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The Big Air Cooling Investigation

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Paradigm Shifter 10th February 2012, 13:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
Fantastic, in depth article. Well done.

My only problem is that on my Antec 902 with a titan fenrir cooler, fitting a side fan causes it to hit the CPU cooler. So in order to make the side fan work, you either need a cavernous case, or a slightly shorter CPU cooler. Unless anyone knows of any low profile fans..?........

Scythe make some 12mm thick 120mm fans.

They're pretty pants at forcing air through heatsinks, but if you just need some airflow assistance in a certain direction without any significant obstructions to airflow, they do OK.

http://www.scythe-usa.com/product/acc/068/sy1212sl12_detail.html

Available from various places in the UK; QuietPC is one of them, I think.
Sutura 10th February 2012, 13:44 Quote
Hi, all. What a long article. It's so cool when a test is conducted with the proper attention to detail. Congratulations on the hard work put in this. Really, good work.

Would it be possible to make a small addition though? What I am thinking is now that the way for the cheap pre-fabricated liquid cooling solutions is paved with the Corsair H40 (~60 bucks)/Antec Kuhler H2O 620 (~65), I presume a lot of people will end up using their rear 120mm slot as intake. With something like this: fan (push 25mm)+rad (25mm)+fan (pull 25mm)= 75mm cooler. I am curious to see if you can test a reversed configuration, where:
1. the rear fan is used as intake, the side is intake and top B fan is exhaust
2. rear+top (B fan) is intake
3. all exhaust fans (rear+top A/B) are intake and front turns into exhaust, side- intake

I noticed that one of your starting presumptions when doing the tests was that the more air we exhaust the better (the negative pressure). But if you don't have a proper ventilation (in the form of holes, in the front of the case- "the sealed case") the PC enclosure turns into dust magnet. Does it?
What about the factors that are significant- is convection one of them? the obstacles between the fans and the components?
Thank you again. Your tests managed to change my mind. I used to think that front+top (no rear) is one of the best configurations based on other tests. I have never taken the side panel slots as a viable alternative. Now my new preferred configuration is rear and top B exhaust, side- intake, (A) fan slot- free of fan, front slots- free of fans. Thanks once again. I hope you can make the small addition. And have a good portion of chilly chicken wings :D
monkiboi 10th February 2012, 14:01 Quote
Time to finally turn off the front fan I added to my p182 and to figure out how to fabricate a new side panel with fan(s)
Hereisphilly 10th February 2012, 14:17 Quote
Fantastic review guys, really informative, and certainly interesting! Something to consider when doing new builds!

One thing i would mention though,is that you seem to have overlooked hard drive cooling. I know that in order to dramatically improve hard drive life (and keeping out data intact), they do need some airflow too keep cool.

What you lose in CPU/GPU cooling by putting the second case fan in the front of the case, you would gain massively in reduced HDD temps.

Would it be possible to add an extra bit on hard drive temps?
SuicideNeil 10th February 2012, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
ask how you should best set up your case fans on the bit-tech forums and you’ll probably get around thirty different answers, each person swearing blind that his or her method is definitely the best set up.

Lies & heresy; intakes at the front, side and bottom, exhausts in the top & rear = simples...
Apocalypso 10th February 2012, 14:32 Quote
Excellent article, it feels like you're about to head in to a similar watercooling piece soon ;)
Material 10th February 2012, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutura
Would it be possible to make a small addition though? What I am thinking is now that the way for the cheap pre-fabricated liquid cooling solutions is paved with the Corsair H40 (~60 bucks)/Antec Kuhler H2O 620 (~65), I presume a lot of people will end up using their rear 120mm slot as intake. With something like this: fan (push 25mm)+rad (25mm)+fan (pull 25mm)= 75mm cooler. I am curious to see if you can test a reversed configuration, where:
1. the rear fan is used as intake, the side is intake and top B fan is exhaust
2. rear+top (B fan) is intake
3. all exhaust fans (rear+top A/B) are intake and front turns into exhaust, side- intake

I've got to admit that I'd be extremely reluctant to use a H40/H80 as an intake. I know it's what Corsair suggest in their instructions but in our H80 testing we found this arrangement made the GPU run significantly hotter, which is a poor trade off for the couple of degrees you'll save on your CPU.

As for adding the testing, its not possible at this stage. Most people use tower air coolers rather than closed loop liquid coolers, so we used an air cooler to make it as useful for as many people as possible. You should still be able to apply the conclusions yo your build though, or even do some experimenting yourself - we set out how we tested on page 2.
Material 10th February 2012, 14:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hereisphilly
One thing i would mention though,is that you seem to have overlooked hard drive cooling. I know that in order to dramatically improve hard drive life (and keeping out data intact), they do need some airflow too keep cool.

What you lose in CPU/GPU cooling by putting the second case fan in the front of the case, you would gain massively in reduced HDD temps.

Would it be possible to add an extra bit on hard drive temps?

In a word, no, not right now anyway. I know we missed out hard disk temps but it came down to just what i had time to actually do.

As i said in the article though, you're all smart people - you know that removing your front fan and putting on your side panel will increase your hard disk temps and i trust you to make a judgement on whether you think its worth it or not.
Tungil90 10th February 2012, 14:40 Quote
Thanks for this really interesting test! Helps me with my cooling! :)
Shayper09 10th February 2012, 15:01 Quote
I tried different orientations of fans in my watercooled FT03, and the best set up, for some reason, was 2x120mm acting as push on the rad from the back of the case and 1x120mm exhaust at the top of the case. I'll be getting a pair of 80mm fans for the bottom as well, to see if that helps.

Great article guys :):)
daletur328 10th February 2012, 15:22 Quote
great article, nice indepth and sustinct. But agree that a diagram with flow direction would have been nice. But as requested it would be great to have an in depth test of typical water cooling set up, also to include the like of the all in one H80/100 type thing. So often tests are done on benches.
Sutura 10th February 2012, 16:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
I've got to admit that I'd be extremely reluctant to use a H40/H80 as an intake. I know it's what Corsair suggest in their instructions but in our H80 testing we found this arrangement made the GPU run significantly hotter, which is a poor trade off for the couple of degrees you'll save on your CPU.

That is exactly what I was thinking about - the Corsair instructions. 10x for the useful advice. Now I know why. Have a nice weekend.
maverik-sg1 10th February 2012, 16:34 Quote
So which is more efficient for cooling a case with positive pressure or a case with a negative pressure?

Also, with all these high end air coolers around (efficient and quiet) the question has to be asked....is water cooling dead?
Farfalho 10th February 2012, 16:35 Quote
Having a Zalman GS1000 myself, two exhaust fans at the top, one exhaust at the rear, one intake at the bottom coupled with the Zalman CNPS9900 Copper and after reading this article, the effects of the Top Front fan to the cpu cooler got me thinking. The Cpu cooler fan is strong enough to pull air inside the case but the fan at the top is "eating" some airflow.
Thanks to this article, I'm prone to do something I've been willing for a while, get a 120mm fan to the three 5.25" drive bays as intake to help the cpu cooler and leave the Top Front mount fanless.
Thank you and in due time, these type of article are a joy to read and spend time getting some knowledge.
Anyone knows a 5.25" drive bay fan mount? That or make a custom one :D (smells like modding spirit!)
tonyd223 10th February 2012, 17:04 Quote
Scythe used to do the Kama Bay, which was a 120mm fan in a single unit that could fill a 3 bay hole. But it's been discontinued I think... ebay?
tonyd223 10th February 2012, 17:05 Quote
Or Thermaltake do an iCage, a 3xHDD cage with a 120mm fan on the front, again fills 3 bays. I have 2 in my NAS box thingy
N17 dizzi 10th February 2012, 17:31 Quote
This is interesting. I found the stock fractal fans a bit pants personally but certainly the side fan intake being that much more effective and the front top blanking plate removed is good to know. I think I have a 140mm dust filter too.

I have my side panel fan on exhaust to get the hot air away from my card which works well.
stmpl 10th February 2012, 17:50 Quote
Great article. Good work.
Tangster 10th February 2012, 17:55 Quote
Based on this article's findings I'm feeling fairly safe in the general R3 recommendation of Silverstone AP front and Scythe GT(or equivalent) rear as the primary problem with the front-back cooling in your tests appeared to stem from the weak airflow through the case from the stock fractal fans, which the AP's shouldn't suffer from(hopefully).
Material 10th February 2012, 17:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverik-sg1
So which is more efficient for cooling a case with positive pressure or a case with a negative pressure?
Quote:
Originally Posted by THE ARTICLE
Generally, all other things being equal, it’s better to get hot air out of your case than to pump cool air in, particularly when it comes to CPU cooling

With fewer fans, negative is generally better (see above quote from summary and conclusions page...). Get above 4 fans though and it doesn't really matter - you've got gales of air going through your case regardless of how they are set up.
nepenthes 10th February 2012, 18:41 Quote
I have the same case with 4 fans- 2x Fractal stocks in the front (intake) and 2x Xilence fans (the 'red fans' in this article in the back and roof as exhaust.

I'm thinking of making some changes to make the temperatures a bit lower. Should I replace the front two Fractal fans with ones with better airflow, or should I just add an extra fan onto the side of the case?
DwarfKiller 10th February 2012, 19:00 Quote
Excellent read, especially since I've been considering extra fans to add to the 3 it came with.
It seems my best option, as is, would be to move my front intake to the side or floor for the better chipset cooling more than anything.
Experimenting with the side and floor slots available should keep me occupied this weekend.
GoodBytes 10th February 2012, 19:41 Quote
Ah, THAT my friends is a good old style Bit-Tech article. Very informative.
Keep up the superb work guys.;)
S1W1 10th February 2012, 20:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gazchaz
Great Article!

S1W1:
There was a 120mm fan test done in 2009, not the most up to date but might have some useful info?

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cooling/2009/09/28/what-s-the-best-case-fan/

Thank you, I didn't see that. Useful, although an update would still be a good read :D
Gareth Halfacree 10th February 2012, 20:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Material
With fewer fans, negative is generally better (see above quote from summary and conclusions page...). Get above 4 fans though and it doesn't really matter - you've got gales of air going through your case regardless of how they are set up.
The one exception I've found is if you use filters on your fans. Set the case up with negative pressure, and you'll find every little hole in your case gets furry over time. Use positive pressure and the filters catch the muck.
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