Content of the article: "I did some quantitative research today on the thermals of the infamous NZXT H510 in an air-cooled modern and packed system – more fans > fewer fans"
So many of us, especially in r/battlestations and r/pcgaming, love to absolutely shit on the thermals of the NZXT H510. While most love its clean and modern look, it gets a lot of flak for its thermal design – some deserved, some underserved. It remains to be one of the most popular and divisive cases, and while I often regret the purchase, I still love its aesthetics. But since I've gotten an RTX 3080 (the MSI Gaming X Trio) and I'm using a Noctua nh-u12s to cool my 3800x, I've definitely been noticing increased heat at the top end of what I consider to be acceptable. That's, anectodally, 55-65 degrees idle, 65-85 in gaming (with the 3080 hardly ever going above 70, surprisingly, even when overclocked).
Since buying the case, I've struggled to determine its optimal fan placement. Tech Jesus over at Gamers Nexus even did a video about it, but isn't really clear which fans sit where and in what configuration. So since I really don't want to get a new case right now, and a 3800x that sometimes hits 85 degrees but usually sits around 72-75 in gaming isn't that bad, I figured I'd take some time to figure this out.
It's clear that the top and rear fan should both be used as exhaust. It's billed as a negative pressure case, but what I wanted to know is whether or not the front fans make a difference or not.
After extensive testing today, I can tell you that the fans DO make some difference. I tracked the CPU's temp as the key metric, as I'm not having any issues with the 3080's temps.
Configuration: NZXT H510, Asus ROG Strix x570-E, AMD Ryzen 3800x (stock), MSI Gaming X Trio RTX 3080 (stock), 32GB G.Skill DDR4 RAM 3600MHz (4 DIMMS), EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2 80+ Gold PSU, 2x Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSDs, all fans Corsair LL Series 120mm, Noctua nh-u12s air cooler.
Idle: Chrome, Discord, Steam, iCue, Amazon Music, Rainmeter running for 30 min
Gaming load 1: Cyberpunk 2077 maxed out at 1440p with ray tracing, with DLSS at quality for 30 min
Gaming load 2: Half-Life Alyx maxed out at 100% resolution on an Oculus Quest 2 in Oculus Link, refresh rate at 90hz for 30 min
Tests: 2 front intake fans, 1 front intake fan (top), 1 front intake fan (bottom), 0 front intake fans
Results are listed as averages. Idle temp is 21C.
2 front intake: Idle: 59C, Gaming load 1: 68C, Gaming load 2: 69C
1 front intake (top): Idle: 62C, Gaming load 1: 73C, Gaming load 2: 75C
1 front intake (bottom): Idle: 63C, Gaming load 1: 73C, Gaming load 2: 74C
0 front intakes: Idle: 61C, Gaming load 1: 75C, Gaming load 2: 75C
I don't really have time to run these for effect size or power, but it's good enough for me to stick with the front fans. The GPU never went above 71C. Max temps were 84-85 across the board, but they never stayed there for any significant amount of time. I'm not even sure if the case is still at negative pressure with both fans running, but I'm definitely going to keep those fans in.
I hope this helps someone with an NZXT decide what to do with their fan configuration. Thanks for reading!
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