Fanless Power Supply PC Build Guide

Cases|Damping | Do-It-Yourself Systems | Power | Silent PC Build Guides
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The original ATX tower design that dominated for the last two decades is based on a front-to-back airflow concept. There are variations, for sure, but in general, a fan or two on the front panel draws in air and blows it across hard drives, and into the center where the hottest components are. There's almost always an exhaust fan on the back panel next to the motherboard I/O panel, and a rectangular hole on the back panel for the PSU. That hole is for the PSU air exhaust, and the original ATX design places the PSU at the top back corner of the case. An inherent aspect of this arrangement is that the PSU ends up directly over the CPU, and just a few inches above the VGA card as well, and as a result, the PSU fan sucks in much of the heat from those components into its casing. This causes unnecessary heating of PSU components, and the extra heat often forces the thermally-controlled fan in the PSU to spin up, resulting in higher noise.

Old school ATX tower (example: Cooler Master Sileo 500) with top/back PSU mounting location.


A modern ATX case variation puts the power supply at the bottom, out of the heat path of the CPU. When combined with a bottom intake vent for the PSU, this design keeps the heat of the CPU and GPU apart from the PSU, which now only has keep itself cool. This design divides up the heat to separate exhaust paths so that it is more easily managed.

Modern ATX tower (example: Cooler Master Silencio 550) with bottom PSU position and bottom panel intake vent.

In bottom PSU cases where there is no bottom vent, the PSU fan draws in air from inside the case. This can work fine except when more than one VGA card is used. Then, the second or third vidoe card can end up being very close to the PSU fan, with the same type of thermal jam-up that can occur in top-PSU cases.

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