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WTF?! PC gamers often joke that seasonal temperature changes have a measurable effect on their systems' internal temperature while under heavy load. A recent record cold snap in northern China allowed a content creator to take this idea to the extreme.
Chinese hardware enthusiast and content creator 苏baka recently posted a video (below) in which she tested a PC outdoors in -63-degree weather. The experiment resulted in some amusing obstacles and workarounds.
Last Sunday, the northern Chinese city of Mohe posted the aforementioned temperature – one of China's lowest on record. To see the extreme weather's effect on a PC, Baka tested a rig containing an Intel i9-13900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 outside over two nights.
Anyone who has used tools like MSI Afterburner or CPUTemp knows that graphics cards and processors get very hot while running intensive tasks, sometimes approaching 100 Celsius. Those who build and customize PCs often spend a lot of money on keeping those components cool. That task is often easier in the winter when ambient temperatures are lower, but how low is too low?
Baka started by testing another PC out in the cold without any onboard cooling, which ran at around -1.8C. After a few minutes under an AIDA64 stress test with a heatsink, temperatures topped out at 3C.
When Baka tested the 13900K/4090 system under similar conditions with an AIO cooler on the 4090, the GPU stopped working because the liquid coolant froze solid. That's where things got crazy.
Baka then installed a passive cooler for the GPU and strapped the tower up next to an array of fans the same size as the tower. When she turned everything on, the custom cooling arrangement sounded like it was about to take off from a runway.
Under these conditions, the CPU reached 6.18 GHz while hovering around 15C, and the graphics card maintained -40C with a hotspot at -18C. In an October test, the same CPU achieved a record-breaking 8.8GHz overclock using liquid nitrogen cooling, which can reach temperatures as low as -196C.
One might imagine the best software to push a 4090 in sub-zero weather would be a notorious high-end game like Crysis, Microsoft Flight Simulator, or maybe Portal RTX. Baka chose Minesweeper.
The video doesn't say much about how the other components like the motherboard, RAM, or SSD withstood the cold. However, Baka promised that no hardware was harmed during the test.