PC banned to closed cabinet.. Need advice for airflow

Jun 11, 2018
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My wife and I used to have 2 separate desks. Now we have a custom desk/storage/media-cabinet built so everything looks nice and clean.. My wife has a laptop but I still use a mid-tower pc setup. Space on and under the desk is really limited (135cm) and she didn't want those wire spaghetti on the floor anymore.. so I compromised by having my setup (old i7 930, Radeon HD5770) put into a HTPC case (Silvestone Grandia GD09) and inside the cabinet part underneath the TV.




As you can see, it's fully enclosed, except for a 8 by 25cm cutout in the bottom (on both sides). The carpenters assured us it would be enough to get fresh air into the cabinet, heat wouldn't be an issue.. They were wrong.. after 15minutes of load my setup reached 90-100°, the inside of the cabinet was practically an oven.. Agreed, my setup is old and prone to getting hot, CPU thermal paste has never been replaced (about 8-9 year) but this is ridiculous. I removed the center shelf so heat doesn't stay trapped in that one compartment.

So I have been looking for an answer to get some airflow inside the cabinet. I have a 'cable gutter' (don't know the correct name in English) built inside the wall (It's a plastic pipe you use to run cables through the wall so you can have a TV wall mounted without seeing cables coming out of the cabinet). It starts inside the cabinet and has a hole of about 8x8 cm (pipe is also about 8 deep). Sites like Coolerguys.com have fans to cool cabinets, if a mount 2 8mm fans, one at the top and one at the bottom of the "chimney" could I suck out all the hot air? Maybe (if necessary) add fans where those cutouts are in the bottom to pull in fresh air, to create a positive airflow. Replacing the center shelf would force the air right into the fan, preventing it from floating to the top of the cabinet (and cutting the force needed to suck out the air by half) The top fan would be hidden from view by the TV which stands about 30-35cm from the wall..


Picture above shows my intented setup, with case fans also shown (both sides: intake, rear: exhaust)

Problem is: those fans can move 30-35 CFM but I don't know how much I need to get this to work? Can an 8x8 pipe handle the airflow? Or do I have to find another solution (my wife suggested getting a laptop to, but I don't really like working on one: screen is to small, used to mechanical keyboard and price is way to high compared to similar setup) Other solution I thought of would be getting rid of the HTPC and have a mini ITX system (Cooler Master Elite 110?) and place it behind the tv.

So yeah, if anybody knows if this could work or if they have ideas, please feel free to leave a reply/comment...
 
Basically you just need an exhaust with a fairly powerful fan. Your chimney idea might work just fine for you, but you need somewhere for the air to come into the cabinet as well. Preferably with the PC in the cross-flow. It might also be worth it to make a duct from the rear exhaust of the PC to the chimney to help keep hot air from collecting inside the cabinet.

Ultimately you want to get the PC out of the cabinet. An ITX build would help you do that. What might be better is something like the new Hades Canyon NUC. With that, you could actually mount it to the back of your monitor and it would still be a capable gaming PC.

I'm not sure you are going to be able to completely solve the heat problem while the PC is in there short of cutting holes in the cabinet to put fans into.
 
Not sure where yours pc is sitting in that,pic ??

Assuming the bigger,opening,to,the left of your other boxes the grandia should be fine,in there.

The gd09 only comes,with a single intake fan on the right doesn't it ??

You need to populate the single,left hand,mount as an intake & also add either 2 x 80 mm fans to the rear as exhausts, or add another 120mm can to the right .

Have The front right as an intake , the rear right as exhaust.

The grandia series are lovely , tidy looking cases , they need fans adding though.

 
It's a nice looking cabinet, at least. : P

I would probably first try just adding some quiet, low speed intake fans to those bottom vents. The metal covers should ideally be removed (and probably replaced with ones of a more open, wireframe design), and the fans (probably two for each vent) should completely cover the openings so that the pumped in air isn't immediately exiting around the sides of them. Exhaust fans might not even be needed, since the positive pressure should force air out through the opening in back, as well as around the doors, assuming there's some slight space around them.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
There are many server cabinets in the world similar to your setup with a single exhaust fan that will just draw all that heat out. A cabinet like that is not even vaguely sealed so a lot of air will be pulled in from everywhere. Thats what I would do (pointing upward), however keep in mind that with that much room inside the cabinet acoustically you may end up hearing it, noticeably.
 
Sounds like a great opportunity to upgrade the pc.
Your I7-930 has a TDP of 130w.
The 5770 needs a aux 6 pin connector; that makes the power draw between 75w and 150w.
No wonder the box heats up.
New tech uses much less power.
You could, for instance use a G5600 processor at 54w and integrated graphics.
The G5600 has the same 4 threads and is stronger, particularly in single thread performance.
The integrated HD630 graphics will be as good, if not better than the 5770.
If you do not now have a SSD, that will be lower power than a hard drive and will give you a quicker pc experience.
Probably cost about $250 plus whatever you want for a ssd.

A single 80mm fan in the exhaust tube would be enough to move heat out.
 
Jun 11, 2018
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Thanks for the replies everyone!
I agree that upgrading my system would help a great deal in keeping everything cool, lower heat generated = lower ambient heat inside the cabinet.. Not that much of a fan of integrated graphics (had some bad experiences in the past)

just to be clear: the case is now on the left side, but if the "chimney" idea is doable, I would relocate it to the right so the distance between the "chimney" and the rear exhaust of my case is shorter.. and yes I plan on fitting all possible fan slots, but it would be a terrible waste of buying all the fans and cooling if the idea doesn't work and I end up buying the ITX setup. The top hole in the wall (top of the chimney) hasn't been drilled yet, again like to be sure the idea would work first)
Would I have to have a fan at the top? Or would one at the bottom of the "chimney" be enough to move everything up and out of the pipe? (possible wiring difficulties, have to get power to the fans from somewhere..)
 
One potential problem with having a fan on the "chimney" is that if it's being used for running cords, then those cords might make it difficult to get a good seal around the fan. And if there isn't a relatively good seal, that's likely to reduce the amount of air that gets drawn through the duct.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator


I agree, I think a Pipe filled with cables is an awful way to try and exhaust air. Especially how hot this thing gets. Put the fan somewhere near the top of the cabinet exhausting out the top or the top part of the side.
 
Jun 11, 2018
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No No the chimney will NOT be used to run cables like HDMI or power to the TV (if used to exhaust heat) .. but I will have to figure out how to power the fan, so maybe that wire might go down the chimney to reach a power supply of some sort.. sorry for the misunderstanding..
 
For power, one option might be to use USB case fans, or regular case fans with USB adapters like these...

https://www.amazon.com/4-Pin-Sleeved-Power-Adapter-Cable/dp/B01LW50R03

https://www.amazon.com/4-Pin-Sleeved-Power-Adapter-Cable/dp/B071NN5PSL

USB ports will only provide 5 volts, resulting in slower fan speed, but you might not want to run a case fan at a full 12 volts anyway, since many of them can be fairly audible at full power. You just have to make sure that the fans can start at 5 volts, though I believe most should. And of course, that they can push enough air at that speed.
 
Jun 11, 2018
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Sorry if I'm bumping an old thread but the plans have "evolved"..
So that "chimney" idea was scrapped, seemed to be to much hassle to get it to work..
so after some thinking a now have 3 options:
  • Keep the grandia GD09 and enlarge the holes inside those media cabinets so they can fit 2 AC Infinity T7 (one in the left cabinet set to exhaust, one in the right cabinet set to intake) Both airplates would be at the bottom of the cabinet, would that be a problem?(heat rises)
  • change case to a mid-Tower (something like the NZXT H500 or H200) and put the PC inside that bottom cabinet right next to the desk.. then cut 2 holes in the side (where the desk is) and fit them with AC Infinity T8 (one on the bottom for intake, one at the top for exhaust)
  • change case to something like the DAN A4 and place it on top of the cabinet (like behind or next to the TV), this way I won't need to cut any holes and the price difference in the case would make up the price of the airplates.
Providing I get some new parts to build a pretty descent gaming/workstation pc (about 1500 to 2000€ budget) what would be the best solution in your opinion? What would you choose?
 

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