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Computer cooling is the process of removing heat from computer components. Because a computer system's components produce large amounts of heat during operation, this heat must be dissipated in order to keep these components within their safe operating temperatures.
In addition to maintaining normative function, varied cooling methods are used to either achieve greater processor performance (overclocking), or else to reduce the noise pollution caused by typical (ie. cooling fans) cooling methods (cf. [[ergonomics]]).

Components which gain heat and are susceptible to performance loss and damage include [[integrated circuit]]s such as [[Central processing unit|CPU]]s, [[chipset]] and [[Video card|graphics cards]], along with [[Hard disk drive|hard drives]] (though excessive cooling of hard drives has been found to have negative effects). Overheated parts generally exhibit a shorter maximum life-span and may give sporadic problems resulting in system freezes or crashes.

Both integral (manufacturing) and peripheral means (additional parts) are used to keep the heat of each component at a safe operational level. With regard to integral means, CPU and [[GPU]]s are designed entirely with [[energy efficiency]], including heat dissipation, in mind, and with each advance CPUs/GPUs generally produce less heat (though this increased efficiency is always used to increase performance, producing similar heat levels as earlier models anyway).
Cooling through peripheral means is mainly done using [[heat sink]]s to increase the surface area which dissipates heat, [[fan (mechanical)|fans]] to speed up the exchange of air heated by the computer parts for cooler ambient air, and in some cases softcooling, the throttling of computer parts in order to decrease heat generation.

==Causes of heat build up==
The amount of heat generated by an [[integrated circuit]] (e.g., a [[Central processing unit|CPU]] or [[Graphics processing unit|GPU]]), the prime cause of heat build up in modern computers, is a function of the efficiency of its design, the technology used in its construction and the frequency and voltage at which it operates.
[[Image:Laptop dust.jpg|right|thumb|200px|The [[dust]] on the laptop CPU heat sink after three years of use has made the laptop unusable due to frequent thermal shutdowns.]]
In operation, the [[temperature]] levels of a computer's components will rise until the temperature gradient between the computer parts and their surroundings is such that the rate at which heat is lost to the surroundings is equal to the rate at which heat is being produced by the electronic component, and thus the temperature of the component reaches [[thermodynamic equilibrium|equilibrium]].

For reliable operation, the equilibrium temperature must be sufficiently low for the structure of the computer's circuits to survive.

Additionally, the normal operation of cooling methods can be hindered by other causes, such as:

*'''Dust''' acting as a thermal insulator and impeding airflow, thereby reducing heat sink and fan performance.
*'''Poor airflow''' including [[turbulence]] due to friction against impeding components, or improper orientation of fans, can reduce the amount of air flowing through a case and even create localised whirlpools of hot air in the case.
*'''Poor heat transfer''' due to a lack or poor application of thermal compounds.

==Damage prevention==
<!-- Deleted image removed: [[Image:Pcprobe.png|thumb|200px|Software showing Temperatures, Fan Speeds and Voltages are within threshold.]] -->
It is common practice to include [[Sensor#Thermal|thermal sensors]] in the design of certain computer parts, e.g. CPUs and GPUs, along with internal logic that shuts down the computer if reasonable bounds are exceeded. It is, however, unwise to rely on such preventative measures, as it is not universally implemented, and may not prevent repeated incidents from permanently damaging the integrated circuit.

The design of an integrated circuit may also incorporate features to shut down parts of the circuit when it is idling, or to scale back the clock speed under low workloads or high temperatures, with the goal of reducing both power use and heat generation.

== System cooling ==
[[Image:Ebm-papst-4650N.jpg|thumb|Fan from [[Papst]] for [[19-inch rack|racks]].]]

=== Air cooling ===
{{see|Computer fan}}
While any method used to move air around or to computer enclosures would count as air cooling, fans are by far the most commonly used implement for accomplishing that task. The term ''computer fan'' usually refers to fans attached to computer enclosures, but may also be intended to signify any other computer fan, such as a [[CPU]] fan, [[Graphics processing unit|GPU]] fan, a chipset fan, [[Power supply|PSU]] fan, [[Hard Disk|HDD]] fan, or [[Peripheral Component Interconnect|PCI]] slot fans. Common fan sizes include 40, 60, 80, 92, 120, and 140 mm. Recently 200mm fans are beginning to creep into the performance market, as well as even larger sizes such as 230 and 240mm.

==== In desktops ====
[[File:Computer case coolingair flow.png|thumb|Typical airflow through a desktop ATX case.]]
[[Desktop computer]]s typically use one or more fans for heat management. Almost all desktop power supplies have at least one fan to exhaust air from the case. Most manufacturers recommend bringing cool, fresh air in at the bottom front of the case, and exhausting warm air from the top rear.

If there is more air being forced into the system than being pumped out (due to an imbalance in the number of fans), this is referred to as a "positive" airflow, as the pressure inside the unit would be higher than outside. A balanced or neutral airflow is the most efficient{{Fact|date=April 2007}}, although a slightly positive airflow results in less dust build up if dust filters are used. Negative pressure inside the case can create problems such as clogged optical drives due to sucking in air (and dust).

==== In high density computing ====
[[Data center]]s typically contain many racks of flat [[Rack unit|1U]] servers. Air is drawn in at the front of the rack and exhausted at the rear. Because data centers typically contain such large numbers of computers and other power-consuming devices, they risk overheating of the various components if no additional measures are taken. Thus, extensive [[HVAC]] systems are used. Often a raised floor is used so the area under the floor may be used as a large [[plenum]] for cooled air and power cabling.

Another way of accommodating large numbers of systems in a small space are [[blade server|blade chassis]]. In contrast to the horizontal orientation of flat servers, blade chassis are often oriented vertically. This vertical orientation facilitates [[convection]]. When the air is heated by the hot components, it tends to flow to the top on its own, creating a natural air flow along the boards. This [[stack effect]] can help to achieve the desired air flow and cooling. Some manufacturers expressly take advantage of this effect.<ref name=verariverticalcooling>[http://www.verari.com/cooling.asp Verari Systems uses vertical air flow for cooling]</ref><ref name=silverstoneravenstackeffect>The tower case [http://www.silverstonetek.com.tw/tech/wh08_0266.php Silverstone Raven RV01] has been designed to make use of the [[stack effect]]</ref>

==== In laptop computing ====

Most laptops use air cooling in order to keep the CPU and other components within their operating temperature range. Because the air is fan forced through a small port, it can clog the fan and heatsinks with dust or be obstructed by objects placed near the port. This can cause overheating, and can be a cause of component failure in laptops. The severity of this problem varies with laptop design, its use and power dissipation. With recent reductions in CPU power dissipation, this problems can reasonably be anticipated to reduce in severity.

=== Liquid submersion cooling ===
An uncommon practice is to submerse the computer's components in a [[thermal conduction|thermally conductive]] liquid. Personal computers that are cooled in this manner do not generally require any fans or pumps, and may be cooled exclusively by passive heat exchange between the computer's parts, the cooling fluid and the ambient air. Extreme density computers such as the [[Cray-2]] may use additional [[radiator]]s in order to facilitate heat exchange.

The liquid used must have sufficiently low [[electrical conductivity]] in order for it not to interfere with the normal operation of the computer's components. If the liquid is somewhat electrically conductive, it may be necessary to insulate certain parts of components susceptible to [[electromagnetic interference]], such as the CPU.<ref>Tom's Hardware - "[http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/01/09/strip_out_the_fans/ Strip Out The Fans]", [[9 January]][[2006]], presented as 11 web pages.</ref> For these reasons, it is preferred that the liquid be [[dielectric]].

Liquids commonly used in this manner include various liquids invented and manufactured for this purpose by [[3M]], such as [[Fluorinert]]. Various oils, including but not limited to cooking, motor and silicone oils have all been successfully used for cooling personal computers.<ref>[http://www.oilcooledcomputer.com oilcooledcomputer.com]</ref>

Evaporation can pose a problem, and the liquid may require either to be regularly refilled or sealed inside the computer's enclosure. Liquid may also slowly seep into and damage components, particularly capacitors, causing an initially functional computer to fail after hours or days immersed.

=== Waste heat reduction ===
Where full-power, full-featured modern computers are not required, some companies opt to use less powerful computers or computers with fewer features. For example: in an office setting, the [[Information technology|IT]] department may choose a [[thin client]] or a [[diskless workstation]] thus cutting out the heat-laden components such as hard drives and optical disks. These devices are also often powered with [[direct current]] from an external [[power supply]] brick which still wastes heat, but not inside the computer itself.

The components used can greatly affect the power consumption and hence waste heat. A [[VIA Technologies|VIA]][[EPIA]] motherboard with CPU typically generates approximately 25 watts of heat whereas a Pentium 4 motherboard typically generates around 140 watts. While the former has considerably less computing power, both types are adequate and responsive for tasks such as word processing and spreadsheets. Choosing a [[Liquid crystal display|LCD]] monitor rather than a [[Cathode ray tube|CRT]] can also reduce power consumption and excess room heat, as well as the added benefit of increasing work space.

=== Conductive and radiative cooling ===
Some [[laptop]] components, such as hard drives and optical drives, are commonly cooled by having them make contact with the computer's frame, increasing the surface area which can radiate and otherwise exchange heat.

==Spot cooling==
In addition to system cooling, various individual components usually have their own cooling systems in place. Components which are individually cooled include, but are not limited to, the [[Central processing unit|CPU]], [[Graphics processing unit|GPU]], [[hard disk]], and the [[Northbridge (computing)|Northbridge]] chip. Some cooling solutions employ one or more methods of cooling, and may also utilize logic and/or temperature sensors in order to vary the power used in active cooling components.

===Passive heat sink cooling===
[[Image:Harumphy.dg965.heatsink.jpg|thumb|170px|Passive heatsink fitted on a [[Intel GMA]] graphics chip]]This involves attaching a block of machined metal to the part that needs cooling. An adhesive may be used, or more commonly for a personal computer CPU, a clamp is used to affix the [[heat sink]] right over the chip, with a [[Thermal grease|thermally conductive pad]] or gel spread in-between. This block usually has fins and ridges to increase its surface area. The heat conductivity of metal is much better than that of air, and its ability to radiate heat is better than that of the component part it is protecting (usually an [[integrated circuit]] or CPU). Until recently, fan cooled [[aluminium]] heat sinks were the norm for desktop computers. Today many heat sinks feature [[copper]] base-plates or are entirely made of copper, and mount fans of considerable size and power.

Heat sinks tend to get less effective with time due to the build up of [[dust]] between their metal fins, which reduces the efficiency with which the heat sink transfers heat to the ambient air. Dust build up is commonly countered with a [[gas duster]], which is used to blow away the dust along with any other unwanted excess material.

Passive heat sinks are commonly found on older CPUs, parts that do not get very hot (such as the chipset), and low-power computers.

Usually a heatsink is attached to the integrated heat spreader (IHS). It essentially is a large flat plate attached to the CPU (with conduction paste layered between). The plate is used to dissipate or spread the heat locally. Unlike a heatsink, its intent is to redistribute heat and not to remove it. In addition, the IHS offers protection to the fragile CPU.

===Active heat sink cooling===
[[Image:Tuniq_Tower_120_Installed.JPG|thumb|150px|Active heatsink with a 120mm fan located inside the unit and attached fan controller in background]]This uses the same principle as a passive heat sink cooler, with the only difference being that a [[Fan (mechanical)|fan]] is directed to blow over or through the heat sink. This results in more air being blown through the heat sink, increasing the rate at which the heat sink can exchange heat with the ambient air. Active heat sinks are the primary method of cooling a modern day processor or graphics card.

The buildup of dust is greatly increased with active heat sink cooling as the fan is continually taking in the dust present in the surrounding air. As a result, dust removal procedures need to be exercised much more frequently than with passive heat sink methods.

===Peltier cooling or thermoelectric cooling===
{{main|Thermoelectric cooling}}
In 1821 [[Thomas Johann Seebeck|T. J. Seebeck]] discovered that different metals, connected at two different junctions, will develop a micro-[[voltage]] if the two junctions are held at different temperatures. This effect is known as the "[[Thermoelectric effect|Seebeck effect]]"; it is the basic theory behind the TEC (thermoelectric cooling).

In 1834 [[Jean Charles Athanase Peltier|Jean Peltier]] discovered the inverse of the Seebeck effect, now known as the "[[Thermoelectric effect|Peltier effect]]". He found that applying a voltage to a [[thermocouple]] creates a temperature differential between two sides. This results in an effective, albeit extremely inefficient [[heat pump]].

Modern TECs use several stacked units each composed of dozens or hundreds of thermocouples laid out next to each other, which allows for a substantial amount of [[heat transfer]]. A combination of [[bismuth]] and [[telluride]] is most commonly used for thermocouples.

Since TECs are active heat pumps, they are capable of cooling PC components below ambient temperatures, which is impossible with common radiator cooled [[water cooling]] systems and heatpipe HSFs.

=== Water cooling ===
{{main|Water cooling}}
[[Image:PC watercooling T-Line-2009-12-03.jpg|thumb|right|200px|DIY Watercooling setup showing 12v pump, CPU [[Waterblock]] and the typical application of a [[T-Line]].]]While originally limited to [[Mainframe computer|mainframe]] computers, computer watercooling has become a practice largely associated with [[overclocking]] in the form of either manufactured "kits" or in the form of DIY setups assembled from individually gathered parts. Lately watercooling has seen increasing use in pre-assembled desktop computers. Water cooling can extract more heat from the cooled parts, which makes it suitable for overclocking, and opposed to air cooling it is less influenced by the ambient temperature. One of its disadvantages is the potential for a coolant leak, which can damage electronic components. An advantage is that a water cooling system is not limited to one component, so it can cool the CPU, GPU and other components at the same time. Another advantage to water cooling is the low noise-level output it provides when compared to that of fan cooling, which can become loud especially when using a higher clock rate processor.

===Heat pipe===
{{main|Heat pipe}}

[[image:Radeon 9600XT Heatpipe passive cooling.jpg|thumb|200px|A graphics card with a heatpipe cooler design.]]
A heat pipe is a hollow tube containing a heat transfer liquid. As the liquid evaporates, it carries heat to the cool end, where it condenses and then returns to the hot end (under [[capillary action]], or, in earlier implementations, under gravitation). Heat pipes thus have a much higher effective thermal conductivity than solid materials. For use in computers, the heat sink on the CPU is attached to a larger radiator heat sink. Both heat sinks are hollow as is the attachment between them, creating one large heat pipe that transfers heat from the CPU to the radiator, which is then cooled using some conventional method. This method is expensive and usually used when space is tight (as in small form-factor PCs), or absolute quiet is needed (such as in computers used in audio production studios during live recording).

===Phase-change cooling===
Phase-change cooling is an extremely effective way to cool the processor. A vapor compression phase-change cooler is a unit which usually sits underneath the PC, with a tube leading to the processor. Inside the unit is a compressor, the same type that cools a [[freezer]]. The compressor compresses a gas (or mixture of gases) which condenses it into a liquid. Then, the liquid is pumped up to the processor, where it passes through an expansion device, this can be from a simple capillary tube to a more elaborate thermal expansion valve. The liquid evaporates (changing phase), absorbing the heat from the processor as it draws extra energy from its environment to accommodate this change (see [[latent heat]]). The evaporation can produce temperatures reaching around −15 to -150 degrees [[Celsius]]<!--guessing at identity of unidentified "degrees", assuming same as below-->. The gas flows down to the compressor and the cycle begins over again. This way, the processor can be cooled to temperatures ranging from −15 to −150 degrees Celsius, depending on the load, wattage of the processor, the refrigeration system (see [[refrigeration]]) and the gas mixture used. This type of system suffers from a number of issues but mainly one must be concerned with dew point and the proper insulation of all sub-ambient surfaces that must be done (the pipes will sweat, dripping water on sensitive electronics).

Alternately a new breed of cooling system is being developed inserting a pump into the thermo siphon loop. This adds another degree of flexibility for the design engineer as the heat can now be effectively transported away from the heat source and either reclaimed or dissipated to ambient. Junction temperature can be tuned by adjusting the system pressure; higher pressure equals higher fluid saturation temperatures. This allows for smaller condensers, smaller fans and/or the effective dissipation of heat in a high ambient environment. These systems are in essence the next generation liquid cooling paradigm as they are approximately 10 times more efficient than single phase water. Since the system uses a dielectric as the heat transport media, leaks do not cause a catastrophic failure of the electric system.

This type of cooling is seen as a more extreme way to cool components, since the units are relatively expensive compared to the average desktop. They also generate a significant amount of noise, since they are essentially refrigerators, however the compressor choice and air cooling system is the main determinant of this, allowing for flexibility for noise reduction based on the parts chosen.

===Liquid nitrogen===
[[Image:2007TaipeiITMonth IntelOCLiveTest Overclocking-6.jpg|thumb|200px|Liquid nitrogen may be used to cool an overclocked PC.]]
As [[liquid nitrogen]] evaporates at -196 [[Celsius|°C]], far below the freezing point of water, it is valuable as an extreme coolant for short overclocking sessions.

In a typical installation of liquid nitrogen cooling, a copper or aluminum pipe is mounted on top of the processor or graphics card. After being heavily insulated against condensation, the liquid nitrogen is poured into the pipe, resulting in temperatures well below -100°C.

By welding an open pipe onto a heat sink, and insulating the pipe, it is possible to cool the processor either with liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature below −196°C, or [[dry ice]]. However, after the nitrogen evaporates, it has to be refilled. In the realm of personal computers, this method of cooling is seldom used in contexts other than [[overclocking]] trial-runs and record-setting attempts, as the CPU will usually expire within a relatively short period of time due to temperature [[Stress (physics)|stress]] caused by changes in internal temperature.

===Liquid helium===
[[Liquid helium]], colder than liquid nitrogen, has also been used for cooling. Liquid helium evaporates at -269 °C, and temperatures ranging from -230 to -240 °C have been measured from the heatsink.<ref name="liquidhelium">[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB0JodKgZ0A AMD Phenom II Overclocked to 6.5GHz - New World Record for 3DMark]</ref>

===Soft cooling===
Softcooling is the practice of utilizing software to take advantage of [[Power management|CPU power saving technologies]] to minimize energy use. This is done using [[HLT|halt]] instructions to turn off or put in standby state CPU subparts that aren't being used or by [[underclocking]] the CPU.

===Undervolting===
[[Undervolting]] is the practice of running the CPU or any other component with voltages below the device specifications. An undervolted component draws less power and thus produces less heat. The ability to do this varies by manufacturer, product line, and even different production runs of the same exact product (as well as that of other components in the system), but modern processors are typically shipped with voltages higher than strictly necessary. This provides a buffer zone so that the processor will have a higher chance of performing correctly under sub-optimal conditions, such as a lower quality mainboard (motherboard). However, too low a voltage will not allow the processor to function correctly, producing errors, system freezes or crashes, or the inability to turn the system on. (Undervolting too far does not typically lead to hardware damage, though in worst-case scenarios, program or system files can be corrupted)

This technique is generally employed by those seeking low-noise systems, as less cooling is needed because of the reduction of heat production.

===Integrated Chip Cooling Techniques===
Conventional cooling techniques all attach their “cooling” component to the outside of the computer chip, or via IHS and/or heat sinks. This “attaching” technique will always exhibit some thermal resistance, reducing its effectiveness. The heat can be more efficiently and quickly be removed by directly cooling the local hot spots. At these locations, power dissipation of over 300W/cm<sup>2</sup> (typical CPU are less than 100W/cm<sup>2</sup>, although future systems are expected to exceed 1000W/cm<sup>2</sup> <ref>I. Mudawar, “Assessment of High-Heat-Flux Thermal Management Schemes,” IEEE Trans. -Components and Packaging Tech., Vol. 24, pp. 122-141, 2001.</ref>) can occur. This form of local cooling is essential to developing high power density chips. This ideology has led to the investigation of integrating cooling elements into the computer chip. Currently there are two techniques: micro-channel heat sinks, and jet impingement cooling.

In micro-channel heat sinks, channels are fabricated into the silicon chip (CPU), and coolant is pumped through them. The channels are designed with very large surface area which results in large heat transfers. Heat dissipation of 3000W/cm<sup>2</sup> has been reported with this technique <ref>M.B. Bowers and I. Mudawar, “High Flux Boiling inLow Flow Rate, Low Pressure Drop Mini-Channel and Micro-Channel Heat Sinks,” Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer, Vol. 37, pp. 321-332, 1994.</ref>. In comparison to the Sun power density of around 7400W/cm<sup>2</sup>. The heat dissipation can be further increased if two-phase flow cooling is applied. Unfortunately the system requires large pressure drops, due to the small channels, and the heat flux is lower with dielectric coolants used in electronic cooling.
Another local chip cooling technique is jet impingement cooling. In this technique, a coolant is flown through a small orifice to form a jet. The jet is directed toward the surface of the CPU chip, and can effectively remove large heat fluxes. Heat dissipation of over 1000W/cm<sup>2</sup>has been reported <ref>M.K. Sung and I. Mudawar, “Single-phase and two-phase hybrid cooling schemes for high-heat-flux thermal management of defense electronics,” Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems, 2008. ITHERM 2008,Issue 28-31, pp.121 – 131, 2008.</ref>. The system can be operated at lower pressure in comparison to the micro-channel method. The heat transfer can be further increased using two-phase flow cooling and by intergrading return flow channels (hybrid between micro-channel heat sinks and jet impingement cooling).

==Cooling and overclocking==
Extra cooling is usually required by those who run parts of their computer (such as the CPU and GPU) at higher voltages and frequencies than manufacturer specifications call for, called [[overclocking]]. Increasing performance by this modification of settings results in a greater amount of heat generated and thus increasing the risk of damage to components and/or premature failure.

The installation of higher performance, non-stock cooling may also be considered [[modding]]. Many overclockers simply buy more efficient, and often, more expensive fan and heat sink combinations, while others resort to more exotic ways of computer cooling, such as liquid cooling, Peltier effect heatpumps, heat pipe or phase change cooling.

There are also some related practices that have a positive impact in reducing system temperatures:

===Heat sink lapping===
Heat sink lapping is the smoothing and polishing of the contact (bottom) part of a heat sink to increase its heat transfer efficiency. The desired result is a contact area which has a more even surface, as a less even contact surface creates a larger amount of insulating air between the heat sink and the computer part it is attached to. Polishing the surface using a combination of fine sandpaper and abrasive polishing liquids can produce a mirror-like shine, an indicator of a very smooth metal surface. However, it should be noted that even a curved surface can become extremely reflective, yet not particularly flat, as is the case with curved mirrors; thus heat sink quality is based on ''overall flatness'', more than optical properties. Lapping a high quality heat sink can damage it, because, although the heat sink may become shiny, it is likely that more material will be removed from the edges, making the heat sink less effective overall.

If attempted, a piece of [[float glass]] should be used, as it self-levels as it cools and offers the most economical solution to producing a perfectly flat surface.

===Use of exotic thermal conductive compounds===
Some overclockers use special thermal compounds whose manufacturers claim to have a much higher efficiency than stock thermal pads. Heat sinks clean of any grease or other thermal transfer compounds have a very thin layer of these products applied, and then are placed normally over the CPU. Many of these compounds have a high proportion of [[silver]] as their main ingredient due to its high [[thermal conductivity]]. The resulting difference in the temperature of the CPU is measurable (several degrees [[celsius]]), so the heat transfer does appear to be superior to stock compounds. Some people experience negligible gains and have called to question the advantages of these exotic compounds, calling the style of application more important than the compound itself. Also note that there may be a 'setting' or 'curing' period and negligible gains may improve over time as the compound reaches its optimum thermal conductivity.

===Use of rounded cables===
Most older PCs use flat [[ribbon cable]]s to connect storage drives ([[AT Attachment|IDE]] or [[SCSI]]). These large flat cables greatly impede airflow by causing drag and turbulence. Overclockers and modders often replace these with rounded cables, with the conductive wires bunched together tightly to reduce surface area. Theoretically, the parallel strands of conductors in a ribbon cable serve to reduce [[crosstalk]] (signal carrying conductors inducing signals in nearby conductors), but there is no empirical evidence of rounding cables reducing performance. This may be because the length of the cable is short enough so that the effect of crosstalk is negligible. Problems usually arise when the cable is not [[Electromagnetic shielding|electromagnetically protected]] and the length is considerable, a more frequent occurrence with older network cables.

These computer cables can then be cable tied to the chassis or other cables to further increase airflow.

This is less of a problem with new computers that use [[Serial ATA]] which has a much thinner cable.

===Airflow optimization===
The colder the cooling medium (the air), the more effective the [[Heat Transfer|cooling]]. Cooling air temperature can be reduced by these guidelines:
*Supply cool air to the hot components as directly as possible. Examples are air snorkels and tunnels that feed outside air directly and exclusively to the CPU or GPU cooler. For example, the [[BTX (form factor)|BTX]] case design prescribes a CPU air tunnel.
*Expel warm air as directly as possible. Examples are: Conventional PC ([[ATX]]) power supplies blow the warm air out the back of the case. Many dual-slot [[Video card|graphics card]] designs blow the warm air through the cover of the adjacent slot. There are also some [[aftermarket]] coolers that do this. Some CPU cooling designs blow the warm air directly towards the back of the case, where it can be ejected by a case fan.
*Air that has already been used to spot-cool a component should not be reused to spot-cool a different component (this follows from the previous items). The ATX case design can be said to violate this rule, since the power supply gets its "cool" air from the inside of the case, where it has been warmed up already. The BTX case design also violates this rule, since it uses the CPU cooler's exhaust to cool the chipset and often the graphics card.
*Prefer cool intake air, avoid inhaling exhaust air (outside air above or near the exhausts). For example, a CPU cooling air duct at the back of a tower case would inhale warm air from a graphics card exhaust. Moving all exhausts to one side of the case, conventionally the back, helps to keep the intake air cool.
*Hiding cables behind motherboard tray or simply apply ziptie and tucking cables away to provide un hindered air flow.

Fewer fans strategically placed will improve the airflow internally within the PC and thus lower the overall internal case temperature in relation to ambient conditions. The use of larger fans also improves efficiency and lowers the amount of waste heat along with the amount of noise generated by the fans while in operation.

There is little agreement on the effectiveness of different fan placement configurations, and little in the way of systematic testing has been done. For a rectangular PC (ATX) case, a fan in the front with a fan in the rear and one in the top has been found to be a suitable configuration. However, AMD's (somewhat outdated) system cooling guidelines notes that "A front cooling fan does not seem to be essential. In fact, in some extreme situations, testing showed these fans to be recirculating hot air rather than introducing cool air."<ref>[http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/cooling_guide.pdf AMD Athlon System Cooling Guidelines] -- Although somewhat out of date, it appears to be backed up by some amount of systematic testing -- which is lacking in many other guides.</ref> It may be that fans in the side panels could have a similar detrimental effect -- possibly through disrupting the normal air flow through the case. However, this is unconfirmed and probably varies with the configuration.

==See also==
* [[Thermal management of electronic devices and systems]]
* [[Full immersion cooling]]

==References==
<references/>

==External links==
{{Wikibooks| How To Assemble A Desktop PC/Silencing#Liquid nitrogen cooling}}
*[http://www.novelconceptsinc.com/calculators.htm Online Heat Sink Performance Calculators]
*[http://www.tomshardware.com/2001/09/17/hot_spot/index.html Tom's hardware test: What happens when the processor heat sink is removed]
*[http://www.heatsink-guide.com/ General CPU Cooling Information]
*[http://www.heatsinkfactory.com/ Computer Cooling Products]
*[http://www.dansdata.com/gz012.htm CPU Cooler Rules of Thumb]
*[http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220070268669%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20070268669&RS=DN/20070268669 Submersion Cooling Patent Application]
*[http://www.cputhermometer.com CPU Thermometer]

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