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Question Adding cooling holes to top of case

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
991
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I have an old Cooler Master Centurion case. Given how heat rises and all, would it be beneficial to drill a number of small(ish) holes in the top of my case to allow heat to escape? Kinda a DIY vent? I'm not experiencing any issues with the system, heat related or otherwise, but it never hurts to try to keep a system as cool as possible to increase its longevity.

I'm not an expert with a drill but I can (probably) do it so it looks decent.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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If your temps are already good, doing that is kind of a waste (and will allow more noise to escape). You could always add better fans in the front and back, so they increase the airflow in your PC (at the expense of more noise).

I mean I could see doing something like that if components were getting so hot they were throttling, but that isn't the case with most people's PCs.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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No that's a bad idea, passive holes there will just create a short loop that robs more airflow flowing across the entire case.

Heat doesn't really rise enough to matter when you have active fan forced cooling.

It's also not all that easy to drill good looking holes in thin sheet metal with nothing behind it. You'd be better off cutting a square hole and slapping a fan filter panel over it if you must have a hole there.

The better thing to do would be move all drives in the 5.25" bays to the top or bottom and put the largest fan in above or below that stack that will fit, on a solid panel bracket up against the foam/filtered bay covers so it adds to air intake. The "solid panel" significance is it does not allow a loop, all air coming in the front bezel so no open area around it in the 5.25" bays... or if you just had a HDD up there and only wanted to cool it better, then solid panel wouldn't matter.

This assumes you already have a lower front bezel intake fan. If not, add that first, or really, do nothing if nothing is overheating. The entire front of the case is perforated so it's not really starving for airflow with a rear 120mm exhaust fan plus the one in the PSU, unless you have high heat from a gaming video card, and in that situation your best bet would be put a hole in the side panel with a 120mm intake fan pointed directly at the video card. I find that cheap black vinyl automotive door edge trim works nicely to finish a DIY cut fan hole. It also comes in clear but you have a black case so...
 
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lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
991
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91
Ok, so it probably wont really help, or their are more effective things I can do. I figured as much but I thought I'd ask.

Heat doesn't really rise enough to matter when you have active fan forced cooling.
Tell that to my daughters cat. The PC I built my daughter has a much newer case with a grate on top for optional water cooling (not used). During the colder days her cat would lay on top of the case, right over the grate because it was warm. It probably didn't help the case cooling but my daughter and the cat liked it.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
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^ As much as cats like to think of themselves as ninja, they can't lay on the side of an upright case so the top is what's left. Granted there is some heat on the top-rear due to the PSU being there, CPU not far away... it's always warmer where the heat originates.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
19,223
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my 2 cents here..

it is much easier dremeling a square out then a circle and then ploping a radiator grill over it like this:


also looks much cleaner, has fan holes aligned so you can mount fans on top even.
Again much cleaner and aesthetically pleasing look.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
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I could be clueless about the difference between a "Master Centurion" and a "Centurion", but I modded an old Centurion for my brother's computer upstairs. The lower front vent is obstructive to air flow, and you only get one fan with that. I think I'd added a side-panel fan, but I'd have to check. We don't overclock Bro's Ivy Bridge. the biggest problem is his lack of attention to dust-bunnies -- dust. It's such a compact case with the PSU at the top, I can't imagine any stagnant air pocket in the upper case. If the computer has a good heatpipe cooler and decent exhaust fan, drilling more holes in the case -- top, bottom -- wherever -- shouldn't do much good of anything.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
781
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^ lol wut? "Cooler Master" brand, "Centurion" model. Question is what the # is after "Centurion". There's at least a 590, 534, 5, 5 II, and 6 versions... maybe more.

I got a Centurion 5 in '07, nearly FAR from ClubIT... $50 list, free shipping code, $15 ClubIT rebate, $30 Coolermaster rebate, no internet tax at the time, so $5 delivered.

Anandtech did a review of it, though I cut the stamped metal fan grills out of mine and removed the front bezel screws so it became snap on/off toolless:


The Centurion 5 doesn't have as many dust issues as some, besides it being very useful to be able to pop the front bezel off easily because dust gets trapped between the metal mesh and the foam filters behind it.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
781
126
my 2 cents here..

it is much easier dremeling a square out then a circle and then ploping a radiator grill over it like this:

I usually use an electric jigsaw, one with good balance so it doesn't vibrate up and down as much (which can dent thin case sheetmetal), very fine toothed blade, and I put masking tape over the cutting path or saw shoe (or both) to not scratch it up.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
126
I usually use an electric jigsaw, one with good balance so it doesn't vibrate up and down as much (which can dent thin case sheetmetal), very fine toothed blade, and I put masking tape over the cutting path or saw shoe (or both) to not scratch it up.
Yeah -- Bro's Centurion is an earlier model than the one pictured in the review link, but I wonder how much the basic design had changed.

Debating on the question of Dremel versus jigsaw, I'd always chosen the former. Circular holes with cut-off wheels was always tedious work. I did some good work that way, but I don't ever want to need doing it again.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
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I took a closer look at the pics in the Anandtech review. My Bro's old Centurion construction is very much the same as the newer model. nothing special; nothing terrible, but again -- the intake fan air-flow could be better. [It could probably be better on a lot of cases.] but you get one front intake and one rear exhaust. The side-panel appearance is different -- Bro's being simpler -- but the same as a matter of cooling. I'm pretty sure I'd cut a hole in the side panel for a plastic duct from FrozenCPU for the heatpipe cooler fan, and I may have modded it to exclude the duct and replace it with an intake fan.

I think you can mod a lot of $50 cases to good effect. I used to mod OEM cases from the '90s. I might pick a case like the Centurion line to build a system for a nephew or family member (which I did, actually . . . ), but we don't pick high-end motherboards and graphics cards for those builds, and I don't choose such cases for my personal PCs. And if Bro wants high-end with bling and overclocking, he can pay me for it. For the family, I build them for cost or for free. They always have a chance to get one of my primo systems as hand-me-down.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
781
126
Yeah -- Bro's Centurion is an earlier model than the one pictured in the review link, but I wonder how much the basic design had changed.

Debating on the question of Dremel versus jigsaw, I'd always chosen the former. Circular holes with cut-off wheels was always tedious work. I did some good work that way, but I don't ever want to need doing it again.
??? A jigsaw is a linear motion saw, aka sabre saw, no cut-off wheels involved.

I don't make fan holes circular except much smaller 60mm that I have a hole saw size to match. Otherwise, I take an old fan that I cut the middle out of, to use as a template to mark a square hole with curved corners, and mark the screw hole locations.

Dremels, slow and costly to operate unless you invest in large packs of cutoff wheels. I use my dremel for small tasks requiring precision but something as large as 92mm+ fan holes, a single jigsaw blade will cut dozens if not hundreds of them, as well as be more practical for my other non-computer related fab work with aluminum.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
126
??? A jigsaw is a linear motion saw, aka sabre saw, no cut-off wheels involved.

I don't make fan holes circular except much smaller 60mm that I have a hole saw size to match. Otherwise, I take an old fan that I cut the middle out of, to use as a template to mark a square hole with curved corners, and mark the screw hole locations.

Dremels, slow and costly to operate unless you invest in large packs of cutoff wheels. I use my dremel for small tasks requiring precision but something as large as 92mm+ fan holes, a single jigsaw blade will cut dozens if not hundreds of them, as well as be more practical for my other non-computer related fab work with aluminum.
I just imagined the noise and the vibration with a portable jig-saw, and chose the Dremel. The Dremel cut-off wheels would only seem useful for straight cuts, but I did it anyway -- circular holes with four spokes meeting at a disc-shaped center. I honestly couldn't describe how I did it with cutoff wheels, but I did . . .

I've seen some folks use a drill with a circular hole saw with a 4-inch diameter. I had misgivings about that as well.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
781
126
I don't have any hole saws as big as 4", but the trick to using them is generally to make a form out of wood, to have a solid wood backing behind where you're cutting the hole, and that keeps your fingers at a safe distance.

I wouldn't try to cut very thin, less than 0.8mm sheeting with a jigsaw, but I avoid cases that thin in general.
 

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
991
77
91
Well, this is actually getting more real. My daughter was hoping that when she goes to college in August we would not touch her room at all. Nope. I did a lot of work in that room building her nice storage space and a desk and I'm not about to let it go to waste. Given that, she is expecting me to put my computer where hers sits now and letting her cat sit on it in the winter. I guess that means I need to get a new case with holes in the top or cutting them myself.

I guess I could get a new case, the one I have is from 2004, but it still works fine. I hate to ditch something that's not broken.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
126
Well, this is actually getting more real. My daughter was hoping that when she goes to college in August we would not touch her room at all. Nope. I did a lot of work in that room building her nice storage space and a desk and I'm not about to let it go to waste. Given that, she is expecting me to put my computer where hers sits now and letting her cat sit on it in the winter. I guess that means I need to get a new case with holes in the top or cutting them myself.

I guess I could get a new case, the one I have is from 2004, but it still works fine. I hate to ditch something that's not broken.
Oh, I agree. Do you remember a cartoon on the cartoon-channel back before or even a little after the millennium, entitled "Ren and Stimpy"? Stimpy, the dumb cat, was shedding hair and coughing up fur-balls all over the house, and Ren the Chihuahua dog was watching the stock-market ticker on TV. He gets this idea to sell fur-balls for money, so Stimpy has to produce more and more and more fur-balls. Pretty soon, the cat's tongue is sore and worn out, and he's starting to show bald spots. So they eventually get this big, blubbery, hirsute truck-driver to offer his back-side to Stimpy to lick off the hair. "Uhhhh . . hhh! That feels so purty!" says the truck-driver. Eventually, Stimpy's fur-ball gland somewhere down his esophagus has burned out, and the plot follows from there to the end.

You might jog on over to the Performance-PCs web-page and look for magnetic filters. If your case is plastic or aluminum, you can get a roll of adhesive magnetic tape to work with the purchased filters. When they get dirty, you can run them under the cold-tap! The outfit that makes custom filters of that sort for a variety of popular cases is based in South Africa, named DEMciflex.

Mindless is right-on with his advice about the drill-driven hole-saws.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,347
781
126
Realize that in the majority of cases (pun intended), manufacturers put in a ridiculous # of fan mounts as some line item feature to trick buyers into thinking it is a better case.

Few modern, reasonably sized (or larger) cases really need fan mounts at the top unless it's a high wattage system and the goal is decrease noise... and yet, it may cause more noise to escape the case. None need passive holes up there, unless it substantially deviates from the normal ATX design.

I still have not read any indication that you need to do anything, so what made you think that you do?

A cat would probably rather have an enclosed, heated perch to stay concealed in while still able to keep an eye on everything in the room, rather than atop a computer case. Building a little treehouse-on-stilts for it with a heating mat inside would be more fun than carving up a computer case...
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,013
1,087
126
Realize that in the majority of cases (pun intended), manufacturers put in a ridiculous # of fan mounts as some line item feature to trick buyers into thinking it is a better case.

Few modern, reasonably sized (or larger) cases really need fan mounts at the top unless it's a high wattage system and the goal is decrease noise... and yet, it may cause more noise to escape the case. None need passive holes up there, unless it substantially deviates from the normal ATX design.

I still have not read any indication that you need to do anything, so what made you think that you do?
He probably frets over things like I occasionally do. My Moms sheds hair like a cat. It gets in the Shark Navigator vacuum cleaner roller-brush, and it's a pain to pull out.

My Coolermasters have a top-panel fan hole for either a 120 or 140, with a perf-steel screen cover. It's the last place I'd want to put an intake fan, and an exhaust fan is just as unwelcome. I covered it on the underside with a Lexan plate.

While I had my system down for repair these last 7 weeks, I took pains to seal off all the air leaks in the case as I was putting it back together. I even installed weatherstripping around the Stacker plastic "fan-door-frame", son that the only air that gets "in" comes through the fans, and there's very little to get out.

Every little bit helps, and the more control over the air-flow and where it goes, the better. I still get a slow build-up of very fine dust if I don't clean out the case after a couple years. And all my intake fans are filtered.

But fur-balls? Or loose cat fur? God! What a nuisance.
 

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