Share your Big Air cooling setups with us

I am not a fan of watercooling, this thread is not about that debate.

I recently re-tuned my air cooling and made big gains (losses?). I would like to learn what others are doing and if I could do better using your methods.

I wanted quiet most of all when I changed cases and figured thermal performance would be better.

My specs:

be quiet! Silent Base 800 case (my ancient case was too cramped)
The case comes with 2 x 140mm Silent Wings front intake and 1 x 120mm exhaust in back. Those Silent Wings fans are excellent but expensive to add to a non-be quiet! case.

CPU: i5-4690K @4.5Ghz cooled by a Thermalright Macho Rev B. w/ rear duct. The Macho can be a passive cooler when the duct is connected to the rear case fan. I made it a 2 fan CPU cooler setup.

I carried over 2 x Corsair AF120mm white LED exhaust in the roof (a little noisy but not bad)
and a Noctua 140mm intake at the floor. Surprisingly the Noctua is my loudest fan, but it is old.
The PSU has an isolated airflow path with a 120mm fan.
The MSI GTX 970 has a twin fan cooler that does get audible at times.

I admit I have too many fans, but I had the fans already and the case had holes, so . . .

The PC has been working well for over a year. This weekend I was doing some CPU intensive CAD work and the fans were getting kinda loud. Initially I tuned the fans by individually tuning the curves to make each one as slow and quiet as possible while maintaining decent temps. The Macho cooler is excellent and the 140mm fan that comes with it is great too. It's very slow and quiet with lots of air flow.

This weekend I checked the curves and tried something different with success. I increased the speed of the pairing of CPU fan and the rear case fan, greatly reducing CPU temps without adding much more noise. Because the cases fans are now reading a lower CPU temp, the case fans are spinning slower. I used to idle at 30C, right now it is at 21C. When I was rendering I was at 59C max, and afterwards it was between 45C and 50C. Please keep in mind that when I first started rendering on this same system, a few times the CPU got nearly up to 80C.

I watched Carey Holzman this week and his lasse-faire attitude towards fans is a breath of fresh air.
TLDW; Fans shmans. As long a you have 1 or 2, it's all good. Just clean your case frequently.

I aggressively air cooled my CPU until I can just barely hear it, turned down all the other fans to min spin, and saw good results. I basically changed from a positive pressure case, to a slight breeze in the case with a negative tornado on the CPU and Carey's advice worked for me.


I have currently a test bench of sorts with a Noctua U12S on an 1800X, temps are good.
(Is over in the right hand corner lol)

My Wraith Max in an off brand CybertronPC case that is a copy of a ... ... Crap I forgot. With an intake fan in the front and back works OK.


and right when I just pulled mine :frowning:

If I had to use minimal amount of fans for a quiet build, would it be better to have a couple of larger fans? Or just a couple of really good quality quiet 120mm fans?
I've always had an idea for a custom case with a gigantic, somewhat slow moving fan on the side panel, but I don't know if that'd mess up the cooling too badly.

A larger fan can be run slower to equal the flow of a smaller fan and is usually quieter if you are comparing equal quality fans. I like your idea for a big side panel fan, it should work. I trust Mr. Holzman when he says 'fans don't matter too much, just get some airflow and you will be ok.' Luke at Linus Tech Tips tested case airflow and even when the case was stuffed with pizza boxes and T-shirts it still cooled ok.

Dual Xeon E5-2699v4 ES
They point up and I don't have any case fans to exhaust hot air. Phanteks Enthoo Pro has a grille up top, and I even removed the rear fan. I wanted this system to be as quiet as possible

I have a full write up:


updated photo of my 1500x+Wraith Max rig:

Because... RGB is a thing. lol. But the Max is a nice cooler.

Also better photo of my U12S +1800X rig. The GPU up close is a wimpy little GTX 950 compared to the MASSIVE R9 390 i have lol.


I do use AIO coolers extensively in my gaming PC but I have several GPU servers that run 24/7 and I would always trust air cooling over water in that situation. I gave up using tower or vertically mounted motherboard style cases a while back but when I was still using them I always had a 200+ mm fan mounted on the side to waft air in and reduce any likely hot or stagnant spots in the case.

Initial build up of one of my 4U GPU servers showing the key fan wall.

The 4U cases mean I can create an air tunnel with the fan wall so the GPUs run just as cool as the open bench style GPU servers I've also used. The only hot spot forms towards the rear of the 3 GPUs in the PCI-E slots so I have an additional 120 mm fan in the lid blowing down on top.

The first system I built has been running 24/7 for 9 months with zero hardware failures. Only change I've made is to ditch a 16X riser ribbon cable I was using to reach the suspended GPU for better air flow.


My last PC had a really old case with a feature that was probably common, but I have never seen it elsewhere. I had a Core 2 Quad CPU cooled by a 92mm fan downdraft cooler with 4 heat pipes. Similar to the one in your top photo, but smaller. The cool thing was the side of the case had a 100mm grille (I put a foam filter over it) with a telescoping 'snorkel' on the inside. I would extend the snorkel to fit tight over the CPU cooler fan. In that way the CPU had a supply of cold outside air and I like how downdraft coolers help chill the VRM's. That config was very good.

When I got a new MB, I chose an EVGA Hadron mini tower cooler with a 92mm fan (the case was small) but it didn't cool well and it was loud. Later I moved my stuff into the be quiet! case and got the Thermalright cooler.

:slight_smile: I've got an Antec case has the opening on the side for the tube but I must have ripped out the tube when I upgraded it to a Core 2 Quad for my NAS box years a go. HP/Dell have some nicely molded shrouds that do a similar job in some desktop cases but too specific to be reused for non OEM stuff.

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This is mine, just an NH-D15. Full specs on the system on my profile. In this pic I was troubleshooting the motherboard (everything brand spanking new)

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Big air cooling eh? Sure, I can do that

Meet Valentine

5x BeQuiet SilentWings2 120mm PWM (on custom mounts) as intake.
3x BeQuiet SilentWings2 140mm PWM as exhaust
BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 3 CPU cooler.

Because the 4-pin case fan headers on the motherboard didn't actually do PWM, I set it up so that all the case fans get their PWM signal from the CPU header. At idle the 140mm ones spin so slow that you can read the brand name on the fan.

As for sound, everything is idling along until the CPU hits 50°C, making it extremely quiet during normal use. It's still reasonable while gaming, all you hear is plenty of wind noise and turbulence.

With all the panels on, she looks just like any other stock CM Storm Trooper.

I can second that. I spent over 200 EUR on my case fans but IMO it was worth every cent.


I have 21 fans on my case: 5 intake, 16 outtake (2 sets of 4 fans on each radiator). The extra intakes are mainly to help keep positive pressure.

JK, but that seems a bit too much.
I bet you could remove more than 1/2 of those fans and still have epic cooling.

I could probably drop down to just pull, and not push / pull on the radiators. Though, my rad fans run extremely slow. 900 max speed, with them sitting around 600 usually. I bet I could drop them down to 300, and still have fine cooling at idle.

I'll Play!

Recently switched cases, the FT05 is a BEAST with the two AP-180 in the bottom, even on low those things move a massive amount of air, I've even been able to remove one of the fans off of the CPU cooler and still have lower temperatures, all while being next to silent. Loudest part about the build is the GPU, which is thankfully temporary.
Sorry about the Speccy in the top, this is my general guts picture, and I didnt really feel like digging up the other.
Also, not sure if this counts as a necro? The whole category seems to be pretty slow so I'm gonna assume no. Hopefully not!


This was my gaming rig, but is now a media/backup server.

4 140mm & 2 120mm BeQuiet fans. Plus a pure wings CPU cooler.

It's still mostly the same, minus the 980s & with a few extra HDDs.

It lives happily under a desk now. The only thing letting me know it's on is a light from the mouse. I do like well done air cooling.

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