Can you advise me about better cooling my tower PC?

Justin Ellenwood January 12, 2013
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I have a multimedia tower that I want to improve the airflow in. I have multiple computer case fans that I want to use. The idea was that I would put 2 per shelf. One for pulling in cool air and one for pulling out hot air. I have 2 questions when it comes to this:

How do I convert the fans so that I do not need a PSU?

How can I make it so that I can turn the fans on and off with a switch?

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  1. Mihovil Pletikos
    January 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    go with water cooling method for cpu- something like this http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Kuhler-H2O-620-Liquid/dp/B004LWYE4Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358277003&sr=8-2&keywords=water+cooling
    you will have quieter computer... and cooler

  2. Adrian Bagnato
    January 15, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I don't know about the switch (although me next sentence may help with that) but you can but USB to 3 pin adaptors (to power the fans). Get a bunch of them on eBay for about $1-$2 each and buy a USB hub to power them. With some luck and wiring you can fit a switch in there.

  3. Jim Chambers
    January 13, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Use a few large fans (120+ mm) that turn slower than small fans and are thus quieter. Check that CPU, PSU and video card fans are running at specs. Reroute wiring to minimize its effect on air flow. Since fans are indirectly (thru motherboard) or directly powered by the PSU they will turn off when computer is shutdown.

  4. Alan Wade
    January 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    How do I convert the fans so that I do not need a PSU? - PSU = Power Supply Unit which is by its own definition the power supply. You cannot do away with that!

    How can I make it so that I can turn the fans on and off with a switch? - Oops another No No. Turning the fans off is, for want of better words, bloody stupid. Turn them off and you risk overheating everything which leads to frying the M/B

    • ha14
      January 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      perhaps pc refuse to boot if fans are off and this can be true for cpu fan

      • Alan Wade
        January 13, 2013 at 12:08 am

        Yep, you are right ha14, if he starts his machine then turns them off it will surely BSOD and if he over-rides the heat levels it will fry.

    • Justin Ellenwood
      January 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      I am not looking at it for a computer case, but for a media tower. They changed me title.

      I was referring to PSU as in the computer PSU. I don't want to power the fans that way.

      As for the switch, I do not need the fans running to cool my media center when the 360, Wii, DVD player are not running.

      • dragonmouth
        January 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm

        Do you want to use the spare case fans that you already have in your parts bin? If that is so then you will have to find some way to supply them with 5-12 VDC at low amperage.

        If you do not have the fans yet, get some cage fans that run on house current. Wire them to a terminal block which is powered from the wall socket.

        For switch(es) you can use rheostat(s) such as radio volume control.

  5. Oron Joffe
    January 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Justin, you cannot _eliminate_ the PSU, it is the Power Supply Unit which supplies power (electricity) to your computer!
    Cooling is a complex subject, and you may one to do more research by looking at forums dedicated to it (some shops like QuietPC have their own forums) but generally, here are some pointers:
    1. Try to get the air to move in as close to a straight-line as possible from one end to the other, picking up the heat on the way. The most common arrangement is to have a fan at the front (usually at the bottom) impelling air, and a fan expelling air high up at the back (or sometimes at the top of the case). Whatever you do, try to avoid creating turbulence which will keep the hot air in the case for longer than absolutely necessary.
    2. To reduce noise, use the largest fans you can fit to your case. High quality fans are much quieter than cheap ones. You can also get rubber mounts that reduce vibration.
    3. If you REALLY want to cool your system, get a liquid-based cooling system (but these are expensive!).
    As for switching the fans on or off, you can get panels that have sets of controllers. These usually fit into a 5.25" opening (like that of a DVD drive) and connect to the motherboard and fans, and possibly to the power supply and to thermostats. Most of the companies that make high-quality cooling devices (e.g. Zalman, Akasa) make them, as do some motherboard makers.
    The panels allow you to control the speed of the fans, and some will even come with software that will allow you to have different "profiles" for different activities or temperatures, so you can have, for example, a "low intensity" profile (idle, a bit of browsing etc), "entertainment" (more fans but at low speed, to keep things quiet) and "gaming" (full-on cooling).
    Good luck!

    • Justin Ellenwood
      January 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      I am not looking at it for a computer case, but for a media tower. They changed me title. I was referring to PSU as in the computer PSU. I don't want to power the fans that way. As for the switch, I do not need the fans running to cool my media center when the 360, Wii, DVD player are not running.

      • Oron Joffe
        January 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

        Aha! That makes a lot more sense. Well, as Jan says, most fans require either 5v or 12v DC, so you just need to get yourself some other power source for the required voltage... Batteries would work, or you could get a power adapter. The other principles still apply though, keep the fans big and slow if you can, and the airflow as straight as possible.

  6. Jan Fritsch
    January 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Well, basically the fans just need 5-12V DC (depending on the speed you want) at a low electrical current (usually somewhere between 0.2-0.5A). Whether this power comes via a motherboard, power supply, USB port, AC adapter or a battery doesn't really matter.

    A switch is a switch - you just have to put it in between one of the wires.

    I think you can find all the options and informations you need at the following link
    http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/?sort=none&q=computer+fan

    • Justin Ellenwood
      January 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you for being the only person to read what I was asking and to give a good reply. I found my answer on that website

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