Hi guys, I have a classic case - a Wavemaster - that I bought in maybe 2004 or so. It never cooled very well, and has spent a lot of time with the side panel removed. I just got a new CPU / mobo, and I want to bring this case back to life...I'd like to be able to close it up too.
As you may remember, one of the big challenges for the Wavemaster case was that the front air intake was way too small to get much air in. I'm going to use SSDs, so cooling the HDD won't be a concern, but I still need to worry about the other components.
What I'm thinking is cutting a 140 mm hole on the left panel and mounting a 140 mm fan there. I'd position it so that it blows on the video card as well as the CPU, and set direction as an intake fan. The case comes with a pre-cut hole for an 80 mm fan -- I've been using it for USB / headphone jacks instead (Coolermaster includes those parts as well as a fan), but now I'm thinking I'll install a fan there, and set it as an exhaust fan. It has one existing fan in the back; I think 80 mm. I'll leave that in, set up as an exhaust fan.
So, in summary, the case ventilation profile would look like this:
-Anemic stock fan (or fans? don't remember) in front of case that don't push much air.
-New 140 mm fan, installed in left side panel
-80 mm top fan
-80 mm rear fan (not 100% how big this one is, but think it's 80 mm)
Is this going to be enough cooling for an I7-860 and a low-mid-end card? (I have my eye on a GTX 460). The CPU is rated with a max TDP of 95W, which suggests it will run a bit hotter than my current CPU (P4 3.2 GHZ HT), and my current CPU has to have the case open to run without maxing out its cooler.
Other ideas if that's not enough cooling, in order of increasing PITA factor:
1) add slot cooler underneath the graphics card
2) cut another hole in top of case and add another exhaust fan
3) cut a bigger hole at the front of the case to improve air intake, maybe replace the front fan(s). I understand there's a pretty thick / beefy piece of aluminum at the front of the case, so this would really be a pain.
Or, just chuck it and buy a new case? I'd like to hold on to this one, but I don't want to put in the time to cut all those new holes and find it still doesn't run cool enough.
How large is the front intake hole where the "anemic" fan lives?
You should consider replacing that fan with the best one you can get for that size, to improve things as much as possible.
There are other ideas you could come up with too.
Got a photo of the case, or a link to one?
Slot coolers are a waste of time in my opinion. You won't suck enough air in to make much of a difference.
An extra extraction fan at the top of the case is probably a good idea.
Increasing your front intake is a very good idea too. How large can you make it?
Maybe the last option is your best...a new case....you can get some pretty decent ones for a reasonable price these days. My current one is a couple of years old and cost me about $180 in NZD, which is about $140 USD, so nothing crazy in terms of price and it's easily the best cooling case I've owned (the entire front surface of the tower is ventilated, so it has pretty crazy amounts of air flow). Best case purchase I've made so far. Ugly - but super functional.
Thanks Muz_j. I should have thought to include photos - don't have any of the actual case, but Newegg still has their photos up.
I can't link to individual photos apparently, but if you flip through the slideshow, there's one of the front of the case just barely shows that the front air intake holes are ridiculously tiny. Like I said, apparently enlarging those holes is a real pain due to heavy gauge aluminum in that front panel. There's also a side shot that shows all 3 stock fans.
I'm open to buying another case, but I hate to just junk this one without at least exploring the options.
IH8U's idea is probably a good one - a side intake fan certainly won't do you any harm.
Those 3 fans in your case are 80mm, which is at the smaller end for case fans, but there's still options.
I would measure the inside of your case where the intake fans are mounted and see how much room you have?
You can get adapters for 80mm mounts up to either 92mm or 120mm or possibly even higher, but I have definitely seen the first two and just checked on a couple of sites. So if you have the free space - you should install adapters and larger intake fans - the biggest you can fit.
Once you know the maximum size you can fit (hopefully higher than 80mm), then you need to do some digging and find out what fans you can get a hold of that have a high CFM rating (cubic feet per minute), but also balance that against the RPM of the fan, as higher RPMs typically mean higher noise levels, so ideally you want a fan that pushes lots of air at low RPMs to maintain a nice balance of noise versus performance.
I would definitely mount an adapter an increase the size of your rear extraction fan too. It will probably look ugly as it's likely to have to mounted externally, but it will improve cooling.
1) If you are stuck with 80mm fans, then do some digging and find the best ones you can. I have had a quick look on a local suppliers site and the ones they have are pretty average. I have a 10 year old Thermaltake 80mm fan at home that puts out around 60 CFM, but it is very loud and obnoxious, which isn't ideal, but that gives you a good idea of what a decent 80mm fan is capable of. It was off a very old Thermaltake Volcano Heatsink.
Other than that - I would consider an extraction fan or two at the top of the case, as that looks like an easy modification for you and should make a reasonable difference.
...but you should weigh up the likely costs of this, versus a new case. If you can do the above without it costing too much, then great, give it a shot and you should definitely improve things, but if the costs start getting too high, then you might want to reconsider and buy a new case and sell your existing one second hand. If you got say $50 for your current case (purely an example), then that's $50 off the cost of your new one, so it might not work out much different in terms of price.
Thanks a lot for your input. After spending a lot of time thinking about your advice and weighing my options, I decided to go ahead and use a different case for this build. I'm going with an Antec Three Hundred Illusion -- looks like it will cool beautifully: it has 2 fans in front, 1 on top, and one in back, I think all 120 mm except the top, which is 140 mm. It also has an opening for a side fan next to the graphics card -- haven't decided yet whether I'll put something in there or not.
Still love the looks of the old case, but it just wasn't getting the job done. I may keep it around and put a really low-temp setup in it, make it the websurfing / running Office machine, but its days as a fast rig are done.
Thanks again for your help, sorry to be silent for so long -- just trying to make the decision.