter i cut a hole slighlty smaller than the diameter of the tube on the bottom side of the bottle, so as to create a tight fit, which i secured with a bigger diameter tube and plenty of hot glue between them. Also made a hole at the bottle cap a bit bigger than the tube so as to let pressure get out of the reservoir, when needed.
Step 3: The Computer
A small presentation of the computing unit shall be done at this point. The absolute necessary parts you are going to need and also what i am using
PSU The power supply was selected with a big fan rather than multiple small ones for noise reduction. Im using a 500watt unit which is more than sufficinet for my system. Always get a bigger PSU than the minimum needed.
Motherboard A great deal second hand intel DQ965GF. The socket is LGA 775 , supporting my Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.40GHz CPU .
GPU Although my motherboard has a built in graphics card i prefer using my external Nvidia Geforce for better RAM efficincy.
HDD Nothing special either, just a 1TB toshiba SATA3 hard drive which can be supported by SATA2 motherboards.
Step 4: Installing the System
Step #1(basic preparation)
I started by visualizing where each part is going to be placed on the wall. This step is very important not only for aesthetical reasons but also for usability. The water reservoir must always be higher than the pump and idealy the cpu so the water has a natural flow up to that point. If the water cant reach the pump the rig will not work and if the water doesnt reach the waterblock, formation of air bubbles is quite possible.
Measure the vinyl tubing, cut to size, wrap the parts with teflon tape and connect everything together.
Now take a pencil and make some markings, on where the parts are going to be nailed. Dont forget that an already hanging component might be able to support other components too, like my HDD which is hanging from the motherboard with a small piece of wire. Satisfied? Good, on with the next step.
Step #2 ( Installing the water cooling system)
Supposing that we have found our nailing spots and our parts have the ability to be hang, lets do some nailing.
One nail is supporting the water reservoir via a small rope and one other is keeping the radiator in place. The pump and waterblock must be left free for now NOT hanging , but placed on a desk allowing for handling.
Step #3 ( Installing the computer )
Disclaimer electronic components are highly vulnerable to static electricity. Make sure to discharge yourself before touching anything. I am not responsible for any damage that may occur.
After grounding myself by touching a water pipe i carefully inserted the bolts and the spacers, through the motherboard holes intended for the heatsink. After that i suspended the board with its screw holes over the pencil marking on the wall. Two nails are way more than enough to support its weight.
Next i put two nails on the wall right next to the motherboard and took advantage of some already existing holes on the psu to hang it from there securely.
A small piece of wire is run through the bottom motherboard holes and the HDD, leaving it to hang freely.
Step #4 ( Connecting the two systems )
The time has come for the CPU and waterblock attachment. Clean both surfaces with alchohol, apply a small amount of thermal paste on one side of the waterblock and spread it with a plastic card. Move from one side to the other no more than 2 times, by applying constant downward pressure, and sliding the card for even coverage.
Gently push the waterblock against the cpu, hold it still and insert the waterblock support piece. Screw the nuts and only stop holding the block when it is stabilized by the nut pressure. Use some needle nose pliers to tighten a bit more for safety.
After connecting the pump i hung it by doing a turn with its cable around one of the motherboard bolts.
Step #5 ( Final adjustments/ Leak check )
Start by connecting all cables of the PSU to their respective places. Do not plug the main cord.
Break open a highlighter and infuse its ink cartridge in water equal to 80% of the reservoirs capacity.
Add the water to the reservoir and fill with 10% antifreeze car liquid. Dont fill the reservoir completely. 90% must be enough.
Let the water sit for a few minutes and carefully check for leaks a few times. Always have some towels and a big bucket to empty the reservoir if needed.
Step #6 ( Test run)
The system is now ready to run. There is not much more we can do, everything will probably be fine but disaster might also be around the corner, so be ready to empty the reservoir, high voltages and water dont mix well. Insert the mains power cord to the PSU. Test run it monitoring the water flow and the tube joints.
Step 5: Performance and Overview
Eventually everything unraveled as planned. No leaks no surprises. Yet anyone should be aware that such a build will not be troublefree. Minor fixes or part replacements will be needed in the long run, but im ok with this fact.
In other news, as the screenshots state, our rig has nothing to be jealous of from commercially sold pricey systems. The shots are instantly after booting and after 4 hourds of internet browsing and music recording. I actually find it impressive that even with heavy use the temperature could not rise above 55 degrees celsius.
If you have attempted any similar builds please feel free to present them in the comment section, or propose future improvements