In-Desk Computer - Heat Concerns

Apr 23, 2018
I've been toying around for a while now with the idea of building a custom desk with my PC integrated into it. I've watched some videos and read some articles of other people's experiences doing this - one trend I've noticed is that everyone seems to simply attach their components to the desk as they would to a case. In other words, there is no aluminium case acting as an enormous heat sink.

I'd always assumed that was a thoroughly necessary aspect to a PC, but now I'm not so sure. Assuming the in-desk PC has decent ventilation and circulation (it would be fan-cooled in my case), would that be fine? Would I need to take any special considerations to ensure nothing overheated?

(this is a gaming PC, so we're talking some pretty high-tier components)


Mar 16, 2013
As long as you have good airflow through the case, no worries.
Cool air in, warm air out.

People have made PC cases out of all sorts of material.
Plastic, wood, mounted to the wall with no case at all...


Most cases are majority plastic, only the frame being metal. So no, the case is not a giant heat-sink. Case cooling is the responsibility of any case fans, many pre-builts having just a rear exhaust.

Heat rises. So any heat inside of any box will naturally rise to the top and collect there. A rear exhaust creates a vacuum by its face, nature abhorring a vacuum will fill it with the nearest available air, the heated air at the top of the case. Which gets removed and refilled in a constant process. The addition of a front intake forces cooler air into the box, to take the place of the exhausted hot air.

A case is nothing more than a fancy box to hold the interior components and direct airflow in/out. You can do the same in a desk, gumball machine, chest of drawers, file cabinet or even wide open mounted to a wall. All you need is something to hold the components and a source of airflow to remove any heat. Other that that, only your imagination will be a limiting factor


In agreement with @USAFRet.

I just googled "built in desk computer" and simply looked at images.

Designs and builds were much more elaborate than I expected.

Do keep in mind the need to open or access for repairs and replacements. Do not inadvertently "box" yourself in to where maintenance and cleaning is cumbersome and/or difficult.