back to article You can liquid cool this Linux laptop to let the GPU soar

Computer chips are getting so hot these days, some companies are starting to put liquid cooling into laptops so that they can run faster — or quieter and less hot to the touch. Just look at Germany-based Tuxedo Computers, which released a 15-inch high-performance laptop earlier this year that supports an external liquid- …

  1. msobkow Silver badge

    I've never bothered with anything more than a moderate laptop with 16-32GB of RAM and a far-from-top-of-the-range CPU with built-in graphics.

    Laptops are only for presentations and remoting to real hardware in my books, not actually processing or keeping important data on; they're far too prone to theft and failure for that.

    1. Mayday Silver badge
      Megaphone

      I'm inclined to agree with you.

      But there are some people who seem to like spending $10k on a laptop which is not as good as a $4-5k PC. I'm not one to judge how people send their money, but if thats what they want to do I wont stop them.

      Personally, if I were a gamer then I'd get a "real" PC with the goods for that purpose, and a seperate laptop for the presentations and whatever else needs the portability which a laptop provides, and I'd probably still have change from $10k

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: I'm inclined to agree with you.

        More to the point, upgrading that laptop usually means binning it and chucking another 10k.

        A full size machine can be run as a "rolling upgrade", chucking the odd few hundred every now and again.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Tell my company which wants to sling laptops to everybody - getting a workstation is harder and harder, so what you can do is only getting more powerful laptops - that most of the time work tied to their docking station....

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Laptops move easily. Workstations do not. I type this sitting at my work laptop, in a spare room at my parent's house on the coast, while I escape the 40+°C heatwave that is pounding London (current temp here, 29°C, max is expected to be 33°C).

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Sure - but if you don't need to move your PC? My main development machine was always a workstation - faster disks (espcially before SSDs), better graphics, better cooling - especially they don't spit hot air across your desktop when working hard. And less desktop space used - as I prefer separate keyboard and mouse - plus the monitors.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            The big word there is If. What planet have you been living on for the past 2.5 years? Most companies have moved past 1 employee = 1 cubicle, assigned desks are a thing of the past. If your work involves doing things on a computer, and your employer is not arranging things so that that PC can be anywhere with a suitable internet connection, they're missing a trick.

            I also use a proper keyboard and mouse, and external monitors, but at a pinch, I can work anywhere with decent internet, my laptop and my security keys.You can't do that with PC workstations. Decent laptops and thunderbolt docks give you almost everything that a desktop PC can (I'll give you the cooling issues).

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      I confess

      to having a laptop which I use for internet banking and off-line processing, and never use websites other than specific vendors for software updates.

      Most current laptops are more than capable of performing administrative type processing (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.), and for up nicely to save space in small apartments, but not good enough for serious gamers (or so I have heard).

    4. Mostly Irrelevant

      I think it depends on what you want, if you want earth-shattering performance then a laptop is never going to do. If you want something you can carry around when necessary and still play the latest games, this sort of thing makes sense. I personally have a tiny little laptop for travel and a fire-breathing desktop under the desk, it's a great combination for giant nerds like me who want the best and can afford two computers.

      Not everyone is us.

      P.S. I think water-coolers that you attach and re-attach regularly are ill-advised.

  2. Awk_ward

    Well there's a concept no-one was asking for. I'm pushed to find practical applications for having a Laptop attached to a giant cooling unit where either a proper Laptop or a desktop wouldn't do it better.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
      Flame

      Tech companies that force employees to use corporate laptops for everything is big use case that I see, but they'll never buy whitelabel laptops like these.

      Icon for my work laptop trying to compile.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      This machine can take desktop-class CPUs and GPUs. This would enable it to have similar speeds as a desktop when it's attached, probably, and it keeps running if portability is required. Sure, not everyone needs that. Many could deal with a desktop that doesn't have any portability support. Many others just don't need that kind of computing at all. However, if you do want that kind of speed and portability in one package, how else are you going to do it? The only alternative I can see is making the laptop even bigger to add more air flow, but I'm not sure how much that would help.

      1. Boothy Silver badge

        Quote: "This machine can take desktop-class CPUs and GPUs."

        Assuming you are talking about the one in the article, then no it can't, these are all mobile parts. CPU and GPU.

        As an example, the 3080 Ti laptop version is basically the same core chip as the desktop part (same GPU part number), but it has less cores and runs at a slower speed than the desktop version, to keep the heat down. Typically the laptop models, have around the same performance as one or two models down on the desktop side. i.e. A laptop 3080 Ti like this one, will have around the same performance as a desktop 3070 (not Ti).

        Still not bad for gaming, I've got a now quite old 2080 (not Ti or Super) in my desktop, and the laptop 3080Ti just beats it in overall gaming performance.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >Well there's a concept no-one was asking for.

      Laptop stands with fans being sold in supermarkets across the land would suggest that at least some people have asked for cooler laptops. I'm guessing though that many of these stands are sold to cool lower powered laptops with poorer thermal design.

      This plug-in water cooler isn't that much more faff to use.

      The concept of laptops running faster when at a desk is well established (most laptops only run at max power if plugged into a wall socket, some folk use external GPUs or video encoders).

      Just yesterday I saw a friend after work. She'd gone into the office that day because it was too hot for her laptop to work at home.

    4. abo

      There are plenty of gamers out there who are happy to take their gaming mobile and accept stuff like lower resolution/texture quality/framerate or whatever and then plug in to an external GPU when they're home for a richer experience. I can see this being an extension of that; useful for, dunno, maybe a dev who can accept that their compiling will take longer while mobile Or works on other things and saves the compiling until they plug into the cooler. Something like that.

      That said, I've got a netbook which is good enough for browsing the web and Xbox cloud gaming. I remote to the desktop machine I have if I need to do something proper

  3. RM Myers
    Headmaster

    Many laptops already use liquid cooling

    I large number of laptops already use heat pipes, which contain small amounts of liquid which transfers heat from the CPU/GPU to other cooler areas by first turning the liquid into steam, and then the steam back into a liquid at the cooler areas (near the fans/vents). The quantity of liquid may be small, but it is still critical to cooling the laptop.

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: Many laptops already use liquid cooling

      I think most would describe that as a vapour chamber, rather than liquid cooling.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Many laptops already use liquid cooling

      Well yes, there is liquid involved. Not exactly liquid cooling though, because it is the vapour that conveys the heat before condensing back to a liquid. Even some phones use these closed loop systems, commonly referred to as 'heat pipes'.

      What this article is talking about is water cooling. Instead of using phase change of a fluid to transport 'latent' heat, water coolers use only the heat capacity of a larger volume of water. There no evaporation, no phase change.

    3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Many laptops already use liquid cooling

      Not steam (that would be water). Ammonia is quite good for phase change applications.

  4. RAMChYLD

    Looks familiar

    Damn, I didn't know Malaysian companies are such copycats. Just found out there's an identical laptop sold here except that it's called the Illegear Onyx G with Illegear Flow.

    https://www.illegear.com/illegear-onyx-g/

    https://www.illegear.com/illegear-flow/

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: Looks familiar

      Not a copy-cat, just a white label product being resold under various brands. Linus reviewed it as the Eluktronics Prometheus (but also found an alternatively branded version while the supposed "original" was still a prototype).

      LTT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4HtrqVWH-k

      Eluktronics: https://www.eluktronics.com/lpp

  5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    That makes for quite a docking station

    How long until the next evolution of USB connector has cooling pipes included?

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: That makes for quite a docking station

      USB-W

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: That makes for quite a docking station

        USB-3ZE

        :)

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: That makes for quite a docking station

      Maybe that's why the control consoles on the Starship Enterprise burst into flames at a moment's notice - the computers are cooled with a fluid that, unfortunately, is prone to evaporating and igniting if the lines are ruptured (by a torpedo to a completely different part of the ship, evidently)

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: That makes for quite a docking station

        You've just gave me a dystopian vision of the future where x86 is still going strong and those bridge consoles are pulling down 15 kW each.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Not efficient

    "Laying the water pipe against the heat pipe" and hoping for miracles is a bit rubbish. A water loop through the heatsink or even encapsulating part of the heatpipe in a water jacket would work so much better. I'm not sure that my entire (old) water cooler weighs as much as this thing and that's a little pond pump and a Seat Ibiza heater matrix!

  7. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Pint

    Ice! Ice! Baby!

    My own personal water cooling system has ice in a glass, diluted with rare chemicals produced by dedicated boffins. :o)

    But seriously, I'd hope they do not use tap water, but filtered and purified water in the device, because de-scaling your laptop is probably not something your average heating engineer / plumber has trained for.

    And the very highly priced Dyson desk lamps also use a water-based cooling system:

    https://www.dyson.co.uk/lighting/solarcycle-morph

  8. Davegoody

    Stupid and inefficient

    Look at the trailblazing performance of the 16” MacBook Pro which is an order of magnitude quicker than nearly every Intel-based / Ryzen machine, and even when running in our stupid temperatures currently in my office with two external screens (one 4K and one 5K) doesn’t break a sweat. Fans hardly ever need to spin up !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid and inefficient

      As a rule CPU temperature has to be pretty high for fans in Apple machines to spin up, Apple prefers to throttle it instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
    2. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: Stupid and inefficient

      What trailblazing performance? If you're just talking about energy efficiency, then sure, but certainly not in overall performance.

      Looking at the new M2 based MacBook Pro, the Mac is still overall slower that the best Intel or AMD based laptops in CPU performance, other than a few outlying functions where Apple have implemented some hardware acceleration in their SoC which doesn't exist in the Intel or AMD parts.

      The main benefit the Mac has, is it manages what it does while using much less power than the Intel and AMD systems. To put it another way, Intel and AMD burn a lot more energy to get to that faster performance.

      Part of this is of course the architecture, but a big chunk is down to Apple using a more efficient TSMC node, specifically the "Enhanced 5-nanometer" N5P process, whilst Intel and AMD are still on older nodes (and AMD being the only other one using TSMC currently).

      Be interesting to see how Intels and AMDs newer chips perform, once chips such as AMDs Zen 4 come out in a month or two, which will also be on TSMCs 5nm node.

      Intel have also partnered up with TSMC, and are expected to produce some 3nm CPUs, although not till next year some time.

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: Stupid and inefficient

        Mac has the benefit of a somewhat leaner OS, and one not expending significant resources on espionage. Certainly not zero but the quantity of MS phone home blocked by pihole on my work Win10 Enterprise machine is vastly greater than the traffic out of the back of a vanilla personal Mac.

        The software selection inside the walled garden has its own problems of course.

        I have the M1 max and on music related tasks in Reason it performs very well indeed. The Ryzen 9 5950X desktop obviously slays it on performance, but that's also using 10 times the wattage.

        With power cost being seriously a premium now, any business that wants to shave off a chunk of its bottom line would do well to consider IT selection. After space heating/a/c and servers that's probably the next easiest bill to go after.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better than just using...

    OnlyFans?

  10. Binraider Silver badge

    What's wrong with rotating the packs of frozen peas off the RAM expansion unit? For those that remember the good/bad old days of Spectrum ownership.

    In all seriousness; I have a Dell workstation-like laptop sat here, and it is dreadful on thermals. I routinely keep the system propped up on scrap with a desk fan providing extra cooling.

    I'd use a desktop but our colleagues in IT have a pathological aversion to real hardware or selecting from anyone but the cheapest supplier on the day.

  11. sreynolds Silver badge

    The only time you need to liquid cool a laptop

    Is when its on fire. Otherwise those suckers are low power battery devices. If you want liquid cooling then attach desktop components and cool those - as is pissiable using high speed USB.

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