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Need help optimizing airflow through my case

Last response: in Overclocking
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February 3, 2013 11:00:28 AM

I currently have nothing in my system overclocked, but I am getting ready to upgrade my graphics card from the GTX 560Ti to the GTX 670 (MSi Twin Frozr). I want to be able to overclock this graphics card, as well as my i5 2500k. I have never had much luck with overclocking because of heat and voltage (which I still need to learn how to properly manipulate voltage, but that's another story).

Here is my current case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is my current motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is my current cooler:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Right now, I have a 120mm case fan pulling air in from the front, a 120mm case fan pulling air out of the top, and the 120mm fan for my closed loop cooler pulling air out of the back.

My issue is that only the cooler's fan has speed control. The other two are running at the maximum speed at all times, and I would prefer something that is temperature controlled. I was considering these options:
1. Adding a second fan to the front of the cooler for additional cooling.
2. Adding a PCI slot fan below the graphics card to remove excess heat from around the card.
3. Replacing the top case fan with a 200mm fan for removing extra heat.
4. Adding a second 120mm fan to the front OR replacing the current fan with a 200mm fan.
5. Adding a side fan to the case (to either pull in additional cool air or to remove excess heat, not sure which would be most effective).

It sounds like a lot of fans, so I would like some feedback on what will be the most effective. Also, I'm not sure how many fan connectors my motherboard has, so what options do I have for making all of these fans temperature controlled?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Best solution

a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 11:22:53 AM
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Looking at what you have on hand and regarding your intentions this is what I would do with it.

Looking at the case you've chosen you have a perfect opportunity for a straight through upper airflow path using a 120mm or 140mm cooling fan, to allow fresh air directly into the Antecs radiator and at the same time cooling your memory and motherboard voltage regulators.

Many believe they need multiple optical drives but actually you only need one, either a DVDRW or a BlueRay Combo, located at the bottom of your upper 4, 5 1/2" drive bays, leaving the upper 3 drive slots open and available for either a 120mm or 140mm cooling fan.

If you cannot hard mount the fan use nylon wire ties to secure the fan in place, this will take care of the top area of the motherboard.

Now the Twin Frozr exhausts it's heat inside the case, you want to get that out so I'd set up the side fan as an exhaust to exhaust as much of that heat as possible.

It will work in conjunction with the lower 120mm intake fan, and allow for turbulence somewhere in the middle of the case but that's actually good not bad, turbulence is air flow and that is good for anything it is turbulating over.

Now to make this all tolerable I recommend using a fan controller of your choice, so when you're surfing the net you slow the fans down and when you're gaming you crank them up.

Most all of the overclockers use fan controllers to make the fans do what we want them to do.

As far as overclocking your 2500K most are running theirs at 4500mhz, using a 45X multiplier somewhere in the 1.325V ballpark either a little plus or minus, that has to be tested, but you have the CPU cooling to handle 4500mhz.

Any Questions? Ryan
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 11:25:52 AM

Sounds like you have enough airflow as is. Provided that the current fans you have are 3 pin and connect to the motherboard, they should be able to be controlled. Go into your BIOS and in the System Health (or something like that) Tab it should list all of your fan headers. You can set them to be controlled by CPU temp. If they are MOLEX fans then they will run full speed all the time. You could get some new fans, I would go with something that has decent CFM's but low noise.

I just looked at your case, the fans you have are not too bad and are relatively quiet. You shouldn't have a problem running them full speed all the time anyway. What you should do is take the extra fan you have (because you're probably using the Antec fan that came with your Kuhler 620 as rear exhaust) take the stock rear exhaust fan and mount it at the front of your case to have 2x 120mm up front. Then you will have 2 120mm fans as exhaust (the rear and top fans) This should give you good enough airflow. If you want you could replace the fans with higher quality fans.

These are really nice fans:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You could put two of them on your Antec Kuhler in push/pull configuration for added performance as well. But you should have plenty of airflow right now to overclock the CPU and GPU.

Make sure that you have the fan header in which you connected for Antec Kuhler set to run 100% all the time. This controls the pump and needs to operate at 100% all the time or performance will suffer.

As for voltage control on the GPU, use something like MSI Afterburner, and in settings check the "unlock voltage control" box.
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February 3, 2013 11:50:03 AM

Actually, the stock exhaust fan is what is mounted at the top of my case. The case only came with two stock fans; the other is my intake fan.

Perhaps I should move the top case fan as my other intake fan, get a high quality 200mm fan to put on top, and get a second fan to help with the push/pull over the cooler?

Is the PCI slot fan a good option? There's not really much in the way of exhaust at the bottom of my case, and with the PSU and graphics card, I'm concerned there might be a lot of heat down there. Would a PCI slot fan help with this?
February 3, 2013 11:56:15 AM

Ryan, I really like the idea of a second intake at the top of the case. I never considered moving my optical drive down, but it seems ideal.

Do you guys think the PCI slot fan is a better or worse option than an exhaust fan on the side?
February 3, 2013 12:14:13 PM

Are there any fans that perform better at intake versus exhaust? I'm thinking along the lines of how well the fan does at pushing air across the case, compared to how well a fan is at pulling air from inside the case. If so, I am considering purchasing two 200mm intake fans to go at the bottom and top of my case. The current fan used in the bottom intake could be used as a side exhaust. I can use my top exhaust fan to create a push/pull over the radiator, and purchase a 200mm exhaust fan to put at the top. This would mean purchasing three fans: two 200mm intake fans and a 200mm exhaust fan. I wouldn't mind if the intake fans had LED lighting for some added style, assuming I don't have to sacrifice performance.

Does this seem reasonable? What fans would be recommended for these purposes?
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 12:49:55 PM

jon the cpa said:
Ryan, I really like the idea of a second intake at the top of the case. I never considered moving my optical drive down, but it seems ideal.

Do you guys think the PCI slot fan is a better or worse option than an exhaust fan on the side?


IMO the PCI slot fan is a waste of money, the Twin Frozr will cool the GPU you just need to get that heat out of the case.
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 12:54:41 PM

jon the cpa said:
Are there any fans that perform better at intake versus exhaust? I'm thinking along the lines of how well the fan does at pushing air across the case, compared to how well a fan is at pulling air from inside the case. If so, I am considering purchasing two 200mm intake fans to go at the bottom and top of my case. The current fan used in the bottom intake could be used as a side exhaust. I can use my top exhaust fan to create a push/pull over the radiator, and purchase a 200mm exhaust fan to put at the top. This would mean purchasing three fans: two 200mm intake fans and a 200mm exhaust fan. I wouldn't mind if the intake fans had LED lighting for some added style, assuming I don't have to sacrifice performance.

Does this seem reasonable? What fans would be recommended for these purposes?


Check out the Cooling Fan Roundup in my sig.

For focused airflow I recommend the 120mm Silverstone Air Penetrator design.
February 3, 2013 1:07:18 PM

It doesn't seem the tubing from my cooler is going to allow for a 200mm exhaust fan at the top. So here's my latest plan:

2 120mm Silverstone Air Penetrators for air intake
Move the current 120mm intake as a side exhaust
Purchase another 120mm for the radiator

Are different types of fans recommended for CPU cooling vs. case cooling? In other words, what's recommended for the radiator?
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 1:24:03 PM

Your plans sound good.

FYI:

I would try to match the CFM airflow the radiator has on it, however alternately you can improve the single fans cooling performance by using an old 120mm fan as a shroud on the exhaust side of the rad.

If you gut the motor spider out of an old 120mm fan frame and use the frame as a spacing shroud, and pull the air through the radiator, you remove the airflow blockage of the fan motor body, and allow full airflow through the rad.

That's an old trick many of us do.
February 3, 2013 1:33:00 PM

Since I don't have an old 120mm fan to gut, I think buying a second fan and using it would probably be the best option. My question is...which direction should each fan point around the radiator? Should they both point towards the outside of the case? Would this not grab hot air from the case and blow it over the radiator?

Again, I really appreciate all your help here. This is one aspect of system building I never messed with much. I'm also considering a better case for both airflow and cable management. I'm just not that happy with the one I have. Do you have any recommendations for a mid-tower with a black finish that is also good for airflow?
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 1:35:20 PM

This is an example of old fan frames being used as shrouds, it's also an example of giving yourself more options and internal clearance than your case allows.

February 3, 2013 1:36:05 PM

While I have your attention, what's your opinion on the direction of my PSU exhaust? Currently it faces upwards into the case, because I don't have space below the case for it to exhaust. Would a case like this solve all my problems?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Black finish, room below for PSU exhaust, room at top for 200mm exhaust, better backplate for cable management.
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 1:49:11 PM

jon the cpa said:
Since I don't have an old 120mm fan to gut, I think buying a second fan and using it would probably be the best option. My question is...which direction should each fan point around the radiator? Should they both point towards the outside of the case? Would this not grab hot air from the case and blow it over the radiator?

Again, I really appreciate all your help here. This is one aspect of system building I never messed with much. I'm also considering a better case for both airflow and cable management. I'm just not that happy with the one I have. Do you have any recommendations for a mid-tower with a black finish that is also good for airflow?


If you go the 2 fan method they should exhaust out the rear, but keep in mind that was the reason suggesting creating an upper airflow path to directly supply fresh air.

If you are even considering buying a brand new case what do you have to loose modifying the case you already have?

Buying a cheap 120mm fan to gut, and use as a shroud is cheaper than buying an entire case.

Thinking outside the box can easily be made to look really good and give you extra cooling and extra room inside the case.

I'll be glad to recommend an alternate case if you don't have the capabilities to mod what you have, however many of us here at THGF have discovered even the best cases fall short somewhere, there is just no perfect case.
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 1:52:52 PM

jon the cpa said:
While I have your attention, what's your opinion on the direction of my PSU exhaust? Currently it faces upwards into the case, because I don't have space below the case for it to exhaust. Would a case like this solve all my problems?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Black finish, room below for PSU exhaust, room at top for 200mm exhaust, better backplate for cable management.


Your power supply exhausts out the rear of the computer, that internal fan is an intake fan.

Additionally your case allows inverted mounting of the power supply and already has bottom intake venting.
February 3, 2013 2:01:01 PM

The thought behind buying a new case is that I plan to upgrade my entire system once Intel and nVidia release their next generation of CPUs and GPUs (several months down the road), meaning a whole new system. I could then use my current case to put the old parts in and sell.

Plus, aesthetics are important because my computer sits in my living room where guests can see it, and having a setup like the one you showed in the picture is not exactly ideal. Also, having more room for running cables behind the backplate I think makes the system look neater and probably aids (although very little) in airflow. The black finish and rubber holes inside the case for cable management would look a lot better, as well.

I did see this case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But only have three optical drive bays seems like it would not allow me to have the intake fan as you have suggested.
February 3, 2013 2:02:27 PM

4Ryan6 said:
Your power supply exhausts out the rear of the computer, that internal fan is an intake fan.

Additionally your case allows inverted mounting of the power supply and already has bottom intake venting.


Ah, that makes sense. I guess room below the case isn't as important then if it's an intake fan, because I doubt the area below the case is warm air. I think flipping my PSU would also help with some of my cable management issues because of the placement of the cables running out the back of the PSU.
a b U Graphics card
a c 205 K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 2:58:00 PM

That's a really nice case!
February 3, 2013 3:07:39 PM

Based on the fans that come with the case, I don't believe I would need any additional. I'm sure the Silverstones would be better at concentrated air flow, as you suggested, but do you think it's worth the extra price to buy one or two of those?
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 3:17:11 PM

I put two of these on my Kuhler 620, they performed better than the 2 Enermax Magma's, 2 Cooler MAster Sickleflows, and 2 Antec Stock Kuhler fans I tried..

Corsair Air Series SP120 High Performance Edition 120mm Twin Pack High Static Pressure
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These are relatively newer so I don't think Ry got them in his fan roundup. Although if he still has the equipment I'm tempted to send them to him to see how they stack up against in the other fans in the restricted airflow test...
February 3, 2013 3:20:46 PM

I added those to my purchase, stick. This means, given that case I am considering, my airflow will be as follows:

Two 120mm intake fans in the front.
One 200mm exhaust fan on the side.
Two 120mm exhaust fans over the radiator.
Two 120mm exhaust fans on the top.

Thoughts?

Should I still move one of the intake fans to the optical drive bay area, or will the stock placement of the intake fans be sufficient?
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 3:38:11 PM

Get the Corsair case, I've heard and read those are nice to work in. If you want something wild looking then think about the NZXT Phantoms...

Full Tower:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mid Tower:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They have them in many colors and two different sizes..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
February 3, 2013 3:44:11 PM

I'm not sure the NZXT is really my style. I think the Corsair is going to be the route I go.

Right now, I will be purchasing the following:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm debating the MSi 670 PE vs. the MSi 660 Ti, since this isn't a long term solution to my graphics (because I am really just waiting on the next line of nVidia cards to come out later this year...hopefully).
February 3, 2013 4:11:01 PM

Best answer selected by jon the cpa.
February 3, 2013 4:11:47 PM

Alright, I think in terms of cooling/airflow I know what I will be doing. I appreciate both of you for helping me better understand how it works and wish I could selected you both as Best Answers. Thanks!
a b U Graphics card
a b K Overclocking
February 3, 2013 8:17:24 PM

Sounds like your going to have a really strong system. Good choices on everything. Best of luck to you!
!