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Mineral Oil Computer
by pkingsford
Permalink:   (25 comments)

This was a really great build and something that I had never done before. I was the project lead on this build, it was a build I did with my classmates at CTEC (Canyons Technical Education Center) which is a technical high school, I was in the Computer and Network Systems course. It was fun and quite time consuming. The pictures don't do the build justice! The build is more for looks and eye candy than performance, but I still wanted it to be functional. I enjoyed watching peoples faces as they looked at the computer and couldn't understand how it could be functional under water, until I explained how mineral oil works with computers. Now to the breakdown of parts....

CPU: The best of the i5's, easiest to overclock. An i7 would be overkill for Google Chrome.

MOBO: I love the Gigabyte brand, Z77 is a great chipset. I got the bored on a deal.

HD: Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD, Who doesn't want fast boot times? The SSD didn't matter too much because it wouldn't be submerged in the water.

RAM: Corsair Vengeance (4 x 2GB) great sticks, I have used them for many of my other builds. I also love the way these sticks look.

PSU: Cooler Master 850W modular. I need something that had a lot of power for the radiator and pump, I also wanted something that was modular, so I didn't have to run as many cables into the tank.

Case: I ordered the case from pudgetsystems. It was there standard fish tank computer case for ATX. It came in a kit which included the radiator, case, pump and all that good stuff.

Video Card: The machine does not have a video card, it runs of the integrated graphics. A video card really wasn't necessary for this build.

I also had to order 12 gallons of mineral oil, which was very expensive and messy.

I bought some blue rocks and a bubble bar from Petco. I also bought some fish tank lights (not pictured)

I also had to order 9 fans for the radiator!!.

Overall this was great build that was lots of fun! I love showing it off and explaining how it works.

Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate4.2GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle22.0° C
CPU Temperature Under Load58.0° C
When commenting on a completed build please keep your feedback polite and constructive, particularly if commenting on part choices and possible alternatives.
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Sorted by:
Eschaton [1 Build] 12 points 6 months ago

Awesome stuff. The real question now is what to do with it -

Do you use it to run a simulated annealing algorithm applied to the dataset of all almanac data for your area, matched to the mean weather prediction result from a concordance of area forecasters, checked against the raw barometric data of local NWS stations and factored in with a game theory model of the risk-reward trade-off available to the superintendent in terms of how the increased operating overhead of keeping school open another day into the summer compares to the costs that they will incur from a lawsuit if school stays open during severe weather, derived from the historical frequency of such lawsuits as retrieved from the local government's databases, in order to find out if school will be cancelled tomorrow,

Or do you use it to host a dedicated CS:GO server?

Choices, choices...

Deathwyhsh 2 points 6 months ago

Speakers from spencers lol?

Mshenay [1 Build] 2 points 6 months ago

Agree'd how does it work? Pc parts under Mineral oil

actually if my memory serves me, I don't think mineral oil is conductive, there for it shouldn't interfere with the circuits

Akut [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

Correct. it also acts as a total system cooling, not even requiring fans except for the big ass radiator.

JohnTsams [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

It isn't electrically conductive, but it is thermally conductive. Same as the internals of a large oil filled transformer.

Apach3 [2 Builds] 2 points 6 months ago

last time i saw an oil-cooled build on the Internet was one of Slick's PCs (from Linus Tech Tips; there's a video somewhere on Youtube about it). this is certainly a nice change in pace from all the air-cooled or even custom water-cooled systems here.

if you're planning on upgrades, you'd better get the funds to do so now because the radiator hoses and power cables will stiffen up over time, making upgrades difficult. personally, i think this is a great start to a gaming PC, but considering you didn't throw in a discrete GPU i don't think you're much of a gamer...

bloodroses75 [1 Build] 2 points 6 months ago

For those interested in knowing more about systems like these, Maximum PC did an article on one they built as well in one of their recent issues. Very cool idea for sure.

Eventful [3 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

Very nice, man! I think this is the first mineral oil build I've seen on PCPP. Wish I could have gone to a high school like yours!

nada190 [3 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

What...is the motherboard inside the mineral oil? Definitely not something an inexperienced person should even think about.

Apach3 [2 Builds] 2 points 6 months ago

mineral oil is non-conductive, meaning electricity won't jump between leads through the fluid. in fact, i believe at least one of the world's top supercomputers is cooled using mineral oil systems (the name escapes me, though).

my impression of these systems is that it's easier to do an oil-cooled system than a full water loop because of the reason stated above, and that you don't have to get expensive purpose-built hardware to make it all fit together; all that's needed is a pump, a large radiator with some fans, some hoses, an aquarium, and the common sense to not put a hard drive in the fluid.

cooperred [2 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

The SSD...isn't submerged? Where is it then..? This is a great build though and I'd love to see it in person

pkingsford [Submitter] [3 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

The SSD sits on top of the tank. We decided not to submerge it just in case we wanted to change it out quickly, but you could with an SSD.

GreenLego [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

So how does it work.. explain!

Akut [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

Mineral Oil is non-conductive, and therefore cannot interfere with any electronics submerged in it. The only computer part I can think of that shouldn't (ever, under any circumstances) be submerged is a HDD, because it needs to breathe (figuratively) in order to operate.

Oil is also an excellent conductor of heat, actively cooling parts without the need for fans (heatsinks still recommended).

rahulb 1 point 6 months ago


YouBaxter [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

This is awesome!!! I do however wish there were more (HQ) pics, maybe a video of this.

Totally awesome tho!!!

I wonder, does mineral oil.....evaporate..? Meaning, will you always have the expense of refilling or even cleaning and replacing...?

ebbymac [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

CTEC, huh? No ****, that's where I went 2010/2011.

This is great, though I'd like to see more pictures. How well do the fans rotate? Is mineral oil viscous or more water-like? How come you didn't opt for sleeved cables for this build?

pkingsford [Submitter] [3 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

That's cool that you went to CTEC. The fans rotate very slow maybe 60 or less revolutions a minute. It's really hard to explain what mineral oil is like, it's alot like water but at the same time it's more like baby oil. We opted out of the sleeved cables because we feared that the oil may eat the sleeving overtime.

aubry 1 point 5 months ago

How are those fans? They seem almost too cheap to be good. Also, nice build! Just did one similar but for ALOT less money for a science fair.

Breaker5863 1 point 27 days ago

luke from linus tech tips?

CrazyCroak05 1 point 14 days ago

Do you like the fan? i'm thinking about using that fan

xxvolwarexx [1 Build] 0 points 6 months ago

This is sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[comment deleted by staff]
fsma92 [2 Builds] 3 points 6 months ago

there's no need to be rude.

pkingsford [Submitter] [3 Builds] 1 point 6 months ago

Yeah the pictures do suck :( and unfortunately I no longer attend this school.

Akut [1 Build] 2 points 6 months ago

Indeed... cellphones do not take great pictures... unless you have a tripod... for your phone... lol