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Small Custom Case - Air Flow/Cooling Help

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March 13, 2010 11:29:09 PM

Hey, guys.......I have a few questions regarding my hardware, custom build's cooling options, and fan placement.

First off, I'll give you the hardware. I've tried to stay on a pretty low budget thus far. (If you guys have any suggestions or critiques, don't hold back)


CPU: AMD Phenom II x3 720 BE

Mother Board: MSI 770-G45 (ATX)

Power Supply: hec X-Power Pro 650 650W

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint 3.5" 7200RPM 1TB

Graphics Card: XFX HD-577X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770

RAM: G-Skill 2x2 GB DDR3 1600

Fan+HS: Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro 92mm


I plan a doing a bit of gaming, but nothing extremely intensive. I'll probably end up OC'ing the Phenom. On SketchUp7, I have all of the hardware built into a compact 9" x 12" x 9" custom case that I plan on making out of plexiglass.

The size isn't set in stone. I've basically disregarded all cords/connectors at the moment. I'll probably end up pulling the front out a bit to give room to the PSU.

Here's the rough model.

Front1:



Front2:



Back1:



Back2:




I have the CPU fan pulling from the heatsink with an exhaust fan directly behind to get the hot air out as quickly as possible. My HDD will be suspended, anchored on the power supply and side of the case. A 120mm exhaust fan is taking hot air out of the back top of the case. Right now, I don't know if air circulation will be sufficient to keep all of the components cool.

You can see that I almost have a wall built up with the graphics card, DVD/CD drive, and power supply......I'm wondering if this will create significant problems with strange air streams, resulting in dead spots.

What do you guys think about this setup?
March 14, 2010 9:41:18 AM

50-60mm cooling fans while being small will generate a lot of noise for the amount of air they suck into the case. Plus being that size the airflow will be disrupted by the memory modules sitting almost directly behind them

I would check the orientation of the CPU HSF too - cant remember if the fanblows or suck through the HSF itself.

other than those two minor points - looks good :) 
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March 14, 2010 1:22:20 PM

Airflow management/design is half art, half science. Science tells us what will happen, art comes from creating the right paths for air to follow.

How exactly does all of that air from the intake fan get to the exhaust fan? Air like water, will want to take the path of least resistance to get to that exhaust fan. If it cannot get to the exhaust it will build pressure there and create a lot of negative pressure at the exhaust - which causes air to flow in weird directions. The other thing to watch for is air flow only provides cooling if it is kept within an inch of the components. Wide open spaces do nothing for you.

That graphics card is creating a wall which will prevent air from cooling that area - and graphics cards run hot.

Adding small fans like ulysses said is both noisy and inefficent. If you can get your air to flow that way you wont need them.

There is no right answer on this except for what the temp measurements ultimately say.

Think about how to direct the air and keeping it close to the electronics
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March 14, 2010 5:20:34 PM

Thanks for the responses so far. I have a couple of quick questions.

Is the graphics card's fan sufficient in cooling it? If not, I could use the 2nd PCI Express x16 slot to get it closer to the intake.

Secondly, my HDD will be suspended and I hear that can raise the temperature a couple of degrees. I have an exhaust fan directly above, but because it's near the top of the case, most of the hair that rushes around it will be warm. Should I think about relocating it?
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