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Venting radiator - top vs back. Any difference?

By Mugsy ยท 10 replies
Aug 20, 2013
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  1. I am currently searching for a new PC case for my next upgrade. I bought a Seidon 120M Liquid CPU cooler with 120mm fan that I plan to use. ($29 after rebate. Couldn't pass it up.)

    One case I'm scouting already has a 200mm fan in the top, so I'd have to vent my radiator out the rear of the case. A larger/more-expensive case with clearance to mount both the radiator and still have a separate exhaust fan is also an option, but money is tight.

    Quick question: Is there any cooling improvement mounting the radiator up top vs the rear?
  2. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    Rear probably has better airflow.
  3. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    The idea is that hot air rises when it comes to cases and airflow, so normally a radiator mounted to the top of a case is better overall just because its being used as an extreme exhaust (Plus your not setting things on top of your computers fans so its normally fine). With a rear exhaust, the air is being pulled towards the rear vs just the air naturally rising.

    But in the long run, it wont make too much of a difference, so either is fine.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  4. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I doubt it will make much difference with a radiator with only a single 120mm fan. I certainly wouldn't buy a new case just to mount the radiator at the top unless you were planning to get a new case anyway.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  5. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 394   +15

    Thanks all,

    My current mid-Tower case is a pretty old with just four 80mm fan mounts (front, side, back and top) and no 120mm mounts for the radiator. The 3.5" drive cage still faces forward, making my Radeon 5850 a tight fit and limits upgrading. So I think a new case is on the horizon sometime soon anyway.

    I'd like to mount the radiator in push/pull to maximize cooling since it is a bit on the small side for a 4770k, and all that weight (and width) hanging sideways in back of the case could be a problem too.

    So, since an upgrade is pretty much a necessity, I'm wondering if mounting the fan in back to save a few bucks on a new case might come back to haunt me?
  6. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Download Open HWMonitor and keep track of your CPU and GPU load temps. If they're getting too hot (>80C) you can pick up something like a Corsair 300R for relatively cheap.
  7. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 394   +15

    I've been evaluating different cases for a few months now for something that best meets my needs and the Corsair 300R wouldn't even make my list. :)

    But I don't want to stray off topic. I want to keep the focus on "top vs side" radiator venting.

  8. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    I don't think it will come back to bite you, in this regard, the difference will probably be small.
  9. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 394   +15

    Thanks. I doubt it would make a huge diff, but it's already a smallish radiator for a 4770k, so any variation might matter, and if I spend $80/$90 on a case that turns out to be less than optimal on multiple fronts, I'm stuck with it because I won't be spending another $125 on a better case later. :(
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,170   +3,262

    What exactly is your criteria for a PC case? You mentioned the Corsair 300R didn't even make your list.
  11. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 394   +15

    Without getting too deep into the weeds, preferably something with at least 4 external bays (I have a BD burner, a older/faster DVD burner, and 3.5" USB hub, leaving one bay for expansion, but I'm finding I must be flexible here because just three 5.25" bays seem to be the norm now.)

    "Cable management" has become important (I never worried about it before), so "grommited" cable management holes is high on my list.

    I prefer a windowed side panel with no fan holes/mounts (my current case has this and it turned out to be a mistake). And at least two USB-3.0 ports and preferably two USB-2.0 ports that mount directly to the MB.

    An external SATA hotswap "dock" is a big plus but not an absolute requirement.

    Toolless case and internal bay device mounts. Lots of fans included but still with room for my radiator. And filters on all intakes is a must. Pet fur everywhere. :)

    Right now, after lots of research, I'm leaning towards the "In-Win GRone" in white despite it having only three 5.25" bays, but the $125 price tag (plus tax. I live nearby so I can do an in-store pickup without paying shipping) gives me pause. I can save a few bucks by going with my second choice, the Thermaltake Chaser A41 for just $90 at Wal*Mart. But it comes with a 200mm fan up top that would have to be removed to make room for my radiator. That leaves just one 120mm front fan and one 120mm rear fan. Or, keep the 200mm up top and hang the radiator from the rear.

    Which is why I posted my question.

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