The best PC cooling in a limited of fans
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We destroy stereotypical cooling schemes and blow the case as efficiently as possible

How to effectively cool components inside the system unit?

It would seem that a simple question, on the answer to which not a single experienced PC user will think, let alone an overclocker or computer enthusiast. Like what is there to think: cold air goes down, and hot air rises up – simple physics from the school course, therefore, you need to organize blowing (intake of cold air) from below, and blowing hot air from above, cold air must pass through all the components, along the way cooling them and becoming warm, and “jump” out of the case in the classic way through a fan located on the back wall. But this is a theory. A theory that does not take into account the air flow created by the fans and the number of these fans.

How can I cool my PC?

We’ll start with free hotfixes to fix excessive heat:
– Clean pc
Dust collects on any PC, no matter how modern or spacious the case is. Dust clogs vents and fans and traps hot air. Regular cleaning can help maintain cooling airflow.

– Set higher fan speeds
Default fan configurations can contribute to overheating. Your fans may be too slow to actually cool parts of your PC. Some GPUs have high temperatures because the GPU driver software only activates the GPU fan at certain load ranges. This is when you have to take control of your fan speed. Programs like SpeedFan provide exactly this service.

Is liquid cooling better than air cooling PC?

Now, when overclocking processors has become a fairly common thing, no one will give up increased frequencies for faster task execution, whether it be professional activity, or computer games with rich and heavy graphics or highly loaded scenes with a large number of characters and polygons. Obviously, in such conditions, the question of a reliable and most efficient heat removal system is very acute. The more powerful the processor or graphics card, the more efficiently the computer’s cooling system should work. And air coolers, as a rule, have a very unpleasant feature – the fans, when operating in extreme modes, make a lot of noise and this can cause negative emotions especially among users or gamers at night.

Videos about PC Cooling:

Types of cooling systems: active air (cooler) and passive water

There are 2 main types of cooling systems: active and passive. Both have their pros and cons, which we’ll take a closer look at below. But I can immediately give advice from my own experience: if you do not plan to use water cooling in order to create a silent unit, then combine both systems. The constant supply of air through active ventilation systems and subsequent cooling with water is much cooler than using each of these systems alone.

How to choose active air cooling?

In the popular way – a cooler. This is the most popular and simplest combination of a radiator and fan. For maximum profit, you need to use it on every “hot” element: on the processor, video card, hard disk and 2-3 more on the case. The whole point of work and the technology are very simple: to distill as large volumes of air as possible into the space of the system unit as soon as possible. From ordinary life, it is a fan. After all, it does not really cool the air. The larger the cooler and the higher the rotational speed of its blades (RPM), the better the cooling.

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At the same time, the radiator performs its functions. The materials from which the processors are made do not cool very well due to technological features. In modern crystals, there are about several tens of millions of transistors, and they all heat up very well. The radiator increases the heat transfer area and, thanks to the fins, distributes heat to the environment, where the fan performs its function.

When choosing a cooler, you should pay attention to a few things:

Fan size - the bigger the better.
 Its blades - the ability to air supply, the correct bend.
The number of revolutions - the more the better.
Heatsink size - the bigger the better.
The number and thickness of the plates - the larger and thinner the plates, the better.

Pros of active cooling Cons of active cooling
low cost – high noise
availability of installation, – complexity of maintenance

Passive water cooling: how to make the right choice?

Of course, there is also passive “dry” cooling using separate radiators, but it is so ineffective that we will not even consider it in the context of serious gaming machines.

As a rule, perfectionist gamers start looking for passive cooling. The former want to find the “holy grail” and reduce the noise emitted by the system unit to zero decibels. That is, to know absolute silence. For this, SSD drives are installed to remove the characteristic HDD creak, all fans are ceremonially burned out. I even met a maniac who changed the ON / OFF button to a touch button so that nothing would clack.

The latter either open the cases or order a plexiglass box, put on neon lights, run water with coloring pigments in the cooling systems and get really beautiful devices at the exit.

When choosing passive water cooling, you need to consider:

Workmanship and condition after transportation – there should not be any scratches.

 Pump power and noise. Choosing an overly powerful system for your needs is extra money. A large pump will create additional hum.
pc cooling

I propose to consider a more specific and closer to reality situation: how to effectively cool components inside the system unit with only two fans? Let’s look at both classic cooling schemes and atypical ways to arrange fans in a case. So, Thermaltake View 31 TG, which quite often appears in our experiments, was chosen as the “experimental” case. The choice of this model as the “test one” was due to the fact that the View 31 TG allows you to almost place the fans inside yourself, and thanks to the removable front panel, this case allows you to simulate models with poor and good blowing power.

pc cooling

For the cooling of the components inside the case, two complete Riing 14 LED Blue fans were responsible. The participation of these fans in the experiment is due to the fact that they create a sufficiently powerful air flow, relative to the noise coming from them. And, in fact, a powerful air flow will “reveal” the layout of the fans, since weak fans could provide sufficient blowing or blowing power and the experiment could be considered not fairly honest and objective.

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pc cooling

The AMD Ryzen 7 2700 processor, overclocked to a frequency of 3.9 GHz across all the cores, whose heat dissipation was about 140 watts, and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with a TDP of about 120 watts heated the inside of the case. For cooling the processor, the two-tower cooling system GELID Phantom was responsible.

Testing was carried out at room temperature at 22 degrees. The temperature was maintained by a split system. The heating of components was carried out by the OCCT program. As a test, a stress test was selected for both the video card and the processor at the same time, AVX instructions were involved. Each test run lasted a little more than 15 minutes to ensure almost the maximum possible heating of components in the created conditions.

Sighting test: fanless testing

To begin with, it was decided to conduct a “sighting” test, which consisted in the fact that the components inside the closed case will heat up during the natural circulation of air flows. The meaning of this testing was to identify the “reference” temperature, with which we will subsequently compare, to determine which arrangement of fans will prove to be most effective.

During testing, hot air currents will naturally exit through the perforations on the top cover of the case, as well as “ejected” through perforations in the rear wall using the GELID Phantom tower cooler.

Test one, circuit one: both blow fans, poor front air intake / good air intake from the front wall

pc cooling

Please pay attention to the location of the fan on top. It is this arrangement of the fan in the upper part of the case that is the most effective solution, since it does not make sense to place the fan on top in the front of the case, since this solution is as inexpedient as possible – why throw out still cold air? I also want to note right away that in this article there will be no schemes with “blowing from above”, since we intend to check the real options for the schemes, and not consider all kinds of nonsense by inexperienced users.

So, with poor air intake (closed front wall), we manage to win almost 10 degrees in CPU temperature relative to the case without fans. The video card gets 4 degrees colder. And the rotation speed of the fans on the tower was reduced by 100 revolutions. The computer has become noticeably quieter and colder.

With a good intake of air (open front panel), it is possible to win an additional degree in processor temperature. The speed of the processor fans is somewhat reduced. The computer becomes more noisy due to worse soundproofing.

Additional test, simplified circuit: one blow fan (closed front panel)
Next, I propose to find out how much it is necessary to have two fans for blowing hot air. To do this, of course, I remove the fan located above the processor cooler.

This action led to a slightly noticeable deterioration in the results with respect to the circuit with two blow fans. The temperature of the processor rose by 1 degree, the video card also warmed up by 1 degree more. The fan speed has increased.

Test two, circuit two: two blowing fans, closed and open front panel

pc cooling

Now let’s see how effective both fans located in front of the case will show themselves. Hot air blowing will be carried out by the fans of the tower cooler, as well as naturally through the perforation in the upper part of the body.

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With the front panel closed, this arrangement of fans turned out to be completely ineffective. The processor temperature rose two degrees relative to the circuit without the use of case fans. But the video card managed to cool a couple of degrees.

An open front panel gives a real “breath of fresh air” accessories. Regarding the case, devoid of fans, the processor temperature decreased by 9 degrees. This layout showed itself much better, the same arrangement of fans with a closed panel, but loses to two blowing fans that work even with a closed front panel. The superiority over one fan by blowing by 0.3 degrees is an error.

The third test, variations of the “classic” schemes: one fan for blowing, one for blowing (different location of the fan for blowing in front of the case), open and closed front panel.

pc cooling

Now we move on to the “classic” schemes, combined into a single test, since all of them provide for the location of one fan for blowing and one for blowing.

Let’s start with the most classic version, when we have a blowing fan located at the bottom of the front of the case and blowing hard drives, the blowing fan is located on the back of the case. The front panel is closed.

Such a “classic” arrangement of fans loses in its efficiency to variants with two blowing fans in terms of processor temperature. However, it is worth noting that with this arrangement of fans, the hard drives inside the system unit cool much better than in the case when there are no blowing fans in the case at all.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both obvious and somewhat not obvious conclusions suggest themselves: first, the front panel with lateral perforation impairs cooling of components, choose housings with direct air intake from the front of the housing; the second, the most balanced is the “classic” circuit with a fan located at the bottom of the front panel, which helps blow hard drives, however, if your PC does not already have hard drives, then you should think about the location of the two blow fans; third, blowing is much more important than blowing – it is not in vain that even in the weakest and cheapest computers they put one fan to blow hot air from the case, at least one blow fan must be in your computer.

Addition

The blowing circuit did not take part in testing when there is one blowing fan in the case, which takes air through perforation through the bottom wall of the case, and one blowing fan located on the upper case wall above the processor cooler. Certainly, such a scheme takes place, but it requires a horizontal arrangement of the tower, so that the tower fans take cold air from below and help to “throw” it up to the blowing fan. Most effectively, this circuit can show itself in rare cases with a horizontal arrangement of the motherboard, as, for example, in the legendary SilverStone Raven RVX01:

pc cooling

And what is the layout of the fans in your system unit?

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By Vinceslav

Journalist, writer. I write articles and reviews on equipment such as cars, computers, games. Worked for 6 years in the auto and auto parts business. And all my life I have been engaged in computer technology.

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