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So imagine I'm mounting my nettop-style PC behind my monitor. Its CPU is passively cooled via heatsink. Now the side facing up should have vents so the warm air can escape the case but shoud the side facing my desk have vents too? The way I understand it convection introduces an updraft so that cold air from outside the case will be sucked in through the bottom vents, get warmed up passing the heatsink and escape through the top vents. Also if it works this way I should pay attention that the heatsink's fins are arranged vertically so that they don't block the airflow. Am I correct?

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    \$\begingroup\$ All correct. Though some purists will have trouble with the physics of "sucked". \$\endgroup\$
    – gbarry
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:12

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Yes, the air needs to have a place to come from. A lot of equipment with vents in the top also have vents along both sides (like audio amplifiers) and some have vents under the bottom.

A heat sink will be more efficient in still air if the air can rise through the fins freely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought that vents in the sides would ruther hinder the draft effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – H3R3T1K
    Jun 19, 2014 at 8:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep them low on the sides to no short-circuit the flow (i.e. bypass the cooling fins). \$\endgroup\$
    – JRobert
    Jun 19, 2014 at 12:12

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