Should I Drill Holes In My Case Front for Cooling?

I have Thermaltake Mambo case, which has a front cover that houses the door that covers the 5.25" and 3.5" bays. There are no holes whatsoever at the bottom of this front "face plate." However, there is a mounting cut for a 120 mm fan behind it, and I've put a Silverstone FN121 in it.

The PC is whisper quiet, even with both side case doors off, so I'm wondering if it wouldn't help with air flow to drill a decent number of holes in the lower front. It's not an area that will be easily seen (sits on the floor), and the case is black, so I'm hardly worried about the appearance. I don't honestly know if the case as it is now runs hot, since I just built the rig last night, but I was wondering if drilling holes in the front could do anything but improve the airflow regardless.

Thanks in advance for the input.


E6600 w/AC Freezer 7 Pro
Gigabyte P965 DS3
Corsair AM2 DDR2-800
Radeon X1900XT w/Zalman VF-900
WD Caviar SE16 250 GB
Audigy 4
Thermaltake Mambo
Ultra V-Series 500w
13 answers Last reply
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  1. Maybe, just maybe, you should measure the temps.

    I suggest getting a bucket of water though, since you might want to make a preemptive strike against the heat... 8O
  2. I recommend drilling a hole into the front, run a pipe in through the hole, make sure everything is completely sealed and then run water through the hole.

    Make sure you have a valve that will prevent water from going back through the pipe.
  3. I wouldn't drill any holes in your case but I would put in that fan. What is running hot? Your running both GPU and Conroe w/ after market cooling so the only thing I can think of that could be running hot is the chipset and HDDs. Anyways, I'm just curious on what it is you need to cool. Also what thermal paste did you use? I hear that certain pastes like AS5 can take few days to "seat" in order to achieve optimal performance.
  4. Like the other guy said, first take the temps reading. Your E6600 at stock on 25c room temp should be running 40c idle to 45c idle. You're N/B should not be hot to the touch. You're graphics card with VF900 at silent mode should run at 55c - 60c idle and 70c-75c full load which is fine. You're hd should be running at 30c idle and 35-40c while running.
    If your temps 10c higher than this then you need to mod that case of yours and install intake fans.

    Do you have side intake fans on that case?
  5. think of your computer like a steam room. whenever you feel you need more steam just toss a cup of water onto it. ohh yea take your phist and punch a hole in the front to make a breather hole for your front 12cm fan. Then yea toss water into the hole when you need more steam.

    EDIT: opps sorry I was riding on antichrystlers comment. I accidently like backed up then forwarded and lost some content in my post. It was supposed to end with an obvious "im just being a smart A**"


    Yes I fully agree that cases were mede to be modded and 12cm hole in the front was MEANT to be there. They just forgot to put one in so its up to you to dremel it out
  6. OK I have read the review of your case. The front panel appears to have along the bottom an opening. It is about half as wide as the front panel is wide and probably about a 1/2 inch deep. Feel along the underside of the front panel and you should feel the space between the front pant and the case itself.

    Now the front panle comes off with no problem. I also would NOT recomment making a hole in the panel. If you are dead set on making more of an opening just make the opening on the bottom of the front panel bigger. Thats only if your really ready to do some case modding!.

    On the case: Take a dremel and cut out the "punched holes in the sheet metal for the fan hole" if you look at it you will notice that there are 3 sets of fan holes. 80mm, 92mm, and 120mm. Since you want to use a 12cm fan the inner 2 set of holes can be removed with the dremel as you cut out the port. Those punched hole grills are MASSIVELY restrictive to your airflow.

    The way I did this was to screw the fan (12cm or 120mm) to the outside and trace with a pencil the actual opening of the inside of the fan housing. Just put a pencil in between tha fan blades and trace back and fourth , all the way around till you have a visible line matching the actual port size of the 12cm fan.

    Now put a cutting wheel on a dremel and cut out the punched grill. dont actually follow the line you made. But, Just inside of it maybe an 1/8 inch. You finish out the hole with a grinding wheel. Sparks alot when grinding steel but its probably aluminum which wont spark much and cuts fairly easily. Now the cutting wheels only are for cutting in a straight line so dont try to turn while cutting. Just make a straight line, lift out, rotate a little, and make another straight line. In the end you will have and 8 or 10 sided hole that you finish out smooth with a grinding wheel. Make sure you have at least a half dozen cutting wheels before you start or you will end up cutting a hole with a gringing wheel like I did when my last cutting disk broke and I had to finish the last 2 inches with a grinder. Noisy. But workable.

    Now, after you have your hole opened up. Just buy a cheap "concentric ring" fan guard for the hole. You really dont need any guard as its a hidden fan. Its behing the front panel so no reason to pay extra for a fancy one. I recommend using a piece of filter material if this is going to be an intake fan. UNLESS!!! your house is like mine. DUST FREE!!! I have central air that is astonishingly good at keeping the air dust free. I NEVER have to dust. And my computer fan blades might need a CURSERY dusting once a year if im bored. If its an exhaust fan then no filter should ever be used on exhaust.

    Thats all I can say. Feel the fan intake with you hand before you start and then after cutting out the punched hole fan grille. The air flow difference is like night and day. Ohh yea.. The same thing goes for the back of the case. Cout out the punched hole fan grille. Use a contentric circle fan grille. They dont restrict air.

    right here: fan grille

    One with a filter for the front:

    I make no recomendations, just showing a sample. Thermaltake makes the with the TT so it'll match your case.
  7. I'll begin by addressing the helpful advice.

    First, thanks to those who offered it.

    Now, to address the various replies in order:

    1. I fully intend to measure the temps tonight (haven't had time to revisit the PC since I initially posted this message) -- if I don't see any issues, I won't be modifying anything. This also addresses Chucksissle's very useful post informing me of target CPU and GPU temps.

    2. I will pay attention to the "several days to seat," thereby achieving full effectiveness, property of thermal pastes (itneal's post). To answer itneal's question, I used Arctic Silver 5 on the X1900XT/Zalman VF-900 and the MX-1 (I believe that's it) paste that comes pre-applied on the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro for CPU cooling.

    3. Now that I've learned about the "disguised" intake on the bottom of the front panel, I won't be drilling any holes in the panel's face (mpilchfamily and little_scrapper). This was certainly a welcome piece of information and restored my faith in Thermaltake's design integrity, as I'd figured that even with a cheap case like the Mambo, Thermaltake shouldn't have overlooked something as rudimentary as front intake (especially given the accommodations they made for a front 120 mm fan).

    4. As for modifying the case, as thoughtfully described in detail by little_scrapper, clearly this will be worthwhile if I find my temps are not in the zone Chucksissle defined. I don’t own a dremel at present, so I’m hoping I won’t have to go to those lengths, but the process seems straightforward enough if I do.

    I do have one more question, for those who bother to read this far: I mounted my hard drive directly behind the front fan – is it important to cool the HD in this way or would it be better to give the front fan unrestricted flow into the center area (motherboard’s location) of the case?


    Well, I'm not sure I should be dignifying the insincere remarks my OP received with a response, but I happen to agree with kind responder mpilchfamily, who said, "There are some people who just ask to be flamed, but this guy isn't one of them." I am grateful to him/her for coming to my defense.

    As for those unhelpful replies, if you're going to waste your time composing a flame, at least make it creative/amusing -- not one of those "why don'tcha fill your PC with water" comments was worth the time it took to read it.

    - ELB
  8. Cooling your hard disk is a very good idea. I think most hard disks made these days assume that they will be used in a case with some airflow over the hard disk.

    Just my 2p worth

    Rob Murphy
  9. Quote:

    I do have one more question, for those who bother to read this far: I mounted my hard drive directly behind the front fan – is it important to cool the HD in this way or would it be better to give the front fan unrestricted flow into the center area (motherboard’s location) of the case?

    As Rob Murphy had mentioned, it would be a good idea to mount the hard drive behind the cooling fan. With either an 80mm or 120mm fan, there should be enough airflow to cool your hard drive and still be able to get some cool air to other components as well. I would prioritize your hard drive before other components (as long as they aren't too hot) because they tend to have cooling of their own and hard drives usually are the most prone to malfunction over time due to heat. Your CPU, chipset, and GPU are meant to run at reasonably high temperatures without any ill effect, but hard drives on the other hand cannot for prolonged periods of time without malfunctioning. Loss of data alone and time of recovery makes this critical piece of equipment to cool. If you are looking for a tool to monitor HDD temps, HDDLife is a great and free tool. I recommend keeping your temps below 40C, 30C - 35C would be preferred. I've also read that the operational temps of some newer drives are up to 60C, but I still wouldn't run it that hot if you want it to last any amount of time.
  10. Thanks, itneal, for verifying that I was wise to mount my HD directly behind my front intake fan. And I will follow up by monitoring temps using the HDD life tool you recommended.

    - ELB
  11. Well, I've taken a reading of my temps, though simply under undemanding Windows conditions:

    CPU 26C
    System 34C
    HDD 33C
    GPU 38C

    All in all, pretty good, judging by what folks have said thus far.

    - ELB
  12. Quote:
    Well, I've taken a reading of my temps, though simply under undemanding Windows conditions:

    how and where did you take the measurements?
  13. All of this is being done through the motherboard -- I have no external sensors.

    So the system and CPU temps are measured through Gigabyte's software. The GPU temp is measured through ATi's software. And the HD temp is measured through the HDDLife program.

    Obviously, I'm hoping those are reasonably accurate.

    - ELB
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