Captherm is a new startup aiming to revolutionize the way we cool our CPUs. Rather than using air cooling, or even water cooling, Captherm are bring phase change cooling to the masses with a small and unique cooler. The cooler uses an ether based coolant in a pressurized loop. For those of you who haven’t studied thermonamics, liquids and gases are complicated and there is no such thing as a fixed boiling point. Instead the boiling point depends on pressure. For example at sea level water boils at 100 degrees celsius. However at the top of mount everest the pressure is lower and so the water will boil at a lower temperature. In a dumbed down way you can think of high pressure gas as making it harder for the liquid to change into gas.
So in a sealed system when heat is added the proportion of gas to liquid will increase. This change of state from liquid to gas is a very efficient manner of absorbing heat. Whenever something changes state this is the case. For example think of when you sweat. It’s not the fact that your skin is wet that cools you, but that the water evaporates and turns into gas. This is why hot and humid is so much worse than hot and dry, because the evaporation is reduced by the humidity. So a system that can utilize phase change should be able to achieve much better cooling than a system that doesn’t e.g. standard liquid cooling. Now let’s finish the cycle. Once the liquid has turned to gas, it rises due to gravity and moves up to the radiator section where cooling is applied in the form of cool air provided by your fan that you’ve attached. As it cools it again changes equilibrium in the sealed system and so the gas turns back to liquid in order to maintain the basic laws of thermodynamics.
Captherm have used this to create a small enclosed and sealed system that has no pump or moving parts and requires no topping off or maintenance (except dust removal and the addition of a fan of your choice). Now these guys are so crazy that to seal this thing at high pressure requires the use of C4 explosives. Yes I am not kidding. The cooler like some new star is literally exploded into life. This explosion welds three different metals together.
The nice part is the addition of a window above the copper that attaches to the cpu core. This will show bubbles as soon as any heat is applied to the copper and we saw it running live in a system:
Here you can see the bubbles in action:
This not only is a cool effect that modders will love but also shows that everything is working just fine. Temperatures are expected to be about 6C better than an AIO unit like the Corsair H60 which means it should be comparable to a high end water cooling system but without any of the maintenance. Presumably with a larger radiator and more work on the base improvements could be made further. Current MSRP is expected to be $250 with the real launch coming in the summer.