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Oculus' Palmer Luckey thinks liquid cooling is so 2015, uses propane for his PC gaming rig

Engaging with fans and skeptics in a Reddit AMA yesterday, Oculus Rift co-founder and inventor Palmer Luckey revealed that he’s working on building a compact and “super-powerful” PC cooled by liquid propane, and presumably liquid propane accessories.

This news comes in after one Redditor inquired about Luckey’s personal computing rig, to which he initially responded as expected:

“I have lived on the bleeding edge of PC hardware for as long as I could scrape the money together, but for VR, I am sticking to hardware that sticks to our recommended specs: https://www.oculus.com/en-us/oculus-ready-pcs/

That way, I get the same experience as most of my customers. I don’t want to become disconnected from the reality of how our hardware and software performs.”

Related: Palmer Luckey wants you to give Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones a chance

What came next, however, was much less recognizable as PR rhetoric:

“As far as traditional gaming, though… I am currently working on a new PC that people might find pretty interesting. I have experimented with liquid nitrogen cooling in the past, but it is a huge pain to work with in any kind of daily use, and can also be dangerous. My new project is a very small super-powerful PC with no heatsinks and no fans – it is cooled by liquid propane, boiled into gaseous propane in an expansion block. From there, I can either compress back into a tank under high pressure, or vent out of a burner nozzle for supercooling to subzero temps. If I had more time, I would vent the propane to a small turbine generator hooked up to the PSU, but I can’t justify that kind of work right now.”

Essentially, though Luckey is using a traditional PC for VR gaming, his aforementioned side-project is infinitely more perplexing. This is a recirculating single-stage phase-change cooling system of sorts, and that while he could be buying a pre-configured setup directly off the market, another possible case is that he’s building his own.

It should be noted that the boiling point of Propane is -42 degrees Celsius, while a decent single-stage phase-change system can refrigerate several CPUs and GPUs down to about -40 degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, some pretty absurd overclocking possibilities open up, though Luckey did not say if that’s why he wants to cool his pet project so dramatically.

Related: Why you should buy a liquid cooler for your next PC

What’s more, Luckey plans to use the boiled propane to propel a turbine that, in turn, powers his PC. The phase-change cooling aspect isn’t out of the ordinary for hardcore PC builders. Using it to move a turbine, however, is unconventional to say the least.