How to optimize airflow on your gaming PC

PC Airflow Optimization is very important if you don’t want those overheating warnings or want to avoid critical damage to your computer’s internal hardware.

Building a PC today is incredibly easy; You can get some modular parts, buy a case and assemble them. However, when you run these resource-intensive games, you should know that they put a heavy load on your computer.

Gaming PCs often push the envelope to provide a seamless gaming experience, which often results in the GPU maxing out clock speeds and thus generating more heat. Proper airflow optimization is important.

Without getting into physics or thermodynamics, here is a detailed guide on how to properly optimize airflow.

Get the right fans for your PC

Cooling fans are available from a number of different brands and there are several options available to you. First you need to choose fans that match the fan mounts. Depending on the size of the case, you have four different options:

However, the mounts aren’t the only thing to consider. The size of the fans, for example, is also an important factor. Larger fans tend to move the same amount of air as smaller fans, albeit at a slower speed.

As a result, larger fans tend to be quieter than smaller ones. Another thing to consider is the fin type. There are two options: one that offers better static pressure and one that is optimized for airflow.

The latter is generally quieter and is ideal for installing on the front of your case. The former pulls or pushes air by applying extra force, so it’s a better choice if you plan to install fans on the back of your case. And then you also have to consider whether you want RGB and aesthetics.

Related: Ways to use RGB LED strips to light up your life

Plan the airflow direction of your PC fan

Now that you’ve bought the fans for your gaming PC, it’s time to figure out how to optimize and really plan for airflow. There are a few important things to consider, starting with the direction.

Remember that the air always flows from the open side towards the fan guard. Put simply, the air should always flow from the front to the back. Ideally, the open side of the fan should always be outside of the case. These are also referred to as intake fans.

Most computer cases are designed to allow air to flow from front to back and bottom to top. Since the open side sucks in air, you can also place it at the back inwards or upwards if your suitcase allows it.

Also see: How different technologies help your PC stay cool

Store your PC in a ventilated area

This goes without saying, but is often ignored by many people. Your PC must be kept in a ventilated area, but not in a place where it will be between drafts.

Some fans, especially the intake fans, are important to draw cooler air from the environment into the case. The fans on the back typically serve as exhaust fans, flushing hot air out of the system.

So if you put your PC somewhere in the corner or in a closet, that doesn’t help at all. It will just keep circulating the same hot air, causing the internals to eventually overheat.

Ideally, you want to keep your PC slightly elevated, especially if the floor is carpeted. Or you can always keep it on a desk or table if you prefer.

Related: DC vs PWM Fans: Which Cools Your PC Better?

Clear obstacles out of the way

Proper cable routing is essential for optimizing airflow in your PC. Ideally you want to have as few obstructions as possible between the exhaust fans and the intake fans to allow for efficient airflow, but that is not possible.

So it is important that you start from scratch. Clear any obstructions in front of the intake fans to allow them to draw clean air. Then go inside. Make sure all internal components, like your GPUs or your hard drives, are mounted horizontally.

Also see: How to choose the best case fans for your custom PC

Once you’re done with that, the cables are the next step. Ideally, you want to use zip ties to bundle the cables and keep them out of the way. In some cases there may be extra power cords, so make sure you put them to one side.

If your case came with standoffs, use them to allow greater, unobstructed airflow inside. And if you really want to improve things, ditch those bulky hard drives and switch to sleeker and slimmer SSDs instead.

Set the PC fan controller speeds

After you’ve installed the fans and tuned the internal components just right, it’s important to configure the fan controller speeds.

In general, most BIOS programs allow you to quickly adjust the fan speed. There are temperature sensors inside so you can determine when you want the fans to run at full speed.

Related: The Best PC Fan Controllers

There are third-party applications like SpeedFan that also allow you to adjust the speed. Or, if you prefer, you can get physical fan controls as well. Some fans also allow you to set up configurable profiles!

Balance the air pressure in your PC

Balancing the air pressure inside is very important. Because there are different components inside the case, balancing what is actually the same air pressure is simply not possible.

You have two options here: negative or positive air pressure. The latter simply means that your gaming PC is sucking in more air than it is blowing out and vice versa. Try to keep a balance, or as close to it as possible, to reduce dust build-up and keep your gaming PC cool.

The airflow of your gaming PC is now optimized

Now your PC should stay cool thanks to nice, optimal airflow. However, it doesn’t matter how well you protect your PC from overheating, dust still gets in. This is even more important when you live in a dusty environment. At least once a week you need to remove the cover and clean the interior.