This might seem obvious, but an air cooling setup relies on cooler air outside the case than inside. Other methods exist, but … A water cooling kit will reduce the need to use more than one fan in your PC case. Michael Crider is a veteran technology journalist with a decade of experience. Try to mount all long, flat components like CD drives, hard drives, and GPUs horizontally—this is the default configuration on most PC cases. They can cause turbulence, hindering the efficient flow of air through a case, and can contribute significantly to dust build-up. The stock case doesn’t offer many options for placing the unused power supply cables out of the way, but you should still try to tuck them away somewhere as best you can. But there are a lot of great fans out there, so dig around sites like Newegg to see what you can find. All of these fans work cohesively to keep the vital components in the system at an optimal temperature level. Opinions on positive versus negative pressure is mixed. Fans are an active cooling solution — they require power to run. The enclosed nature of the cabinet will limit the available air to your case fans, making them less effective. It utilizes air to transfer heat away from the processor unlike AIO’s and custom loops. When mounting case fans, air flows across the open side towards the side with the protective grille, like so: So the open side of the fan should face outside the case for intake fans on the front or the bottom, and it should face inside the case for fans on the rear or top. … If possible, mount your radiator and fans as exhaust fans. Here’s a really nice example of a case with good cable management creating open airflow. And it has a trick up its sleeve that makes enthusiasts really happy. Air cooling is a simple but effective way to cool your processor. Air cooled computer’s all components are cooled with air, to make your air cooling efficient, follow the instructions below to achieve the best possible result. Problems occur when systems aren’t adequately set up to allow cool air to flow smoothly through a case, and air to be expelled before it can get too warm. The central concept of air cooling is very simple. Im getting ready to build a new computer with an i9-7900X 10 core CPU, not overclocking at all, Ive always used air cooling as Ive been concerned with issues such as possible leaks and things. There are several different ways to keep your PC cool, but one of the most basic and affordable is using air. Any loop consists of … Misgivings about the age of the technology aside, it is difficult to deny the fact that blowing room-temperature air across heatsinks is an effective way to mitigate heat. That many intake fans will most likely contribute to positive air pressure within the case, though (See the advanced section at the end of this guide for details on case air pressure). The easiest thing you can do to help keep your computer cool is to give it a little … Some office desks include a large cubby designed to “hide” a PC—don’t use these. On Amazon. you’ll need to be extra vigilant. Your climate will be a consideration in your cooling design. While gaming, this heat causes air cooler fans to run at a very high speed, producing noise. Simply open up the case in a well ventilated area and use some compressed air or a gentle brush to dislodge the accumulated dust. Optimal air pressure with a computer case is one of the most discussed and debated topics in computer cooling. In the past this simple air exchange was enough, but in modern systems with powerhouse (and often multiple) video cards, large banks of RAM, and overclocked CPUs, more thought needs to be put into how air travels through an enclosure. Cleaning will be a important measure to take, at least until we are are all running coolers that de-dust themselves. Fans mounted on the side of the case can be useful, but they often cause problems. CPU coolers are your overheated PC’s saving grace, and they come in two predominant forms: air coolers and custom or water coolers. It can be tempting to buy a case that comes with as many fans as possible in the hope that it will more adequately cool your system, but as you will see, efficient and smooth air flow is demonstrably more important than a higher total air flow in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Dust accumulation is a major hazard to electronics, as it is an insulator and can clog up exhaust ports. Big air coolers tend to take up more internal space in your PC case, particularly when it comes to vertical clearance off your best motherboard. It is very difficult to remove from components, and causes them to fail much faster than they would otherwise. Similarly, be sure to make use of all of the spacers that came with your case for unused PCIe slots, 5.25″ drive bays, and so on. There is little point in putting thought into the thermal design of your PC build, only to then place it somewhere that won’t allow the warm air to dissipate. Do not buy a case that causes any obvious obstructions to air flow. This is best achieved by using a larger, low RPM fan. Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more. The … Any desktop PC with standard case fan mounts will work (80mm, 120mm, 140mm, 200mm—it doesn’t mater as long as they’re consistent). A water cooling loop follows the same principle an air cooler does: it takes heat from a hardware (e.g., a CPU die) and dissipates it into the air. Negative air pressure should create a slightly cooler environment (at least in theory), as the fans are working harder to expel hot air. Where possible, choose big. …And a not-so-nice example. This creates faster and more efficient airflow, more effectively cooling your components. But there are a few basic principles you can apply to almost any build to get optimal airflow, and thus, optimal cooling. Do not install unnecessary hardware: Remove those old PCI cards that never get used anymore, leave the RAM module extra fan kit in it’s packaging, and consolidate small hard disks onto a single larger replacement. This guide aims to help you maximize air flow through your case, thereby improving the performance, stability, and longevity of your precious PC components. Noctua has refreshed its visuals … This fan is expelling heat directly from the CPU into the case’s main airflow lane. The heat pipes are designed to conduct heat from one location to another. Rear and top fans should always be exhausts, expelling the rising warm air from the case. Fans on the rear and of the case are usually exhaust fans, expelling the hot air warmed up by the components back into the room. If you’re seeing too much dust buildup, move one of your output fans to an input position. That is quite groundbreaking, especially when you consider that the development of that system began around 1982. All Rights Reserved. Put it on your desk or a small side table if you don’t have wood or tile floors. It is often easy to remove the rear panel from desk PC holders, this will usually do the trick. PC air cooling systems are consistent, cost-efficient, and easy to install. A vacuum cleaner can help to collect the dust before your lungs do, but be careful that you don’t knock any capacitors off of your components with it. Avoid running your PC directly on a carpeted surface in order to reduce the accumulation of dust and fibers. That means you should mount your intake fans on the front of the case, or occasionally (if you have a multi-fan setup or the front mounting brackets are blocked) on the bottom. Putting them in an intake position will warm up the air via the radiator as it comes into your PC…which is basically defeating the purpose of water cooling your components in the first place. Get as many of these cables out of the way as you can. Even the most carefully-constructed build will accumulate dust from the surrounding room, and if you live in an especially dry, dusty environment, (or you smoke, or have pets, etc.) CPU coolers generally come in two varieties. From the radiator, it flows into a block on a component that produces a lot of heat. If you can, move your desk and your PC to a cooler room. Most cases include multiple mount points for case fans—sometimes even more mount points than included fans. Fans force air to move, so the hot air is blown away from heat-generating components and expelled from the desktop or laptop PC‘s case. Assuming all the fans are the same size and speed, then you have one of three possible options for the air pressure inside the case: Because of the way the internal components create blocks in airflow, it’s more or less impossible to achieve a truly equal air pressure inside a case. Deciding on a cooling approach that matches your case and your components before you go shopping for fans and coolers can be helpful. Alright, let’s talk about how to place your fans for optimal airflow. These variables shouldn’t have any significant negative effects on air flow, but could change your cable management plans. The top and rear fans are exhausts, expelling the warm air out of the case and away from the internal components. Others mount the PSU at the bottom of the case, rather than at the top to avoid hot air from the working components passing through it before being expelled. Subscribe Today to get the latest ExtremeTech news delivered right to your inbox. Do not mount exhaust fans on the bottom of the case; since hot air rises, a bottom-firing exhaust fan will be working against physics by expelling slightly cooler air instead of warmer air. Large internal fan ducts, while a good idea on paper, are more likely to decrease overall thermal performance by obstructing primary air flow through the case. If you are just wanting a basic computer for internet and email, air cooling is still probably the best path for you. Most CPU coolers can be mounted in any cardinal direction to help achieve this (and to make it easier to clear other internal components). Liquid cooling is the best way to cool a CPU because water transfers heat much more efficiently than air. (It isn’t totally enclosed, and the airflow generally isn’t equal, but we’re talking in generalities here.) The circuit boards were completely immersed in a non-conductive fluid called Fluorinert™ which was cleverly re-circulated throughout the entire system. If an improperly installed or defective water cooling system leaks while your computer is plugged in, there is the safety risk of electrocution if you attempt a repair. It is united by the need for compactness, yet divided in the aim of different products. The key to understanding air cooling is very simple – fans. Fans typically blow hot air outward, but you could set up a system of fans to suck cool air inward on the front and blow out air out the back. Remember, case fans draw in air on the open side and expel air on the grille side. Cases that use three fans aligned vertically on the front are a great place to start, as they draw in air evenly across the entire face of the enclosure. Consider spending extra on a modular PSU. He spent five years writing for Android Police and his work has appeared on Digital Trends and Lifehacker. In simple terms, a computer case can either have: Positive pressure – The case fans push more air into the case than then pull out, so there is more air pressure inside of the case. A liquid cooling system uses water or another liquid to cool the CPU. Try to direct the output of these fans to align with one of the case’s exhaust fans, sending heat directly from the CPU to the outside of the case. Final Words of Air Cooling Vs Water Cooling for PC. It’s often explained as “LEGO for adults.” But managing the air cooling system within a PC is considerably more complex. Having the ability to remove superfluous cables makes for a much cleaner system, and allows you to easily add cables for hardware acquired in the future. You’ll need to make sure they’re sized right to fit the screw mounts on your case, obviously, but beyond that you’ll also want to consider: RELATED: How to Auto-Control Your PC's Fans for Cool, Quiet Operation, RELATED: How to Pimp Your Gaming PC: A Guide to Lights, Colors, and Other Mods. Image Credits: Newegg, CyberPowerPC, Corsair, Cooler Master, Garry dr/Flickr, Vinni Malek/Flickr, Atredl/Imgur, lungstruck/Flickr. That said, cooling fans come with a surprising amount of variation. The humble PC fan has been in active service for decades and remains the primary cooling method used in PCs to this day. Detach and remove them if possible. Most large cases include a system of holes and guides that allow users to thread these cables away from the main open area of the case, often behind the motherboard tray. © 1996-2021 Ziff Davis, LLC. You want at least one intake and one exhaust fan at the very least, so assuming you have more, which is better, drawing in more air for positive pressure or blowing more out for negative pressure? If you live in a colder environment, room temperature air is even more valuable and thus should be well utilized. Desk cubby holes seem incredibly convenient, but weigh that against the inconvenience of replacing overheated components. Positive air pressure won’t cool quite as well, but—combine with dust filters (see below)—will take in less dust since those vents and seams will expel air rather than suck it in. Unlike air coolers, water cooling doesn't blow hot air around your case. The humble PC fan has been in active service for decades and remains the primary cooling method used in PCs to this day. The case is simple in looks and is very spacious from inside. From the baseplate, that thermal energy moves into the attached heat pipes. If vent blockers are included, use them: it might seem tempting to keep them open for more hot air to escape, but it’s much more efficient to direct air through the exhaust fans instead, and that’s just one more place where dust can get in. The radiator and fan combo itself can be mounted to the front or bottom for intake or the rear or top for exhaust, but it will be less efficient than a fan alone. But the drawback is that the slight vacuum it creates inside the case tends to draw in air from all the unsealed areas: the vents, unused PCIe slots on the rear panel, even the seams of metal in the case itself. Cooling may be designed to reduce the ambient temperature within the case of a computer, such as by exhausting hot air, or to cool a single component or small area (spot cooling). A pump pulls coolant from a reservoir trough a tube and into a radiator. The Sliger SM580 is not the most compact or best looking ITX case. Generally, it’s best to have as few obstacles as possible between the intake fans on the front of the case and the exhaust fans on the rear and top of the case. Think of a PC case as an enclosed box, and the air going in or out of each fan as roughly equal. They provide the safest way to cool your PC while requiring the least amount of maintenance. Please, throw away your floppy drive. A good air cooling system involves a plethora of fans including case fans, graphics card fans, and CPU fans with a strong heatsink on the bottom. More dust means less efficient cooling…not to mention looking totally gross. If it’s been a while, you you might need to remove the fans from their mounting screws and wipe the plastic blades as well. Air cooling is ideal if you are hoping to build a PC quickly at a lower cost. Most cases sold for system builders come with some kind of dust filter, but if you need more, you can buy some nice magnetic ones in different sizes for your intake fans. Air-Cooled. Clean them out with water and dry them completely every few months to keep dust from flowing into your case (again, slightly positive air pressure can help here too). Do not run your PC in any sort of enclosed box. To keep your machine cooled down and happy, you need to invest in an appropriate CPU cooler. Components commonly individually cooled include the CPU, graphics processing unit (GPU) and the northbridge. If you’re desperate or frugal, you can even make them yourself with some panty hose. More on that later. Fans are generally mounted in the following locations: front, rear, top, and side. In this context, we’ll be referring to “air cooling” as coolers for individual components, rather than the system at large. To prevent dust, slap some dust filters on your intake fans. Best Liquid CPU Cooler. Dust accumulation is already a hazard to electronics, and cigarette smoke produces the worst kind of dust thanks to the moisture and chemicals that it mixes with. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our, AMD’s Retail Market Share Surges Based on European Reseller Data, ET Deals: Save 15 Percent on Dell Alienware, XPS, and G5 PCs, Make Your Work Space Work For You With This Innovative Desk Pad, Elon Musk, Now World’s Richest Man, Reaffirms His Intention to Live on Mars, Nvidia’s Purchase of ARM Is Being Investigated by UK Watchdog, ExtremeTech’s guide to air cooling your PC. Your typical air-cooled PC is packed with case fans, graphics card fans, and a CPU fan or two—positioned atop a big metal heat sink—to keep your expensive components nice and frosty. Liquid cooling is more expensive than air cooling, but recent advances have … Both approaches have their advantages. (Even liquid cooling setups need radiators and intake fans, in the same way that air-cooled systems do.) We strongly encourage you to read our updated PRIVACY POLICY and COOKIE POLICY. When heated, this liquid becomes a gas and travels up the heat pipe where the heat load is spread across the aluminum fins and dissipated by a fan. The first is an air cooler, which comes with a big metal heat sink that pulls heat away from the CPU, which is then blown away by a … Other methods exist, but are generally reserved for enthusiasts. See it on Walmart. The fans on the front of the case are usually primary intakes, drawing ambient temperature air in to pass across hot components. This article will answer your liquid cooling vs air cooling dilemma by looking at how each works. 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