Tower of dust

Saturday morning I had a bit of free time and decided to clean up my computer case, a mid tower containing an ATX motherboard, a largish CPU cooler, a mid sized graphics card, and a bunch of drives. I bought this case 10 years ago for a brand new system, and have since upgraded almost all the original components, everything expect the case itself.

I clean this system every couple of years because it gets dirty and promptly accumulate a tick layer of gray fluff. This time there was even more lint and dirt than usual. I looked up online why there was so much dust in this computer box; my other systems accumulate much less grim over time.

After a bit a research I learned it was because my case had negative pressure inside that was snorting the dust all around it.

10 years ago when I put the system together I figured that the best way to get good thermal performance was to suck all the hot air out of the case, I believed that would cool the chips faster. It turns out that’s not the case, and had the unfortunate side effect of creating negative pressure in the computer’s enclosure, and sucked small particles in from all the case’s small holes and cracks.

I cleaned the mess in the case with my vacuum cleaner, and got to work on fixing the airflow.

There were two fans: a 120mm fan at the top sucking air out, and a 90mm one attached to the back also sucking the air out. I flipped the 120mm fan to push air in the case from the top. I moved the smaller fan attached a the back to the front of the case. I fixed it to one of the front slots that turned out to have a built-in filter that was caked with dust. I cleaned the filter and got the fan behind it to push air from the front to the back of the case, in the same direction as the CPU fan.

My desktop computer in now quieter, and certainly a bit faster with the optimized airflow.

Remember: Create positive pressure in your computer to keep the dust out, get your system better performance, and make it last longer.