Project: Passive

Passive cooling consept case.
Author: Ville 'Willek' Kyrö
Published: 03.03.2008
In English In English
Suomeksi Suomeksi



Project Passive

The "case" needed some decorations, and a little protection for the components. I built sidepanels out of L-profile, screws and pipes. The green leds are hidden in the L-profile. In the corners I placed red leds behind sanded down pieces of plexi, that were inserted in the ends of the corner-pipes.


Project Passive

The frontpanel is quite basic, normal buttons with logos engraved beneath them, and one lens for power- and HDD activity-leds. Power is green, and HDD blinks white.


Click for bigger image.


The project was long and painful, and too hurried up in the end. When I got to assembly '07, another disaster struck. When powering up the computer, nothing happenend. After a little situation assesment it became clear the NeoHe was broken, probably in transit. Luckily a friend had a spare PSU I could borrow, so the whole coming to the party was not in vain. After the party, I didn't want to sacrifice yet another powersupply, so I scrapped the project. I don´t believe the Antec broke because of temperature problems caused by passive cooling. Testing it at home, the NeoHes own heatsink´s tempereture never rose above 40C, not even under heavy load.

The computer had random crashes during the whole time of testing, and later when I built the computer back in a normal case again, the crashes continued. I traced the problem, and I found out that the motherboard was faulty. I got a new motherboard from RMA, but didn´use the passive case anymore. So it is possible, that the first revision with the components inside the heatsinks had no heat problems whatsoever, it could have been the motherboard all along.

Not taking into account the blown up power supplies, I think the cooling system was a success. The components used were Opteron 170 @ 2,4 GHz and GF 6800GT. The case could easilly cool down the Opteron (TDP 89 W), so I believe it to be a sufficient way to cool down almost all modern processors. The 6800GT on the otherhand, does not put out as much heat as GF8800 or HD3870 nowadays. One heatsink was enough for the 6800GT, and I believe two would be enough for newer, hotter cards as well.

Cooling down the powersupply is the hardest part. Stripping down a powersupply, and playing with high voltage is never good. If one were to use a power supply already designed passive, this problem would be solved altogether.

Any passive case with powerful components will inevitably be huge and heavy, this one weighed over 20 kg. Can't help but point out, that even a little of forced aiflow by a fan would have enabled the heatsinks to be much smaller. This case as a whole was a consept, to see for myself if it could be done. I never intended to use it 24/7, nor did I pay that much attention to outlooks in design.

It might not have been worth it, but it sure was weird watching the computer boot up with no sound at all.

Building this case gave me ideas how to use heatpipes in creative ways. Maybe we will see a practical application soon.

Thanks goes to:
Juho Syrjä for the heatsinks
Max Angelma for the heatpipe bender

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