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Desktop System Cooling Hardware Guide - December 2008

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MattSlagle View Drop Down
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  Quote MattSlagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Desktop System Cooling Hardware Guide - December 2008
    Posted: 16 Dec 2008 at 3:16pm

Desktop System Cooling Hardware Guide - December 2008

Computers need to be at an optimal temperature to run efficiently and without problems.  However, current computers put out massive amounts of heat, and therefore need the correct cooling system to maintain that nominal working temperature.
 
There are a few considerations that must be taken into account.
Power Usage A computer that uses more power or has more powerful components creates more heat.  That means more fans, and thus more noise.
Noise Level A computer that requires more cooling will usually create more noise.  However, a larger diameter fan running slower can cool the same as a smaller fan running faster.
Case Size A larger case will usually dissipate heat easier, and a larger case also has room for more fans, bigger fans, and extreme cooling solutions like liquid cooling or phase cooling.

To categorize which cooling solutions are best for your usage, all the following cooling solutions will be categorized by the following usages/users.

Normal User The average consumer who surfs the internet, reads email, and simple office applications.
Normal Gamer The average gamer who plays games on occasion and has a moderate power advantage over the Normal User.
Heavy Gamer The above average gamer who has multiple video cards and the top-binned processors (ie Extreme) who plays at the highest settings possible.
Bencher/Enthusiast While the hardware may be the same as the Heavy Gamer, the stress and heat of the components is higher to achieve the most performance possible.
Silent User The user who wants the lowest-noise system possible or whose job/environment demand the use of a low-noise system.
 

CPU Cooling Solutions


Reference Air Cooling

Usage:  Normal User

Nearly all mainstream and enthusiast processors today come with a standard heatsink to adequately cool the processor under normal circumstances.  These CPU coolers are not rated for overclocking user, nor are they the most quiet of coolers.  If overclocking or noise is a concern, please upgrade the CPU cooler.

 

Aftermarket Passive Cooling

Usage:  Silent User

For servers or for the user who wants a quieter system, passive cooling can be used.  However, active cooling must flow through the cooler or a much bigger passive cooling surface must be used to cool the processor.  There are cases such as the ones that Zalman produces which have large passive cooling heatsinks which connect via heatpipes to the heat sources that do not need active cooling.

 

Aftermarket Air Cooling

Usage:  Normal Gamer, Heavy Gamer, Silent User

 

Replacing the standard CPU cooler with one that can reduce noise and increase cooling can let the system run with higher performance components.  These CPU coolers also usually generate a channel of air that starts at the front of the case, goes through the CPU cooler, and exits directly out the back of the case.

 

The large CPU coolers are quite heavy and can come dislodged during shipping or handling.  The very large or odd shaped ones can impede direct access to the motherboard as well.

 

Aftermarket Liquid Cooling

Usage:  Heavy Gamer, Bencher/Enthusiast

 

Aftermarket liquid cooling comes in two varieties:  pre-built and custom.  Pre-built systems include all the components sealed together with the coolant already filled.  These systems are as easy to install as an aftermarket air cooler.  Custom liquid cooling requires assembly using parts selected for the application or case design.  Both work equally well to create lower temperatures then air cooling.

 

Pre-built liquid cooling can only the cool the CPU while the custom design can cool many other components.  The drawbacks to custom is the cost and time to build and also the fragility of the system.  While we try to build the most robust liquid cooling, the shipping process can dislodge hardware or tubes causing the cooling system to fail or leak.

 

Aftermarket Thermo-Electric Cooling

Usage:  Heavy Gamer, Bencher/Enthusiast

 

Thermo-Electric cooling comes in two varieties:  liquid or air cooling.  In the liquid system as shown, the liquid coolant is cooled below the ambient temperature using TECs (Thermo Electric Cooler).  In air cooling, a TEC is placed between the CPU and an air cooler.

 

Both methods can create lower temperatures then liquid or air cooling, but require massive airflow to carry away the extra heat which can cause more noise then either air or liquid.  Also the TECs themselves require large amounts of power draw to create the low temperatures sometimes in excess of 200 watts each.

 

Video Card Cooling Solutions


Reference Air Cooling

Usage:  Normal User, Normal Gamer, Heavy Gamer

 

Many video cards have good cooling even with the standard air cooler.  Because video cards are rarely overclocked, and due to usually good design, the standard cooler can work under a variety of conditions.

 

Reference Passive Cooling

Usage:  Normal User, Silent User

 

These cards with built-in passive cooling are usually low-powered, so their usage is geared towards either desktop non-gaming usage or silent users.

 

Aftermarket Air Cooling

Usage:  Heavy Gamer, Bencher/Enthusiast

 

Due to the fact that aftermarket cooling is very expensive, this is normally reserved for the most powerful of cards which generate massive amounts of heat.  This allows for slightly more overclock then reference cooling.  This method can increase overall system temperature due to the fact that it does not direct airflow out of the case as seen to the left.

 

Aftermarket Liquid Cooling

Usage:  Heavy Gamer, Bencher/Enthusiast

 

Due to the fact that aftermarket cooling is very expensive, this is normally reserved for the most powerful of cards which generate massive amounts of heat.  This allows for slightly more overclock then reference cooling.  This method also lowers the overall system temperature as well.

 

Aftermarket Passive Cooling

Usage:  Silent User

 

The giant heatsinks can dissipate enough heat to allow the card to be passively cooled.  However, the coolers may take up several expansions slots limiting expansion and the heatsinks do need some airflow to aide in the cooling.  An active fan directly on the cooler will create the most effective type of aftermarket air cooling possible.

 

Memory Cooling Solutions


Reference Cooling

Usage:  All Users

 

Current memory is designed to run at a certain frequency.  At this frequency, memory does not create as much heat as CPU or GPU.  Thus the reference cooling produced by the memory companies is usually good enough for all types of computing.

 

Aftermarket Air Cooling

Usage:  Benchers/Enthusiasts

 

With the higher temperatures of overclocked components, the heat must be taken away faster.  Aftermarket memory air cooling creates more airflow that goes past the reference heatsinks that may not be present in a benched system.  This is sufficient to cool down overclocked memory.

 

Aftermarket Liquid Cooling

Usage:  Benchers/Enthusiasts

 

With the higher temperatures of overclocked components, the heat must be taken away faster.  Liquid cooling for memory is the most efficient way possible, but the heatsinks can be too wide to fill all the DIMMs with memory and can also be costly for all the connections and tubing required.

 

Motherboard Cooling Solutions


Passive Cooling

Usage:  All Users

 

The motherboard chipset runs at a much lower frequency then the CPU or GPU.  Thus its temperatures are lower and all that is needed is passive cooling.

 

 

 

Air Cooling

Usage:  All Users

 

When the motherboard is designed for overclocking and gaming, the North Bride is usually designed with active cooling.  This can increase overclocks and create more stability.

 

There are also fans designed to fit on top of a passive chipset cooler to lower temperatures.

 

 

Liquid Cooling

Usage:  Heavy Gamers, Benchers/Enthusiasts

 

When the motherboard is designed for overclocking and gaming, the North Bride is sometimes designed with a dual cooler which is passive and can also be liquid cooled.  When overclocking, the liquid cooling is much more effective then the passive cooling.  This can create higher overclocks then on air alone.

 

There are also waterblocks designed for the chipsets to replace both air and passive chipset coolers.

 

Hard Drive Cooling Solutions


Hard Drive Passive Cooling

Usage:  All Users

 

Almost all hard drives do not create heat to be worried about.  If the hard drive does create enough heat, the manufacturer usually creates a cooling system to keep the drive cool.  Almost all gaming and enthusiast cases today include fans to cool the hard drives as well.

 

Hard Drive Air Cooling

Usage:  Normal Users, Heavy Gamers

 

While it may be odd to see normal users in the usage list, these type of users sometimes use much more hard drive space then gamers.  If there are multiple hard drives in a confined space, extra cooling may be needed to keep the drives cool.  Heavy gamers may also need this if their case creates too much heat due to other components.

 

Hard Drive Liquid Cooling

Usage:  Benchers/Enthusiasts

 

The need for such a setup is rare, and is usually reserved for the Enthusiasts who want everything liquid cooled.  Setup is expensive and the results are slightly better then air cooling.

 

Other Component Cooling Solutions


Aftermarket Case Fan

Usage:  Heavy Gamers, Benchers/Enthusiasts, Silent Users

 

Many cases have an adequate number of fans to cool hardware that is in normal operation.  However, hardware which is overclocked or multiple GPUs need extra airflow to be sufficiently cooled.  This requires fans which push more air then stock case fans.

 

Another reason for aftermarket case fans is due to noise.  Some of the lower-priced cases use unusually loud case fans which can be replaced with lower-noise fans which push the same amount of air.  Normally,  the stock fans on gaming and Enthusiasts cases are low-noise as well.

 

Yet another reason is that these aftermarket fans may also include extra features such as lighting effects as seen to the left.

Matt Slagle
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  Quote themandalorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2008 at 7:09pm
Liquid cooling memory is kind of insane, lol but a hard drive, that seems silly
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  Quote MattSlagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Dec 2008 at 10:32am
Originally posted by themandalorian

Liquid cooling memory is kind of insane, lol but a hard drive, that seems silly
 
We have seen and built it.  But with DDR3 memory lower voltages and better air cooling products coming to market, there is almost no reason to use liquid anymore.
 
Also, liquid does not travel very well.  It is almost impossible to get UPS to ship a liquid system without something going wrong.  I would love nothing more than to have us create an all liquid system (CPU, GPU, NB, HDD, PSU, RAM with one giant radiator on the side.
 
Maybe one day, but not right now.....
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  Quote themandalorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Dec 2008 at 8:40pm

Have you seen how other retailers do it? They Put GIant bubble packs on the inside so NOTHING moves

http://www.cpu3d.com/review/6135-10/beast-aphros-reality-gaming-pc/how-beast-computers-ship-their-systems.html

private courier part seems ridiculous

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  Quote MattSlagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Dec 2008 at 9:55am
Originally posted by themandalorian

Have you seen how other retailers do it? They Put GIant bubble packs on the inside so NOTHING moves

http://www.cpu3d.com/review/6135-10/beast-aphros-reality-gaming-pc/how-beast-computers-ship-their-systems.html

private courier part seems ridiculous

 
We use bubble packs as well.  But our stuff is ESD compliant.  All that bubble wrap is extremely static clingy.  If that stuff was to put out just even a small static charge...POOF... your computer is dead.
 
Even with all that packing, stuff STILL gets moved around in shipping.  Anytime someone gets a full liquid rig, we strongly suggest using our truck pallet shipping.
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  Quote themandalorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2008 at 2:32am

I like how the Lian LI case I'm planning to get holds your graphics cards in place :)

PC-P80

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  Quote cheapcomputers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 May 2009 at 10:34am
well i have compaq evo d500, it's fan makes too much noise...should i change the fan or is there any other issue?
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  Quote Wylde Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2009 at 10:09pm
Originally posted by MattSlagle

I would love nothing more than to have us create an all liquid system (CPU, GPU, NB, HDD, PSU, RAM with one giant radiator on the side.
 
How much we talking? 1000 watt PSU, 12gb ram, i7 965 EE, Geforce 295? Just for reference sake?

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  Quote Wylde Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2009 at 10:11pm
Originally posted by Wylde

Originally posted by MattSlagle

I would love nothing more than to have us create an all liquid system (CPU, GPU, NB, HDD, PSU, RAM with one giant radiator on the side.
 
How much we talking? 1000 watt PSU, 12gb ram, i7 965 EE, Geforce 295? Just for reference sake?
Oh, forget the hdd... lol. It IS ridiculous... even a 10-15,000rpm spinner is cool enough at ambient...

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  Quote Wylde Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2009 at 10:12pm
OH, and I'd drive to Ohio to pick it up!

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  Quote johnmecay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Dec 2012 at 8:27am
I have a old PC who is not working properly and i want information how i can increase its processing speed. Can guide me.
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  Quote Jmundy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Dec 2012 at 4:00pm
Hello John,
 
 
Depending on our setup, there are several ways you could speed up your PC. It could be in the form of a hardware upgrade, OS implementations, or even some software.
 
Could you please provide us with some in-depth details on the type of system you own, what you use it for, etc...? Also include how old the system is, and what model (if any) if it's some pre-built name-brand type system.
 
Off the bat, I'm going to go ahead and say that you will most likely want to explore hardware upgrades if you're not happy with the performance of your machine. Unless it's some nasty virus, removing software or modifying the OS will not make largely noticeable changes. On very rare occasions, it can, but large impacts are typically seen after hardware upgrades of some sort.
 
I would also be interested to see if your computer was built and designed to deflect upgrades. A lot of name-brand companies do this purposely, to force your hand in purchase a brand-new system.
 
 


Edited by Jmundy - 27 Dec 2012 at 4:00pm
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