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October 24, 2008

Computer cooled using a Mineral Oil filled Fish Tank

at 5:57 am. Filed under Complex Hacks, Computer Hacks, Cool Gadgets, Crazy Hacks, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Funny Hacks, Insane Equipment, What Were They Thinking


Puget Systems built a few versions of a Computer cooled using a Mineral Oil filled Fish Tank. They have run it in various forms for about a year and a half so far! I would have thought that this system would have lasted long enough to marvel at the feat but die a short time later. This project proves my prediction wrong. I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone even if it can be pulled off since I would hate to try to explain to the warranted depot why the board is sticky and smells like oil. πŸ™‚

"We built this system because with all the oil cooled projects out there, no one built a system that looked good and functioned well! After seeing all the other projects, we had a lot of ideas of how we could do it better and more easily. Many projects used vegetable oil, which would go rancid after a short time. The mineral oil does not have this problem, and is completely clear. We also wanted to use an appropriate enclosure — the Toms Hardware system used a clear acrylic case, and they had to painstakingly seal each rear connector to keep the oil from leaking. We wanted to put the ports on top to solve that problem the simple way. Other people have built systems in aquariums before, but they were always oversized and square. When we found the Eclipse System 6 Aquarium, we were excited to see an aquarium that was absolutely perfect in size — you couldn’t go any smaller. In addition, we had questions about performance and long term effects. Our initial tests, which we go over below, answer the questions about cooling performance. At the bottom of the page, we’ve posted subsequent follow ups after a few months and even a year, to let you know how a system like this performs in the long term."





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31 Responses to “Computer cooled using a Mineral Oil filled Fish Tank”

  1. find for fun Says:

    water come closed to electricities. never try this gadget…

  2. luk-san Says:

    Water ? what water ? this is oil!

  3. Mr. Maigo Says:

    Was a bit shocked by the temps, but I guess you’d still need a way to pull heat out

  4. The voice in your head Says:

    That’s cool, but why does an oil-cooled system have four huge fans on it? And why is the hard drive not inside?

    “I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone even if it can be pulled off since I would hate to try to explain to the warranted depot why the board is sticky and smells like oil.”
    That’s why you put it in the tank after you get it working.

  5. BigD145 Says:

    Hard drives are not waterproof. They have breathing holes.

  6. Mbarry Says:

    Or Oilproof for that matter…

  7. PC Case Hack - How to Make a Mineral Water-Cooled PC! | zedomax.com - The DIY, HOW TO, Hacks, Gadgets, and Tech Blog! Says:

    […] hackedgadgets, Hack Page A+Featured Hacks, acrylic case, aquarium, aquariums, clear acrylic, Computer, Computer […]

  8. wolfy Says:

    but can you put fish in it? sry i’m a noob lol

  9. Luke Says:

    holy crap this is awesome

  10. Odin84gk Says:


    1.) Its mineral oil, not water
    2.) The hard drive is not included
    3.) The only fan was the power supply fan. They wanted to remove it, but thought it would be too much work
    4.) The final version used a radiator and a pump to cool the mineral oil from 85c to 45 c.

  11. Ebden Says:

    It looks like the only freely moving part (in the tank) is the PSU fan. Is the added strain from viscous oil enough to shorten the PSU fan life? Although Odin84gk wrote that they considered pulling the PSU fan, it still must help to move oil into and around other parts of the PSU.

    What’s the cost and supply for the 4-fan radiator? What’s the total power consumption with those extra bits?

    Obviously the mineral oil doesn’t conduct electricity. How do you then upgrade/modify something that’s been submersed? A good way to clean the oil off? I wouldn’t think there’s any good in trapping oil against the board and between the contacts for any upgrade.

  12. Rodder_Modder Says:

    Awesome project! The only concern I have is how long will it be before you have to drain it and clean the tank? I would think bacteria/mildew will grow and eventually you will need to drain clean it. I think I will try it with some junk boards and experiment from there. I wonder if food coloring in the mineral oil doesn’t settle and what cool effects could you have under neon. Would also like to find out other cooling solutions or mod the design to keep the oil at 45c.

  13. Largo-san Says:

    well since its oil you dont have to worry about condenstaion gathering on the board you can run the rad in the freezer?

  14. Monitor your fan speed & temperature | Tim Brazer dot com Says:

    […] can get really hot these days. There are many advances in cooling techniques including water and oil cooling prototypes. Water cooled PC’s have made it into the main stream, but I have yet to see an oil cooled […]

  15. rithunder916 Says:

    I was wondering what type of pump you used to circulate the oil?

  16. Oil Cooled computer - Chazhound Dog Forum Says:

    […] Cooled computer The entire mainboard is literally IN and covered with oil. Computer cooled using a Mineral Oil filled Fish Tank – Hacked Gadgets – DIY Tech Blog I like a lot. __________________ The Chazhound Photo Group on […]

  17. Madison Says:

    I can’t add your rss feed to my reader, what could be the problem?

  18. Eric Sanders Says:

    can you possibly put fish in these or maybe add another bubble tube and add fake fish??? or would they possible cause a shock to something?

  19. loucifer87 Says:

    That was indeed awesome..
    I like the idea of using oil based PC.
    But is it possible to use freon as an alternative cooling device for the oil to decrease the heat?
    Thanks mate :p

  20. haha Says:

    I have one of these, i use a SSD so that i can put the drive in the oil, it is pretty nifty. Also a pumping the oil through an external radiator keeps it cooler.

  21. Jillian Rueter Says:

    A fish would die in mineral oil, you morons. That is really cool. I wonder if, over time, would the the mineral oil would become cloudy?

  22. Ebden Says:

    The oil would cloud if exposed to common air sources. Ever opened your desktop for spring cleaning? That much dirt and furry gook would settle around the cooling fans and need regular cleaning anyway, and it would also settle on any vents over the oil. The way to keep it clean is to seal the unit. Since it is working similar to your car’s radiator, sealing in the oil to the fish tank shouldn’t be a problem (making it look nice, closing off the air vents in the fish tank lid may be a challenge).

  23. birchyoby Says:

    I see some comments about the PSU fan burning out, but that wouldn’t matter since it’s only there to cool the PSU components and the oil will do that anyway. I tried a spare PSU in oil, with the fan power leads disconnected and it works fine.

    I’m presently building a full system, with the heat from the CPU and PSU providing thermal circulation and the case having metal sides, top and bottom. The back and sides will have fins to dissipate the heat, rather than fans/radiator. Metal sides will conduct and radiate the heat much better than plastic.

    If I can get it done in my limited spare time, in the next couple of months, I’ll post some pictures and temperature logs.

  24. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi birchyoby,

    I look forward to seeing it!

  25. Mayur Says:

    This is amazing, i could not believe it. What kind of mineral oil is it? I mean what about the electricity and all those electrical parts, would they not get ruined? Motherboard, ram and smps and all in that oil wow its just amazing and unbelievable. Its a good research/discovery whatever.

  26. CrazyDiamond Says:

    Been looking through these for awhile… seems the only HUGE issues are making sure you keep the oil cool (using something like a radiator) and OMG you DO NOT want to have to even think about future upgrades. HUGE PAIN. Imagine cleaning gallons of mineral oil and pulling your motherboard out of that mess then cleaning it up for the upgrades. If anyone has a really amazing way to clean your mobo off after pulling it out, would appreciate if you post it. –Amazing idea, works significantly well. >>The D3VINE<<

  27. Joiner Says:

    Idea, run a line with a car oil filter and then through a radiator with silent fans. You can get kits to move your oil filter from your engine to any location under your hood. Use those kits, then the oil would stay clean for years.

    “What kind of mineral oil is it? I mean what about the electricity and all those electrical parts, would they not get ruined?”

    Mineral oil is the same as baby oil, it is non-conductive and poses no threat to electrical parts. Think of it this way, what did they do in the early years, they rubbed oil on weapons to prevent corrosion. Submerging your electrical components in oil would prolong the metal from becoming oxidized.

  28. watuuupp Says:

    should put yellow highlighter liquid and a black light in there πŸ˜€

  29. SkairKrow Says:

    I was wondering if you took your entire fish tank case/PC and set it inside a slightly larger Fish tank, filled the slightly larger tank with water. would your PC/Tank then seem to dissappear? and if so then add fish only to the larger side, would it look as though fish were swimming around your PC? if all those ifs worked it would look 100% cooler….

  30. SkairKrow Says:

    I have seen where people used vegatable oil for the same thing it was cheaper but after awhile it turned yellow/green and started smelling funky. mineral oil does not build up bacteria as far as I know.

  31. manwiththeplan Says:

    You could easily clean the parts when doing upgrades by using electrical parts cleaner available at any auto parts store. It comes in an aerosol can and takes of the oil very easily without harming the electric bits.

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