Condensation proofing the motherboard
Note: Some pictures feature a pretty mutilated board that is
used just for demo pictures. So do not be bothered by this.
There are many ways to go about this but I’ll just state a safe
and effective route I’ve found.
Let’s start with the back of the motherboard. First of all you
should protect any warranty stickers or serial number stickers you have here.
Cut out a suitably sized wax paper or plastic sheet, a little bigger than your
Cover up the sticker with it and tape over it tightly making sure
its sealed down well.
Next, lay the board down with its back facing you and carefully
spray over the whole of the back part with the clear PCB lacquer spray. Then
wait for the lacquer to dry off.
You will need to decide how far and wide from the socket area
you want to insulate. This will depend on the humidity in your room and how
cold the CPU will get. A humid room can make almost any part of the back of
the board “sweat” so to be safe, you can choose to insulate almost
the whole of the back of the board. This will be especially necessary if you
are extreme cooling your video card as well because the cold can spread from
the card to the board. Or you could experiment first by running your cooler
without switching on the motherboard and see how far the condensation spreads
in the most humid condition of your room.
Cut out cork seal tape and cover the back of the motherboard with
Make sure there are no clock generator chips there as these chips
can get hot and covering them is not good. If there are, just cover their legs
and leave the chip itself exposed. Leave the wax paper of the seal string on
first. Press down on the seal string, iron it out across the whole area, and
ensure that it is stuck on tight and that all air-pockets inside are eliminated.
To increase insulative power, cut a piece of neoprene the size of the area of
the motherboard covered with seal string. Remove the wax paper on the seal tape
and put on the piece of neoprene. It will stick onto the seal tape and there
you have a nicely insulated behind of a motherboard.
For the front of the motherboard, to be safe, coat the area to
be insulated with nail varnish first. Tape up the socket holes and ram slots,
etc to prevent any accident of dripping the nail varnish into these areas. I
usually insulate from the socket area all the way to the first ram slot and
over the Northbridge area. Of course, if there are any serial number or warranty
stickers, protect them with the method listed above.
Now that the area is coated with nail varnish, cover up this area
with seal string.
You may need to cut many strips of it to cover bit by bit but
eventually the goal is to have the exposed circuitry in the vicinity covered
up with seal string. NOTE however that as in the case when insulating the back
of the motherboard, do not cover up clock generator chips and especially not
any mosfets! In fact, try not to cover up any IC chips, but only their legs/pins,
like in this picture.
If you do, you might cause a burnout somewhere. Also note that
you may or may not want to leave the wax paper of the seal string on. It boils
down to personal preference.
Important part to insulate would be the bottom of capacitors.
As we all know, there are air pockets below the capacitors and this part is
quite susceptible to the forming of moisture, especially when a lot of boards
have capacitors placed very near to the socket. Cut out a strip of seal string
and cover it around the base of the capacitor, molding it such that the whole
bottom is sealed like in this picture.
Over at the Northbridge area, surround the whole DAC of the Northbridge
with seal string as there are air pockets below because if you notice carefully,
it is raised a little and there are metal components below.
That is if you expect the cold to spread to the Northbridge area,
or if you’re trying to play safe. Or if you’re chilling the Northbridge as well.
Insulating the Ram slot area is like wise, just run seal string
around its perimeter.
Finally, you can try to touch up any area with some silicone grease
or dielectric grease.
Here is a picture of a very very thoroughly insulated motherboard.
Now that that is done, lets get back over to the center of our
concern, the socket area.
Now, even though the area is covered with seal string, there will
be an air gap between the waterblock/cooling head/copper container (Or whatever
goes on to the CPU). You can choose to cover this gap with a suitably shaped
neoprene piece of suitable thickness. Shape out the neoprene sheets and cut
them into appropriate thickness.
The appropriate thickness should be just about the same height
as the CPU core with the CPU in the socket. A little thicker or a little thinner
shouldn’t cause any problems as it is compressible. You can get the neoprene
to stick with the adhesiveness of the seal string. Always make sure that there
is good contact between core and cooler by taking off the cooler and double-checking
the base for a nice imprint of thermal paste.
After that is done, those who are into 200% garantee deals might
want to put in plastic sheets to catch any droplets of water as shown below
before mounting the cooler.
Now, of course, before mounting on the cooler we must put in the
CPU and before that, we must take moisture preventive measures. First of all,
fill up the socket holes with dielectric grease. Rub the grease into the holes
with your finger and do this repeatedly.
Slide the socket bar to the closed position and repeat the filling
of dielectric grease. Finally, touch up with a brush.
This should ensure that all the holes are filled with dielectric
grease. Dab a layer of dielectric grease onto the center of the socket as well,
and place a suitable piece of neoprene into it such that the hole is covered