Fixing air flow in a solid front panel computer case.

A lot of computer cases come with solid front panels made of plastic, metal or glass. It's entirely an aesthetic choice rather than a practical one.

Here's a crude diagram showing such a case. Lines are the case's walls. Fs are front intake fans. Bs are back exhaust fans. A typical layout.

|B     |F|
|      |F|

The problem with these panels is that they prevent air from being pulled in by the front fans. Fans need clearance immediately in front of them. So what happens instead? Since there's not enough air coming in from the front, the air will instead come in from the inside of the case (the back) and create a vortex of stagnant hot air.

The same issue arises with mesh panels and dust filters. If the holes aren't large or numerous enough, or if they're continuously getting clogged, it will block air flow to a noticeable extent.

Cases might provide vents on the side to allow air in, but it's never enough. Fans aren't built to take air in from the sides.

Of course, knowing this doesn't help after the fact. Selling the case now just kicks the can down the road and it's a huge waste to dispose and replace the whole thing.

I've helped first-time buyers with this issue a few times since they use popular budget cases like the CiT Flash. The solution is always the same: move the fans to the inside of the case.

|B    F| |
|     F| |

Usually front fans are installed on the outside of the case. A fan is around 2cm or more thick. So by moving it to the inside using the same screw holes, we get those few centimetres as cleareance before hitting the front panel. This gives the fans room to pull air in and create a vacuum of sorts in front of them. That should provide enough pressure to naturally pull more air in from those side vents.

If the fans are already inside the case, then add some gromets. The main thing is to introduce a few centimetres of clearance between the fans and the front panel.

Thanks for reading.