Desk Mounted Computer Fans
April 30, 2005 5:27 PM   Subscribe

I am purchasing a new computer. With the amount of heat generated by today's PCs, I am concerned about the heat inside our enclosed desk cabinet. Can anyone suggest a cooling method which would allow heat to escape from the desk? I am willing to modify the furniture to mount a fan, but I'm not sure what to do or what options are available.
posted by y0mbo to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
is it fully enclosed? you might wanna drill some holes in the back.. you'll probably help more by keeping it clean inside and out (dust likes computers). computers don't generate *that* much heat - my machine rarely clocks temps over 100deg. Farenheit and it's a fairly recent machine - so you may find your desk is sufficiently ventilated. if you're stuck in wintel you might want to look into buying something with an Athlon over a Pentium 4..
posted by mrg at 5:36 PM on April 30, 2005

Hot graphics cards, fast CPU's, big honking power supplies? Take the whole back panel off if feasible, or at least cut out a large opening at the top where hot gases will accumulate and another opening right at the main power supply fan exit.
posted by caddis at 5:55 PM on April 30, 2005

The desk's cabinet in which the PC would sit is esclosed on three sides, with cutouts for cables. It is very solidly built as far as desks go (we had it semi-custom built). There is a door on the front of the desk is accordian style, but is usually closed. Above the PC is a drawer which pulls out and is used for the mouse, so some air can vent out there, but otherwise there isn't much for airflow.
posted by y0mbo at 6:26 PM on April 30, 2005

You might seriously consider water cooling. This option is more expensive, but its very quiet and way more effective than fans at cooling. You can even cool your video cards this way. If you don't want to do it yourself, there are specialty computer shops out there that can do this for you.
posted by thewittyname at 6:58 PM on April 30, 2005

Buy one of those low noise Large computer Case Fan from Newegg or something... spend around $10 or so ... usually more expensive ones seems to be more silent. You should be able to use extra wiring to connect to PC's power connector. One or two extra fans wouldn't hurt the computer.

Cut out the back of desk (same size as the fan)... and mount. This way your fan will activate whenever you turn on the computer also.

All this should take care of heat problem...
posted by curiousleo at 7:02 PM on April 30, 2005

If the PC's power supply is rated for 100W then it will consume no greater than that amount of power and turn a large fraction of it into heat. Since heat is heat, put a desklamp or two with 60W or 100W bulbs in the closed cabinet and a thermometer if you have one for bonus points. Close the door and wait an hour; report results.
posted by fatllama at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2005

thewittyname, water cooling would only help in this situation if you put the radiator outside the desk, which is a pretty good idea. Water cooling won't do anything to reduce the total heat output of a computer, just redirect it more efficiently elsewhere.
posted by zsazsa at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2005

I would second water cooling, if you don't know how to set it up, ask a techie friend. It's not cheap but it works very well. Danger Den and a host of companies make great water cooling solutions. Best bet would be to start at
Aside from that, cut a large hole in the back of said enclosure and mount the largest, quietest fan you can find. A 120mm from Vantec would be good.
posted by efalk at 8:41 PM on April 30, 2005

An oblique answer might be to get a mac, perhaps a mini -- then you'll have no need for cooling. I switched to a mac (powerbook) a year ago, and I'm still more delighted every day. Unless you're stuck with Windows because you have special software needs, a mac will do everything with very little extra software to buy (I bought only MS Office, reluctantly) and the mac mini is very inexpensive.
posted by anadem at 9:57 PM on April 30, 2005

I'd just get some appropriate thermal monitoring software to see if it's actually a problem. If it is, you could cut a hole in the back and mount an exhaust fan on it.
posted by mosch at 10:32 PM on April 30, 2005

Be careful with fatllama's suggestion lest you be reporting your house burning down. Modern PCs have power supplies rated at 250-450W with 300/350 being common. 300W of heat in a small enclosed space is a lot. Your computer has thermal protection built in, your desk lamp doesn't.

curiousleo's plan is great, you can buy 120mm fans powered by USB. It's a good idea whenever power ventilating to have twice as much intake area as exhaust area.
posted by Mitheral at 1:33 PM on May 3, 2005

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