Computer cooled with Mineral Oil

Well I read on Slashdot the other day about a computer that was cooled using vegetable oil. It amazed me that it would work. So I started checking around and found only a few websites with pictures of this. And most just used a fish tank to hold the computer. Well I wanted something different. I decided to build my own case to house the computer. I also decided not to use vegetable oil but to use mineral oil, with some help from a chemistry teacher. It is clear and odorless. When I started this I really didn’t think it would work. Sometimes ideas look better on paper then they do when you finish. Well on with the project.

The total cost was around $65. The Plexiglas was the most expensive part. I used a 24″X48″ sheet. It was .25 inches thick. I needed it to be strong to hold all the liquid. The computer I used was just laying around the house. It is a Intel Celeron 400MHz, 192 MB of ram, and 6GB hard drive. Perfect for what I was going to do with it. The only other things I had to buy was the glue to hold the Plexiglas box together and the mineral oil. Just a note that when you go and ask about buying gallons of mineral oil you will get some strange looks. If you don’t know what mineral oil is do a quick search on google. I ended up going to the local Walmart to buy the mineral oil. Best price I could find. Well now that I have gone over the basics lets see the pictures of the construction.
This is just a picture of the Plexiglas sheet.

Picture of the computer that I was using for the project.

Taking apart the computer.

Another shot of the computer.

Yet another picture of it.

The parts all on hooked.

This is the start of the Plexiglas box with the parts arranged on it.

Another shot of the sides cut.

The above pictures are the rest of the sides cut. I put tape on there to hold the sides up to see if the fit was ok.

Gives a good view of how the parts will be organized inside.

prepping for the glue. You can see the bottles of E6000 next to it. That’s what I used to glue the box together. They told me it would be strong enough. You can also see the silicone chalking. To make sure that it wont leak.
This shows the sides glued together. There is no real reason why the silicone is in the box. We can just say it is so people can ask questions. I added a thermometer to the case. This way I can monitor the inside temp. You can’t tell now but the case will be completely sealed.This was the construction of the hard drive and CD rom holder. The silicone is applying weight in this picture. These pictures are of the computer being upgraded to Windows XP. I had to wait for the glue to dry. Plus Windows XP is better then Windows 98 which was on the machine. This was gluing all the internal parts to the bottom. It is hard to see but I used metal spacers to keep the mother board from just sitting on the bottom. I also added a 80mm fan to keep the mineral oil moving around. This is the computer getting a test run before the mineral oil is added. Just making sure that everything is functioning properly. You can see the bottles of mineral oil. I had 7 total. Which isn’t enough but it is all that Walmart had. These are all the pictures I took as the mineral oil was being added. I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that I am pouring mineral oil into the computer.
These are the pictures that shows the mineral oil in the case. As you can see it didn’t fill it up too much. I am waiting for Walmart to restock the shelves. Then I can fill it all the way up. You can see the drain I added to the top in this picture. I made that so after it is sealed I can change the oil if it ever needs it. The computer put together and running. You can see the line where the mineral oil is at. I need a lot more. The mother board is fully submerged though. The fan moving the oil just fine. You can also so the USB hub I added. Some close-up pictures of the mineral oil inside. You can kind of see from the picture how the PSU fan picks up the mineral oil and forces it out. This is the final setup minus the need for more mineral oil. I used a wireless mouse and keyboard to eliminate some of the wires. Also I read about a problem with the oil traveling up the mouse cords. (siphoning out) This will take care of that problem.

I really don’t have a reason for doing this. I just wanted to try it out. It wasn’t that expensive and kept me busy for a few days. It looks really cool too. I built this so it can be picked up and moved. So if you want to show off to your friends just take it over to their house. It does way a lot and it doesn’t have all the oil in it yet. Once I get more mineral oil I will post the new pictures. Plus I will post any problems that come up.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.


I’m very intrested in your procject, I plan to do somthing similar, but with a bubbler and some plastic fish and water-plants 🙂

I’m kinda stuck on the sort of oil to use Mineral-oil is a broad concept, what did you use precisly?

Greetz from the Netherlands

EDF the Shooter

If I put food coloring in it, would that be conductive, causing the parts to short circuit??

The mineral oil that was used is used for medical purposes. The kind you drink to clean your system out.

As for food coloring I wounldn’t. It would be better to add lights in the inside. I am planning on adding a light bar in the inside. When I get back from vacation I will take the updated picture with it full of mineral oil and the blue light bars inside.

thx, I appreciate it

I am also VERy interested in this project. Please keep this project up i am lloking at doing this to my computer. Curently it is air cooled :-/. I lso like the colored LED ligh idea.

Very nice, and well done!
much love and props

What is the temperature?
Is the case completely air-tight to not allow water condensation?

Hey Jeremy. Its Tim Lewis. I was just checking out the Site…Cool. Where did you get the idea of this??? Definitely a cool idea. Any way I’ll check back in

I enjoyed you blog about vitamin e heart disease. I also have a site about vitamin e heart disease which makes me appreciate this one even more! Keep up the good work!

I enjoyed you blog about nutrients plant need. I also have a site about nutrients plant need which makes me appreciate this one even more! Keep up the good work!

I’m surprised the silicone stuck to the plexi. I’ve had bad experience with that in the past. Nice job though. Looks a lot better than the recent one by

I had the idea to make a case which would be as small as possible, possibly 12 inches by 16 by 6 and immerse my motherboard, processor, video card, and power supply. Then I want to take this further and put a pump right above the processor, pumping it to a car’s heater core with one fan cooling it, then have it pumped back into the case, underneath the motherboard. This would be very cheap since the plexiglass isnt much, mineral oil who knows, heater core about 10 dollars and pump 10 dollars on ebay. any thoughts? I would be pretty confident at it going below zero with that setup, just not sure how far below..

I thought about answering some of the questions that were posted.

Brussel –
The silicone stuck nicely to the plexiglass. It is still running good. It is in storage right now since I moved.

Kenny –
Using the mineral oil you can not take it down below the freezing point. Don’t get me wrong it is possible but the mineral oil gets a haze to it and doesn’t look as good. It also gels up a bit. This winter I tested the computer out when the inside case temp was 18 degrees fahrenheit. The mineral oil was really hazy but the computer still functioned like normal. The only problem was the fans were really having trouble moving.

I am working on a new mineral oil computer. This one will hold a temperature of 40 degrees fahrenheit but the entire computer will not be submerged. I am going to use A/C compressor with freon as the coolant. Just a note that it is against the law to handle freon unless you are certified. But by the end of the summer I should have picks and a detailed overview of the system.

I have a concern with the use of Plexiglass on your project. It wouldn’t surprise me if you see fissures form in the plexiglass over time as a result of the oil acting on the plastic. If this happens you will have a failure and ultimately leakage of the oil onto the surrounding area. Good luck and don’t slip and fall…

ok, some idea’s for this then.
for those that don’t want to bother building a box, heres a perfectly sized fish tank.
11 1/2″ H x 12″ L x 6 3/4″ D and holds 3 U.S. gallons.

so heres an idea. put this 3 gallon tank with mineral oil and running computer into a 5 or 10 gallon tank filled with water and fish so that it will look as though fish are swimming in your computer..

Question, I don’t know much about mineral oil. From what I gather it is the same as hydraulic oil. Does this mean I could use hydraulic oil instead. This is much easier to obtain than mineral oil itself in the UK.

So how about using another material for the case than plexi or glass? Plexi especially has good insulation value. I know it would not look the same but what about salvaging some old large aluminium heat-sinks from the scrapyard and having them welded into a container? Remove all the internal air fans from your system and replace with one small submersible pond pump for convection. Basically you turn the whole case into a radiator. Custom anodizing is also an option these days for those who want to pay for looks. A small window could also be designed into one side of the case so you could still see your submersed board etc.

How long it takes to change or replace de mineral OIL? and what is the temperature???

I have never changed the mineral oil. It is the original from over 3 years ago. It still looks crystal clear. Temperatures really don’t matter since the computer specs are so weak. I would love to throw in a Core 2 Duo but I don’t have the money to toss one in mineral oil.

Does this actually work then?
thanks tapp back

Yes it works. I’m thinking about making a new video of it this weekend. It’s been sitting in the garage for many years.

isnt mineral oil slightly flammable? It seems like you are just waiting for that first grounding short based electrical spark and then you have a “computer bomb”. Probably negates any kind of homeowners insurance.

“The National Fire Protection Association has assigned a flammability rating of 1 slight fire hazard to Mineral Oil”

My 2 cents: if it does catch fire DO NOT TRY TO PUT IT OUT WITH WATER, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

I guarantee the CPU will heat that oil well over 100 degrees F. Think about it.

mineral oil is used in lamp to burn. but the FUMES are what what burns. a spark under the surface with no oxygen will not burn. the flash point for the fumes is 400 degrees F. the boiling point if 740 degrees F.
if you could put a lit match into the liquid of gas without exposing the flame to the fumes the match would go out. no oxygen to burn.
this is a great project and i for one would like to see the computer upgraded and see how it does.

I have a core i7 920 with a GTX 260 core 216 submerged in mineral oil.

Its fine.

I CAN push it to 100C – with hyperthreading on and hours of rendering, at which point the core i7 920 turns off cores until it cools down. And its still fine.

I would love to see it if you have pictures or a video. You can email me a link or pictures. Sounds awesome.

I was kicking around the idea of running submerged in Halocarbon 0.8 Oil, it’s odorless, clear, non-reactive, and completely non-flammable. Plus it has a gel point of -100ºC. Run the oil through a Phased Refrigeration Heat Exchanger and cool it down to below freezing then pipe it back in. Since it’s submerged you can run well below mean air temp and not have to worry about condensation. Make a really kickass over-clocking rig. If you can keep the bath temps around freezing you could very well get stable 4.5-5mhz clock speeds out of a Core i7.

Wow .I love this idea. Ive always been a big advocate of watercooling especially after cooking bout a thousand dollas worth of vid cards ;|~.Any hoo im gonnia try this in a compact upright design and try to make an eye appealing desk piece.

Leave a comment