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Thread: Thermodynamics 101: Case Air Pressure

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    Default Thermodynamics 101: Case Air Pressure

    Hey guys, this has been bugging me for a while, so thought I ask here. What "airflow" does your case have ? Yes, the question is a bit weird, pardon me for that.

    To know a bit more about air pressure, here's a start:
    • Negative Air Pressure
    • Neutral Air Pressure
    • Positive Air Pressure
    This is a general idea for a PC case, with a working mATX/ATX board installed, and usually high performance case fans to reach an optimal level of cooling for the working components: Processor, GPU, boards' PCB, Mosfets, HDD etc. Now the fun part is, each has its own set of advantages/disadvantages, which I'll discuss as I go along.

    Negative Air Pressure = More Air going OUT, than coming IN.

    So here's the deal, you have more exhaust fans than intakes, your PC will have more of a negative air pressure. It helps with overall cooling, and will create a turbulence inside your casing where air packets will be sucked in from ALL of the holes inside you case, which is to speak(any sort of opening in your case- cracks/crevices), and air will be brought in to be exhausted by the fans rotational blades. But here's the catch, as the air is sucked in; it will also attract DUST, and pretty much you can expect your case to be a dust magnet if you have such a setup. Oh, and there won't be any dead spots = where packets of air being stuck because of less exhaust in side a closed compartment.

    Neutral Air Pressure = Equal amount of air coming IN/going OUT

    As the name implies, Neutral Air Pressure creates a balance between exhaust/intake pressure. Inside your casing, there will be less turbulence or more of a laminar flow meaning calm regions. But practically that isn't correct now, is it ? Because of the fans rotating, there can be increase/decrease in rotational speed resulting in different cfm of air going in/out. In practical life, you can't really achieve ideal air pressure; there will still be disturbance which would throw of the air balance, hence it's hard to maintain a Neutral air pressure.

    The good thing about it is, you don't have to worry about your casing being a dust magnet. The accumulation of dust will be minimal, but it will still be evident to a certain extent. Components working inside you casing might heat up, but at the same time the balance created by the fans will help it to work at at optimal levels (considering forces) to be balanced, so the blades won't have to "work" extra to push air in/out, albeit the performance.

    Positive Air Pressure = More Air coming IN, than going OUT.

    Positive Air Pressure deals with air having a greater unit of coming in, than going out. This is usually the case, when more intake fans are installed in a given casing. If the exhaust is not balanced or greater than the intake, then air will stack up inside the casing than leaving. This has a good side, intakes will force cool air in, replacing the hot air surrounding the components, as hot air is less dense- the cold air quickly replaces the unwanted heat in this manner. The configuration highly depends on cases, as different casings have different dimensions/layouts/fan positioning/cooling mechanism.

    It also helps with dust not being a problem, positive air flow casings tends to be clean. But if the surrounding air is not clean, then your casing will still choke up.

    Now here's my story, I've a total of 6fans installed in my casing. All of them are more or less of the same cfm, with one being slightly under powered. I've negative air flow inside my case, 5 of the fans are running as exhausts, with one being used as an intake. It does help with temps, and also becomes a dust magnet at the same time which is very frustrating. I can change 2 more fans to be intake, but which ones ?

    Current fan configuration:
    • 2x 120mm top *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm back *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm side *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm bottom *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm front *intake*
    So you guys having a fan at the side beside your GPUs: is it intake or exhaust ? If I make it an intake, the blades touch the surface of the side panels interfering with the rotational blades + making noise. It does help with GPU temperatures, but then again the GPU accumulates a lot of dust which I can't clean easily, as I've to take apart the whole GPU to clean it thoroughly. Having it as an exhaust, dumps the heat from the GPU outside the exhaust, but not as efficient as when used as an intake.

    How to Test Air Pressure ?

    Take a small tissue paper/toilet roll, and place it into a fan duct/holes, any sort of opening that is not near a fan. Say the front mesh of your case, it'll have tiny holes which you can test by applying the tissue paper against it and see whether it is sucked IN or blown OUT. As you have guessed, if it's sucked in, you have Negative Air Pressure, if it's blown out, you have Positive Air Pressure.

    This guide might have technical descriptions which might not be a 100% correct, so please point them out so that I can correct it.

    Thanks for reading, that would be all.
    Last edited by dipanzan; January 29th, 2012 at 01:11.

  2. #2
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    o.t dokker has a slot of 200mm but i measured the distance from screw to screw is 140mm so can i fit a 140mm fan as a top exhaust??

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    Quote Originally Posted by @bhi View Post
    o.t dokker has a slot of 200mm but i measured the distance from screw to screw is 140mm so can i fit a 140mm fan as a top exhaust??
    Yes you can, and this is in no way an offtopic, you are more than welcome to post.

    As I figured, we should have a thread for discussing fan placements/air flow/characteristics of a fan/case cooling questions etc.

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    amar casing er ek pas khola , pase table fan lagay disi.

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    Hot air becomes light. Would it be a wise decision to keep the exhaust fans in the top and intakes in the bottom areas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dipanzan View Post
    Hey guys, this has been bugging me for a while, so thought I ask here. What "airflow" does your case have ? Yes, the question is a bit weird, pardon me for that.

    To know a bit more about air pressure, here's a start:
    • Negative Air Pressure
    • Neutral Air Pressure
    • Positive Air Pressure

    This is a general idea for a PC case, with a working mATX/ATX board installed, and usually high performance case fans to reach an optimal level of cooling for the working components: Processor, GPU, boards' PCB, Mosfets, HDD etc. Now the fun part is, each has its own set of advantages/disadvantages, which I'll discuss as I go along.

    Negative Air Pressure = More Air going OUT, than coming IN.

    So here's the deal, you have more exhaust fans than intakes, your PC will have more of a negative air pressure. It helps with overall cooling, and will create a turbulence inside your casing where air packets will be sucked in from ALL of the holes inside you case, which is to speak(any sort of opening in your case- cracks/crevices), and air will be brought in to be exhausted by the fans rotational blades. But here's the catch, as the air is sucked in; it will also attract DUST, and pretty much you can expect your case to be a dust magnet if you have such a setup. Oh, and there won't be any dead spots = where packets of air being stuck because of less exhaust in side a closed compartment.

    Neutral Air Pressure = Equal amount of air coming IN/going OUT

    As the name implies, Neutral Air Pressure creates a balance between exhaust/intake pressure. Inside your casing, there will be less turbulence or more of a laminar flow meaning calm regions. But practically that isn't correct now, is it ? Because of the fans rotating, there can be increase/decrease in rotational speed resulting in different cfm of air going in/out. In practical life, you can't really achieve ideal air pressure; there will still be disturbance which would throw of the air balance, hence it's hard to maintain a Neutral air pressure.

    The good thing about it is, you don't have to worry about your casing being a dust magnet. The accumulation of dust will be minimal, but it will still be evident to a certain extent. Components working inside you casing might heat up, but at the same time the balance created by the fans will help it to work at at optimal levels (considering forces) to be balanced, so the blades won't have to "work" extra to push air in/out, albeit the performance.

    Positive Air Pressure = More Air coming IN, than going OUT.

    Positive Air Pressure deals with air having a greater unit of coming in, than going out. This is usually the case, when more intake fans are installed in a given casing. If the exhaust is not balanced or greater than the intake, then air will stack up inside the casing than leaving. This has a good side, intakes will force cool air in, replacing the hot air surrounding the components, as hot air is less dense- the cold air quickly replaces the unwanted heat in this manner. The configuration highly depends on cases, as different casings have different dimensions/layouts/fan positioning/cooling mechanism.

    It also helps with dust not being a problem, positive air flow casings tends to be clean. But if the surrounding air is not clean, then your casing will still choke up.

    Now here's my story, I've a total of 6fans installed in my casing. All of them are more or less of the same cfm, with one being slightly under powered. I've negative air flow inside my case, 5 of the fans are running as exhausts, with one being used as an intake. It does help with temps, and also becomes a dust magnet at the same time which is very frustrating. I can change 2 more fans to be intake, but which ones ?

    Current fan configuration:
    • 2x 120mm top *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm back *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm side *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm bottom *exhaust*
    • 1x 120mm front *intake*

    So you guys having a fan at the side beside your GPUs: is it intake or exhaust ? If I make it an intake, the blades touch the surface of the side panels interfering with the rotational blades + making noise. It does help with GPU temperatures, but then again the GPU accumulates a lot of dust which I can't clean easily, as I've to take apart the whole GPU to clean it thoroughly. Having it as an exhaust, dumps the heat from the GPU outside the exhaust, but not as efficient as when used as an intake.

    How to Test Air Pressure ?

    Take a small tissue paper/toilet roll, and place it into a fan duct/holes, any sort of opening that is not near a fan. Say the front mesh of your case, it'll have tiny holes which you can test by applying the tissue paper against it and see whether it is sucked IN or blown OUT. As you have guessed, if it's sucked in, you have Negative Air Pressure, if it's blown out, you have Positive Air Pressure.

    This guide might have technical descriptions which might not be a 100% correct, so please point them out so that I can correct it.

    Thanks for reading, that would be all.
    good job @dipanzan , this is a very informative thread u opened..and surely will help a lot people in BG, now lets come to the point, i used to have an intake fan(120mm Thunderblade 1800rpm) in side of my chassis to cool down my GPU, and it helped me a lott to cool down my previous GPU ECS GTX 550ti, but when i brought my Asus GTX 560 DCII Top, it was getting hotter then its rated temp., so i started investigating, and also tried to use that fan as exhaust in result system became even noisier and the temp. raised even more, after a long chit chat with Googe.., i found out that there r 2 types of gpu cooling system, in short one is totally sealed and through intake fan hot air goes out from the rear vent, and another type is open from all sides and through intake fan hot air pushed out from all side, so GPU's with open cooler design exhaust the hot air inside casing, so if u place another high RPM fan beside this type of cooling designed GPU - incase of intake fan, hot air will again pushed into the cooler compartment and incase of exhaust fan(if the casing has negative airflow) the fans of the GPU cooler need to struggle harder to cool the GPU in result noisier fan, lesser fan life and inefficient cooling,

    my previous card(GTX 550Ti) was more or less sealed gpu cooler designed, and in that case the side Intake helped that gpu to pull more cool air into the cooling cabinet and pushed the hot air through the rear vent, but as i already said my GTX 560 was not cooperating with neither intake nor exhaust fan, so i pulled out the fan from side panal and the magic happens, as my system also has negative airflow so whole system along with my gpu is pulling the air from that empty side vent, lesser heat, efficient cooling but a LOTTT of Dust....

    sorry for a looong description but that technique helped my system to run more cooler then previous...

    thank u..

    ---------- Post added at 00:54 ---------- Previous post was at 00:51 ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_wave View Post
    Hot air becomes light. Would it be a wise decision to keep the exhaust fans in the top and intakes in the bottom areas?
    it is..

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by solid snake View Post
    amar casing er ek pas khola , pase table fan lagay disi.
    Since you have your side opened, the system is more free than a closed compartment. The extra side fan will help cool down the PCB/GPU.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_wave View Post
    Hot air becomes light. Would it be a wise decision to keep the exhaust fans in the top and intakes in the bottom areas?
    Precisely.

    Quote Originally Posted by musvi View Post
    good job dipanzan
    Thank you bhaiya.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dipanzan View Post
    Since you have your side opened, the system is more free than a closed compartment. The extra side fan will help cool down the PCB/GPU.



    Precisely.



    Thank you bhaiya.
    but direct fan a ki kono prob hobe ? table fan to onek strong .. and then edaning moth dukse gpu er fan er modde 2 ta. aro voye asi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by solid snake View Post
    but direct fan a ki kono prob hobe ? table fan to onek strong .. and then edaning moth dukse gpu er fan er modde 2 ta. aro voye asi.
    Moth??!! whats that? eita khai na mathai dei...

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    Quote Originally Posted by solid snake View Post
    but direct fan a ki kono prob hobe ? table fan to onek strong .. and then edaning moth dukse gpu er fan er modde 2 ta. aro voye asi.
    sect? Variant of butterfly?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_wave View Post
    sect? Variant of butterfly?
    amio tai mone korci, because of negative air pressure, my system was prone to accommodate the dust along with dead mosquitoes, i was terrified when saw several dead mosquitoes were hooking in my GPU's PCB...:S

    ---------- Post added at 01:56 ---------- Previous post was at 01:56 ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by solid snake View Post
    yeah got it bro..

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    Quote Originally Posted by musvi View Post
    amio tai mone korci, because of negative air pressure, my system was prone to accommodate the dust along with dead mosquitoes, i was terrified when saw several dead mosquitoes were hooking in my GPU's PCB...:S---------- Post added at 01:56 ---------- Previous post was at 01:56 ----------yeah got it bro..
    vai insect ra to conductor hoye jawar kotha. Khub e risky bepar.

    ---------- Post added at 02:27 ---------- Previous post was at 02:24 ----------

    Vai apnara jara case mod er bepar a janen tara ektu kosto kore ekta guideline banale valo hoe.

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    Kon process ta best? Ami neutral use kore temon konoi fol paini!which process should i use?

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    Isnt laminar flow more desired for case airflow, IDK but I tried all 3 types with my casing, I found negative pressure to be the best performing.
    It is a dust magnet though
    FTW!!!!!!!!!!

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    nice work there dipanzan.....

    here's two articles about case cooling......posted few months back on tomshardware.....

    How To: Properly Plan And Pick Parts For An Air-Cooled PC, Part 1

    How To: Properly Plan And Pick Parts For An Air-Cooled PC, Part 2

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by solid snake View Post
    but direct fan a ki kono prob hobe ? table fan to onek strong .. and then edaning moth dukse gpu er fan er modde 2 ta. aro voye asi.
    A moth ? :/ I'm not surprised, since you have your side opened- anything can clog your system, starting from mosquitoes to cockroaches. The side fan is to be held responsible, I guess it was a dead moth which was pushed by the side fan into the GPUs cooler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt.Mactavish View Post
    Kon process ta best? Ami neutral use kore temon konoi fol paini!which process should i use?
    Neutral air pressure is what you want, the best of both the worlds, but it's not entirely possible. If you have a case with a good no of fan mounts, try to have a negative air pressure- this will cool things faster, at the expense of dust.

    Quote Originally Posted by eXsTatik View Post
    Isnt laminar flow more desired for case airflow, IDK but I tried all 3 types with my casing, I found negative pressure to be the best performing.
    It is a dust magnet though
    Me too Negative is what I found best, but as you said, the case becomes a dust wh0re.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_wave View Post
    Vai apnara jara case mod er bepar a janen tara ektu kosto kore ekta guideline banale valo hoe.
    Umm, what guideline ? You can google for ideas, or state what you want here, and maybe we can help.

    Quote Originally Posted by neorage View Post
    nice work there dipanzan.....

    here's two articles about case cooling......posted few months back on tomshardware.....

    How To: Properly Plan And Pick Parts For An Air-Cooled PC, Part 1

    How To: Properly Plan And Pick Parts For An Air-Cooled PC, Part 2
    Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by musvi View Post
    good job
    @dipanzan , this is a very informative thread u opened..and surely will help a lot people in BG, now lets come to the point, i used to have an intake fan(120mm Thunderblade 1800rpm) in side of my chassis to cool down my GPU, and it helped me a lott to cool down my previous GPU ECS GTX 550ti, but when i brought my Asus GTX 560 DCII Top, it was getting hotter then its rated temp., so i started investigating, and also tried to use that fan as exhaust in result system became even noisier and the temp. raised even more, after a long chit chat with Googe.., i found out that there r 2 types of gpu cooling system, in short one is totally sealed and through intake fan hot air goes out from the rear vent, and another type is open from all sides and through intake fan hot air pushed out from all side, so GPU's with open cooler design exhaust the hot air inside casing, so if u place another high RPM fan beside this type of cooling designed GPU - incase of intake fan, hot air will again pushed into the cooler compartment and incase of exhaust fan(if the casing has negative airflow) the fans of the GPU cooler need to struggle harder to cool the GPU in result noisier fan, lesser fan life and inefficient cooling,

    my previous card(GTX 550Ti) was more or less sealed gpu cooler designed, and in that case the side Intake helped that gpu to pull more cool air into the cooling cabinet and pushed the hot air through the rear vent, but as i already said my GTX 560 was not cooperating with neither intake nor exhaust fan, so i pulled out the fan from side panal and the magic happens, as my system also has negative airflow so whole system along with my gpu is pulling the air from that empty side vent, lesser heat, efficient cooling but a LOTTT of Dust....

    sorry for a looong description but that technique helped my system to run more cooler then previous...

    thank u..

    ---------- Post added at 00:54 ---------- Previous post was at 00:51 ----------



    it is..
    Click image for larger version. 

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    nice review but ato kisu bhujhi na so just bolen eita kon type er gfx card in terms of cooling, like u mentioned about two types and for this which would the best solution side intake/exhaust or none??

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by @bhi View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    nice review but ato kisu bhujhi na so just bolen eita kon type er gfx card in terms of cooling, like u mentioned about two types and for this which would the best solution side intake/exhaust or none??
    Ahh, the Windforce 2 cooler eh ? I've the revision 1 on my GTX460 I guess.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The pictures do no justice to our cards, they are way better in real life. ^^

    These coolers dump heat in the case, rather than dissipating it outside. If you have top exhausts, then installing a side intake will help cool your GTX560 faster. But if there are no top exhaust, then making the side an exhaust, will help dump the heat from the GTX560 by side fan.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dipanzan View Post
    Ahh, the Windforce 2 cooler eh ? I've the revision 1 on my GTX460 I guess.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	3283.jpg 
Views:	17 
Size:	49.7 KB 
ID:	18752

    The pictures do no justice to our cards, they are way better in real life. ^^

    These coolers dump heat in the case, rather than dissipating it outside. If you have top exhausts, then installing a side intake will help cool your GTX560 faster. But if there are no top exhaust, then making the side an exhaust, will help dump the heat from the GTX560 by side fan.
    thanks and ya in real life those thing look really nice.

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