… Since the inside of the case is usually quite warm indeed, this isn’t really a problem, but if you use the PC in a particularly hot room (like an un-air-conditioned garage in the summer) you’ll see less effective cooling. It is often easy to remove the rear panel from desk PC holders, this will usually do the trick. This article will answer your liquid cooling vs air cooling dilemma by looking at how each works. The liquid moves heat to the radiators, and efficiently blows it out of your case. What are CPU Coolers. Your CPU has its own heatsink and fan, even if you haven’t added one yourself—it’s the only fan directly mounted onto a motherboard component. The CPU cooler is the fan and heatsink connected to the CPU. It utilizes air to transfer heat away from the processor unlike AIO’s and custom loops. Avoid running your PC directly on a carpeted surface in order to reduce the accumulation of dust and fibers. (Even liquid cooling setups need radiators and intake fans, in the same way that air-cooled systems do.) The basis of this air cooling seems a little impractical, as it assumes you'll still be using air. If you’re purely concerned with temperatures, check CPU and GPU temps with a software monitor and try some different configurations. Positive air pressure won’t cool quite as well, but—combine with dust filters (see below)—will take in less dust since those vents and seams will expel air rather than suck it in. The first is an air cooler, which comes with a big metal heat sink that pulls heat away from the CPU, which is then blown away by a … You want at least one intake and one exhaust fan at the very least, so assuming you have more, which is better, drawing in more air for positive pressure or blowing more out for negative pressure? If it’s been a while, you you might need to remove the fans from their mounting screws and wipe the plastic blades as well. A side-mounted fan (expelling or drawing in air in a direction perpendicular to the motherboard) might be useful here, but not all cases support that. Opinions on positive versus negative pressure is mixed. Phase-change cooling is excellent but super expensive, and liquid cooling is all pumps, pipes, reservoirs, coupled with the ever-present fear of wet electronics. Cooling with Air In an air cooler, the heat is transferred from the IHS of the CPU, through the applied thermal paste, and into a conductive baseplate that is usually made from copper or aluminum. Here are some things to keep in mind. Before you begin, you’ll want to look at your available fan mounts and decide the best way to plan out your airflow. Positive v. negative air pressure. See it on Walmart. Liquid cooling is the best way to cool a CPU because water transfers heat much more efficiently than air. The fans on the front of your PC’s case are typically intake fans, drawing in the relatively cool air of the surrounding room to lower the temperature inside the case. The heat pipes are designed to conduct heat from one location to another. We strongly encourage you to read our updated PRIVACY POLICY and COOKIE POLICY. Fans are generally mounted in the following locations: front, rear, top, and side. They can cause turbulence, hindering the efficient flow of air through a case, and can contribute significantly to dust build-up. It’s often explained as “LEGO for adults.” But managing the air cooling system within a PC is considerably more complex. A water cooling kit will reduce the need to use more than one fan in your PC case. Fans mounted on the side of the case can be useful, but they often cause problems. The key to understanding air cooling is very simple – fans. Thermaltake Core V31 is a modular case that can be used to build a water-cooled or air-cooled PC for gaming. More on that later. (It isn’t totally enclosed, and the airflow generally isn’t equal, but we’re talking in generalities here.) Get as many of these cables out of the way as you can. Most cases include multiple mount points for case fans—sometimes even more mount points than included fans. If possible, mount your radiator and fans as exhaust fans. If you are a smoker, it is highly recommended that you do so away from your PC. Consider spending extra on a modular PSU. The stock case doesn’t offer many options for placing the unused power supply cables out of the way, but you should still try to tuck them away somewhere as best you can. Best Liquid CPU Cooler. Air coolers are great for lower-to-moderate overclocking (and even higher in some cases). The radiator and fan combo itself can be mounted to the front or bottom for intake or the rear or top for exhaust, but it will be less efficient than a fan alone. But there are a lot of great fans out there, so dig around sites like Newegg to see what you can find. Do not run your PC in any sort of enclosed box. This creates faster and more efficient airflow, more effectively cooling your components. Most people opt for a more balanced approach, leaning slightly toward negative air pressure (for theoretical cooling) or positive air pressure (for less dust buildup), and we’d probably recommend something in the middle there. To prevent dust, slap some dust filters on your intake fans. Please, throw away your floppy drive. Any desktop PC with standard case fan mounts will work (80mm, 120mm, 140mm, 200mm—it doesn’t mater as long as they’re consistent). Here’s a really nice example of a case with good cable management creating open airflow. If you don’t want to do a ton of research, we highly recommend Noctua fans for great noise-to-performance ratio—though some of their models are on the pricier side (not to mention the standard line is butt-ugly). The first step in any PC build is to buy a good quality case that already comes with the fans that you need, and none that you don’t. Best Overall PC Fan. If you live in a particularly hot area you will need to put more thought into cooling your system, even going so far as to consider more enclosed solutions such as the aforementioned water cooling or phase-change systems. If you’re looking into a water cooled setup that uses liquid convention to draw heat directly from your CPU or GPU to a radiator, odds are that you’re already working on a pretty advanced build. Most CPU coolers can be mounted in any cardinal direction to help achieve this (and to make it easier to clear other internal components). Allow for Air Flow. Final Words of Air Cooling Vs Water Cooling for PC. In the past this simple air exchange was enough, but in modern systems with powerhouse (and often multiple) video cards, large banks of RAM, and overclocked CPUs, more thought needs to be put into how air travels through an enclosure. Ive had to buy some quieter fans in the past, but otherwise Ive always been fine with air cooling. Clean them out with water and dry them completely every few months to keep dust from flowing into your case (again, slightly positive air pressure can help here too). The central concept of air cooling is very simple. The top and rear fans are exhausts, expelling the warm air out of the case and away from the internal components. This might seem obvious, but an air cooling setup relies on cooler air outside the case than inside. Avoid placing your PC directly on a carpeted floor, as this will block any intake from fans placed on the bottom of the case (and often the power supply output, too). Remember, case fans draw in air on the open side and expel air on the grille side. Large internal fan ducts, while a good idea on paper, are more likely to decrease overall thermal performance by obstructing primary air flow through the case. In simple terms, a computer case can either have: Positive pressure – The case fans push more air into the case than then pull out, so there is more air pressure inside of the case. Big air coolers tend to take up more internal space in your PC case, particularly when it comes to vertical clearance off your best motherboard. He’s covered industry events like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress in person. Inside the copper or aluminum heat pipes is a coolant of either ammonium, ethanol, or distilled water. Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200. Most cases are designed with a certain directional airflow in mind–usually front to back, and bottom to top. These variables shouldn’t have any significant negative effects on air flow, but could change your cable management plans. Small form factor (SFF) PC cases is a unique market. Larger, lower RPM fans are generally far quieter and more efficient than their smaller, faster counterparts. If you can, move your desk and your PC to a cooler room. You’ll need to make sure they’re sized right to fit the screw mounts on your case, obviously, but beyond that you’ll also want to consider: RELATED: How to Auto-Control Your PC's Fans for Cool, Quiet Operation, RELATED: How to Pimp Your Gaming PC: A Guide to Lights, Colors, and Other Mods. A side-mounted fan should only ever be used to gently stir the warm air that can accumulate in the “dead spot” beneath PCIe and PCI cards. Your climate will be a consideration in your cooling design. Unlike air coolers, water cooling doesn't blow hot air around your case. Even the most carefully-constructed build will accumulate dust from the surrounding room, and if you live in an especially dry, dusty environment, (or you smoke, or have pets, etc.) Corsair Hydro Series H100i Pro. Any loop consists of … Assuming all the fans are the same size and speed, then you have one of three possible options for the air pressure inside the case: Because of the way the internal components create blocks in airflow, it’s more or less impossible to achieve a truly equal air pressure inside a case. Fans are an active cooling solution — they require power to run. This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Join 350,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of news, comics, trivia, reviews, and more. Cleaning will be a important measure to take, at least until we are are all running coolers that de-dust themselves. Cables, especially the large bundled rails from a power supply, can be especially troublesome. Every six months or so, or more often if you live in a particularly dusty area, open up your computer and blow it out with some compressed air to get rid of any lingering dust. That many intake fans will most likely contribute to positive air pressure within the case, though (See the advanced section at the end of this guide for details on case air pressure). The easiest thing you can do to help keep your computer cool is to give it a little … Ideally, you want to place an exhaust fan as close to the CPU as possible to quickly expel this hot air. The humble PC fan has been in active service for decades and remains the primary cooling method used in PCs to this day. Image Credits: Newegg, CyberPowerPC, Corsair, Cooler Master, Garry dr/Flickr, Vinni Malek/Flickr, Atredl/Imgur, lungstruck/Flickr. Where possible, choose big. This is marketed to the extreme overclock/high voltage/high temp types; these people don't use air. Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB V2, Close-Loop AIO CPU Liquid Cooler, 240 Radiator, Du… you’ll need to be extra vigilant. Check your PC for dust buildup regularly. The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek. Misgivings about the age of the technology aside, it is difficult to deny the fact that blowing room-temperature air across heatsinks is an effective way to mitigate heat. A liquid cooling system uses water or another liquid to cool the CPU. If you are just wanting a basic computer for internet and email, air cooling is still probably the best path for you. While gaming, this heat causes air cooler fans to run at a very high speed, producing noise. The circuit boards were completely immersed in a non-conductive fluid called Fluorinert™ which was cleverly re-circulated throughout the entire system. Subscribe Today to get the latest ExtremeTech news delivered right to your inbox. How to Manage Your PC’s Fans for Optimal Airflow and Cooling, adjust your fans’ speed for the perfect balance, coupled with a “tricked out” overall build, How to Quickly Open Apps in Split View from Search on iPad, How to Set Up Customizable Motion Zones on Ring Security Cameras, How to Save and Download Apple Fitness+ Workouts, How to Put Your Xbox Controller Into Pairing Mode, How to Turn Off Read Receipts in Signal (or Turn Them On), © 2021 LifeSavvy Media. Your typical air-cooled PC is packed with case fans, graphics card fans, and a CPU fan or two—positioned atop a big metal heat sink—to keep your expensive components nice and frosty. The Sliger SM580 is not the most compact or best looking ITX case. Air cooling is ideal if you are hoping to build a PC quickly at a lower cost. Fans on the rear and of the case are usually exhaust fans, expelling the hot air warmed up by the components back into the room. A good air cooling system involves a plethora of fans including case fans, graphics card fans, and CPU fans with a strong heatsink on the bottom. A pump pulls coolant from a reservoir trough a tube and into a radiator. If you live in a colder environment, room temperature air is even more valuable and thus should be well utilized. Try to direct the output of these fans to align with one of the case’s exhaust fans, sending heat directly from the CPU to the outside of the case. Corsair … Most cases sold for system builders come with some kind of dust filter, but if you need more, you can buy some nice magnetic ones in different sizes for your intake fans. How-To Geek is where you turn when you want experts to explain technology. Air coolers are very price friendly, and the best ones are usually <$100. When heated, this liquid becomes a gas and travels up the heat pipe where the heat load is spread across the aluminum fins and dissipated by a fan. We’re talking about physics, thermodynamics, all sorts of fun stuff. Components commonly individually cooled include the CPU, graphics processing unit (GPU) and the northbridge. Cooling may be designed to reduce the ambient temperature within the case of a computer, such as by exhausting hot air, or to cool a single component or small area (spot cooling). If an improperly installed or defective water cooling system leaks while your computer is plugged in, there is the safety risk of electrocution if you attempt a repair. Let’s first go through a scenario with air cooling, since it’s still more common (and easier) setup than water cooling. Got all those basics covered? All Rights Reserved. It also includes two 5.25-inch bays, which can be used for an external optical drive and you can also fit a 5.25-inch Fan Controller to other. If they’re running at a too high a CFM, side fans can render heatsink fans mounted on video cards and CPUs ineffective. Dust accumulation is already a hazard to electronics, and cigarette smoke produces the worst kind of dust thanks to the moisture and chemicals that it mixes with. The enclosed nature of the cabinet will limit the available air to your case fans, making them less effective. The fans on the front of your PC’s case are typically intake fans, drawing in the relatively cool air of the surrounding room to lower the temperature inside the case. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our, AMD’s Retail Market Share Surges Based on European Reseller Data, ET Deals: Save 15 Percent on Dell Alienware, XPS, and G5 PCs, Make Your Work Space Work For You With This Innovative Desk Pad, Elon Musk, Now World’s Richest Man, Reaffirms His Intention to Live on Mars, Nvidia’s Purchase of ARM Is Being Investigated by UK Watchdog, ExtremeTech’s guide to air cooling your PC. Desk cubby holes seem incredibly convenient, but weigh that against the inconvenience of replacing overheated components. Less noise. From the radiator, it flows into a block on a component that produces a lot of heat. That is quite groundbreaking, especially when you consider that the development of that system began around 1982. Most large cases include a system of holes and guides that allow users to thread these cables away from the main open area of the case, often behind the motherboard tray. Others mount the PSU at the bottom of the case, rather than at the top to avoid hot air from the working components passing through it before being expelled. Other methods exist, but are generally reserved for enthusiasts. This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. On Amazon. There are a few variables to this design, some cases have removable side-mount hard disk caddies mounted in the bottom-front of the case allowing easier disk installation/removal and independent cooling from the optical bays. To keep your machine cooled down and happy, you need to invest in an appropriate CPU cooler. Air coolers aren’t typically suitable for setups that need extreme cooling One of the downsides of air cooling, though, is that if you’re looking to hit extreme overclocks, air coolers aren’t as well-suited for the job as are liquid-based coolers. A vacuum cleaner can help to collect the dust before your lungs do, but be careful that you don’t knock any capacitors off of your components with it. Negative air pressure should create a slightly cooler environment (at least in theory), as the fans are working harder to expel hot air. Before you go shopping for fans and coolers can be helpful distilled water case and from., Close-Loop AIO CPU liquid cooler, 240 radiator, Du… CPU coolers generally come two... And fibers united by the need for compactness, yet divided in the at... Air in to pass across hot components to install your cable management creating open.... 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