Published on February 17th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Alex Cooling

Materials: Vika Alex, Revoltec PC-fans, ruler, jigsaw, Codegen 350w PSU

1. Mod the PSU by short-circuiting it so you don’t have to make an on/off-switch. Then cut away all of the cables that you don’t need and make it look somewhat more beautiful by using regular electrical tape.

2. Check the fans are working. Check!

3. Cut out some holes for the fans in your Vika Alex, and then install them. Yeah, do that.

4. Put some white electrical tape on the sharp edges, it’s actually neater than you might think!

5. Get your stuff in there again, with routers and stuff on the lower floor – and your very expensive MacBook Pro on the upper floor. Now it has very good cooling – and you can hide it away so you don’t have to have all of those annoying cables on your desk.

6. Be awesome!

See more of the Alex cooling box.

~ Jesper Karlsson, Sweden

More hacks on

Dolly bunkbed
Nyttja frame becomes a notice board

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

31 Responses to Alex Cooling

  1. Darkurthe says:

    Putting the cabinet by the heater might be a bit of a mistake. Also hole saws might be a good (and quick) way to make venting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    not stating that a PSU is overkill, I would have mounted the fans much differently. Drill a fell holes in the self holding the laptop 5 or 6 .5 to .75 inch would be fine mount the fans in the back (all 4 in a row near the bottom of the self), and drill a few more holes in the bottom self and get those cables organized! The air would flow from the bottom of the self to “cool” the router. (not that it needs it) to the top self to cool the laptop, then the hot air would blow out the back. and since cold are sinks to the bottom of the floor there would be a constant supply. also i could suggest a USB to fan adapter be made. most 12 volt fans spin at 5 volts, slowly but with a good air flow setup that is all that is needed.

  3. In addition to all that’s said above, how is this a great idea to place literally right next to what appears to be a STEAM HEATER?

  4. Anonymous says:

    “A few years back I made a USB powered fan mod, it was easy, butcher a USB cable, attach the black and yellow for 12v and black and red for 5v, and yellow and red for 7.5v (the 3 different fan speeds, high low medium).”

    That’s not “USB powered”, you simply abused a USB connector to route power lines out of the case. Which is fine, as long as you remember not to plug in any _actual_ USB devices into it and create delicious fried electronics.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Stop making assumptions just to be able to criticize.”

    At no point were the _noise level_ of the fans or the _price_ of the PSU target of any criticism.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Where did the assumption come from that he lowered the voltage?

    Judging by the brightness of the LEDs, not much has been altered.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Awesome idea, there is a few things I suggest you do…
    A few years back I made a USB powered fan mod, it was easy, butcher a USB cable, attach the black and yellow for 12v and black and red for 5v, and yellow and red for 7.5v (the 3 different fan speeds, high low medium). This way the cooling auto turns off when the pc powers down.
    If your lacking power, use a self powered USB hub instead but I doubt it will auto turn off.

    I also suggest you add dust filters, dust accumulates more on the floor then it does higher up :)

    Any chance we can get a picture of the outside rather than the inside of the cabinet?

  8. Anonymous says:

    What makes you think the fans are not silent as they are or made silent by lowering the voltage? What makes you think the obviously overpowered PSU was bought specifically for this project and not just a zero-cost leftover that lowered the cost of this project?

    Stop making assumptions just to be able to criticize.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, instead of using a PSU for computer, there are 12V power supply floating in the market. one piece of 1.5A output should do the job pretty nice.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “The air paths may not be optimized, but with this setup, there should be many air changes of the entire cabinet volume each minute.”

    I disagree respectfully. “Not optimized” is a serious understatement: The air one row of fans blows in is immediately sucked out by the other row of fans right next to it. It’s called “short-circuit air flow”, and it’s the worst possible setup.

  11. metai says:

    @Herbology: 180 combined watts for fans just to cool a cabinet is patently insane. Those fans you are using are designed to cool server racks containing high-powered components, not a single notebook.

    Just go about this with a minimum of common sense: A notebook consumes about 20, maybe 30 watts of energy, I’ll even give you 50 watts if it’s a high-powered notebook on maximum load. And the power it consumes is exactly the MAXIMUM amount of heat it can produce. Why would you need 180 watt of fans to offset a 50 watt heat output, unless you are going about it in an insanely ineffective way.

    Many people grossly overestimate the airflow required to remove heat from an enclosure. As such, the word “cooling” is inappropriate, because people tend to misinterpret it as the “opposite of heating”. And they then believe that unless the exhausted air feels “cool”, it is not effective. But airflow doesn’t need to “cool”, it just needs to make sure hot air is replaced by cool air.

    I am absolutely confident that you would be able to cool your cabinet with as little as one low-powered, silent 120mm fan. Even a low-powered fan rates at about 60 m³ per hour, which means it is able to completely replace a cubic meter of hot air once a minute. Take a step back and ask yourself if your notebook is really able to completely heat up a 1x1x1 meter cabinet within a minute.

  12. Herbology says:

    @metai “Wait, what? Are you serious? A 350 watt power supply to drive four fans? Why?” A bit of over kill there for sure with such light duty fans, but I’m using a 325 watt 5″ bay psu to power my 4 Delta 120mm case fans, these things are power hungry (45 watts a piece at 4.5 amps each) and more than get the job done. They’re rigged up to a defunct Apple Cinema chassis, laptop temps dropped 40degrees. I dont see why the need to shortout the psu.
    Can’t imagine its effiecient at cooling being it appears to only be ciculating hot air around the cabinent. Intake and exhaust on the cabinent with a quiet 230mm fan or two would be a better silent alternative.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If you go to the “more images” link, you will see that two of the fans blow in, and two blow out. The air paths may not be optimized, but with this setup, there should be many air changes of the entire cabinet volume each minute.

    If those fans are too loud, try running them off the 5V supply. A lot of 12V brushless fans will work at 5V. If that does not work, put pairs of them in series on the 12V line and run them at 6V each. There should still be plenty of air exchange and it will be much quieter.

    Any PC power supply with an Energy Star rating will exhibit a minimum efficiency of 80% at any load. You can significantly under-load a modern switching power supply with confidence.

    Signed – CFM (not kidding)

  14. James says:


    Short the green wire (pin 14 on atx connector) to ground.

    @Phil Ball

    Good news, this design can be modified for any use you see fit. You could do exhaust on the back and intake on the side, or however you see as convenient.

  15. camp6ell says:

    maybe if you didn’t sit your computer next to the radiator, it wouldn’t need cooled?!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I do something similar with my Xbox 360 except I had an extra SATA to USB kit with power adapter, and I just use the power adapter for my three fans:

  17. Anonymous says:

    Horrible. It seems like there is no real air flow and it look awful…

  18. Phil Ball says:

    I dont see how the heat is rejected from the cabinet? Blowing the heat around inside the cabinet is not “cooling”. You need to extract the air and replace it with cooler air from the room. The fans should be mounted the back of the cabinet and blow the air out through a hole.

    I have this same cabinet, a desktop CPU in it, and a similar issue (so I work with the door open). I was hoping this would be a clever/useful hack but is in fact about as helpful as my nipples.

  19. bayless says:

    Mod the PSU by short-circuiting it so you don’t have to make an on/off-switch. ???????????

    probably sounds stupid but how do you do this ???

  20. Anonymous says:

    Phil, that is simply not true. Even switching power supplies are somewhere around the 10% to 20% efficiency area when used for such a ridiculously low load. A few fans like these, totalling up to somewhere around 10W, make a PSU draw somewhere between 50 and 100W. Regular ATX PSUs simply aren’t designed for such small loads, and it only gets worse with cheap or old PSUs.

    Also, good luck on powering more than one fan reliably from a USB port. 12V case fans typically rate at 2 to 3W, a USB port is rated at 2.5W (5V at 500 mA).

  21. Anonymous says:

    Plus, opening up a PSU (as depicted at the “more images” link) is not something to recommend to anybody. Unless you’re going for the shock value.

  22. Owen says:

    and wow, I figured top would be exhaust.

  23. Owen says:

    Agree on the PSU, use a wall wart.
    Mac’s do get really hot, but I’m not sure 4 80MM’s are needed. Could probably get away with two or larger 120mms for less noise.

  24. Anonymous says:

    How do you vent the hot air out? Through the cracks of the drawers?

  25. Phil says:

    True a little overkill in regards to the power supply but I imagine the hacker happened to have an old power supply lying around that he could use. As the last anonymous poster said, switching power supplies only draw what they need anyway. Overall it’d be cheaper to re-use an old switching power supply rather than buying a new 12 volt PSU.

    Overall not a bad idea. I’m thinking of doing something similar when I build a new box to hold all of the TV’s media centre stuff – amp, PS3, Mac Mini, Wii, Sky HD box etc. I’ll probably use some larger (and non glowing) fans though and run them at 5V off of a USB plug so that they don’t need independent power and aren’t audible.

  26. Anonymous says:

    plus…the PSU won’t make it long…the 4 small fans with maybe 1.5W each are not the proper load for a PSU that usually powers a 200W and more computer.

    I’ve made that experience by myself…

  27. Anonymous says:

    Four 80 mm fans? Yeah, sounds loud.

  28. Anonymous says:

    A cheap 12 volt wall wart could have been split out to drive those fans. This is patently ridiculous.

    Switching power supplies are only going to draw what they need, so it’s not like it’s sitting there drawing 350w the whole time, but this is like using plastic explosives to open a jar.

  29. Anonymous says:

    okay, so you put a macbook inside a cabinet and than have to cool it down with four fans and an extra psu.

    duuuude, that’s not awesome. that’s kinda nonsense.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Its nice as a simple DIY…but its too much wasted energy.

  31. metai says:

    Wait, what? Are you serious? A 350 watt power supply to drive four fans? Why? Weren’t you able to find a diesel generator?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑