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I want to run a computer 24/7 without a case, but I imagine it would get dusty pretty fast. I won't be able to dust it, so there can't be any dust to settle to being with.

Has anybody been able to crack this nut?

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It is hardly even possible to have a fully cased computer and be dust free. –  Troggy Aug 11 '09 at 22:57
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You could have a clean room in your house ... but that might be a bit expensive. :) Why can't you dust it? –  JP Alioto Aug 11 '09 at 23:00
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Why are you trying to run it without a case? –  jerryjvl Aug 12 '09 at 0:07
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set up your computer in a wind tunnel –  John T Aug 12 '09 at 3:39
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The old classic look is out. Now everything has to look like you bought it from the store just hours ago. –  Pyrolistical Aug 12 '09 at 16:52
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5 Answers

You can get close if you get a low-power passive-cooled system. Then it's no more dusty than anything else in your home, and a gentle feather-dusting now and then should be safe.

There's still one problem, though. When you're using the computer many of the components will have an electric charge that will actually attract and hold dust particles with the opposite charge. This mean you'll need to unplug it to be effective with dusting.

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Which is what I am trying not to do –  Pyrolistical Aug 11 '09 at 23:03
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I am not sure why you want the machine to run without a case... if this is simply because you want to prevent dust build-up, then there may be an answer in the Silverstone SG-03 case, which has a fine mesh at the front for the air intake, which in my experience so far has eliminated dust build-up inside the case.

Two things to keep in mind with this case:

  • To keep the air intake effective, you need to occasionally run a vacuum cleaner over the fine mesh in front of the intake fans; this does not require the machine be turned off, so you won't lose your 24/7 running
  • It only takes Micro ATX motherboards, so your selection of hardware may be a little more limited than with a larger case... also, graphics cards longer than 9.5" are not going to fit... but it sounds like you will be running a server, so this may be a non-issue
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I had a motherboard and all other parts of a PC mounted on Plexiglas (and occasionally running) on my wall for years. It gathered much less dust then a PC in a case and was easy to dust with canned air. I suspect that not having a case (and mounting it vertically) allowed most dust to just fall off. However, it did eventually succumb to a short circuit due to me fiddling with it while it was running. The PC was named WallArt and ran various flavors of Linux over its lifetime.

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I like this. It would vast reduce the huge surface area of the motherboard. –  Pyrolistical Aug 12 '09 at 16:53
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Put your entire computer in mineral oil. No dust at all :) Google it, it's not a joke...

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For those of you who are too lazy to google: youtube.com/watch?v=PtufuXLvOok –  SealedSun Aug 12 '09 at 7:15
    
In the end it's like having a case, unfortunately :] –  Gnoupi Aug 12 '09 at 9:40
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A friend of mine have his computer mounted under his desk (micro pointing at the floor) He did this because it got VERY hot, but an additional benefit is that it doesn't build dust at all.

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