Most if not all computer enthusiasts will tell you that the number one issue with pushing a computer to the limit is heat - the processor, ram, northbridge, you name it, heat can be an issue. In the grand scheme of things, the air that's used to cool a system is pulled in from ambient air, heated up, and exhausted from the computer, thereby heating the air in the room. When three or more computers are all exhausting hot air into a room, the ambient temperature can rise significantly, posing another heat threat to enthusiasts - ambient temperatures increasing. For people who don't want to deal with their Athlon heating their room up, or having a group of computers broil you while you work, offers the R.A.C.H.A.L. - Reduce Annoying Computer Heat And Loudness - a computer exhaust treatment system.
The R.A.C.H.A.L. deposits the hot air from the computer into a wall cavity, thereby filling the cavity with hot air, and potentially leaving the room's air cooler.
1 - Exhaust Coupling
1 - Wall Coupling
4 Feet of Tubing
1 - Gasket
2 - Screws
1 - 1.5" Drill Bit
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Conveniently, I have a gaping hole in my wall that has been covered by duct tape for some time. The R.A.C.H.A.L.'s normal installation is as follows:
1. Use the 1.5" drill bit to drill a hole in the wall (make sure you're not drilling into a stud)
2. Screw in the wall coupling
3. Apply the gasket to the exhaust coupling.
4. Attach the exhaust coupling to the computer.
5. Connect the exhaust and wall couplings.
I on the other hand already had a hole, so I proceeded to cutting out a circle in the tape, and screwed the wall coupling into the tape. A note on the wall coupling - it is important that when drilling you do not hit a stud. A stud is one of the supports of a structure, and drilling into it wouldn't do you any good for the R.A.C.H.A.L. as it needs a wall cavity. One easy way to find a stud is to look for an outlet, which is required to be placed on a stud. Measure 4 inches away and you should be clear of a stud. The other option is to get a stud finder, which can be found at sears, radio shack, etc.
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Once I had the wall coupling in place, I proceeded to get the gasket on the exhaust. It was a bit tough to get perfect, but the gasket need not be perfectly straight as long as it comes in contact with an even surface, as to sufficiently keep air in.
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After lining up the R.A.C.H.A.L. with my PSU exhaust fan, I unscrewed the PSU two screws at a time and installed the exhaust coupling into the screw holes. I left the coupling loose until I had all four screws in place, at which time I tightened them all about the same, as to distribute the pressure on the gasket evenly.
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After that, all I had to do was turn on the computer, and wait for results.
I found there was in fact a 1 degree Fahrenheit change of temperature down in my room, but as it is winter right now, I would like to see how the R.A.C.H.A.L. would perform in the summer, as that is when rooms get the hottest.
Well, we've laid out the product, and its application, but how useful is this thing? Probably the best way to determine that is to take a look at some obvious questions based on the appearance and the R.A.C.H.A.L's claims.
How useful would this be for a home user? Are room temps going to be really that affected? Well, to be honest, I don't think this is very useful for a home user, especially if they only have 1 computer. I believe this is best suited towards a server room environment where servers are not on racks, but in towers, especially if there were more than just 3 or 4 computers.
Is there any change in the noise levels coming from the box? Well, the noise levels did decrease by a very small amount, but it was barely noticable. Most of my case noise comes from the whining HSF anyway. In terms of system cooling, my system's temperatures have not changed significantly.
Installation to the PC was easy, but the wall is another story for some people. I felt it was easy to put on the computer fan, but the risk involved in drilling into your wall might not be so easy for anyone without a drill or knowledge of their housing specs.
We can see where Computer Exhaust Systems is coming from when they designed the R.A.C.H.A.L, but for the home user, the device is probably not that important for you. If you had multiple, high powered PCs in the same room in your house (like 5 or more SMP systems), sure, but we doubt this is the case for most of you. I'm also certain that you'll want to drill 5 holes into your wall to set this up.
Pros: Don't need to open case, will lower room temperature (if 1°F makes a difference), may decrease noise, mounts to PSU or 80mm fan.
Cons: Change in temperature for one computer-in-one room is negligible. You have to drill a hole in the wall, and only 1 fan is exhausted.
The Bottom Line: If I didn't have a hole in my wall, I would not have drilled a hole into my wall for this product. I hate being warm in my room, but I cannot justify drilling a hole into a large investment such as a house for cooling. For those who need cooling badly, and are willing to drill out a hole into their wall, this product might be key to your cooling (heating?) needs.
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