The Importance of Equalized Airflow

One of the most common killers of computers is heat. With all that electrical energy flowing through conductive metals, a considerable amount of heat can build up inside of your typical computer case and across the surface of your typical motherboard. There are numerous ways to prevent this, with methods for cooling components as bewilderingly treacherous as simply submerging you components in oil (and with the proper precautions, they can even be submerged in water). For those of us who don’t quite have the mad scientist spirit in us, and aren’t willing to deal with the hassles or the price tag of a high-end liquid cooling pump and system, we have air cooling to fall back on.

When assembling a computer system, particularly a performance computer system for either demanding professional software or gaming, it is profoundly important to keep airflow firmly in mind. When considering airflow, there is one principle that must be followed above all others, the principle of equalized airflow.

Airflow is equalized when the volume of air that’s being pulled into the case is equivalent to the volume of air being blown out. It seems like if this were such an important principle of component cooling, then every case would follow this guideline. Unfortunately that’s just not the way things go, and many of the lower end cases cut corners, and either employ single rear fans or small 60 or 90 millimeter side fans along with gigantic 120 millimeter or larger rear fans.

The thing that’s so important about equalized airflow is that when the amount is unequal, there can be dangerous consequences. With unequal flow there is a tremendously high chance that your case will be full of slight air pressure vacuums, and/or airflow dead zones. These pockets of air are heat breeding grounds, and when heat starts to build, it keeps building, until suddenly your components are beginning to miss calculations, your system may start crashing, and it may even suffer catastrophic, irreparable damage.

The way to make sure that the airflow can be equalized is to make sure that there are enough fan ports on the case to allow you to equalize the pressure. A case with just one 120mm slot and one 60mm slot, for example, would be unable to do so. When in doubt, it’s best to look for as many ports as possible, and to get cases that have the same number of similarly sized ports on the front and back, respectively. When doing your figuring, it’s alright to add the side case fans to the front case fan total, because typically a side case fan will work with air intake along with the front fans.

Before you consider the direction of airflow, the quality of your fans, or the way that you intend to cool your CPU, you must first and foremost make absolutely certain that your case will have equalized flow.

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