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Balancing heat output to performance

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December 2, 2010 5:22:03 PM

In the summer, my room is heating up to unbearable temperatures due to my PC's high outputting components.

I cannot run an AC in my room. And I know I can run some fans but...

I think I am ready to attack the source instead of working around it.

I will still have this PC for certain tasks, but I'm looking to build another, cooler PC. I want to play some games on it (nothing crazy like Crysis 2, though. Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 when it comes out, older infinity engine games), and use Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/Premiere CS5.

Unfortunately, I'm not finding a "Heats your room up like crazy" spec on Newegg for any item. So how does one figure out what will output a lot of heat? I'm pretty sure my GTX 285, and my 750 watt PSU are the 2 biggest culprits here. How do I make sure that what I buy next will be suitable?

Again, I know I can buy lower power items, but I'm looking to balance performance to heat output here. I don't simply want a lesser performing item. I want the "best" low heat items I can find.

I would like to spend next summer happily using my PC instead of sweating like a hog. So how would you go about this if you were me?

I am right now looking to just build a new PC. Please don't tell me to run an AC or put a fan in my window.

Again, I'm looking to attack the source, not work around it.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2010 5:49:46 PM

Power consumption translates into heat, plain and simple. You do not really provide a budget, or much in the way of specifics, so here are some general guidelines:

1) Buy a PSU that is gold certified - these translate more of the power coming in to power going out instead of heat.

2) Watch the wattage on your CPU - consider a triple core or dual core processor. underclock it to reduce power consumption further. Also, consider newer Intel chip that has higher operating temperatures than AMD

3) Get solid State Drives instead of Hard Disk Drives. No moving parts on an SSD = almost zero power usage.

4) Wattage is listed on monitors that you purchase. consider a smaller monitor with less area to light up.

5) This won't necessarily reduce the temp in your room, but get a good CPU heatsink to reduce the difference between ambient temp and your core temps.

6) Here is an "outside the box" solution: Get a laptop. Laptop parts are designed to reduce power consumption.

7) Finally, do you live in the Southern Hemisphere? If not, can you wait until the new offerings next year for Sandybridge and Bulldozer? Both AMD and Intel are promising lower power consuming products.
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December 2, 2010 6:11:46 PM

Nah I'm in New York, and I had heard about those CPUs. I'm going to look into them when they come out. I think they start at the $200 range.

I had made a similar post at Anandtech and the condescending asshole of a moderator had this to say:

"You really think lowering your heat value by a total sum of 100-200W is going to make a big difference in a room with a 1000 cubic feet?
(assuming 10x10x10).

Dont make me laugh... get a fan, and prop it out the window.
Your not going to meet objective by changing computer hardware, when its ambient ur trying to lower."

Is there any basis for this? I mean, I know people with similar computers that don't heat their room up like mine does. So I feel like your advice is better than that mods. I'm probably going to look into the sandy bridge CPUs, and I think someone mentioned that an HD6850 might be a better choice for a video card. But I wonder if that will be enough. Probably a new CPU with gold star like you mentioned, too.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2010 6:33:03 PM

Its a pretty tough one, if ambient temperature is high to start with your computer can only follow. Have you done everything you can to get ambient as low as possible? Reducing the power consumption of the system will help the temperature issue, but thats not really working towards the solution thats just modifying your existing situation to fit with the issue. Is it possible to use the system in another room? Can you re-arrange your room so your PC is on or near to a window sill, or at least as close to an open window as possible? It's also a good idea to use some desktop fans to create air circulation in the room.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 2, 2010 9:25:02 PM

That's about what it is, unfortunately. The more current you draw, the more heat you'll have. A good HSF will pull the heat off the conductors, but will do nothing do remove it from an area, that's what air conditioners are for, which is a no go. The 285 will max out around 180W, but more like 140 I'd say under normal usage.


You didnt mention what type of CPU you have, so that varies. I'm drawing around 160 with my current 65nm chip, for reference. I wouldn't worry too much about HDD's, as their heat is minor.

Look at the Phenom II's if you dont already own one. They're pretty efficient with lower TDP's than most chips out there.
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December 3, 2010 12:36:43 AM


A computer can raise the temp of a closed room, but not really if windows open and fans are going.

In terms of low power, a lot of HTPC and server systems have similiar requirements. Here's what advice I can give having done both of these. I have mostly AMD experience so others can fill in Intel specific stuff.

Hard drives don't draw much, and a 2.5 notebook sized harddrive will be low power even a 7200 rpm. Get a 320 GB single platter drive.

CPU loss squares with voltage, but linear with clock. I usually get a low voltage chip or underclock and drop volts. However, with cool and quiet and all that stuff, chips have gotten pretty good at clocking themselves down when not used. The current thuban 6 cores have very good power management and undervolt well even at stock clocks. Or get a low end phenom ii series for cheap.

Motherboard's seem to vary a lot, so a current AMD integrated chipset seems to run really cool. 785G if memory serves me right. There might be something newer, but I have noticed those integrated chipsets run cool and you can disable the onboard video if you are going graphics card.

Graphic cards are power hogs, but kinda like cpus they generally only go crazy when working them / playing games. this purely depends on taregt usage. Web surfing, use onboard. Gaming, get a card.

Power supplies get a silver or gold rated.

Hope that helps.
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December 6, 2010 12:34:40 PM

I think your main problem is ambient! Personally I've lived in a few flats/smallish apartments, and houses are different. At one place the temps climbed to 30C already in the morning, during summertime - in another, only 2 weeks of high summer would be difficult with a gaming PC, the windows were to the North-West in my room but there's other factors too I'm sure (like, the house was some 40 years newer and so on).

My first advice would be to get a mental break from computing during the hottest weeks of Summer - go out for exercise, visit relatives in the countryside, whatever. Getting in a good shape means you'll have to place fewer limitations on your hobby later down the road, eg. the number of people just past 30 and with wrecked backs that I know is somewhat scary.

For the PC itself, I'd think a reduction of 100-200W (at max power) is realistic, and agree with you that it would make a difference in a small room, provided that you can't dispense of the heat. It will drive up system cost though, and you may have to do other sacrifices.

I wouldn't build a new system just to reduce heat, but take it into account when planning your next system. Take a good look at my thread to see an example of a build with low TDP: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/298615-13-decisions...

For PSU, the size doesn't make a big difference (it affects efficiency in a complex fashion), but efficiency is important. You can also save some watts with your CPU choice - I'd wait for Sandy Bridge, which will provide low-power options starting from launch, or if you are in a hurry or your budget is quite limited, go for a Clarkdale CPU (core i3, or i5 650 for example). The biggest culprit is your GPU though, and there you have to do sacrifices because typically performance scales with power usage. Ati models (esp. Radeon 68xx) offer a better performance/heat ratio. SSD is costly and brings only a small benefit.

Many benchmarks and reviews at Anandtech and Tom's measure power consumption (and noise) too, so you can get the data for various components there. Also Wikipedia, tech news etc (at least for CPUs). The information is very easy to find (compared to even just 2 years back), which is a very welcome trend. There seems to be more awareness of the noise and power signatures of PCs nowadays.
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December 6, 2010 2:17:11 PM

As mentioned I'd probably go for a modest dual core and a modest ATI radeon as their idle power consumption is good. I noticed my room heating up with my new i5 750 but not with my old Core 2 Duo E6400. Stands to reason that the more transistors, the more heat.
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December 7, 2010 6:23:33 PM

The monitor turns out to be a huge heat source. Even a modern 24" LCD could easily consume up to around 150W - LED screens seem more efficient.
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