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    Knee High to a Worms Ass KingRandomUser's Avatar
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    Omg KingRandomUser's Water Cooled Laptop Project

    Hello and welcome! I thought I'd share this with all my fellow AOD members in this wild and crazy project of mine. I'm sure the title got you very curious. So if you don't mind a long read... then you're in for a treat! And hey, there's pictures too! All pictures are "Linked" meaning you can click on them to get a bigger image. So, let's begin!


    First off, what is this project exactly?

    This project is taking my laptop and incorporating a water-cooling system into it. Yes, the same system normally reserved for high-end or hardcore gaming desktops will be used to cool my custom built gaming laptop. (Of which is only 2 years old)

    But why, oh why would I do such a thing!? Simple answer is the stock air cooling isn't able to keep my system cool anymore. The fan still is working by the way, but despite it, this thing is heating up to over 90-C in mere minutes. That's freaking way too hot especially when it's just idling! Most air-cooled systems should be running 60-70 C during intensive things like gaming or video related things. Which I do both. And when my system starts pushing that 90-degree mark, it starts throttling back the clock speeds. Especially the GPU's Clock (Nvidia 650M) down from 750+MHz to a mere 120-150MHz. And nothing sucks more than being in the heat of battle and your frame rate drops to 3-fps. Which is pretty much what happens. Yeah, sucks. And this is just some 10 minutes into the first game. Good luck trying even longer. Other games perform similar with horrible fps even on the lowest settings. Which used to be able to run full out max flawlessly in the past. And let's not get into my video editing and how bad that goes with throttled back chips. Also, before anyone asks, yes dust does get cleaned out of it. My entire system is taken apart and cleaned completely to include the heatsinks. Last cleaning was around 3-4 months before this project began and the third time it's been done.

    So, there's an apparent need to something drastic. And that's when I thought about water-cooling my system. But...how to build it? Being a laptop there is absolutely no parts available for it on one of the most critical pieces... the water block. Then there's the fact that laptops are supposed to be mobile and capable of moving around with. How could one have a water-cooling system be portable? Hopes dashed? Not a chance. I'm very good at building something from nothing so I wasn't about to give in just yet. So it was time to set to work and plan this thing out and make this abstract idea a reality.

    After having disassembled my laptop to examine what I had to work with, I peeled off the old cooling system which consisted of a cooper plate soldered to a mount, one of each for both the CPU and GPU.

    These copper plates sit right on the chip die's which is where the heat goes. On the top side of the plate, flat copper tubes run towards the back left of my case to where heatsink fins are attached. Right behind that is the cooling fan which blows over the heatsink to cool the copper pipes and thus cool the system. For those that don't know, copper is an excellent conductor of heat and can transfer it very well. Anyways, since I had aluminum brackets and a nice copper plate to work with, I thought about instead of flat tubes, why not use some small 1/8" copper refrigerator line? Seemed like a logical thing to do in merely piping the semi-flexible line around to each component and solder it to the mounting plate much like the original flat pipes were. So after a trip to the hardware store to get some, it was time to set to work. And well... I quickly found out a major problem. While the 1/8" line is flexible, it wasn't flexible enough to turn as much as it needed to in such a small space. The CPU chip line has to come in from the same side it exits. So essentially this tube would have to do a 180-Degree turn in a mere 1" space. Yeah, not gonna happen with what I have to work with.

    So after my first fail, I figured why not use copper fittings and elbows? So back to the hardware store. Only to find... they don't have them for 1/8" ID line. Well, there goes that idea. But not too discouraged, it was time to turn to the internet. Scouring and searching for someone that had such fittings or even if they existed. What luck, found some on e-bay. Ordered some, and a couple of matching T-fittings as I really wanted two separate lines for the CPU and GPU to cool independently. After a week or so, they finally came. And now it was time for a crash course in sweat-soldering. Which is basically using a blow-torch, flux, and solder to 'weld' copper pipe together. It wasn't all too hard to do or learn, but working with such small pipe it was a bit of a pain. And then that there were so many pieces to put together for how many curves there were to get around other internals safely. Also, not only would I have to put this together, I'd have to flatten the entire thing out just a little as there is literally only 9/16" clearance max between the board and case. And 1/8" ID line is around 1/4" OD (8/16"). Still, I worked, I soldered, eventually getting the mess of pipes to solder to the mounting brackets and copper plate salvaged from the old cooling system. There was so much frustration because of the close proximity of other joints the whole thing kept warping and I even had some solder melt into the pipe itself to seal it off. Aaaagh...can't have that in a cooling system now can we? Things weren't lining up well and trying to mount both brackets perfectly while other joints were coming unsoldered as you try soldering other joints...it was just failing hard. And eventually it became quickly apparent that this just wasn't going to work. Fail number two. And no, don't have pictures of those failures, but trust me...it was just...bad. Plus I had to destroy it a bit to salvage some fittings.

    Now, yes I was working on other parts of the project in terms of planning while this was going on. I did have other issues to address after all besides the lack of a water-block. But this was the first and biggest hurdle I had to figure out. So it got the most attention in the beginning. While panning and working on other parts, it was back to researching. Trying to figure out what else I could do. I needed a water block. But the only ones selling were obviously for desktops. And obviously too those were way too big for what little space I have to work with. While browsing though, I happened across someone who built their own. Yes, for a desktop, but it didn't seem too hard. Some copper, some tools, some fittings and boom instant water block. So I searched for other custom ones and how they were built. Again, different materials and methods, but all the same concept. So, I finally had my water-block idea: Take some 1/4" Thick cooper plate (remember, I have only 9/16" clearance to work with) and make my own. But... there was one other problem. The fittings. The smallest ones in hardware stores, even for 1/8" ID tube still had a 1/4" thread with even bigger hex nut. You can't thread a 1/4" screw onto a plate that's only 1/4" thick, since you need material to screw into. So...back to the internet to try and find some smaller fittings. And let me tell you, it took days to finally locate some that would fit 1/8" ID tube that'd be within the laptop itself. Locating some #10-32 thread to 1/8' barb fittings, I finally got my hands on them and the 1/4" thick copper plate. I also had ordered a small sheet of 22-ga copper that'd act as the "cover" for the water block itself. Let me tell you one thing though, the #10-32 thread will just barely and I mean just barely fit on the 1/4" thick plate. Since remember, I have to mount these fittings to the side of the block as I'm already at the max thickness in terms of height as it is. So needless to say... drilling the pilot hole with a #21 drill bit (that came with the #10-32 threading tap) has to be dead on so I could run the tap in and thread the hole without busting past the roof or floor of the block completely. Unfortunately I just barely missed the mark on one side of the GPU Block (Version 1). However, it appeared salvageable as it was a minimal break through. I figured I could just merely solder the fitting in as the top plate was soldered in. And sure enough, it worked...after a second attempt. As attempt one I put way too much flux down and the solder ran in way too deep, sealing it off. So after prying off the top plate, cleaning up all the solder and fixing the fitting, I was glad it was still soldered in nicely. So just some cleanup and re-solder in the top plate and it was finally done.

    This is a pic of both water blocks in the various states. The top one is the near-completed CPU Block which has been grooved out and sealed over with the top plate. The notches are only rough cut and have not been finalized nor have the mounting holes been drilled just yet. The notches are there for two reasons. 1- to get around large chips that are close by, and 2- for weight reduction. This is the more complete of the two blocks at the time. The lower one is the GPU Block (Version 1). It's a tad smaller (or will be once I cut off the excess) and the grooving is almost done. As you can see the channels the water will run through. Still have to finalize the channels and rough them up a bit (it's better to have a rougher path for more surface area to transfer heat than it is to have a smooth surface) and then solder on the top plate besides trimming and other things. Grooving out solid copper is a pain by the way, so I have several hours in doing each. Also, you have to frequently stop as the little cutting tool on the Dremel heats up the copper making it too hot to hold even with gloves. Same goes for cutting it. 1/4" copper is a real pain to cut too! Took me around 10-15 minutes each to cut each block from the full bar. But this was eventually remedied once I got a hold of a Dremel and the right cutting disks to make this go a little quicker. Still got hotter the heck though!

    Is the CPU Block with the fittings just barely sitting in there. The holes are threaded but I didn't wrench them all the way in for the pic to show you how they come into play. Remember how I said the CPU Block had to do a 180? Well, there you go. Still some finishing work to do, but I think you can get the gist of how this works and mounts to the board. Also how it's plumbed. The cool-water line will come into the laptop, branch of to each block, then come back together before heading out of the laptop to the rest of the system.

    As the GPU Block was completed, I quickly realized a problem with it. Remember how the fittings would be on each side? Well... one would literally run into parts of the laptop I couldn't run a line, while the other was just too close to the outer case to be of use. Crap. No fixing that problem. So, obvious choice was to start from scratch and remake a new block. And this is the beginnings of Versions 2 and 3.

    Version 2 was a quick fail. Same concept except... I put the ports on the wrong side! Oops! Guess that's what I get for rushing it after Version 1 had failed. So the above pics are the start of Version 3 actually.


    This is the GPU Block with the top plate soldered on. I also soldered on that tiny plate as well as a small spacer to reach the GPU Die a little better when it's mounted. it's just a touch bigger than the die and is pretty much right on where it needs to be to touch it. The fittings aren't mounted yet, and they go on the angled side of the plate. The plate also ins't finished as I'll cut a similar angle on the other side, do some trimming and sanding, and drill the mounting holes. But this is the gist of the GPU Block at least.

    Okay, so that part is figured out. But what about the rest of the system? Indeed this part too was going to be a challenge. First, I needed to make a laptop stand that could...well..hold my laptop. Obvious no? My current stand is a Cooler-Master NotePal U3

    An Aluminum stand that was fairly lightweight and had much potential to be reused. While thinking through what to do, I also went about locating the other parts I needed. Those being the Pump, Radiator, and Reservoir. And...how to make them all fit.
    Taking some measurements of the current stand, I found that it was around 17" Wide, 12" Long, and about 2" Tall at the back. Then researched how big some of the pumps were. Most of which being around 3-3.5" or so. So, I simply needed to raise up both ends of the stand by about 1.5-2" Mocking it out, I found too that as long as I kept the Width and Length the same, I can easily make it 2" taller and still fit in a laptop bag. Awesome! Now I had clearance to fit a pump! And after some thought and deliberation, I settled on using a pump/reservoir combo unit. So I settled on the XSPC D5 Photon 270:

    Overkill? You bet. But this sleek design would fit perfectly within the planned 4" tall stand as it stood only about 3.25" tall. And the length would easily fit within the 17" Wide stand too. Awesome! Knocked two out with ease.

    The Radiator is another curious thing...where could I possibly put this thing to where it's out of the way, but secure? And to keep this laptop mobile...how could I store it? Well, since I still had 9" or so of space to work with within the stand. I figured the simplest solution would be building a tray to hold it. Right next to the pump. And build some sort of mount that can be disconnected and the entire thing stowed within the base unit itself. Problem solved...mostly anyways. I have yet to figure out the mounting mechanics at this time though. Still, it seemed simple enough. But hey, I had a plan. Swivel fittings for the tubes so that it can easily pivot around and tuck away, a removable mounting system... yep that was the plan. And found some nice XSPC 90-degree swivel fittings for it's XSPC 2-Fan (240mm length (well yes okay, it's a little bigger than that but it's what it's listed as), or 2x 120mm fans) Radiator. Bear in mind I've never used any sort of water cooling systems so I had no idea what brand or whatever to go with. Just happened I kept everything XSPC unintentially. It's just for the project, their components fit what I needed lol.

    Now came a very interesting problem to solve... Power and Water Lines. How would I not only power these things, but be able to power them in the event of me moving around off A/C Power? After all, laptops have batteries... Such was an interesting issue to try and figure out. The second being the coolant lines their-selves. How could I disconnect my laptop from the stand in order to stow each in their own pockets of my laptop bag?

    First problem I tried to tackle was the coolant-line problem. My solution at first was to use the 1/8" Line shut-off valves that would go well with the copper-pipe and 1/8" tube towards the laptop side of the lines (as the rest would be 1/2" tube). You can get these at your local hardware store so you can probably see my intent for them at first. And they'd mount nicely to the back of the stand too! But... as the cooling line via cooper tube idea began falling apart, I started seeing problems with this one too. Sure, my laptop wouldn't be disconnected from the system very often. But, the fact I had to wiggle a tool in the stand to unscrew a line... that seemed very problematic. And I began to worry too that with all the constant screw and unscrewing that a leak would develop or the threads would get stripped. So, back to the drawing board once again. And soon a new idea hit me. I've worked in automotive for 6 years, and as such used pneumatic tools. These tools were connected to air lines via-quick connects! AH-HA! Some hydraulic lines too use the same thing, so there was my solution for disconnecting my laptop from the system. After some searching online again, I found some small variants of it that'd thread nicely into the 1/4" NPT Threads that my 1/8" ID Barbs had. Also I aquired the same thread style to a 1/2" ID Barb for the rest of the system. Most widely available quick disconnects are for 3/8" threads or similar. Which makes the units bigger and bulkier. So I found some much smaller ones that'll help keep the size and weight down.

    Finally...we have the power problem. How are these items going to be powered? The D5 Pump is a 12v pump that draws around 2-Amps. It has a nifty 4-pin molex connector to connect directly to your typical desktop power supply. Same goes for the LED Light that came with the pump. The fans are also 12v Fans. These are Red Led 120mm Fans made by Corsair. They are High Static Pressure fans designed for radiators or for pushing a crap ton of air at low rpm. Each fan draws around 0.4-Amps. So in total, it's a 12v System that draws around 2.8 to 3 Amps of DC Power. Obviously you're not gonna run these off of your typical AA Setup! A NiMh Rechargable AA Battery produces 1.5v and has a capacity of about 2400mAh. It would take 8-AA Batteries to produce the 12v needed to power these items. But, despite the 8 batteries, they are in series configuration. Which means only voltage goes up. Not capacity. I'd still have a capacity of only 2400mAh (2.4Ah). Which means I could run the system on the batteries for up to maybe 40 minutes at best. (Remember it's drawing almost 3 amps, so 2.4 amp capacity will obviously be used up in less than an hour. Only way I could increase capacity is to put another set of 8 AA's in parallel configuration with the first pack. Voltage would remain 12v, but I'd get twice the capacity. But now...there'd be 16AA batteries. And still only get a measly hour and a half (at best) time. Then came the problem of recharging these... yeah no, obviously not the way to go here! So, back to the internet and my favorite shopping place Amazon.com.

    So, the task now was to find a rechargeable 12v battery pack that had the capacity to run 3-Amps for around 3 hours or so. (Which amounted to 9Ah, or 9000mAh) Sure, I doubt I'd ever be off power for more than an hour, but it doesn't hurt to have the extra if able. Plus, my laptop has a high capacity battery. Even gaming I can run around 3 hours off power. Just doing things like word processing or whatever minimal tasks I can easily get 6-7 hours. So kinda why I wanted to get around 3 hours for my water cooling system. Also, never hurt to have extra just in case. Another big thing I had to consider...weight. This pack had to be not only powerful, but light weight. Batteries are ungodly heavy, so this wasn't going to be an easy search. Especially as some of the early things were looking bad. Things like high-capacity AA's that...well, weren't high enough for my needs. Or, batteries the size of motorcycle/lawn mower batteries. Holy crap! That's not gonna work! Page after page of looking. I finally start finding a few possible candidates. But then I found an interesting battery type I've never seen before. And the pack was reasonably compact too!
    The battery pack I settled on was a 12v 12Ah (4 hour capacity) LiFePo4 Battery. Which is a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery. A newer and much safer style of batteries that have many neat features to them. Not only are their capacity incredibly higher, they don't contain nearly as much toxic materials and can be recharged thousands of times more than your typical NiMh battery. Also, they stand to be easily half the size and weight of your normal batteries. They even had many listed for motorcycles, lawnmowers, power sports, even cars. But, by no means is a LiFePo4 battery cheap though! Despite the kinda hefty price tag ($150), the power, capacity, and weight made it worth while. And it was just the right size to fit into my new stand too.


    Speaking of the stand itself, it's time to get to how all this will come together. While I wanted to use Aluminum, I couldn't easily get a hold of a big enough piece. Also I wasn't sure if I could form it into how I wanted. Fearing my primitive forming methods (a torch and hammer lol) would make it too brittle or crack/break it. So I settled on a sheet of steel. The piece I got was by no means the thin stuff either. This steel sheet was kinda thick and certainly didn't give so easily. So it took a lot of heating and hammering to get this darn sheet to form up how I wanted. Not to mention it was an absolute bitch to cut with a jigsaw lol (btw it's all I had to cut with anyways. Despite the metal-specific blade, it was slow at cutting this crap!). I formed the curves around a cheap metal desk leg from Walmart. The desk was taken apart a month or so before the project and stored as it wasn't needed anymore, but the circular pipe certainly helped at times. Other times I simply used the edge of our concrete stoop and hammered the steel around that to form it. Took a lot of work and effort, and certainly made me consider trying to use aluminum or a thinner piece of steel. But here's what it turned into: (The exception is the aluminum right-angle pieces which should be obvious)
    Here is what that sheet of steel and a few pieces of aluminum angle turned into.

    Below is a mock-up of where and how all the major components would fit in the system: (In order: View from Front, View from Side, View from Rear)
    The radiator is in the "stored" position, so you can see where it'll rest when traveling. The big blue thing is the Battery Pack. The pics also do not have the top piece, wiring, or plumbing.


    Is the mock up with the salvaged laptop stand piece resting in position.

    The pictures below feature the stand all painted up. The new additions include the mounts for the radiator when it's in use. They aren't totally put together, but it's laid out roughly how it'll be. You may notice on the stand itself where the zinc-brackets will mount to and the piece of aluminum angle to which the radiator will mount to. First several feature the stand without the top setting on it, while the last few have the top piece resting on it.


    Now comes the fun part...mounting things and plumping the base unit. As well as the beginnings of the electrical system. You'll notice in the second image the two female quick-connects and all the electrical wiring. I used 3 Molex pins soldered together to make a male plug to fit the female terminals off the battery (which is the same style as the charging connector). Everything else is soldered together off of a molex connector, which is a molex to 2x fan splitter so I didn't have to alter the fan wiring. The pump wiring was left alone, as it had a molex connector on it too. So I can simply plug it into it's mate to run it. You may also see the little switch which is the main power switch to shut off the entire water-cooling system. Obviously being hooked to a battery pack this system would otherwise keep running until the battery died. Can't have that now can we? Or if the laptop itself is off, obviously it doesn't need to run. The switch has a bracket and will be mounted to the lid which you'll see later. Also you'll notice the radiator mounted up. The brackets that hold the entire thing all have wing-nuts and carriage bolts. Carriage bolts have a square bit of metal beneath the head so that it can't rotate in a hole. I notched the holes that were in the zinc-plate to accommodate the square bit so they wouldn't rotate. And thus made it easy to use wing-nuts to attach and detach the radiator as needed. You should also be able to see the swivel fittings for the plumbing. The little red and black connector on the right side of the unit by itself is the charging connector for the battery.


    Once everything was plumbed and wired, it was time to secure the lid and mount the switch and test the electrical system a bit more. Before mounting I tested everything except the pump (can't run it dry!) so I left it unplugged while powering up everything else. It was so nice to see the LED light up and the fans spin. So at least my electrical skills came in handy there! So here's the base unit in it's completed state and even a couple with all systems except the pump running!


    How about that? Looks amazing. While it feels heavy as heck, and kinda is, resting on your lap it's actually not too bad. I ran a few quick tests with just the unit there (as my laptop is still apart at the moment while working on the water blocks). And the wight is distributed fairly well. Not saying it's fully comfortable, and may add in like a little pillow-like thing to the bottom. But for now I think I can manage. I don't always have it sitting in my lap anyways. Those who have a large laptop and stand will know that it can get tiresome on your legs. No dobut this heavier unit will require a bit more frequent moving/resting. But it may not be too bad. Only time will tell. If I ever do make a new one or remake the base unit, I will try using aluminum to lighten it up considerably. Could also use the smaller XPSC D5 Photon 170 Pump as well which the reservoir is about half the size. Obviously too the battery is another factor as smaller capacity/run time batteries will be lighter. My battery is roughly 3lbs, but for it's size and capacity good luck finding anything that light with that power. As again LiFePo4 Batteries are significantly lighter than NiMh or other rechargeables. (By comparison, a similar pack (less capacity) of other kinds were around 5-7lbs)

    But wait, not done yet! How do the water blocks tie in? The below picture shows both water blocks plumbed up within the lower base of my laptop. I had to replace the lower base anyways as my old one had broken the mounts for the screen. So I couldn't really move it without breaking other bits of the base. I've applied some gorilla glue around the mounting spots to reinforce them so hopefully won't need to replace it again. You can see the two 1/8" ID tubes sneaking through the side grille where the fan used to blow the hot air out of. There they branch off and go to each water block. The lower one is the nearly complete GPU Unit. The one on the right, with the two pliers attached is the CPU Block. The pliers are holding two washers that are being glued on. These washers are big enough to allow most of the original cooler's mounting screw through except the head. Giving it the proper length to keep the block against the die. The holes in the blocks are just big enough to allow the entire screw through it. As Obviously the screw can't sit out higher than the block anyways. The GPU block doesn't have the washers mounted yet. As I just completed it and hooked it up in time to take the picture. But as the blocks undergo a flow, pressure, seal, and endurance tests I'll be mounting them.
    You can also see I've had to make some modifications to both blocks. As the CPU Unit was hitting the battery release (the orange thing) and the GPU Was hitting the raised bits off to it's right. The hole I had to cut through was just off a bit anyways, so that's why it's enlongated. The washer will just fit (maybe notch it slightly) and be just fine.


    Next is a closer image of both blocks.


    Here is the entire base with the lower base of my laptop and both water blocks. The system is hooked up and running as you can see by the fans. Also, I managed to add on the original Cooler Master rubber piece back onto the original stand piece so use as a little cushion. Though I think the laptop sits high enough I won't ever really need it. But hey, makes it look better. If only I could put my own logo there lol.


    Here is the pliers removed (as the glue is mostly dry) and you can see the notch-adjustments I had to make to the CPU Unit to clear the Battery Release mechanism. It doesn't effect the screw any as again it'll sit right against the washer anyways. And there was actually a spot made for the original screws on that side anyways. Still, I mounted both to the mother-board and set it in and everything cleared just fine. Was a good couple of hours of mounting, un-mounting, adjusting the blocks, and re-testing to get them to fit just right and clear everything. Frustrating, but expected.


    Here is just about exactly where both units will be sitting when mounted to the motherboard. The GPU is slightly off, but close enough. You can see how it all works beneath the board.


    Here is a picture of the motherboard itself lifted up so you can see all of the components. Next to the Memory Modules is the CPU, and nearby is the GPU (as you can probably see by the mounting screws). The chip up towards the top of the pic is the chipset (i.e. north/south bridge) and didn't have any sort of cooling on it originally. With no mounting to work with and no further space anyways I couldn't cool it any better anyways. But since it never had cooling anyways, I figured it didn't get hot enough to worry about.


    Finally, here is the board set in position. While not completely in place, this is how the board sits. So you can see everything is beneath the board itself. Hence why I have the tube a tad longer than really needed so I can lift the board up enough to work with and not have to completely tear the system apart. And also you can see why I had such little room to work with as it is!


    This is the project as it stands at this time. It's nearly complete and ready for full use.

    Currently it's still running over my kitchen sink (just in case) and will be for the next day or two. I'm watching for any leaks to see if anything needs fixed. Especially within the laptop parts. I pulled the board back away so it doesn't get wet in the meantime. The system is plugged into AC power so the water-cooling system will run non-stop. This also makes sure the entire system can endure being constantly on as well. And make sure too that I soldered the water blocks properly and they don't leak. As well as the plumbing being done right.
    While this is going on I'm finishing the blocks by gluing on the washer-mounts to both the CPU and GPU. After that's all set and settled, I'm gonna run one last mock up fit to make sure the blocks don't need any more adjustments before pulling them back off and applying the thermal paste. And then will come final mounting and reassembly of my laptop. After which will come the real testing in watching and hoping all this hard work, time, effort, and money will drastically cool like it's supposed to. So at this point will come bench-mark testing. And of course if all goes well and temps stay low, then I can actually even consider doing some overclocking as well. Not much, but a little boost would be great.

    I also need to get a new LED light as I blew the old one. When plugged into AC power, the system is pushing 13.5v. LED's are very sensitive to voltage, and despite the soldered in resistor in the wiring, it wasn't enough to curb the extra power. As I had the system run for about 12 hours to test the CPU block alone about a week ago. Towards the end of which I noticed the LED wasn't working. And after some tests via my multi-meter, found the LED was dead. So, need to get a new LED and a stronger resistor and/or voltage regulator to keep the power down below 12v for the light. If I ever wanna replace it that is.

    Call me crazy, call me what you want... you have to admit, if this thing works, it's one heck of an undertaking and needless to say one heck of a first!

    I will update later, hopefully by the end of the weekend, once everything is up and running to give results on various tests to see how well (or not) this system works.

    Questions? Comments? Feel free to ask them. I'll answer nearly anything to the best of my ability and/or memory.

  2. #2
    If I'm not back in 5... Boycott sniffing glue! Can I have your shampoo? AOD_Oogieboogie's Avatar
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    Seems expensive and impractical compared to buying a replacement laptop... but definitely a very cool project :-)

    This is the sort of thing we loved to see come in at LAN parties. I've never seen a converted laptop before, and certainly not one that was still reasonably portable.


    Other Games: Armored Warfare (NA:T6 EU:T7), WoT (7 T10s), WoWs (T6)

  3. #3
    Knee High to a Worms Ass KingRandomUser's Avatar
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    Not when your laptop already costs $2500 and is only 2 years old. So really this solution was actually cheaper than buying another laptop (which I considered). Also, I can still use the Pump/Res and Radiator in any future system be it desktop or laptop (if needed of course. The entire base unit is there, all I'd have to do is make new water-blocks and plumb them to he disconnects). Still, I plan on keeping this laptop for several more years and the fact that if I ever do rebuild my desktop I have all the parts needed to water cool it. (Save for the water blocks). Total cost was indeed more than I really wanted to spend, but I think around $900 is better than $2800 or so for a similar (though obviously updated/newer) laptop. Again especially considering a lot of it can be reused in other systems. Mighta spent a little more, due to some failures, but not by a huge amount.

    My old desktop was slated for being either upgraded or replaced a couple years ago, but decided to go with a laptop as the wife was complaining of not seeing me enough. And when I did travel, it obviously was a pain/impossible to bring a desktop. I still have some of the parts laying around, though gave my motherboard and 1 of my graphics cards (had 2 in SLI setup) to my parents as they had the same board, but it fried and took out their graphics card too. So since I didn't have much of a need for my desktop I let em have the parts to get theirs back running.

    Ahhh LAN Parties...haven't been to one of those in 8 years. Dang I miss those. Was fun playing RTS games and what not... such memories lol. But yeah since this is a mobile system it's really not much harder to take it along. And can obviously be used in many ways too via wireless components and/or hooking it to TV's and what not. Still, it would be easy to bring to a lot of places really.


    Now, as for performance:

    After some testing I'm actually quite pleased that this setup is working very well. I've ran games in both Starcraft II and World of Tanks and have had minimal issues to speak of.

    My first tests were of course running the system at idle with power reduced. Just to make sure...that well...it was even working in the first place. The success was very quick to show as the CPU and GPU was both hovering around 40-C. So I let it idle like this for a few minutes while checking for leaks. After all, this is the first time the water-blocks had heat applied while hooked to the system and coolant running through it.

    Next I pull-powered the system. The CPU only went up slightly. Bouncing between 40 to 50-C but remained relatively low. While the GPU remained around 40. Obviously idling, it just sat there. So I fired up some YouTube videos or other random videos I had laying around. The CPU bumped to 45 to 55-C but the GPU stayed low. Not bad, but also not super intensive either. But still it was staying low at least.

    Finally it was time to get into some games. First I fired up StarCraft II while WoT was updating from 9.6 (yeah, been that long). Getting into a quick game with settings still low, the GPU started to come alive. Temps only went up to around 55-60C. But settings were low. So it was time to crank it up. Slamming the settings to max. Temps of the GPU pushed up into the 70-90 Degree range, but the game was running flawlessly. I did have a few hiccups and a couple of random frame-rate drops and studders, but there was a lot of background stuff going on too which I kinda attributed to it. The system would recover quickly though and resume playing normally. Staying between 23-60 fps. AVeraging around 35. Awesome. But, this was a quick match with not a lot going on. So it was time to push into a more intensive map with much more going on. Again having a bit more studdering, but again the background stuff might be to blame as again it'd recover and run just fine. I can also easily turn down a few settings to help with the intense maps. But still, being able to run on max settings again was nice. And temps stayed at 90 or below. Nice thing though is, despite this once the game closed it quickly cooled off to just below 50-C within a minute or two.

    Finally WoT updated and it was time to push into that. Even in the garage temps go up as expected. Though it was pushing higher than I'd like to see. As the GPU was again in the 90-95 degree range. Clock speeds were throttling back, but only very slightly. Dropping into the 500-650MHz range at times, but also at times running over 850MHz. So needless to say the cooling was keeping up since it wasn't dipping below 400MHz like it was before. But, what about in game? So...time to grab a tank and get into battle. A horrid long loading time (eh, first match....dunno why it does that) and a little hesitation for the server to catch up, frame rate quickly showed how well the system was working...60...70...80...90...to just over 100 fps! Wow! Now no, it didn't stay above 100. Instead hovering between 80-90 fps for most of the match. With the occasional drop to in the 60's. Still...over 60fps? Much better than the some 20-30 I was getting before hand (and before it'd throttle back to next to nothing). Again, another game, another 60-90 fps. Yes, temps were still hovering around 92-ish, but it was running fine. And from some research, Laptop/Mobile GPU's do typically run 70-95 anyways. Also, if I kick the game down and go back to desktop, temps quickly drop back down. Still, to play several games (enough for the daily mission) and all run very well I'd say this project has been a success.

    I do however have to make a minor tweak and get some different splitters for in the laptop. The ones I already had laying around are just too big, so I can't put the top lid back on the system. And thus, no keyboard or touch pad. So usb wireless setup is in play at the moment while I wait to get the parts I need to make the little modification. Still, I'm happy this is working.


 

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