Discussion The perils of owning a case with vents on the top

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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"Perils" mostly meaning the spill of say a drink straight into the innards of my computer. A side concern is whether my cats will discover the warm spot though usually my tower has a few bits of crap on top.

I'm not naturally particularly clumsy, but I am mindful of the one time I had a spill; it went onto the front of the computer and caught the USB ports which don't work any more on my current case. I'm limited for options with my next build because I have two optical drives (the BR writer doesn't seem to be as fast as it ought to be for reading and seems to be slightly less compatible than the DVDRW), and the case I've found which seems to suit my needs has an air vent at the top (2x 120 fan grilles), which makes me a bit nervous.

With this case I can think of the following options:

1 - Relocate PC so it's less vulnerable. The problem with that is the room my office is in limits my options.
1a - With my first point I was thinking about another location on the floor, but the PC could head up to desk height. However, system noise is easier to perceive especially if it has two walls for the sound to bounce off.
2 - Cover the vent completely. I would have preferred not to have one in the first place, right? Water is tricky though, and might still find its way in through the top. Also, increased air flow seems like generally a nice thing to have.
2a - Cover the vent completely until I'm doing something particularly system intensive?
3 - Cover the vent partially. I was thinking or something similar to a small amount of air ducting which would cover the vent from above but still allow air to vent out the side of the 'duct' that isn't covered up, pointing away from my desk.
4 - Sit some kind of small bit of furniture on top of the case (like a monitor stand which has room for a keyboard to slot beneath).

My train of thought went out the window after briefly thinking I had miscalculated the width of the new case and the room available where the current case is.

Has anyone else here had a similar quandary and did you come up with any other solutions?
 

In2Photos

Golden Member
Mar 21, 2007
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I think the need for ventilation on top depends on the system you plan to use. Not all builds will require the ventilation and if you don't intend to use fans on top you may not even notice a difference in thermals between ventilated and not. I watch a streamer that has an NZXT system and her cat lays on top of her PC all day, partially blocking the top 120mm fan. She doesn't see any increase in thermals with the cat there.

I used to be one that kept my PC on the floor. I've changed that mindset for the most part. My server still resides on the floor, but it's because I don't need access to it like I do other machines and it has limited fans so it doesn't suck up a bunch of dust anyways.
 
Jul 27, 2020
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I watch a streamer that has an NZXT system and her cat lays on top of her PC all day, partially blocking the top 120mm fan. She doesn't see any increase in thermals with the cat there.
Good luck to her if her cat gets spooked while lying there and pees.
 
Feb 25, 2011
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Good luck to her if her cat gets spooked while lying there and pees.

I have had cats my entire adult life and never had this happen. They love sitting on the computer and watching me type, then demanding treats.

The only time I ever had a cat scared-pee was one time at the vet, and it was a surprise to the vet too.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

Senior member
Mar 15, 2014
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I have metal or nylon sheet 'dust' filters on both my top case vented PC but you still get a lot of fine dust entering that way.

Of course I realised that would not save the PC from liquid incursion of any type, including cat drool and urine, so I got rid of my cats (JOKE).

Seriously though only positioning, high as possible/practical, is the real solution.

The main problem, for such PCs situated on the floor or below shoulder height, is humans carrying drinks in cans/cups/mugs. The sensible solution is obvious.
 

yottabit

Golden Member
Jun 5, 2008
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I’d just slap one of those magnetic fan “filters” on the top and forget about it. They have some that have pretty small pore openings, they don’t flow great but it will also provide some extra resistance to divert liquid if it were to spill.
 
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nightspydk

Senior member
Sep 7, 2012
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Might not be possible for you under the circumstances, but it is a fact that you get more dust in your case while situated on the floor. Must say it was a great move to have my pcs elevated. How about further up on a shelf or sumthing?

Given up on cases with room for optical drives, but did own one Be Quiet a few years back and that was solid at the top.

Good luck :)