TEC Prescott Cooling
|TEC Prescott Cooling|
The question at hand: Does a 226W Thermoelectric Coupler (TEC) have enough cooling ability to freeze a P4 3.0E Prescott processor? The short answer is noâ€¦But I still had fun trying.
Why did I do this? Back in the day of Slot 1 or Slot A processors, TEC cooling and experimenting was done quite regularly. Often you could find someone that OCâ€™d their Celeron 300a close to a gigahertz. Recently though, TECs havenâ€™t seen as much publicity as they once did. I happened to have a spare TEC sitting around and thought Iâ€™d put it to use to see what my results were when paired with a processor that generates 375 BTUâ€™s of heat every hour.
Installing a TEC in a computer is risky business because of the possibility of condensation on the cold side, and super hot temperatures on the hot side. This is not a guide, or a how to, it is simply an article showing what I did. Please do not try this or attempt it unless you understand all the risks involved in TEC cooling. Regardless you cannot hold myself or bcchardware.com responsible for any damages resulting from the material or pictures in this article.
For the readers that donâ€™t know what a TEC is, or readers that would like to bone up on the technical details, Iâ€™ve found an excellent article about TECs here.
P4 3.0 E
2 x 512mb Corsair Twin-X PC-4000 3-4-4-8
ASUS P4C-800E Deluxe
ATI X800 Pro 256MB DDR3
SoundBlaster Audigy II ZS
2 x WD Raptor 36GB RAID 0 SATA
WD 250 GB ATA
Samsung 120 GB ATA
Plextor 16x DL DVD-R/RW
32x12x40 Lite-on CD-RW
Plextor PX-708UF External DVD-R/RW
Preparation & Setup:
Here is a mug shot of my old antec case. As you can see by the inside, space is hard to come by. It was a big case in its day, but is nothing in comparison to the Cooler Master Stacker case Iâ€™ll be migrating the system into. For this project, I had elected to use a second power supply dedicated to the TEC and radiator fan, which is another reason the Stacker case was a perfect candidate as it will easily accommodate two PSUs.
There are three things that discourage modders from using TECs. Power requirements, immense heat, and condensation from the cold.
TECs require an immense amount of power. Theyâ€™re sort of like the 3DFX V5 6000 cards, they needed their own power source. The TEC I have on the bench draws 223 watts of power. Divide that by the 12 volt rail and you have an amp draw of 18.5 amps. I chose the Ultra V-Series 500 Watt PSU for its 28 amp rating on the 12 volt rail. Hopefully a 20 amp draw will keep this PSU in its comfort zone. Upgrading to the Stacker case, I could easily fit my water cooling setup inside. I didnâ€™t want the power cord for my pump hanging out the case, so I dissected my new PSU, (so much for warranty) and wired the pump directly into the wires that feed the PSU 110V.
I had no idea exactly how cold this TEC was going to get, but I do remember reading something about insulating the back of the motherboard incase the cold penetrates to the back of the board and creates condensation there. With this bit of advice, I used closed cell foam, (mouse pads work excellent for this), and placed it where I thought the socket will sit. I coated each side of the foam with dielectric grease to eliminate any air pockets. After seating the motherboard, I filled the entire socket including the center section and pin holes with grease. After seating the processor, I cut a piece of foam to fit snugly around the CPU then packed in more grease. Itâ€™s important to use the grease to eliminate any air pockets, but be careful not to use so much that when you seat the TEC, the grease will ooze on top of the CPU hampering thermal transfer. Seating the TEC involved setting it on top of the CPU.
My dated water cooling setup was used to solve the heat issue. I retro fit a maze 2 to the top of the TEC with a custom made clamp made of plastic â€˜puckboardâ€™. I installed the water block, black ice radiator with 120 cfm fan, pump and tubing. Because of the pumps position and the consideration that it would probably fly around the case when Iâ€™m moving, I cemented it in place. I used windshield washer fluid instead of water for a few reasons. Windshield washer fluid has been known to prevent electrolysis and other contaminants. On top of that, this was winter windshield washer fluid that was good to -20Â°F. Should my system need to be stored in the cold overnight I wonâ€™t have to worry about the fluid freezing. The only thing left were cables and power connectors and weâ€™re ready to start â€˜er up.