Maximizing Airflow

Getting a P4 was a very big decision. Aside from selling my first born for a 1.5 GHz, even with my setup, I was concerned about heat. OK, OK – so I’m obsessed about overheating; you try living in Texas for 25 years and not worry about heat 🙂 First way to combat major heat is with fans and blowholes (See Josh’s Fan Fest to be disturbed).

Believe it or not, blowholes and huge fans are not always the answer. Fans need airflow INSIDE a case to be truly efficient. Ribbon cables and power cables can clog airflow passages even if you are very careful about routing them. In this pic, even with only one IDE cable in a full tower, air flow is noticeably blocked.


There are a few things you can do to solve these problems. Rounded cables are a great way to start. Rounded cables provide more airflow by compressing the cable running to all your devices, letting more air circulate through your hot case. I picked mine up at Plycon.

Not many online vendors have rounded cables and Plycon sells rounded SCSI cables which I needed. Split Cables are another option; instead of slicing the cables up, they cut it in sections. Split cables are a little cheaper, but they take up more space and are not as flexible.


Another way to improve airflow is by enclosing power cable lines running to everything in your case that needs power. The best way to maximize your time and effort is to connect everything FIRST – it will make the process go a lot smoother.

To wrap the cables, the easiest thing to use is a 3/8th inch plastic tubing (not 1/2 inch – it’s too big) with a cut down the side; you can find it at most any hardware store for about 10 bucks. Simply spread the tube apart and insert the power cables, letting the tube close around them.


The first cable to wrap is the big thick and nasty motherboard power cable. Its a space eating monster, taking up more room and air faster than Orsen Wells at a Mrs. Peddle’s Fish Stick commercial. For those of you with newer power supplies, you will see that some companies have already begun to wrap their motherboard power cables.

Once it’s wrapped, look for long sections of loose wire that follow a pattern. This is when is pays to already have your cables positioned the way you want. All you need now is to follow the wire clusters and cut the plastic cable accordingly. Keep excess cable away from your motherboard by using cable ties.


You’re done! Do your happy dance and watch the temps fall in your case!

When all is said and done, expect to spend about 50 smackers. Hey, it’s better than spending a few hundred to replace a fried Chip and motherboard, right?

And if you are truly obsessed with knowing the temperature as accurately as possible, a temperature monitoring device might be necessary. The new Digital Doc 5 can monitor up to 8 devices for temperature and 8 fans. But if 70 bucks is too big of a hit, try a Dual Temp Monitor Rack for around $25.

Digital Doc

Here are my results: A 1.5 GHz P4 overclocked to 1.8 GHz and my temperature actually dropped 4 degrees Celsius.


Josh aka Texmaster

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