The Xbox One X Is (Not) 'Liquid Cooled'

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urbanj

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I, for one, appreciate that the folks at Tom's have released this article to help those who only seem to understand certain KEY words in headlines, and then ignore everything written afterwards.
At the very least, this article headline should balance things back to zero :p
 

aisalem

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So in your explanation you've just explained that it is indeed liquid cooled :)
The only difference you should point out that in more traditional liquid cooling system you need a pump and tubing to move the coolant around, while in vapor chamber you're using phase changes to move it.
 


Do you consider a 212 evo or other similar cpu 'air coolers' to be 'liquid' cooled? Same thing as what's being used here with a slightly different shape. Traditionally heat pipes aren't called 'water cooled' or considered to be water cooling. Rarely do they even use the term 'vapor chamber' in conjunction with heat pipes, they just say 'heat pipes'. That's what they are though, sealed pipes with sintered material containing a few drops of water inside. Aside from a few really low budget low performance air coolers almost all air coolers use heat pipes now as well as gpu's.
 

alextheblue

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Well, it's not a completely insane question... some people still remember oldschool cheap heatpipes without a wicking material, where orientation could have a noticeable effect.

Anyway this sort of vapor chamber works great with high-watt graphics cards, it's nice to see them use it here - should keep the SoC running cool!
 

alextheblue

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What external power brick? I'm pretty sure aircooling will be sufficient for the internal PSU, since it's ~245W.
 

aisalem

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Let's take a breath and look at the article title, it states "liquid cooled". Vapor chamber, heat pipes and big loops are all using some kind of liquid and the devices using coolers based on those principles can be called "liquid cooled". In big PC cases you need pumps and long hoses to move the heat to the radiators that needs to be father away. Here MS used vapor chamber to make the heat transfer more efficient on the big surface that has components with different height. It's smart decision and it's liquid cooled system just in more compact enclosure, you cannot deny that.

Don't take me wrong I used to have fully custom liquid cooling system for my PC but I gave it away to friend as it's pretty useless for nowadays CPUs and just generating more noise than big heat pipe coolers (I'm actually using 212 Evo now :))

And heat pipes are not the same as vapor chamber, they do use the same principle but are not the same, similar to water cooling system :)
 

Karadjgne

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A hollow heatpipe has better thermal transference than a solid heatpipe, simply based on physical limitations, a hollow heatpipe having much greater surface area when you consider the inside and outside surface. Heat travels best at the surface. However, air and most gasses act more as an insulator than a conductor for heat, most liquids being better conductors. It's the basis of why most all 'aircoolers' use liquid filled heatpipes, better and faster thermal transfers up the entire length of the pipe (the liquid holds the heat longer, also, so the top of the pipe sees more transfer action to the fins). Solid metals dissipate heat very quickly, but also absorb heat quickly, without the liquid center, the heat would stay relatively close to the base of the cooler, which would act as an insulator to greater heat dissipation. By using a liquid core, more heat is pulled away from the cpu surface and spread out along the entire length of the heatpipes. Hmm sounds exactly like a vapor chamber..

With aios, the cpu heats up microfins at the underside of the pump. The diaphragm pushes the liquid through those fins, which then dissipate heat energy to the liquid, before being shunted down the tube to the radiator, which dissipates that energy before returning back to the diaphragm. A full custom loop is exactly the same except the pump diaphragm is not built into the microfins chamber on top of the cpu. The glaring difference between that process and a vapor chamber or even heatpipe is that it's a totally mechanical process, whereas vapor chambers work on a chemical process using innate chemical properties of the liquids energy absorption and state to provide motion.

The only similarity between vapor chambers/heatpipes and aio/liquid cooling is that they all use liquid in some capacity. But there's a huge difference between a chemical process and a mechanical process, which is the underlying difference between an aio and a vapor chamber cooler.

So sorry to contradict aisalem, but you got it backwards.
 

aisalem

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Nope I didn't, that's exactly what I wrote in my first post: different physical process of moving the heat but both using liquid :)
Anyway I've just posted it towards the author negative title instead of something pointing to the explanation of actual cooling system. Author tried to be cocky, that's all.
 

deesider

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This isn't accurate in the context of heat pipes cooling a cpu. The greater a surface area in contact with the heat source the better. Howvever in the case of cpu coolers the area of the IHS of the cpu is the maximum area that is significant. Heat conductance through a material itself does not occur more rapidly along a surface.


As you mention, solid metal has a much better heat conductance, so ordinarily it will transfer heat more effficently than any other material away from the heat source (that being the definition of better heat conductance). A metal conductor does not act as an insulator simply because it is getting hot. Any other material that conducts heat more slowly will result in the cpu getting hotter (so not a good cooler). A vapour chamber system and heat pipies containing liquid work on the basis of recirculation of the heat transfer material, rather than faster heat conductance. Both methods combine a form of 'mechanical' action with simply heat conductance. The property of latent heat of evaporation of water also enables a very large amount of heat (relative to the mass of water) to be transferred away from the cpu. These are clever solutions because they exploit the very high heat capacity of water and overcome they relatively low heat conductance of water (compared to metal).
 

Kunra Zether

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Well I guess we could call it a gas cooler then too if you want to get technical because the liquid is heated until it turns to a vapor which is a form of gas until it cools back to a liquid. I hope most of you are truly just trolling because any one can see that they are using the terminology of "liquid cooled" as a marketing ploy. It's a standard air cool period. The term liquid cooled implies a pump to radiator set up period end of story. They just want to capitalize on the public's ignorance or they just feel that it's too complicated for the public to understand. Either way at $500 for a midgen council it's a bust and effort should have been put towards a new gen system.
 

Karadjgne

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Different departments. You get the thinkers, who design a system to produce certain affects or desires. Once the think tank gets done, they shove it in an engineer's lap to figure out just how to make it work. Thinkers came up with the new generation model to combat PS4 ability at 4k etc. Then passed the buck to the engineering department to figure out exact how to cool that higher performance cpu in a smaller box. Then that gets shoved out to advertising and sales, just in attempt to make it sound so good, you can't live without one, as it's better than the competitor.

Basically its just fluff.
 


What I said was entirely accurate. The title of the article is actually not confined to 'liquid cooling', read the whole title. It says "The Xbox One X Is (Not) 'Liquid Cooled' ". Emphasis on two things "(Not)" and Liquid Cooled is in quotes. It's done so I'd imagine since it's not really a traditional liquid cooler. It's a heat pipe tech based cooler which most of the industry calls air cooling and Xbox has taken artistic license to be pedantic and try to make it out to be something that's more impressive than it really is for marketing hype.

Heat pipes are in fact vapor chambers, they work on the same principles using similar materials and methods. Here's one article discussing the two and a quote from it says,

"It probably goes without saying, but the operating principles of all two-phase devices are identical. A wick structure (sintered powder, mesh screens, and/or grooves) are applied to the inside walls of an enclosure (tube or planar shape). Liquid (usually water) is added to the device and vacuum sealed at which point the wick distributes the liquid throughout the device. As heat is applied to one area, the liquid turns to vapor and moves to an area of lower pressure where it cools and returns to liquid form whereupon it moves back to the heat source by virtue of capillary action. In this sense, heat pipes and vapor chambers are the same thing."
http://celsiainc.com/blog-heat-pipes-and-vapor-chambers-whats-the-difference/

There's nothing about vapor chamber that makes it operationally different from heat pipes, both are sealed using sintered material with a minute amount of liquid inside sealed chambers that evaporates/condenses in cycles. A vapor chamber is no more water cooling than heat pipes.

No denying it makes sense the method that MS used here and yes they chose a form factor that's more suited to the confines of the enclosure of an xbox. To suggest it's water cooling is a stretch. That would be like me buying a run of the mill mass produced case and making a dot somewhere on it with paint and proclaiming my case has a "custom paint job". Well, 'technically' it is custom, 'technically' no one else will have a case with a paint dot exactly where I made mine down to the millimeter but is it truly a 'custom painted case' the way most people would consider it? No.

MS is basically using false advertising and hanging on technical word games to avoid being sued for false advertising. That's why this article exists, to investigate and lay it out for people. Explaining what's actually going on vs the mystical magic MS's advertising team suggests. I'm not aware of anyplace in the tech industry that freely called heat pipe/vapor chamber tech 'liquid cooling'. Pc's have been using these as well as actual liquid/water cooling for years, long before MS slapped it on their xbox.

Go to any cooler site, CoolerMaster or any others and if you look under their list of products they're clearly divided into 'cpu air cooler' and 'cpu liquid cooler'. All but their cheapest and smallest air coolers use sintered heat pipes that work on a 2 phase design same as vapor chambers and some in fact use vapor chambers (like the cm v8 since I referenced cm). No matter which way you look at it, heat pipe, vapor chamber - it's just not 'liquid cooling'. Kudos to the author for setting the record straight and explaining to people what they're actually getting without all the marketing trickery.
 

Kevin-M

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Well this is why console gamers use them, because when it comes to technical knowledge, understanding or skill they are severely handicapped. It is this lack of knowledge that has promoted this ridiculous notion.
 

Bernard_10

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Urbanj, That's why it pays to be wary of marketing buzzwords and overhype. How many will just see ads stating the Xbox 1-X has liquid cooling and think it's cooled just like a liquid cooled PC rig. People should appreciate Tom's Hardware and similar sites/ publications for setting them straight.
 

alextheblue

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Vapor, eh? Could you even call it a... vapor chamber cooler? ;)


That's the common parlance, yes. But if you so choose, you can call any cooling setup that uses a liquid (such as water) to absorb the heat "liquid cooling" and still be technically correct. In other words, it's not false advertising. If you really want to throw in those requirements for what qualifies: In this scenario the fins of the cooler act as the "radiator" and there is a "pumping action" wherein the water is physically relocated, cooled, and returned. You can even make fanless models if you want - although I'm not personally a "fan" (pun intended) of them for a few reasons I won't get into here.

With that being said, it would be better if they called it something like evaporative or phase change cooling. They could also simply refer to it by the specific type of evaporative cooler, in other words just say a vapor chamber cooler and call it a day. I guess marketing ran it by some test audiences and "liquid cooling" just sounds cooler (yes I like bad puns). Either way, the fact remains that they're not going to lose any lawsuits over this.
 

Karadjgne

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A good majority of Xbox users have no clue about components other than what they can see, like controllers, wireless, memory modules, disks etc. Start throwing in 'phase change' cooling and you just stepped beyond their capacity to understand . 'liquid cooling' just sounds more exotic and special. And yes, I'm talking about pre-teens and just-teens, etc whose only concern is if it's better than what they have now. When my son was 12/13 he had no concept of heat, and it's damaging affects, as long as the game worked as intended. I broke his habit of piling dirty clothes on top of his Xbox by convincing him that clothing interfered with his wireless controller. Liquid is a word anybody can wrap their head around, phase chamber would mean next to nothing.
 
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