Venting Your PC Outside

attaching the vent to the tent

As the power requirements of CPUs and GPUs in modern gaming machines continue to rise, they are quickly becoming more and more of a space heater that happens to play games. If you’re using your PC in a tight space with a door shut, you might find the temperature in your office rising relatively rapidly. Some solutions to this include fans, window AC units, or moving the computer somewhere else and routing cables back to the office. The fine folks at [Linus Tech Tips] tried something a little out of the box by putting the whole computer in a box.

We don’t usually cover [Linus Tech Tips] here at Hackaday, but we thought the approach was somewhat novel. PC cases have many exhaust fans and holes, so it’s hard to extract the hot air from a single point. So after purchasing a comically large but cheapish “plant” growing tent, they could enclose the PC and remove the heat through some insulated ducting. A laser-cut adapter plate and 3d printed hose connector allowed the hose to sit in the window to vent outside. An inline fan pulls all the needed air from the tent to the outside. Ultimately, the temperature in the room stayed chill while some benchmarks were running, but there was speculation that the fan was pulling in air from the rest of the apartment to vent the PC’s heat. We’d love to see a more closed system with a heat exchanger to the outside.

Perhaps they can borrow [Diy Perks]’s bellow PC build and connect the hose right to it, getting rid of the tent. Video after the break.

82 thoughts on “Venting Your PC Outside

  1. “If you’re using your PC in a tight space with a door shut, you might find the temperature in your office rising relatively rapidly.”

    Not a new thing. Had an old AMD that was a real heater with a matching screamer of a fan (dangerous to fingers too). I also remember going to a buddy of mine that had a room full of PCs. Talk about a real housewarming gift.

    1. my core 2 quad rig was like that. you could heat a room with it. i was so happy when everything started going for power efficiency again. now we are going head first back into the furnace machines of olde. which kind of sucks because ive gotten good at sff builds.

      1. I’d not worry about it yet – seems like there is a serious divergence in the parts and options now so efficiency with good performance is likely to remain a very common thing for a very long time to come, even if in the full E-atx tower you can cram 2-3x as many cpu cores and the graphics card that if rumors are to be believed will soon want more power than my sadly recently deceased (it was still very usable if a bit slow for single thread tasks) 2 cpu and 2 gpu workstation did at full bore the small form factor builds will still be really impressively capable.

        We are at the stage now where the smaller lower power stuff like Apple’s M1, and the AMD APU’s have performance capable of even high end workloads with very useful performance, in Apples case when the hardware gets properly supported in software for video processing it looks like the most efficient and performant platform a consumer could get and similarly from what I can tell from reviews not having one in hand the Steam Deck for instance will blow that old dual cpu workstation away on any task at all that doesn’t have the ability to spread out onto those 20 odd extra thread, or needs the very much larger (but slower) pool of ram, that is less than 30w plays something well over 500w for that task..

        So unless you spend all your time recompiling big projects, rendering large complex models/animations you definitely don’t need to put more heat into your build than the SFF can dissipate, and even if you do that cheaper lower spec but still very useable SFF can still do the job in a reasonable time, and being cheaper you might even be able to get a few more for the same budget to fire up as needed to be your render/compile farm leaving the primary less burdened.

          1. Care to point out where? I’m dyslexic and school was long enough time ago perhaps I have forgotten something. But I’m fairly sure its all grammatically legal if long sentences. (Plus the spulling chucker wasn’t complaining, not that I trust those things that much.)

          2. Its just a little hard to read. Primarily run on sentences, something i often do in comments if I’m not careful.

            I would write it like slightly different (though you could argue its not much better).
            ———–

            Care to point out where? I’m dyslexic, and school was a long time ago. Perhaps I have forgotten something. I’m fairly sure its all grammatically legal, other than the run on sentences.

            The spell checker wasn’t complaining, not that I trust those things very much.

            ———–

            One area I’m trying to improve myself, other than run on sentences, is my excessive use of brackets. I wanted to use them at least twice in the sentence above this one.

            Usually I hate being corrected on comments since its not an essay, it just needs to be readable. But in this particular case I would be interested to see where *I* screwed up, because I’m fairly certain I did.

          3. Long sentences, but otherwise a lot better than the vast majority!
            (No space between the last word of a sentence and the associated punctuation, btw)

        1. you can totally run 750w in a 12l case right now. i think you can get an 850w sfx supply now. this is good enough for upper middle tier hardware. you can get considerable performance out of that. my 5800x only throttles when also hitting the gpu. most games hit one or the other, and workstation tasks that hit both seldom do it at full utilization. its very usable and better than a prebuilt solution.

          water cooling might push that a bit better. more because it gives you a lot of control over where your cpu heat goes, rather than any performance gain over an air cooler. tower coolers like the one im using just soak the case with heat which hopefully gets removed by the fans. the airflow design of this case (ncase m1) is not that impressive. would have been better with a sandwich box.

          the real problem is the new graphics cards coming on the market with tdps in excess of 250-400w. im running a 2070 super with a tdp of about 215 or so. so i dont have a lot of headroom there. i might be able to handle 250, maybe 300 if i put in an aio on the cpu.

          the bigger problem is the size of some of the gpu coolers, as a lot of 30xx cards are just too big. while this case was rated for a “full size gpu”, the 30xx series in particular was very large. even if you get it to fit its going to flood the case with heat rather than dump it out the back like older blower cards. the founders design in particular is not good for small cases despite the fact that its the smallest option.

        2. “Care to point out where?”

          Each of your three “paragraphs” appear to be a single run-on sentence. The indication is that you struggle to form a single complete sentence. This adversely affects your overall message.

          1. He is technically right, though. They’re all legal parse trees in english.

            Unfortunately, most wetware systems have known problems grokking complex parse trees, due to an unfortunately small set of state registers available on those platforms.

          2. So how would you structure the content into more sentences? Is that actually any more comprehensible?

            Any particular points you think were handled badly and HOW you would fix them is far more useful that pointing out what I already know. As I said above I know they are long, but valid (as far as I can tell) sentances and already knowing the ideas I was trying to get across seem trivial to understand to me.

        3. Since he didn’t give you any grammar tips, here you go: You seem to use commas in place of periods and where commas do go, you have nothing. If the sentence seems long, read it and see if there’s a brief pause. If there is, that’s where the comma goes. There’s way more rules than that, but that should keep the grammar police off your back.

        1. I think about the only way that an electrical or electronic device is not ~99% efficient at heating your home is to shine an LED floodlight out the window, or use a high powered transmitter, even then it’s still about 70% or so.

    2. Back in the mid 2000s, between cooking and the heat of PCs/consoles/projector, I didn’t need to turn the heating on some winters.

      Now the PCs run cool, and I have to turn the heating on. If they ever force us to electric heating I’m probably better off installing some mining rigs.

    3. Over 10 years ago.. I did similar. I took a bathroom exhaust fan, attached it to the back of the server rack, and vented the heat into library area (at a school). The librarians complained the library was too warm.

      1. its a brand of newspeak i never bothered picking up on. id hate to be an english teacher in this day and age. people using verbs as adjectives, truncating words, talking in incomplete sentences, more acronyms than the military, cats and dogs living together. what’s this world coming to? get off my lawn.

        and dont give me that languages evolves crap, evolution is supposed to be a slow process. but i can understand the english shakespere used better than post millennial newspeak. with increased globalization one would think that this evolution would (perhaps should) stall in favor of more standardized usage to make it easier on people who do not use it as a first language.

        1. Who are you to say what language evolution is “supposed” to be?

          Anarchism in language, Anarchism in love, Anarchism in politics

          Take care and dismantle the hierarchies of your world. Oh, and have solidarity with the youth even if they don’t speak right.

          Who’s in charge here anyways?

        2. Pot, kettle, black.

          A post complaining about poor grammar that itself is full of grammar, punctuation, and capitalization errors.

          Was that supposed to be some kind of meta sarcasm or something?

        3. Evolution is not a linear process, and there has never been a standard-ish real language. It changes depending on both the time and space, it’s always been like that. People these days are just exposed to more variants.
          And Shakespear is well-known and joked about as the guy who just made-up words for fun, the literal antithesis to your post.

  2. My Xbone is sitting on my balcony in a utility box with sensors and a massive fan blowing air through holes coordinated by home assistant. It can keep it with bin a couple of degrees of ambient. Also the power is dirty on the smart bar and occasionally it blips my controller off when the fan engages.

  3. Yo, bros. Lenny Tech Tips here. Tip of the week: just put your PC outside, bro. Tune in next week for more of Lenny’s expensive tech tips, sponsored by the people who sell you things that I tell you to buy. This tech tip was brought to you by PC RainGutters, Inc. and Siemens Corp., GFCI division.

    1. Indeed, I do the same, even built the Pi4 with a giant lump of salvaged heatsink into my desk so it can use the same monitor, KVM and sound system and for anything but serious workloads it handles it perfectly well. Its rather overclocked and the 8gb model though…

      Even do most of the Cad I do on it – FreeCAD works great and the pi doesn’t start to struggle unless the model is really rather more complex than most projects ever need to get.

    1. Like, venting in the same room the laser is working, without any filter ?
      no thanks. I´m happy with my homemade electrostatic > HEPA > charcoal filter for venting laser fumes. I even stuffed it with sensors (VOC, PM, gas, air pressure) to monitor its health.

  4. It’s probably almost as ineffective that portable air conditionners. Since you are pumping air from inside your house/office to reject it outside, you create a negative pressure, and some replacement air should came from sowewhere, that is from the outside. So in summer you will pump in you house some hot air from the outside, so you will warm your house, possibly even more than your PC would have (depending of outside temperature). And during cold winters, you will obviously pump cold air that your home heaters will have to heat! So probably not a very good solution…

    1. But is there a better one? For most folks I’d say not – if you rent so can’t make changes or are not made of money so you can’t (re)build the entire buildings climatic controls to deal with where you have now put a significant source of heat, and you certainly can’t go building a whole new passive house style building. (Plus full on rebuilding of an otherwise reasonable building really isn’t a good solution either, massive upfront fiscal, energy and environmental cost to save a few pennies worth of electric making the space nicer – new builds absolutely should be built to be more efficient, but ripping down older stuff for no other reason…)

      This very nicely makes that small boxy room that would be horrible to be in draw air from the rest of the house that he says has AC, making it something like comfortable. So yes the AC system is then going to have to work a little harder on warmer air coming in from somewhere, but simple volume comparison means probably not enough to actually make a noticeable change – its a room of a few meter square from which you are taking a relatively modest amount of air, the rest of the apartment is almost certainly 10 times that volume, probably more, with so many drafts and less insulated walls and windows to exchange heat with the outside world that actively pumping a little more out is not enough extra to be more than a rounding error…

      I expect its added a bit of electric bill, but to run the fan that is not having to work that hard there and with so little extra on time for the air conditioner that you can’t actually see the difference in the consumption beyond the fluctuation created by life – opening the front door etc, I’d say not enough to really matter for most.

      1. >But is there a better one?

        Yep. Any portable aircon unit worth it’s salt has two hoses coming off the back; One is used to suck in outside air to blow across the condenser, the other is that same (now heated) air being discharged back outside. No (well, very little, anyway) in building air is exchanged for this process.

        I’m cheap and didn’t know any better, so I bought one of the aforementioned portable units for my home office that *isn’t* worth it’s salt. You can absolutely feel the negative pressure as it blows the air it just cooled right outside, and you can feel air getting drawn in from other areas. Eventually I plan to either buy a proper unit, retrofit an intake hose on the unit I have, install a mini-split heat pump in the upstairs rooms…. Or more likely, just move. My house is fairly well insulated, but the hvac system is greatly underpowered and very poorly designed, so the upstairs rooms get less than no airflow.

        1. Not sure I’d call that a better solution assuming the apartments AC isn’t an afterthought – the best AC’s are proper split units where there is no pulling the now cooled air over the hot side of the AC unit that are built much more over engineered so should last and have better fitting more efficient parts as there is no need for lightness. So if we assume that is the case here the small loss of cooled (and then PC warmed) air outside by this fan to pull in some air cooled about as efficiently as its possible into the room vs the small less efficient portable AC unit in the room..

          Its a stupidly complex dynamic situation with the whole apartment as a system needing to be considered, but no portable matches or even comes that close to a proper split unit it seems, so loosing a small volume of remotely cooled air via the hot object to the outside may even be more efficient than a more elaborate and complete AC system that includes that room – tiny volumes of air being removed, and its carrying the 750w (maybe more as he is an LTT employee that probable got a 12th gen and uptodate GPU out of Intel for putting up with Linus and the segway to their sponsors) and some of the 1-2 human bodies, monitors, laptop etc of heat output away in the process too.

    2. I have 2 PCs in my office, each with 8 hard drives, so it generates quite a bit of heat in the room. I have a 4″ vent hose connected to a 120mm fan port on each PC, connected to an external vent so the heat gets pushed outside. All other fans on the PC pull in cool air, and the one 120mm fan on the back pushes the heat out the window. I guarantee the heat from the PCs is hotter than it is outside on any day of the year. I can stand next to the vent on a hot day and feel the heat coming out of the vent. If it’s hot enough, I turn the A/C on, and if the heat from the PCs were venting into the house, the A/C would have to work a lot harder to cool the house. On up to 80F days, I can get by without the A/C, but if I didn’t vent the heat out the room would be too hot to be in. Venting the heat outside works very well for me and my two PCs, and the rest of the house.

  5. Here’s a wild idea – build or buy a PC with a sensible airflow path through it.

    My old Dell tower has a beautifully engineered airflow path through it, round all the components and out of a single fan in the back, it would be the work of moments to 3D print a clip-on adapter to attach a vent pipe and suck all the hot air out of the nearest window.

    1. Sounds easier to do with water cooling. Extend the loop and put the radiator outside.
      I know a guy who tried it with a water barrel as radiator to the outside, was big enough to have sufficient inertia for a gaming session and enough surface to go indefinitely.

      1. LTT actually did that in their old ‘office’ (when they were small enough their office was just a house). They hooked dup a bunch of machines to a single shared loop with a big pile of rads outside the room. It was a massive headache and never really worked properly, because ‘best practices’ for WC loops turn out to be terrible practices for larger scale plumbing.

    2. I suspect you would be surprised how leaky those cases will turn out to be – its going to help venting the outlet of the PC, but a fair bit of extra heat will leak out the cracks, travel through the metal content and radiate into the room I expect.

      Still a valid idea and likely enough for some larger spaces, but probably not good enough for a space that small for very long.

        1. True, though most folks prefer positive pressure so only the intake fans need a filter so the dust largely stays out of the computer. And the PC case may well still radiate some serious heat into the room itself.

    3. That’s the guy that runs their machine shop of course he could have made a cleaner solution. The idea is this is a solution anyone can implement. Personally if I was going to make that adapter for my case I’d machine it out of aluminum and anodize it Black.(cut offs from work are very reasonable price) I think that would look nicer and go with my case better.

      Also I can’t be sure on this one but I think that case is a triple fan vent out the top.

      1. Who’s the guy that runs their machine shop and what’s he got to do with my comment?

        3D printing something isn’t a high bar these days but a DIYer could pretty much duct-tape an extraction hose to the fan outlet on the case and throw a half decent extractor fan on the far end to create negative pressure, sucking air through the case & out. Probably do the whole setup for under $50 including a reel of tape.

  6. I did something similar in a walk in closet but with a fresh air intake and it worked really well, there’s more to it; unintentionally I had to restrict the outlet from 6 to 4 1/2 inch since I used a dryer vent, it performed way better than the test runs where I had the full 6 inch going out through a window, idk some De Laval nozzle effect maybe…

  7. My buddy and I did the reverse of this in college. We brought cold winter air (in Maine) into our dorm rooms throught ducts and fans that then blew onto the bottom of gaming laptops or directly into a desktop case. We were able to run the computers at a much higher level than we were without the system. Granted, it only works in the winter, and it would kill your heating bill, but it was an exercise in cheap ingenuity.

    1. Depends though dunnit?

      If you’re dumping a volume of air at 40C and it’s getting replaced with 30C air sucked in, it should be a net benefit to return that air to 21 instead of 40C air to 21… the rub comes if you’re exhausting air at lower than outside air temp, say blowing out 28C when your external air temp is 35C

  8. I personally used to run out at random odd hours to pickup ice bags at the nearest motel’s ice machine and carefully stack them on top of the computer tower, which proved to be a hack for sure because as the ice melted, the twigs and sticks (recycled from the garden outside) used to keep the bags in place had to be adjusted every 4 minutes or so.

    Then the motel manager caught me overusing the ice. He called it stealing, but whatever. So without a source of ice, I just resigned to move the computer tower outside in a shady spot. The neighbors don’t seem to mind the blue tarp tent made from a Home Depot plastic tarp (also recycled as it clearly had been used by someone covering floor or furniture while painting something) tied to 3 threes with pieces of recycled nylon rope. Another hack for sure.

    I didn’t even need to buy anything expensive like those guys and it works just fine.

    Well it did work well for some time. We woke one day and the computer tower was gone.

    Hopefully whoever took the computer tower is some poor guy whose furnace gave way and is using it to heat his room in the winter. And that too would be a great recycling hack in my book.

  9. I’m not going to give LTT any clicks, but:
    Why go through all that effort to *throw away* all that useful low-grade heat?

    A water heater tank uses an average of 500 watts of power for a family of four.

    A gas-fired water heater has a neato air-water heat exchanger of the right bore built-in. Plumb in a 40-gal gas-fired tank tank ahead of the main heater, exhaust the PC through it, and bingo: Waste heat capture.

    1. That’s a great idea when you have the ability to do so! In fact, LTT has a video about doing something similar to that, using the waste heat from his home server setup and his solar panels to heat his swimming pool instead of wasting electricity.

      Unfortunately not all of us have the luxury of making drastic changes to our living space, including such restrictions as financial shortage (i.e. we can’t afford to redo the plumbing for our house) or contractual obligation (i.e. renting). This is a passable solution for summer months where we do not want waste heat in the room.

  10. Air must come in from somewhere to replace the volume of air you’re pushing outside. If it’s hot or humid outside, your attempt to save energy on AC may be actually causing a net loss as outside air seeps in somewhere else to replace the air you pushed out. It’s the portable air conditioner effect. The portable ACs that have 1 hose going to a window cause the same issue. They move 1000CFM of air in the room but end up throwing 500CFM out the window (literally, see what I did there!) and are terribly inefficient.

    1. Doesn’t that depend on whether the air you’re venting is cooler than the air outside?

      And considering the thing you’re trying to cool is generally 60c+ I think that is usually a safe bet.

  11. I live in an RV and heat can definitely be an issue in such a small space when the GPU gets fired up. I’ve been debating switching to water-cooling for this very issue, though I’m worried about shock/vibration on most consumer-grade stuff, and possibly developing leaks. Still, with water-cooling it’d be relatively simple to vent the heat to an inside radiator or an outside radiator, depending on winter/summer. Maybe now that GPU upgrades are actually available, might be time to go for it.

    1. use a dryer vent. Cut a hole in the outside, hook tube up to outlet of pc. So when the fan is running, it’s pushing the hot air directly out, when it’s not the flaps close and you don’t get so much loss. if you want to lose even less cooling from the a/c, then enclose the case with one inlet in front.
      and if your r/v a/c sucks terribly, it’s due to that flat plastic panel on top of it. Remove it and use a drain pipe T splitter, works much better. it’s what I run on mine, and now I have a single 15k btu a/c unit that can cool my entire bus (with over 30 windows). All I did was get rid of that stupid plastic cover and jam the T up in the exhaust vent.

  12. I’ve been toying with the idea of putting a window a/c unit in my office and soldering up the tubing to do a sub-ambient kind of hybrid cooling build. Probably have to do it in a dessicated box though, to keep the condensation down. Maybe a PID to keep it at exactly ambient?

  13. This is ignorant and wasteful. The hot air exhaust needs to be piped to the other side of the world where it is cold. In the off season they can pipe their waste heat to you. Double duty and totally eco friendly.

  14. They did this all wrong. Firstly, you CAN get smaller tents, but you have to call and ask to buy the tiny display versions. They should have used hard pipe, This flexi stuff is a way too big and lowers static pressure and generally creates lots of resistance and turbulence. Thirdly, they should have used an open air case/platform and just put the hottest components in the path of resistance between the intake and the outlet within the tent. Lastly, You can greatly reduce the noise by putting the fan INSIDE the tent, then insulating the tent itself for noise. Lastly, this is a great opportunity to install a dust filter, as the static pressure rating of those inline fans is rather high. I’m surprised at their lack of creativity in executing this idea, it seems as if this was a “hey, we can throw this together in a few hours” video, rather than putting any actual thought into a finished style product anyone would use. For shame, could have been done so much better, and to the point where it’s actually practical.

    side thought, the larger tent could accommodate many more components if they’d add mesh shelves. Many of these tent designs (the better ones) have multiple inlets so you can open em all, or configure it to generate the best air flow. The el-cheap-o tents generally only have one inlet.

  15. Custom loop liquid cooling with quad push/pull radiator in protected enclosure outside in summer and inside in winter. 2x sealed 1″ port for the inbound and outbound hose.

    Only heat generated in room is some mb and ram. I9-12900k and rtx 3080 liquid cooled. Nothing sucking your cool room air outside or pull hot air in. In winter you bring rad back in for some ‘free’ heat for your room. Case only has 2 700 to 900rpm fan to circulate mb, ram air.

    Max temp Pch @62c, sys @38c, mos @45c, ram @ 37c,. Ssd 44c. All idle around 5c less.
    MSI z590 force.
    Cpu idle 32c, GPU idle 38c, VRAM idle 48c.
    Cpu load 61c, GPU load 49c, VRAM 62c
    Cpu cinebench 90c, GPU benchmark 55c, VRAM 69c

    Zak

  16. If the temp of the air being piped out is lower than the temperature outside you’re doing more damage than good. The air that will find a way into your house to replace the air pushed out would be hotter than what you’re getting rid of.

    Running water cooling to a radiator outside would make alot more sense if you’re going to go crazy.

  17. The issue with venting cool air out is easily fixed by adding temperature based control to the exhaust fan and setting it so that the fan only turns on when the tent is 10-15 degrees F hotter than what is desired for the room.

    What was really egregious was the use of that insulated ducting. You don’t need well insulated ducting for that distance and temperature difference.

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