Improving PC Efficiency with Improved Airflow

April 4, 2011, By Christian Cawley

One of the most common problems with any computer system is dust. If your system doesn’t already have a good airflow then the added hazard of dust will make an already choked system run with less efficiency, leading to a computer that is slow, laboured and hot.

Reduced airflow results in a higher ambient temperature within the computer case, which means that the fan has to work harder to cool the CPU with only warm air being drawn in because of too much dust blocking the intakes, the CPU will not receive the cooling it needs, resulting in slower performance.

While there are few ways to “un-dust” a laptop – short of opening it which isn’t generally advised – it is possible to get a desktop PC running relatively dust-free with the correct arrangement of CPU, intake fan and cabling.

Improving PC efficiency with improved airflow

Sort Out Your Cabling!

The first thing you need to do inside your PC case is sort out the interior cabling. This means assessing where cables for front USB connectors, IDE disc drives and even power cables from the PSU (power supply unit) are running and compare their position with the placement of the PSU and the various spots where you can fix a fan.

Keeping cabling out of this area is vital – but tricky. There are two ways:

  • Tidy all cables into the spaces around the motherboard using tape and cable ties
  • Run all cables behind the motherboard

The first option is simpler as it requires no technical skill, but it can only be used on smaller cases or those with longer cables for the various components.

Meanwhile the second option can be used to much great effect, but requires a complete rebuilding of your PC. You will notice that the plate on which your motherboard is mounted has several holes in it – the idea is that the cabling from the PSU and other devices is run between the plate and the case and routed through the cable-sized holes where required.

CPU, Fan and Air Intake Arrangement

The second thing you need to do is make sure that your PC has a good “corridor of cooling” – the area where good airflow is most vital.

For instance if you have a CPU with a heatsink that has a fan placed parallel to the CPU, then your case should have an air intake in roughly the same position. Similarly if your fan is at 90 degrees, positioned on the side of the heatsink, then the case should have an air intake on the top of the tower.

With the optimal arrangement in place you should find that your corridor of cooling is easy to establish – all you need to do now is watch out for dust!

Getting a PC case clear of dust is easy to do – cans of compressed air can be purchased from most PC hardware retailers, and these are ideal for spraying dust out of the computer and into a waiting vacuum cleaner or waste bin.

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