We water-cooled Intel’s i9-9900K in an epic 2U rack PC

Water-cooled 2U rack PC

Posted by Geoff Undrell on: in: Products

We know just how important it is to ensure our customers are always getting the most out of their choice of processor – it’s one of the many reasons why we’re constantly developing and refining our versatile line-up of Rack and Mini PCs. A recent example saw us commissioned by our customer Epic Games to engineer a solution that would mean they could run Intel’s flagship i9-9900K CPU at its Turbo frequency of 5GHz for a sustained period of time – a feat that presented some interesting challenges.

Overclocking is not a game

A video game and software development company, Epic Games is renowned for many highly successful video games, including the hit sensation Fortnite. Driven by the need for powerful, responsive and stable compute, Epic Games’ initial requirement was for a machine that could achieve a Turbo speed of 5GHz across the first couple of the processor’s cores only. However, the only way to ensure this speed was consistently reached while maintaining stability was by fully overclocking the Intel chip, meaning all cores would need to be activated.

Playing it cool

Water-cooling 2U PC

The drawback of overclocking the CPU to this extent was that it resulted in the processor’s power consumption almost doubling from 95W to 180W. This massive leap caused the host 2U PC to reach temperatures of up to 85 degrees – a mere 15 degrees less than Tjunction, Intel’s recommended maximum. The reason for this surge in heat was largely down to the CPU’s die surface area, which was little more than the size of a stamp. Dissipating the heat from such a small area is tricky, and as such, we knew that the only way of solving the challenge was to introduce water-cooling. By bringing the CPU’s hot surface into contact with a cool, temperature-controlled liquid, we managed to successfully lower the i9-9900K’s temperature and thereby cool the 2U PC down to a safe operating range that wouldn’t exceed 70 degrees.

An epic solution

2U PC water-cooled IntelOur solution didn’t just stop at water-cooling, either. Because most off-the-shelf water-cooling components aren’t typically designed for smaller units, their height can be difficult to accommodate. To ensure Epic Games’ solution was able to fit neatly inside a compact 2U PC, we therefore had to reengineer the Alphacool water-cooling parts we had selected by reducing their height while retaining their effectiveness. This perfectly suited Epic Games’ space-sensitive deployment needs. The depth of the case also presented a different challenge – as the 2U PC is a deeper unit, it needed greater airflow to circulate and expel the CPU’s heat. We designed fans specifically to accomplish this task, enabling Epic Games to truly get the most from the i9-9900K. Finally, we kitted the 2U unit out with a redundant power supply, protecting the processor from any downtime due to a power failure. The result of some rigorous testing, the final product was a sophisticated solution that did exactly what Epic Games needed it to.

If you would like to find out more about how water-cooling could benefit your PC’s CPU, or how we can help you maximise your choice of processor, get in touch with one of the team.