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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    Hello,

    I'm planning to install a Desktop PC running 64-bit Windows-7 in a Amateur Astronomy Observatory. Unfortunately at the moment the daytime high temps are running just over 100-degreeF and the temps in the observatory are even higher. I'm not having problems at the moment with the PC, but I'm concerned about when I start really loading the work on this PC that the simple fans that I'm currently using are no longer going to be adequate. I'm looking for ideas on how to effectively ( and cost effectively) cool this PC. Perhaps some type of cabinet that doesn't cost a fortune? Ideas?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    When you're expecting highest usage...
    Your cheapest option would be to locate the computer as close to an outside source of ventilation as possible,
    remove the side pannel, and place a large fan blowing directly on the cpu area.
    If it's a decent and well built computer, that may be the extent of it and nothing more need be done.
    You can also limit your heavy computing tasks to the night shift where it will be cooler.

    Other options include removing the case fans and installing high flow fans in their place. This may impact the
    amount of noise created, but I don't think this will be much of an issue for you.
    More ambitious options would entail replacing the CPU fan and heatsink with an aftermarket cooler, basically
    a huge hunk of heat transmitting metal with a high flow fan.
    Water cooling

    You can also research your cpu to determine the range of heat tolerances from a product spec sheet. Intel will offer them.
    Many cpu's can tolerate temps as high as 90 degrees centigrade prior to shutting down or throttling down.
    A good motherboard will tolerate up to 50 degrees centigrade, that goes same for a PSU.

    Heat is the enemy of fine electronics, so the overall lifespan will suffer as a result.
    Check through this thread for a teperature monitoring utility.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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  3. #3
    Lounger
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    Good evening Clint,

    Thanks for the Responding. Yep I had already looked though most of these options.
    Most of the heavy processing will be done from sunset until sunrise running/monitoring the Observatory and capturing the raw images. Then in the morning the data is compressed and Several hour's of FTP transmissions to push the data from the observatory to my home. Then some post transmission cleanup. The PC then pretty much monitors observatory environmentals the rest of the day until late afternoon waiting on new instructions for the next evening.

    I've tried some after-market coolers and to be honest, I haven't had too much luck with them. I've experienced a high failure rate with them and not much luck with the Vendor's in getting them replaced when they failed.

    I have NOT tried water cooling, primarily due to the problem with the other after market coolers that I have tried.

    And I use the Intel Desktop Control Center which provides information on the temps for the CPU, IOH, CPU VR and Ambient.

    Still looking for additional options....
    Thanks again !
    Bill

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Your last option would probably be along the lines of an air conditioned cupboard or closet, like the old mini servers
    that some older places had. Cost effective will likely not be in your future unless you can manage to
    jerry rig a cabinet with an air conditioner in the cheap. And you wouldn't need to cool it down to the 70s,
    80 degrees would do just fine.
    Either way you decide to go, I would definitely not go with the intel stock cooler almost anything else is better,
    despite having a bad experience with a few.

    Thermoelectric Air Conditioners & enclosures
    Industrial Enclosures
    ComputerVault Pro Server Cabinets
    Hoffman: Product Catalog : Product Catalog
    Cabinet air conditioner
    Cabinet Enclosure Cooler For Electronic Control Panel Coolers

    computer enclosure+air conditioned
    Computer cooling From Wikipedia
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  5. #5
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    The only option IMHO is to stick with the standard heatsink/fan and set up a portable condenser air-con unit to blow air onto the front of the PC. You only need to knock 25% off the temperature.

    cheers, Paul

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    4 Star Lounger SpywareDr's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Lounger
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    Thanks everyone for your replies,

    I'll start looking into what is the best and cost effective solution.

    Bill

  8. #8
    Star Lounger
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    I am surprised that I don't see more mentions of Peltier/TEC cooling. There are a lot of articles for overclockers trying to get subzero CPU temperatures but I would think that a TEC would work well in a HTPC trying to eliminate fans.

    Also a situation like this sounds tailor made for a TEC. Just bringing the CPU temperature down to 100 degreesF would be all that you need. No worries about sub-ambient temperature condensation, you are not trying to overclock anything, you just want the PC to run without melting.

    TEC's are cheap but the hard part is figuring out how big the TEC should be since I haven't seen any write-ups on this type of cooling goal.

  9. #9
    Star Lounger
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    I just did some searching and came up with off the shelf peltier coolers that seems to do the job.

    Unfortunately, they're a little expensive and physically too large for some PCs.

    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/491/1/
    or
    http://www.brighthub.com/computing/h...ews/26589.aspx

  10. #10
    New Lounger
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    Peltier cooling sounds great at first until you begin to realize all the hassles involved. Been there, done that. With peltier cooling, you have to keep the hot end of the cooler away from wires as it can melt them. You need a large heatsink to avoid it burning it. The cold end can create frost and dangerous condensation which can fry your PC components. Proper insulation is definetely needed. It was much more of a hassle than it was worth.

    Water cooling has excellent cooling benefits but it requires more maintenance than air cooling. With air cooling, you simply have to clean the heatsink and fan occasionally, and replace the fan if it dies. With water cooling, you have to be very proactive about keeping the water circulation system clean - which is a much more detailed process. And of course, water cooling, if not done correctly, can leak liquid onto your components and damage them.

    I recommend air cooling, using the largest heatsink possible, preferably pure copper. Use it in conjunction with a good thermal transfer grease like Actic Nine and a large 120mm fan. I absolutely do not recommend leaving the computer case open with the side removed as this defeats the purpose of pressurized ventillation, which expels heat most efficiently. Instead, be sure to include a 120mm exhaust fan for the rear exhaust and one at the top of the computer case also if possible.

    In your case, I would combine air cooling with a portable air conditioner.

  11. #11
    Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldschoolh4ck3r View Post
    Peltier cooling sounds great at first until you begin to realize all the hassles involved. Been there, done that. With peltier cooling, you have to keep the hot end of the cooler away from wires as it can melt them. You need a large heatsink to avoid it burning it. The cold end can create frost and dangerous condensation which can fry your PC components. Proper insulation is definetely needed. It was much more of a hassle than it was worth.
    Running unregulated Peltier cooling is definitely a bad idea. It might possibly work if you use an undersized Peltier but I suspect the difference between an idle CPU and a heavy use CPU would range from too cool to too hot.

    The coolers in the links above seem to be very simple and reliable. The only problem is they are a little expensive and bulky. But even those coolers were biased towards overclockers. It seems to me that if you have a borderline cooler, a temperature controlled Peltier should be easy to implement. Unfortunately, with no off the shelf cooler for that type of cooling goal, it would be a DIY experiment.

    But then again Peltiers are probably overkill for this and that's why you don't see much available off the shelf.

  12. #12
    New Lounger
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    William,

    I live in SC and do not air condition my apartment. Summertime temperatures inside are often in the high nineties. I use my computer most of every day and seldom have temperature problems. I built the computer in 2005 and other than replacing the power supply once, the rear case fan once, and adding a Zalman FS-V7 Heat Sink to cool my video card in 2008, it has run fine in this environment for five years. I do vacuum it out thoroughly about once a year, and at the same time I clean the case fan blades, the CPU cooling fins, and the stock CPU fan with Q-tips and an electric shaver brush.

    System Details
    Case: Antec Sonata mid tower
    Motherboard: AOpen AX4C Max II (Canterwood)
    BIOS: Phoenix/Award 6.00 PG 03/08/2004
    CPU: 3.2GHz Pentium 4 (Northwood) with standard cooling fan
    Disk 1: Western Digital 120GB WD1200JB
    Disk 2: Western Digital 80GB WD800BB
    Video: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT
    120mm front case fan (behind disks)
    120mm rear case fan

    I admit I've tried to read the "Thermal Specifications and Design Considerations" chapter in my processor's Intel manual, but I understand little of it. I think my CPU has a maximum operating temperature of about 156F, and has a slowed-down self-preservation mode to keep from destroying itself. I don't know if the CPU has ever gone into that mode.

    I think I set a CPU temperature alarm in my BIOS at about 146F. I use that alarm as my cue to do my annual cleaning inside the case. Occasionally the alarm goes off when some process is looping. Here's an mp3 recording of that alarm, so you can hear what it sounds like (I didn't know what it was the first time I heard it): Temperature Alarm.

    I use a program called SpeedFan to monitor my system's various temperature sensors and to keep my CPU fan running at only 5% speed. When the CPU fan runs faster it's too loud and it doesn't reduce the CPU's temperature much.

    Perhaps you'll find some of this info helpful.

    Jon Maloney

  13. #13
    New Lounger
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    I hope that this is not a double post. Anyway here we go again.

    I use a program called TThrottle to moderate the temperature of my computer equipment. It will hold processes when you CPU reaches a threshold temperature. This program is actually designed to limit processes started by another program called BOINC. But I think it is also possible to throttle other processes with this program. Searching the internet on "efmer" and "tthrottle" should lead you to that program.

  14. #14
    Gold Lounger Maudibe's Avatar
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    A very inexpensive way to cool down your PC is to place one of those freeze blocks that you put in your child's lunch box right in front of the air intake vent on the outside of the puter. They are readily available in grocery stores, cheap, last hours, and are leak proof. Condensation will form on around the outside of the block as warm air passes over it (air being cooled holds less moisture that warmer air) so place it on a towel. The humidity will be pulled out of the air before entering the case so the air flow around components will be very dry. Buy several then just swap out during the day. Works great

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