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What are the best ways to cool an enclosed computer cabinet?

Last response: in Components
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August 4, 2010 3:34:04 PM

I just purchased a nice desk without thinking about my computer. I thought having a cabinet for my computer would be nice and help keep little fingers away. After desk assembly I have now realized that there is no way without modifying the desk to keep the computer cool. The desk is made out of pressboard/particle board and is that way all around the cabinet with a hole for cables.

I have decided I will use a hole saw to cut out holes in the cabinet for case fans. What and how many fans do you guys recommend and where should I put them? I originally thought of 1 120mm fan in the back but then thought I might be better with maybe 3 80mm fans, 2 in the back and 1 in the front left for intake and exaughst. Any Ideas? Please keep in mind when making suggestions that I would rather not put a fan on the front door of the cabinet. Thanks for your help.
August 4, 2010 3:51:32 PM

Even though I have never done such a mod, I think general case cooling guidelines still apply. Overall, I think it is better with larger fans since they can push more air at lower RPM's which makes them quieter. Also, it would be great if you can set up some kind of a flow, that is front to back (but I know why you don't like it that way), side to side, etc. so there are some in intake and some for exhaust.
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August 4, 2010 4:12:11 PM

Yeah I was thinking of going with a 120mm fan possibly doing one in the back but is this enough to be sufficent? If I was to do 2 120mm fans I was thinking 1 on the front left of the cabinet towards the bottom and one directly in the back at the top.
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August 4, 2010 4:17:37 PM

well placing like that should be sufficient but airflow is another story. IT somewhat depends on what PC set-up you have since some produce more heat than others, overall surrounding temperature. You have to consider how much air those fans will actually be pulling in and pushing out. I think a good thing will also be to have more air being pushed in that exhausted.
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a b ) Power supply
August 4, 2010 8:03:17 PM

I assume you mean that the place for the computer is a tall "shelf" that is really the pedestal of one end of the desk, and it has a closed-in back plus a front door. On mine like that I did not have a front door (did not want one), but you seem to want to close the front for protection. What you could do is custom-cut an opening in that front door and fit over it some screen or louvered cover. Maybe a slightly fancy thing like a cold air duct return cover for a house heating system, something that looks nice on the front of the door. That gives air a way to enter with the door closed.

The pressed-board panel that is supposed to be nailed on the back of this area is necessary as part of the stiffening of the desk structure, so I did not want to simply NOT install it. Instead I looked all over and found a metal wire gridwork thing about the right size and fastened that on in place of the panel. This has stiffness but lots of open area for air flow. In my case with no front door, that is sufficient. But in your case, you could mount one or two small fans (just 120 VAC plugged into the wall, not driven from the computer's PSU) on it to suck air out the back (in through the front grille), establishing a fresh air flow through the computer "cubbyhole". Then the normal cooling fan system inside the computer's case will have access to sufficient cool air flowing past it.
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a c 137 ) Power supply
August 4, 2010 8:17:31 PM

You need airflow for the case.
Rear exhaust fan/s in the cabinet will not do any good if the front does not have some sort of matching intake.

Larger fans cool better with less noise. 80mm fans are largely useless and noisy.

Could you take a saw to the front door, and cut off about 2" on the bottom? That should allow sufficient air to enter.

On the back, a single 200mm fan should be able to draw in sufficient air.


Could you post a pic of the desk?
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August 4, 2010 8:27:27 PM

what model make case do you have you want at least 1 in front pulling fresh air in to case andd 1 in back exausting
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a b ) Power supply
August 4, 2010 8:54:57 PM

Depends greatly on the case as well, if your case is a basic one with just 1 exhaust fan, simply cutting a hole in the back of the cabinet directly behind that would probably be sufficient.

If you have an intake on your case, then it would be good to cut a hole of some sort in the front as well, but you need air flowing through the case not the cabinet. Let's say your case has an intake and an exhaust and maybe side ports (with or without fans) then you could probably make do by either removing the front door, or if possible cut a hole at the bottom like geofelt suggested. Then make a big hole at the back where the case exhaust is so it can freely exhaust out of the cabinet and possible put a hole/fan in the side where the vents are although that's probably unecessary.
Basically, just match holes to where your case fans are, and focus on proper case cooling.
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a b ) Power supply
August 4, 2010 9:56:45 PM

Get yourself one of those cheapo e-sata expansion backplates, that provide a 12v 4-pin molex connections and run a couple of fans of it, cost about £6 from Kustom PCs

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August 5, 2010 2:07:05 PM

maybe drill couple holes look better
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