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Good Cases for Air Cooling

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ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
I've come to some conclusions in the past couple of years about what I want from a case. Here is my ideal case for air cooling:

idealcase.png

(parts not drawn to scale)
Note that the rear grill and the backplane slot covers have been removed so that the air can find its own way out, quietly, without the assistance of an exhaust fan. Fewer fans, less noise.

Also, note that either the 5.25 bay slot covers are mesh or you have to put a fan carrier there. With three slots free and some room at the top you can put a 140mm fan in the 5.25 bay.

Because of the free air exit, no pressure can build up. I call it a positive flow case, not a positive pressure case.

Here is a typical case setup. I don't like it:

notthiscase.png


I avoid negative pressure cases: they are vacuum cleaners without the bag.


Criteria for a good air cooling case:

- Unfettered access for the main front intake fan. No plates or fancy covers that block the air.
- Side panel intake fan.
- Case fans as large as possible to be able to run them slowly and thus quietly
- Mesh covers for 5.25 slots
- No narrower than 200mm. This allows for full tower heatsinks and room behind the mb for cables. Actually, any case with a 120mm exhaust fan will most likely handle a full tower cooler (they are 155 - 160mm tall). But a 7.5-inch case, for example, will hardly have any room behind the motherboard tray for managing cables. My 200mm-wide Beta Evo, for example, has room for a full tower cooler and just enough room for managing cables.
- A forward position on top for a top intake fan forward of the cpu heatsink air intake.

Cases that I believe are pretty good for air cooling:

CM 692. CM HAF series, especially HAF X (HAF X works better with two top intake fans because of its high ceiling).
NZXT Beta Evo and NZXT Tempest Evo
Zalman Z9 Plus and maybe the Z7
Azza Hurrican 2000
Fractal Design Arc Midi Tower
There are Lian Li and other high end aluminum cases that have no grill at the rear. This is best, because you can allow the air to simply flow out. No noise, no pressure build up.


So, sit down and think about airflow before you buy a case. Do your homework. Don't be in a hurry. Wait for sales. Be patient. The good carpenter measures twice and cuts once. The good modder measures, draws and draws and draws, then buys and then cuts.
 
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pwnmachine

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2009
With your top picture, it would be better if the top fans were outake. If you combine the dvd fans with with the flow path in the second design the cooling would be more efficient.

btw add the Cosmos S to your list, impeccable cooling.
 
OP
ehume

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
With your top picture, it would be better if the top fans were outake. If you combine the dvd fans with with the flow path in the second design the cooling would be more efficient.

btw add the Cosmos S to your list, impeccable cooling.

Most people find top intake beats top exhaust by a few degrees. Also, it keeps the hot air from your gpu's from getting to your cpu's.

Is the Cosmos S still available?
 

pwnmachine

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2009
Most people find top intake beats top exhaust by a few degrees. Also, it keeps the hot air from your gpu's from getting to your cpu's.

Good point, but it also pushes hot air towards your gpus ;)

I noticed using the side panel fan for outake instead of intake prevents this from happening. That way you remove the hot air from the gpus before it can reach your cpu fan.

These cases are not air tight so we will never see ideal flow, it will always be turbulent the idea is to minimize the perturbations.

Is the Cosmos S still available?

I have seen it at a few places, but it is getting harder to find.
 

eastonch

New Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2011
The case you are looking at is the HAF-X...

I'm sure, although could be wrong, there is space for a 120MM fan at the bottom of the case to get intake or exhaust from.

Otherwise it fits all the other criteria. -- Also has some nice internal mounts for an additional VGA cooler & also a bracket for a 80MM fan, the other cooler takes a 120MM fan.

I know, because I own the HAF-X ;]!
 

pwnmachine

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2009
^^ Very much so, the HAF-X took all the good ideas from the cosmos and put it into an affordable package. But I absolutely hate the aesthetics of it...
 
OP
ehume

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
I would disagree about the Black Hawk: room for only one top fan, at the back. Lots of cases for the same price that have much better capacity for air cooling.
 

mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
I would disagree about the Black Hawk: room for only one top fan, at the back. Lots of cases for the same price that have much better capacity for air cooling.

Not at all mate, it only comes with one top fan. There's room for two. What it comes with is 1x 140mm top fan with room for one more 140mm fan up top, 1x rear 120mm fan, 2x front 120mm fans and also locations to install 1x optional bottom fan, a spot for an optional mainboard tray CPU socket 120mm fan, also comes stock with 1x 120mm side panel fan. It's a sweet case considering what it comes stock with, and has a good level of features.

I don't know about you, but here in Australia about the only decent case in this price range is the Antec Three Hundred which while better quality, loses out on features and cooling. I don't know of any manufacturer can beat Antec on quality.

Did you look at reviews before commenting?

http://techgage.com/article/rosewill_blackhawk_mid-tower_chassis_review/1
 
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OP
ehume

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Well, you're right. I never thought to look up a review on a Rosewill product. The reviews indeed show room for two 140mm fans. Actually, the review you linked to shows it all. So I now have to agree with you that it's a pretty good case for airflow. You even have room for a DVD in the 5.25 bay and a 120mm fan as well -- and maybe a 140mm in front.

Good find.
 

mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
One of those rare occasions where a little known/recognised brand comes up with something worthwhile buying. I wish they sold them in Australia, I rather want one of those. Better than my current Aerocool Blackhawk (same as the Enermax Hoplite).
 
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JigPu

Inactive Pokémon Moderator
Joined
Jun 20, 2001
Location
Vancouver, WA
Those look like great cases. The important thing is to keep the air from stagnating, which isn't hard to do with sensible fan and vent layout. I'm a little sad that the BTX form factor never took off, but at least some manufacturers are playing with ATX to fix its problems.

The Fractal Design Define R3 is another example of a case with good layout, though its front intakes are baffled (its aimed more at silence than performance).

JigPu
 

RangerBarlow

Registered
Joined
Apr 14, 2012
Location
USA
I modified my Antec P180 case, did some cutting on the inside and mounted another fan in the front top section, its pretty much just like the top pic.
 
OP
ehume

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
I modified my Antec P180 case, did some cutting on the inside and mounted another fan in the front top section, its pretty much just like the top pic.

And I cut a hole in the bottom of my Beta Evo to make a setup like the top pic. Yours is the best use of a P180 I can think of.
 

irrykuxeh

Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2012
Location
Wichita, KS
I use the NZXT Tempest 410, and it has many excellent options for airflow. Two fully modular 120mm slots in the front, two 140mm fans on top, a 120mm or two on the side, one 120mm on the bottom, and one 120mm for exhaust in the rear.
 

-Redrum-

Registered
Joined
Apr 18, 2012
^^ Very much so, the HAF-X took all the good ideas from the cosmos and put it into an affordable package. But I absolutely hate the aesthetics of it...

I'm with you here. I prefer the design of the CM Storm Trooper by quite a bit. The airflow isn't quite as good as the HAF-X, but it looks a lot nicer imho.
 

Kitty2Kat

Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2011
A new Antec Case is out on Newegg, go and take a look, plenty of air cooling and allows for radiator...Hope they start reviewing more cases on here...Silverstone cases look nice...