When we made our “how air coolers work” video, a lot of viewers were interested in the inner workings of copper heatpipes and their various means of facilitating capillary action. Today, we’re revisiting our TLDR series with a video on how closed-loop liquid coolers work. We’ll be talking about permeation, air pockets, stators, impellers, coldplates, and chemical composition of the coolant.

This content has custom-made animations that we rendered specifically for explanation of how CLCs work. GN’s Andrew Coleman modeled and animated a closed-loop cooler for the piece, referencing NZXT’s Kraken X52. Because of the level of detail and custom animations of this content, NZXT sponsored GN to put this piece together. The content applies to all liquid coolers, but particularly focuses on closed-loop products; all concepts herein can be applied to CLCs across the industry from various suppliers and manufacturers. Our technical deep-dive for today serves as a means to fully detail liquid cooling and how it works, drilling down to piano-wire granularity (literally).

On December 5, we broke news on Asetek's Cease & Desist order sent to AMD, pursuant to the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X video card. Asetek previously won a suit against Cooler Master USA for its closed-loop liquid cooler products (CLCs), to include the Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer (Swiftech-supplied) lines. The patents primarily discussed are 8,240,362 and 8,245,764.

By judge and jury, CMI USA (Cooler Master USA) was found guilty of patent infringement of the pump-on-coldplate design and ordered to pay 14.5% royalties. Inability to pay-out on its ruled dues ultimately saw a royalties percentage increase to 25.375%, followed by banishment of all affected Cooler Master CLCs from US markets.

This article fully details the relevant legal history of liquid cooling companies, including the rise of Asetek & CoolIT, their patent lawsuits against one another, the recent lawsuit against Cooler Master, and the C&D against AMD's R9 Fury X.

The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.

Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.

First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.

Liquid cooler manufacturer Asetek, the company that supplies many of the industry's best-known coolers by Corsair, EVGA, and NZXT, saw victory in a patent infringement case against Cooler Master (CMI) in 2014. In that trial, the jury awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold in the US.

Listed on AMD's official R9 Fury X documentation is the liquid cooling solution. The PDF indicates that Cooler Master is slated to provide AMD's Fury X CLC, marked by part number “DCV-01647-A1-HF” in the document.

Cooler Master recently lost a lawsuit with CLC supplier Asetek, where a jury ruled that Cooler Master would owe Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Seidon AIO coolers sold. We are yet unsure if the Fury X stock CLC will be subject to the same legal agreements as the Seidon AIO units.

Closed-loop liquid cooling (CLC) supplier Asetek has agreed to settle its ongoing patent infringement lawsuit vs. CoolIT. CoolIT, also a liquid cooling supplier, allegedly infringed upon Asetek's patents (8,240,362 & 8,245,764) that effectively lay claim to liquid pumps mounted to the CPU cooling block.

CoolIT is the most recent in a string of action imposed against Asetek's competitors, a list that includes Cooler Master and Swiftech.

Update: CoolIT has provided a statement, found below.

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