Electronics have advanced by leaps and bounds over the last several decades. As computer parts get smaller, their fault tolerances shrink as well. If you want to get the best performance and life out of your electronics, you want to make sure that they are cooled properly. As the temperature increases, the likelihood of failure and damage both increase. Even though both modern computer hardware and software have been designed to generate as little heat as possible, it remains one of the largest limiting factors for electronics performance. Most electronics will reach a point of failure and be permanently damaged if they reach a certain temperature. Luckily there has been just as much effort put into designing systems to cool computer components then has been put in designing the components themselves. There are several types of cooling technologies to choose from. The best is going to depend on your particular application.
Types of Cooling Systems For Your Electronics
Here are the many different ways that exist to cool your electronics. They all feature different benefits and drawbacks. The most common ones will be forced air and liquid cooled systems. These are not necessarily the best cooling systems even though they are the most popular. Three factors that can significantly affect heat generation and retention are dust, air flow, and heat transfer. Each type of technology approaches these factors in a different way.
Passive Cooling Technology
Passive cooling technology has been around the longest amount of time and was very common on mainframe computers back in the day. Some personal computers still use this technology through a heat sink chip that is applied with a thermal adhesive. It’s designed to draw heat away and passively disperse it into the environment. It does not require any power, and they generally last a long time. That can make them a cost effective solution in the right situation.
Thermoelectric cooling is only about 10% efficient in terms of energy used for the amount the temperature is reduced. It is useful in highly specialized applications. It is almost exclusively used in solid state electronics. They are useful when systems that have no moving parts are of the utmost importance.
Phase Change Cooling
Phase change cooling is one of the most efficient ways to cool electronics. Here use a condenser and compressor system similar to a normal air conditioner. They propel a refugee pant through the system, which undergoes a phase shift from gas to liquid and back absorbing and releasing heat in the process. The biggest drawbacks of these systems is that they are very sensitive to disturbance, have high maintenance costs, and are very expensive to install. If cost is not an issue, it is hard to find a more effective way to keep your electronics cool.
Forced Air Cooling Systems
Forced air cooling systems typically use fans to push air through the components removing heat in the process. This helps to speed up the natural process of convection. Inside of computers, these are often used in combination with a heat sink to make sure that things stay cool enough inside of the computer. You can use a single fan or install them in parallel or in series. There are different benefits to different arrangements of fans.
Liquid Cooling System
These are more common than a phase change system, but they are nearly as effective for consumer applications. If you are trying to overclock your electronics but want to make sure that they stay well within operating temperatures, then a liquid cooling system is a good choice. These come in different flavors and use different substances for the liquid coolant. The most commonly found is water based coolant systems. These install a system of pumps and tubes that force water through your electronics to absorb heat. It is highly effective. They also cost much less than a phase change system would.
Liquid Immersion Cooling System
One of the newest technologies that has been developed to cool electronics is liquid immersion technology. This is used for premium high end electronic components. In this, you submerge the entire piece of equipment in a liquid that helps to move heat away from the electronics but is not electrically conductive. This is becoming more and more necessary as computer components get smaller and smaller. When this technology is used in a personal computer, you do not need to have any types of fan installed and can rely entirely on passive heat exchange.
Refrigerant Based Cooling System
These types of systems are similar to the liquid systems described above. In these, you will use a refrigerant instead of water. Two popular refrigerants are liquid helium and liquid nitrogen. These are two of the coldest materials that you can work with. If you really need something powerful to keep things cool, these are the strongest tools that you can get.
Vortex Tube Based Cooling System
A vortex tube is an amazing piece of technology that you can use to keep your electronics cool. They make use of some principles of physics, and without using any electricity, they can cool regular air by up to fifty degrees. They are a system that uses compressed air to provide cooling with dirt and oil free air flow. This provides positive air pressure to your computer components too. It can help to keep dust from building up in your computer over time. These systems also benefit from very low maintenance requirements. They do not contain any moving parts, so the only thing you will ever have to do is replace their filter occasionally. These are long lasting and are worth the cost. If you want a system that is quiet and is more effective at cooling for your home computer than the traditional fan setup system would be, these are probably your best and most affordable option.
Why the Cooling System of Your PC Matters
No matter your experience level with computers the way you cool, it matters. If you have a cooling system that is insufficient and ineffective, it is possible for you to damage your computer without realizing it. If you get a cooling system that works well but is a pain to install and expensive to maintain, you could still end up losing a lot of money on needless expenses. Even with the best cooling system, it is possible that your computer will overheat. There are a few factors that can affect exactly how efficiently your computer can cool itself off. You want to make sure that there is adequate airflow for your computer.
Whether your computer is cooled through passive or active airflow, you do not want to cover it up with anything that would act as insulation unless you are trying to cause it to overheat. You can also install a heat sink to different parts of your computer. These can help to enhance the efficiency of other cooling systems by helping the heat from high temp spots diffuse more into other areas passively before the active part of your cooling system kicks in. All in all, there are more than enough choices to keep anyone busy researching what the best option is for them. At the end of the day, as long as the solution you choose is affordable and effective, all of these technologies do the same thing even if they accomplish it in different ways. They keep the core electronic components of your computer cool and working.