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I have heard from many gamer friends that running their rigs with the side cover on is more effective for cooling the system than with a side panel off. Common sense tells me that the side panel off allows for more cool air to get in. Is this just dependent on the case and fans, or is this actually true?

Bonus points for answers with links to cases that claim it's more cooling efficient with the panel on

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    Are you saying "this is the answer I'd like to hear"? – Piskvor left the building Oct 19 '11 at 17:44
  • Old question, just resurrected, but heat isn't the only issue. An important function the case performs is letting you keep your computer. I don't know if it's ever actually happened, but at least in the US, the FCC could theoretically seize your computer if it causes EM interference. The case is one of the key methods used to comply with emission regulations. – fixer1234 Sep 28 '16 at 21:59
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Yes.

In other words, it depends on how the case is organized - if you just slap some components on the board, it is possible that the airflow's cooling effect will be negligible; OTOH, in a well designed case, there is a controlled airflow from entrypoints through the case to an exit point, precisely for improving the cooling.

Note that there are other factors at play here - e.g. environment cleanliness (else dust bunnies), surrounding temperature, airflow outside the case (no point in any ventilation if the case is locked in a storage cabinet anyway), humidity, etc.

So no, there is no One Answer To Rule Them All.

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    Agree, I have a case that has a specific flow from front to back and minimal fans, it is highly dependant on the suction from the back to achieve flow through the case. when I take the side off, most things heat up way more, and some things get a little cooler. I could switch a few fans,or add a few and the opposite would be true. – Psycogeek Oct 19 '11 at 17:57
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Depends on your cabinet design , some are designed to provide airflow to critical parts , whereas if your cabinet has a bad airflow you would be better off with panel off although it does expose your vitals to potential damage from stuff/people falling into it

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All of the systems I bought during the last years draw the (supposedly) cold air thru holes in the left side of the case via some cone directly to the cpu cooling, one small ventilator on the back is used to push out the warm air (beside from the power supply, which has its own ventilator). So for a good airflow, but mostly for keeping the dust outside, I'd keep the case closed.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cooling

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