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  1. #1
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    I've got a (self-built) HTPC that sits in an A/V cabinet. If I close the door to the cabinet, sooner or later the HTPC overheats -- either setting off the motherboard's audible alarm or just causing the machine to crash. If I leave the cabinet door open, I don't have any problems.

    It's a fairly roomy case for an HTPC (it'll take an ATX board, although I've got a micro-ATX in there) but still a bit cramped (case is here). I've added three additional fans.

    Inside I've got a micro-ATX motherboard (GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-US2H), an AMD Athlon 64 X2 560 65W CPU, a Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB SATA hard drive, 4 GB (2 2GB modules) of RAM, an LG SATA HD-DVD/Blu-Ray reader, and a pair of ATI tuner cards. I've tied up all the wires that I can to improve airflow. Now I want to add a video card (XFX GT 240 GT240XZNFC) to resolve an issue between the on-board ATI HD 3200 video and my tuners, and I'm afraid it will just make it worse.

    So as I see it I have three options, but I'd appreciate any advice that folks can offer:
    1. Add additional cooling management. I've never done overclocking or used anything other than stock fans before, and I'm not really sure where to begin, here, but this would be my first choice.
    2. Replace the case with something that provides better airflow. Would appreciate any cases that others have experience with for HTPC use.
    3. Replace the closed A/V cabinet with an open one. This is my least favorite option, because I'm not fond of having the wires, etc. visible but if I have to, I have to.


    Noise isn't a big issue for me; even with the four fans in the case now, we don't really hear it and frankly even when my son had his vacuum-esque Xbox 360 down here, we were OK with it.

    Thanks in advance!

    -chris

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    That's some potent hardware for such a small case you have there. With the addition of a video card, an open chasis might not cut it anymore.

    I'd go with option 2 personally. I've used this case before as an example, and it is fantastic. Although a bit pricey and you don't necessarily have to have the handle, there are models that come without it.

    Other options would include modifying the cabinet with an open mesh like structure, and or replacing the processor's heatsink
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  3. #3
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    HTPCs don't really require much 'power' in normal operation. You say it's a roomy case and you've added extra fans. So it seems to me that the problem is the AV cabinet has insufficient ventilation letting the heat build up inside. It matters little if you change the HTPC case or add more fans because heat is still going to build up in the AV cabinet - even with 10 fans fitted. Have you got other electronics creating heat in the cabinet such as a powerful AV Receiver, satellite receiver, etc?

    I suggest that you experiment first to prove if there is a cooling problem with the PC by temporarily setting up the HTPC outside the AV cabinet and see if it still suffers overheating. (Use one of the stress test utilities to run it maxed out.) If it doesn't overheat, then you need to tackle the cabinet problem.

    You say leaving the cabinet door opens stops the overheating: that almost proves the HTPC is not at fault. So take a look at the cabinet. If it is a wooden construction, maybe you can fit a couple of fans to the cabinet. They make 160mm PC cooling fans that push around a lot of air at relatively slow, speeds quietly. Perhaps you could fit one at the bottom sucking cold air into the cabinet and another near the top rear sucking out hot air. You can run the fans from your HTPC because you only really need them running when the HTPC is switched on.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    That's some potent hardware for such a small case you have there. With the addition of a video card, an open chasis might not cut it anymore.

    I'd go with option 2 personally. I've used this case before as an example, and it is fantastic. Although a bit pricey and you don't necessarily have to have the handle, there are models that come without it.

    Other options would include modifying the cabinet with an open mesh like structure, and or replacing the processor's heatsink
    & fan.
    Not a bad suggestion, although my current A/V cabinet won't accommodate an upright case. But it's worth considering.

    --chris

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Farrell View Post
    HTPCs don't really require much 'power' in normal operation. You say it's a roomy case and you've added extra fans. So it seems to me that the problem is the AV cabinet has insufficient ventilation letting the heat build up inside. It matters little if you change the HTPC case or add more fans because heat is still going to build up in the AV cabinet - even with 10 fans fitted. Have you got other electronics creating heat in the cabinet such as a powerful AV Receiver, satellite receiver, etc?

    I suggest that you experiment first to prove if there is a cooling problem with the PC by temporarily setting up the HTPC outside the AV cabinet and see if it still suffers overheating. (Use one of the stress test utilities to run it maxed out.) If it doesn't overheat, then you need to tackle the cabinet problem.

    You say leaving the cabinet door opens stops the overheating: that almost proves the HTPC is not at fault. So take a look at the cabinet. If it is a wooden construction, maybe you can fit a couple of fans to the cabinet. They make 160mm PC cooling fans that push around a lot of air at relatively slow, speeds quietly. Perhaps you could fit one at the bottom sucking cold air into the cabinet and another near the top rear sucking out hot air. You can run the fans from your HTPC because you only really need them running when the HTPC is switched on.
    Yeah, this is what I was kind of afraid of. No, the PC can run all day just fine out of the cabinet -- or even in the cabinet if I leave the door open.

    It's not wood; it's cheap particle-board thingy. Front doors are glass; top, bottom and sides are 1/4" or 1/2" particle board, and the back is very thin paperboard (or whatever that is that they use on cheap cabinets for the back). The cabinet has a left and right compartment, and each compartment has a shelf in the middle. The right side has my A/V receiver and a small Cisco DVR/receiver; the left side has the HTPC and a (powered-off) Laserdisc player. PC is on the bottom, with a couple of inches on each side and 3-or-4 inches above free (and it's on rubber feet). There's no real flow between the two sides; not even a cutout for wires (wires go out the back of one side and then in through a cutout in the back to the other).

    I may try just removing the back altogether. It won't have as clean a look, and I still face the wires-are-visible issue (an important part of the WAF, believe me), but there may be no other alternative.

    Thanks for the tips!

    --chris

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