Mini PC with the mod described, a large tower fan sticking out of a hole in the top cover

MiniPC Surgery Makes It 50% Cooler

[G3R] writes to us about a mod they did on a HP ProDesk/EliteDesk 400 G3 miniPC they use as a home emulation center. The miniPC would overheat as soon as the CPU load increased, resulting in frame drops and stutters, as well as throttling CPU. [G3R] took the original cooling solution, threw out half of it and modified the remaining half to accept a tower CPU cooler.

The modification is invasive in all the right ways. [G3R] shows how to de-fin the current heatsink and smooth it over with a… welder? Our guess is that the heatsink fins were soldered to the heatsink base, and in that case, a heat gun should also work. Afterwards, you’re supposed to cut a hole in the upper case, then re-wire the fan connections, and create custom brackets to attach the tower fan – [G3R] explains how to do it all and what to watch out for.

The results are fascinating. After performing the mod, both idle and under-load temps got cut down by 50%! Idle temps went from 50 to 25 °C, and under-load temps dropped from 79 to 40 °C – surely, with way less throttling involved. Not only this lets [G3R] play Breath Of The Wild without hiccups, it also certainly improves overall lifespan of the mini-PC, despite the intervention being mechanically harsh.

Making our devices, quite literally, cooler is a venerable tradition of hackers. Just a few weeks ago, we covered a simple 3D printable LGA 1700 CPU bracket which can gain you some much-desired thermal contact. Sometimes we encounter proprietary and weird cooling fans that fail, and then we understand their workings and build a substitute. And, even if your GPU was never meant to have a fan, you can add one anyway!

Proprietary Fan Blows, Gets PWM Upgrade

Proprietary components are the bane of anyone who dares to try and repair their own hardware. Nonstandard sizes, lack of labeling or documentation, and unavailable spare parts are all par for the course. [Jason] was unlucky enough to have an older Dell computer with a broken, and proprietary, cooling fan on it and had to make some interesting modifications to replace it.

The original fan had three wires and was controlled thermostatically, meaning that a small thermistor would speed up the the fan as the temperature increased. Of course, the standard way of controlling CPU fans these days is with PWM, so he built a circuit which essentially converts the PWM signal from the motherboard into a phantom thermistor. It’s even more impressive that it was able to be done with little more than a MOSFET and a Zener diode.

Unfortunately, there was a catch. The circuit only works one way, meaning the fan speed doesn’t get reported to the motherboard and the operating system thinks the fan has failed. But [Jason] simply disabled the warning and washed his hands of that problem. If you don’t want to use a CPU fan at all, you can always just dunk your entire computer in mineral oil.

Hard Drive Gives Its Life To Cool 3D Prints

[Mark Rehorst] has been on the hunt for the perfect 3D printer cooling fan and his latest take is a really interesting design. He’s printed an impeller and housing, completing the fan using a hard drive motor to make it spin.

We should take a step back to see where this all began. Many 3D printers us a cooling fan right at the tip of the extruder because the faster you faster you cool the extruded filament, the fewer problems you’ll have with drooping and warping. Often this is done with a small brushless fan mounted right on the print head. But that adds mass to the moving head, contributing to problems like overshoot and oscillation, especially on larger format printers that have longer gantries. [Mark] just happens to have an enormous printer we covered back in January and that’s the machine this fan targets.

CPAP fan and duct tubing

Make sure you give [Mark’s] Mother of all print cooling fans article a look. His plan is to move the fan off of the print head and route a flexible tube instead. He tried a couple of fans, settling on one he pulled from a CPAP machine (yes the thing you wear at night to combat sleep apnea) found in the parts bin at Milwaukee Makerspace. It works great, moving quite a bit more air than necessary. The problem is these CPAP parts aren’t necessarily easy to source.

You know what is easy to source? Old hard drives. [Mark] mentions you likely have one sitting around and if not, your friends do. We have to agree with him. Assuming you already have a 3D printer (why else do you want to print this fan?), the only rare part in this mix is the ESC to make the motor spin. Turns out we just saw a BLDC driver build that would do the trick. But in [Mark’s] case he found a rather affordable driver that suits his needs which is used in the video demo below.

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