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System Cooling and Case Cutting (Page 3/5)

Posted: February 21, 2000
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Fan Placement

Deciding where to put the fan(s) isn't always an easy task. You have to take several things into consideration. First, where is most the heat in your case? In a tower case, the heat is usually concentrated in two areas: the top, and near the expansion slots. The reasons are simple: heat rises (right?) and the cards in your expansion slots create heat without having any fans to push the "stale" air around.

In my mid-ATX tower, I decided to put two 80mm fans at the very top of the tower, next to the CPU. In fact, the fans are within inches of the CPU and blow a lot of air OUT of the case (hence the term, "blowhole"). This is very efficient, but since I sit next to the computer, I get hit with a lot of air at all times.

For the project case, we decided to put one 80mm fan in the front, and one 80mm fan in the back. Once we decided on the spots to place the fan, we stripped it down and took out everything. If you're not cutting anywhere near the motherboard or cards, you can probably get away with just removing certain parts of your case. However, be sure to cover the parts with a towel or something to prevent the metal from being blown into the parts. Here's a picture of our stripped-down case:

A lot of times cases will have holes where a fan (usually an 80mm fan) was intended to be placed. See:

These block a lot of airflow (up to 60%), and since they are very easy to cut-out with a Dremel tool (or the tool you decided to use), we cut it out.

When you have decided where to cut the circle for your fan, draw an outline so you won't make an ellipse. There are several ways to draw a circle on the metal, but the best tools are usually a compass and a pencil. If you don't have a compass, look around for something that's round and is approximately the same size as your fan's blades. Once you've drawn your circle, it's time to cut.

Cutting Your Case

Now that you've got a circle drawn on your case, it's time to cut it up. Don't be afraid... it won't hurt it much and it will look very cool when you're complete, and it will serve a practical purpose.

If you haven't done so already and you need to, drill holes for the bolts as mentioned on page 1.

If you have a Dremel:
Now, if you're using the dremel technique, you should just start cutting into it. Make sure to wear safety goggles or some sort of protection. Here's a pic of us cutting up the case using the dremel:

After cutting it out most of the way, this is what it looked like:

Just a few more holes and it fell out. See how rough the edges are before smoothing:

No matter which tool you used to cut the hole, it should look something like that now. If it isn't very round, don't worry... the point is that there is a large opening and it will still help move air.

If you are using a large metal-cutting circle blade for a drill, you should just be able to start cutting. If you're using a jigsaw, you will need to start a hole with a drill or something else. Once the hole has been started, you can cut into it and start cutting into the circle pattern you drew on the case.

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