Mini-ITX Case Cooling Issues


Jun 25, 2009
Hi there. My apologies if I picked the wrong forum for this. I'm wondering if anyone could help me with possible cooling solutions for a mini-itx case. I finished the build yesterday and the CPU temp is running a bit hot at 55C-60C idle.

I've never done a build at this small of a form factor before, so I feel as if I'm in uncharted territory in terms of cooling options. There is no room for a case fan. The CPU cooler is a low-profile aftermarket that seemed well reviewed for core2duo's. The stock Intel cooler would have fit...but just barely & there were risks of it touching the NB chipset.

It seems like my only options for this case is a PCI fan (there is one PCI x16 slot on the board not being used) or a 3.5" bay solution. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of experience with I'm hoping to get some advice on what would work better and/or specific product suggestions. This is a budget htpc solution (sub-$500) I'm trying to keep costs (and fan noise) down.

I've outlined the specs of my system below.

Purpose & Uses:
Budget Mini-ITX HTPC for bedroom.
No overclocking needs.
No hard core gaming (maybe secondlife).
Will mainly be used for browsing & streaming music/movies (avi) from my server.
Netflix streaming & Hulu.

APEX MI-008 w/250W PSU
(Dimensions: 8.7"x5.1"x11.8")


Intel c2d E5200

CPU Cooler:
ZEROtherm ATOM 30H Low-Profile
(size: 80mm | CFM: max 29.2 | Heatpipe: Copper tubing)

Thermal Paste Used:
Arctic Silver

4GB G.Skill DDR2 800 (F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ)

WD Caviar Green 640GB

Using onboard HDMI (Nvidia GeForce 9300)

Samsung Black 22x SH-S223B


I'd be so grateful for any suggetions or advice. I've got a box window fan pointed at the back of the case for now...which is keeping it around 45C...but obviously that isn't a long term solution. :)

Thanks in advance for any feedback!



Jan 16, 2009
May i ask where you got those temps? If you are using a computer program some of them are inaccurate and can be way off on temp. Try CoreTemp and see if you get the same reading.

If you're using actual hardware to get that reading, These 2 PCI Slot Coolers look like they could help. Both look to be under ~30dBA


Jun 25, 2009
Thanks so much for the feedback! I'd used SpeedFan for the temp readings. Sorry for not including that info in my initial post. I just tried CoreTemp and it looks as if the readings are pretty consistent between the two.

I ended up finding a Rosewill PCI slot cooler that I forgot about from an old build. I set it up to blow air out the back and it's keeping the cpu temps at around 40C at idle, 50C-55C at 60% load and around 65C-70C at 90%+ load. Without the PCI was running 55C-60C idle, 65-70C at 60% load and from 75C and up at 90% load. So the PCI fan has definitely helped. In truth, I was actually quite surprised it was this I didn't think it would do much where it was positioned.

The only downside is that the system is now a little louder than I would have liked (it was near-silent before I put in the pci-slot fan)....but still not even close to as loud as the xbox 360 I was using previously as a media center.

BTW, the case doesn't come with any fans, though is pretty generous in terms of side/back vents. It looks as if I'd be able to use the side vent by the cpu to mount an 80MM or smaller fan - though it would be tight. I wanted to test this out...but all I had laying around were 120mm...which were too big and would hit the copper tubing on my heatsink. I was also wrong about having the option of a 3.5" bay cooling solution with this case, as that space is being used by the hdd. ( I had been looking at it from the outside when the idea came to me and wasn't thinking about the internal layout)

So I'm going to leave it as-is for now. I wish it were a little cooler...but at least it shouldn't burn out now.

Thanks again for the help & suggestions. Much appreciated!