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Need "Cool" PC Case With Lots of Fans and No Useless Extras

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Rumblefish, Nov 1, 2011.

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  1. Rumblefish

    Rumblefish Thread Starter

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    I have this problem that my computer overheats due to my budget case not being capable of adequately addressing the needs of my GainWard GTX 580 Phantom VGA.

    Yesterday when I played Assassin's Creed Brotherhood in Stereo 3D mode on max settings, the case cover where the card resides got incredibly hot, literally enough to boil an egg. The card survived with no damage so far, but it while this problem doesn't get resolved, I can't play games in Stereo 3D mode.

    Here is my current case cooling.

    1x200mm frontal intake fan
    2x80mm rare exhaust fans
    1x80mm side panel intake fan

    Now, when I am not playing games in 3D mode the card can cope without producing such enormous heat, but if I play 3D games on max settings, things get very hot.

    I checked Thermaltake, Zalman and nVidia's site for solutions but the cases they offer come loaded with a ton of not really needed extras, which I can live perfectly without, and am not really eager to pay 3-digit prices for. I don't care about looks, or "screwless installation" or other extras, I just want a case that can adequately cool the insides of my PC.

    My question is can you recommend me a case which can provide me with adequate cooling and doesn't come with a ton of unneeded stuff I will never really use.
     
  2. replay

    replay

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  3. Rumblefish

    Rumblefish Thread Starter

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  4. replay

    replay

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  5. prunejuice

    prunejuice

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    I have the Antec 300.

    Very good case cooling provisions, but a little light on cable management features. Still, very good for the price.
     
  6. Rumblefish

    Rumblefish Thread Starter

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    Alright I did my research to see which ones of the Antec line of products are available at the local market and here are the results.

    1. None of the Antec cases are available locally. I will have to import them, if I choose to go for an Antec case, and in this case I will most definitely end up paying around $170 to $200 for a case like Antec Nine Hundred, because Newegg doesn't ship in my part of the EU and resellers overprice these boxes terribly and merchants on ebay demand terrible shipping fees, up to $133 just for shipping.

    2. Antec 300 is sold for about the same money as the Antec Nine Hundred and Nine Hundred Two v3 versions, which costs just a little less than Antec 1200. Crazy pricing in my part of the world, but I guess I am really out of luck.

    3. I found that this box is actually available at my local market, at its Newegg price. Now, if you are saying that Antec 900 or 300 are my ONLY options that can REALLY solve my problem, I will go for import, but otherwise, I am not very eager to pay between 70% and 100% the price of the box in shipping, transport, custom fees, and other fees.

    Really, I am sorry I am bringing this question again, I see you clearly prefer the Antec line, but I guess I am simply out of luck with them. I will do what you say in the end, especially if these two Antec cases are my only solution, but if I can achieve the same effect with this locally available, not so overpriced case, it will be nice.

    I admit I can't really judge for myself, because I totally don't understand anything about cases, cooling, and how well different brands handle it and deliver on their promises.

    Thank you so much for your help and patience.
     
  7. replay

    replay

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    where r u located.........UK?
     
  8. Rumblefish

    Rumblefish Thread Starter

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    I wish. eBay, Amazon and Newegg all have great offerings for the UK market, but not for my country.

    I am located in Bulgaria. We are just 5 million and with a market of that size, competition is almost non-existent and there isn't a great variety of goods because there aren't enough buyers for everything, especially gaming gear as there aren't enough young people around to buy it.

    When you need something more special, you are simply out of luck.
     
  9. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

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    I, personally, have no clue about what exactly is available in your marketplace.

    But I can provide some general pointers. Basically you want a case that has a design that is as wide open as possible so that air is free to move from low in front to high in back. It should have plenty of air inlet area, and for your purposes probably two fans on the top or one on the top and one on the top rear are pretty much mandatory. The power supply fan can count as one of those top fans, if the power supply is in the top. But you'll gain overall cooling performance if the power supply is maintained inside its own private duct in the bottom of the case. This is because the bulk of the power supply in the top of the case tends to obstruct smooth air flow and trap heat.

    The hard drive bays should be set up so that air can flow through them; not cooling the hard drives is a mistake and few cheap cases will cool the hard drives.

    A cable management system - which provides a means of getting all that tangle of cables out of the way - is a really good idea. My workstation's case (an Antec P-182) permits the cables to be routed in their own area behind the motherboard. This results in a much cleaner installation than would otherwise be possible, and aids the flow of air through the system.

    You probably will have a big heatsink on your processor if you are a gamer. Make sure that your heatsink fans cooperate with the cooling flow of the case and don't oppose it. Because your general flow of air will be from low in front to high in back, your heatsink fans should move the air vertically in the up direction.

    Use round cables rather than ribbon cables for drives, though this is not much of an issue if you are using SATA drives. Ribbon cables block a lot of air.

    Basically, every fan in the system, and the internal design of the chassis, needs to cooperate with cooling and nothing must be permitted to obstruct or work against cooling. Big empty space in the middle that can be set so that air flows smoothly from low in front to high in back. Fans on the front are inlet fans. Fans in the back are outlet fans. Fans on the processor heat sink push the air along and don't oppose it.

    The heat sink itself should be of a type that will function as a flow straightener as the air goes past it. No one will advertise this as a heat sink capability, but if you pick the right heat sink for your case, it will have that effect. Straightening flow makes it quieter and hastens it on its way. It is turbulence that causes noise and reduces cooling.

    Big fans in the side cover are OK, so long as they help move air smoothly and don't just introduce turbulence. Personally, I don't use boxes with big fans in the side simply because they don't help air flow smoothly. Quite the contrary, they usually introduce a lot of turbulence.

    So pick a case that you can get locally that satisfies these needs. Take a look at the Antec P-182 case if you want to see one that does a good job of moving the air as I suggest. The P-182 is no longer sold; the current generation is the P-183 which is very similar.

    My workstation has a quad-core Phenom-II overclocked, 8 hard drives (5 SCSI, 2 SATA, 1 IDE), and two optical drives in it. It has a mid-line graphics card (GT-240) since I'm not a gamer. It presently is running 4 operating systems at the same time, and one of those operating systems (a Win7 virtual machine) is running some BIG database queries, while another of them (an OpenSUSE virtual machine) is connected with and communicating with a couple of other computers - one here in my office and the other one about 30 miles away. So the machine is pretty busy.

    The workstation has 11 fans in it. It is sitting here next to my desk. But I can't hear it running...over the noise of the ceiling fan that is turning overhead. It is that quiet. And it stays cool; the processor is running about 15-20C over ambient temps and the hard drives have temps ranging from ambient to about 15C over ambient. I picked the case based on the principles I outlined here, and I built the system in it based on those principles...including the big processor heat sink that acts as a flow straightener (Evercool Transformer 4).
     
  10. iRiguez

    iRiguez

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    Corsair 400r. Cheap, well made, has a crap ton of cable management, expansions for fans, and it looks awesome.
     
  11. Rumblefish

    Rumblefish Thread Starter

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    I got the Thermaltake Dokker BlacX since it's the best one for what my local market has to offer when it comes to affordable gaming boxes with somewhat adequate cooling, is not overpriced a couple of times by local resellers and comes as close as possible to what jiml8 posted.

    I looked really hard for a case, any case offered locally that offers an "own private duct for the PSU", but none of the cases available here have such a feature.

    I expect the case to arrive in a day or two so I will post results when it does.

    Thank you all very much for your advice, I learned a lot about cases and cooling, with special thanks to jiml8 for his very detailed explanation. It was very helpful.

    Can you show me an example of such a sink ? Since most games nowadays actually load the VGA a lot more than they load the CPU, I don't overclock it just to brag on gamer message boards with my CPU speeds and I am still with the motherboard's stock cooler.

    If it will help, my CPU is a Core i7 957 @ 2.2Ghz and my motherboard is DX58SO.
     
  12. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

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    The attached pictures show the inside of my workstation and a schematic of the air flow pattern in the system.

    The photo isn't so good, but it is good enough for you to pick out the details. Note the huge heatsink in the middle of the case. You can't really see the perspective, but this heatsink is large enough to span almost the full width of the case. The side of the case clears it by less than an inch.

    This heatsink is composed of many fins, all oriented the same as the top fin which is the only one you can see. Given this orientation and the size of the heatsink, circulating air currents within the case that would swirl in the horizontal plane from front to back and side to side within the case are pretty much blocked from occurring. Circulating currents that swirl vertically, from front to back and top to bottom, are nominally permitted, but note that the two heat sink fans direct air up and at both the top and the back are exhaust fans. So air that would swirl vertically is extracted at the top and the back.

    The result is that air moves from bottom front to top rear smoothly and is exhausted. This system cools very very well and is quite quiet. The heat sink isn't specifically designed to straighten flow, but given careful layout of the components used in the system and the proper selection of both case and heatsink, it will have this effect.

    Contrast this to a stock processor heat sink, which will promote the lateral movement of air in the system and will actually create swirls. The air is pulled sideways into the heat sink, then exhausted in whatever directions the heat sink fins direct it. This explicitly creates swirling air in the case, which increases noise and reduces the efficiency of cooling. Of course, the stock heat sinks work, but at the price of a much louder system.

    Also notice that the power supply is in its own duct in the bottom of the chassis, along with four hard drives. There are holes in the duct so that cables can pass, but there are also doors that close off all of the openings except the amount needed to let the cables through. You can see that I have both SCSI and SATA cables passing into the bottom duct. Power cables are all routed behind the motherboard in the cable management section of the case. This means that the power supply heat is fully isolated from the processor, and has its own heat removal path. Thus the processor heat removal path can be optimized without regard for the presence of the power supply.

    So, the result is that this large, powerful, busy system is almost silent even though I live in the desert where the summertime temperatures commonly get to 48C and have made it as high as 51C. My house is air conditioned, of course, but in the summer the office (where the computer is) often hits 33-34C, which does force me to put the fans on high...which isn't silent but isn't particularly loud either. The portable fan in the hallway is louder than this entire computer with fans on high. When used in these conditions, the processor will reach 49C at full load and that is all. There are 5 15K RPM SCSI drives in this box; the warmest of them will hit 45C at full load under these conditions.

    As I stated earlier, I am not a gamer. So my video card is only an Nvidia GT-240, which you can see in the case. It is the topmost card inserted in a slot. The fan on it basically blows air out into the case where it is captured by the rest of the thermal management design and exhausted. I have made deliberate attempts to exercise this card as hard as I can using OpenGL applications, and I have never managed to get it above 70C in temperature which isn't hot enough to even make the fan speed up. If I were to try some heavy duty game, I might make it work harder and I might not...I just don't know. But I do know that my system doesn't strain in the slightest removing the heat from the card at the levels to which I have been able to push it.

    Thermal management and noise were primary considerations for me when I constructed this system; the components I purchased were purchased specifically to optimize the flow of air through my case.
     

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