Along with failing solder joints and dust, overheating can be an equal opportunity menace to electronics. Previously, the solution for keeping the Mac mini, my UAD-2 Satellite [Tape Op #83], and a pair of external hard drives cool was to place them on a cheap USB laptop cooling pad. This proved to be a little noisier than I'd prefer (though not awful), and I doubted the cooling pad's efficiency – plus it incorporated weird glowing blue lights that made me want to play video games instead of work. I decided to redistribute the cooling pad to actually be used with my laptop, thus leaving me with no thermal cooling option for my Mac mini.

Not to worry. All dilemmas can be solved in a few keystrokes and a bazillion shopping results appear from a search string. Like a witless wandering sheep in the dark, you are drawn to the familiar cries of the coyote. The lone talisman you seek seems to travel on its own accord from your online shopping cart through the payment gateway. A request fulfilled becomes a tear unshed. Happiness contained in a small brown box with a smiley face appears at your doorstep the very next day.

After my order was placed with the online retailer that sells everything, I checked out AC Infinity's web site. It turns out they offer many thermal cooling products, including some heavy-duty rack-mount and cabinet fans I might check out. Their Multifans are smaller, portable, ultra-quiet dual-ball bearing fans (available in various sizes) with a lifespan of 67,000 hours. They feature multi-speed controllers (up to 1200 RPM) designed to optimize airflow and noise levels. With rubber bumpers that minimize vibration, Multifans can be laid flat on the desktop or placed upright (in the back of an equipment rack for example), and up to four fans can be daisy-chained via USB to the same power source (I did not test this claim). The 5.5-inch S4 turned out to be the perfect size for my Mac mini, and also fit well under or on top of my Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite [Tape Op #83]. It's much quieter than my laptop pad's fan, and I don't have to think about the S4 because I don't really hear it (even at higher fan settings). A Turbo Fan wall wart is available for $8 that boosts RPM and CFM (cubic feet per minute) ratings for higher airflow. If you wanna get seriously geeky, consider a thermal trigger accessory with sensors (two models available) that automatically regulate when the fan switches on/off – a pretty cool inexpensive little system.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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