Computer Cooling Fans

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Cooling fans are a must for most of today's computer systems.

It is extremely important that your system is kept cool since a system running at normal operating temperatures will have a much longer lifespan than a system which operates at abnormally high operating temperatures.

Overheating of the components can cause them to malfunction and eventually become inoperative.

Click here to look at a variety of cooling fans.

Because of the advancements in technology, CPUs, hard drives, video cards, etc. have become faster resulting in higher internal system operating temperatures. This being the case, it is imperative that additional cooling fans be installed.

These fans can be in the form of CPU heatsink/fans, video card fans, case fans, hard drive coolers, chipset coolers and even memory coolers.

Present computer motherboards have built-in thermal monitoring devices to monitor the ambient temperature within the computer case especially around certain important components such as the CPU and the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets.

Proper ventilation of your system requires that you install your cooling fans strategically. One being placed at the lower front section of the case, which pulls cool air into the case, while having a fan at the upper rear end of the case, which extracts the hot air from inside.

Newer computer systems now use additional fans to improve the ventilation and airflow throughout the system.

These fans are rated by their physical dimensions, the volume of air that they can move in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and the type of motor bearings that are used.

There are two types of motors - sleeved motors and ball bearing motors; ball bearing being the better of the two due to its longer service life. Sleeved motors are used in cheaper cooling fans.

Having numerous fans improperly installed can result in serious implications and can be just as bad as insufficient cooling!

Cooling Fans - Physical Characteristics

Fans are usually square and their dimensions are measured in millimeters. Popular sizes include 60 mm, 80 mm, 92 mm, 120 mm and 225 mm.

Air flow generated is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and the rotational speed is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).

Computer builders prefer fans with a higher CFM rating and lower RPM to reduce noise levels (measured in decibels (dB)). Some fans have manual adjustable speed controls while others are controlled automatically by computer hardware (motherboard) and software.

Another important factor when choosing computer cooling fans is static pressure. When using radiators and heat sinks, a fan with a high static pressure is more effective for forcing air through restricted spaces such as the gaps between a radiator or heatsink. Static pressure is measured in millimeters (mm) of mercury(Hg) or millimeters (mm) of water (H2O).

Running your computer system with the cover off is not recommended. Although the ambient temperature will be lower, certain key components such as the CPU, video card, etc. can have higher operating temperatures.

The absence of the cover affects the airflow causing poor ventilation. Hence, if the cover is installed, a proper controlled ventilation will result and also the induction of dust into the system will be drastically reduced.

Dust is dangerous to your system since it forms an insulating layer preventing the proper dissipation of heat from your components.

Your system will overheat resulting in damage to it if your cooling fans fail. Here are some tips to help to protect your computer from overheating:

  • Use compressed air to remove dust build up from fans.
  • Use a computer vacuum or a can of compressed air to remove dust and debris build up from the internal components at least twice per year or as required - depending on the environment.
  • Keep your computer in a cool and dry place free from debris.
  • Ensure that your computer is placed a few inches from a wall since the fans are at the rear of the computer.
  • Never put your computer system unit on the floor. Less dirt and dust will get into the system when it is kept off the floor.
  • Your computer should be placed in a clean and well ventilated area.
  • Never block the air vents on your computer case.
  • Never put books or other items on top of your computer monitor.

Liquid Cooling ...... Just to Mention

Another very efficient form of computer cooling utilizes liquids as a cooling medium.

A liquid cooling system consists of a heat pipe which is a hollow tube containing a heat transfer liquid. It operates off the principle of the liquid evaporating as it transfers the heat to the cooler section of the heat pipe. In doing this, heat is removed from the system.

This is a continuous cycle maintained by a pump that circulates the liquid through a closed-loop system via a radiator and cooling fan assembly.

This system is more efficient and almost silent but it still has drawbacks since a leak in a system would be devastating - liquid + electricity = 'failure'.

To overcome this shortcoming, manufacturers such as Corsair and CooliT have produced closed-loop systems which are leak-proof. Click here to look at some CPU liquid coolers.

Final Thoughts

As computer users add more components and peripherals to their systems, more heat is being generated. Additional cooling fans will be necessary to ensure the proper cooling of their system and components.

Click here to look at a variety of cooling fans.

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