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NEC PC gets the chills

Company unveils a new desktop model with a pre-installed water-cooled radiator that keeps the heat down.

Your car has a water-cooled radiator, and now the latest desktop PC from NEC does too.

The Japanese PC maker took the wraps off its Valuestar G Type C, a new desktop PC that has a radiator embedded in the water cooler unit built into the back of the chassis. The company said the added refrigeration will let consumers overwork the included Intel Celeron processor but keep the PC running at 30 decibels, which is whisper voice. PC noise is increasingly a concern as more powerful computers require stronger and often louder cooling systems.

Valuestar G Type C
Credit: NEC Japan
Valuestar G Type C

As processors and other components have become more electricity-hungry, they've required bigger and faster fans to keep them from burning to a crisp. Game enthusiasts have tricked out their PCs with for years, but this is the first time NEC has included one in a consumer design.

The low-end version of the Valuestar PC costs $925 and runs on a Celeron D Processor 341, which is paired with the Intel 945G Express chipset. The desktop also features 256MB of main memory and an 80GB hard drive, and runs Windows XP Home Edition with ServicePack2.

The Type C has a wide range of customization options available, including Nvidia's GeForce 6200 with TurboCache. The PC is currently only available on NEC's direct sales Web site.

NEC said it is giving an LED (light-emitting diode) clock to the first 200 people who purchase the new Valuestar PC and fill out a questionnaire.

Liquid cooling dates back to mainframes in the 1970s and 1980s, when manufacturers had to cool bipolar chips, which were manufactured differently than standard silicon chips.

Apple Computer put a liquid-filled heatsink in recent versions of its PowerMac, a feature that Apple and its fans touted as an engineering advance. It added about $50 onto manufacturing costs, estimated VLSI Research CEO Dan Hutcheson. Fed up with chips that ran too hot at slower-than-expected speeds, Apple subsequently announced it would shift from IBM to Intel processors.

Still, liquid can cool. NanoCoolers, a start-up in Texas, has devised a heatsink filled with liquid metal, while Cooligy is aiming for PCs that circulate water. Researchers at Purdue University and elsewhere, meanwhile, are also looking at systems that rely on a minimum of water.

CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.