Fact check: Tony the Tiger’s milk-cooled PC would work, somewhat
Tony the Tiger – the neckerchiefed mascot of Kellogg’s Frosties – is becoming a VTuber, with some kind of heavily sponsored Twitch stream scheduled for this Friday in which “he” will play “a popular battle royale game” with some other livestreamers. I’m not very interested in this, to be honest, but I am curious about the “milk-coolant PC” that Tony’s avatar will be using to get the W’s and build creepy parasocial relationships with viewers. Could such a PC, liquid-cooled by a dairy product, actually function?
The answer is yes, to an extent, because it’s already been tried – as far back as 2016. Tech YouTuberists JayzTwoCents and Toby’s Tech have both tested milk as a coolant in open-loop liquid cooling systems, thus enriching mankind with the knowledge that cow juice can chill a gaming CPU. Until it turns, at least.
JayzTwoCents’s experiment used skimmed milk to cool an Intel Core i7-5930K, overclocked from 3.7GHz to 4.4GHz, while Toby’s Tech filled a homemade open loop system with semi-skimmed milk to cool an Intel Core i3-2100 at stock speeds. In both cases, CPU package and/or core temperatures were not only stable under increased load, but could compete with – and sometimes slightly even outperform – regular PC coolant. Tony’s imaginary rig seems to include the graphics card in the open loop system as well, not just the CPU, but the evidence suggests that a milk-cooled PC could run comfortably if the milk is fresh.
At no point does the milk overheat, separate, or curdle, and for the benefit of any beverage manufacturers considering a similar marketing stunt: JayzTwoCents found that milk is a more effective coolant than both orange juice and some revoltingly coloured energy drink. We could also consider the Irn-Bru PC, but that cheats by merely using a Bru-mimicking coolant colour, not the drink itself.
However, all of that is not to say that regulating temperatures with Cravendale is in fact a clever PC building hack. Or even a good idea at all. Both videos discovered the milk left a nasty residue on the inside of the cooling setups’ tubes and reservoirs, even after flushing them with water. Then there’s the obvious issue of the milk eventually going sour – even if it’s in a sealed environment, proteins in the milk will invariably break down in time and spoil it. Presumably turning lumpy if left for long enough, and you can imagine the issues with having a trail of miniature fatbergs clogging up the PC’s pipes.
Milk, then: refreshing, affordable, and available in several non-dairy varieties, but not an ideal PC cooling liquid in spite of its weirdly impressive performance. Tony and anyone else who’s just really, really enthusiastic about breakfast cereal should consider a white-coloured conventional coolant instead.