While Alienware is heading downstream to try to capture a bigger audience for gaming PCs with a $699 desktop, other boutique builders are catering to a hardcore niche that is looking for every way to get more muscle out of their pricey rigs. Elaborate liquid cooling has been the norm for these systems, but now there's a new frontier for keeping them chilly.
Both Maingear and Origin PC have re-introduced phase change cooling into the picture. As Legit Reviews reports, Maingear appears to be readying a product called Epic T1000 that it's describing as an "advance phase change thermal alloy" that is applied to your processor to lower temperatures by 3-10°C. You can use the material with any type of cooling as long as the cooling block completely covers the processor's Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS). The Epic T1000 should be available soon for $19.99 for two applications, and will also be used on Maingear's desktop offerings.
Meanwhile, Origin has launched a version of its Genesis desktop with a full-fledged phase change cooling system (shown in close-up above) that it claims can lower CPU temps to a frosty -40°C. It was recently used to help overclock the Genesis to 5.7GHz with an Intel processor. Often compared to the process an air conditioner uses, the cooling system compresses air into a liquid, which then evaporates as it draws heat from the processor and is returned to the compressor to be re-compressed.
One reason phase change cooling hasn't caught on in the past is the danger that comes from too-chilly temperatures, which can create moisture, since the surrounding temps are warmer, that can zap your PC's components. To guard against this, Origin's system will shut down automatically once it reaches -40°C.
Maingear's solution may not be as whiz-bang as Origin's, but it's apparently a lot cheaper. According to Engadget, adding the phase change cooling option to a Genesis desktop will increase the price by more than $3,000. Presuming some people pony up that money for the system, this might not be the last we see of the technology from gaming PC builders.