Mounting PC's IN the wall, good idea?


Staff member
I am planning on installing my structured wiring panel very soon, but before I can do this, I need to build the wall. I decided to focus just on that one wall, and not the entire room for now. The wall will be under a main beam, which means I would have to use 2x6 lumber if I want the wall to be flush with the beam. Since I can't drill through the beam in order to run the wiring to the panel, I decided to have it stick out a little by using 2x8's.

Then I reliazed that most of my PC cases could fit in the wall (if I place 2 of the studs farther apart of course), except for 1, so I started thinking ... should I switch to 2x10's, and put all my PC hardware in the wall, right next to the structured wiring panel? The only problem I can think of is heat, but adding an exhaust type setup might deal with that problem.

Here is the beam in question:

What do you guys think? Good/Bad idea? Any suggestions? Thanks!
I don't think it would be a problem as long as you have air flow inside that wall. You would have to have some large fans at the bottom (the ones made for equipment racks) bringing the air into the wall, then have it exit out the top. This way the PC's exhausts will not build up heat behind the wall. The only flaw I could see if you have so many cables routed behind that wall or shelves/brackets that air flow would be impeded.
Can you get/fabricate a deeper version of your structured wiring box? Something deep enough to hold the PC(s).

I'm picturing another panel in the wall (flush mounted) with the computers behind it. With vents at the bottom and top of the panel (and fan(s) mounted behind them) you may be able to get enough airflow to keep things cool. I like the idea of a "sealed" metal box in the wall, isolating the computers, computer heat, and potential dead computer fumes from the rest of the structure.

However, I think I prefer a rack/cabinet next to the panel, rather than something built-in. Built-in stuff may have limitations for future expansion, etc.
Using one of those "return air" vent covers around the top of the wall and a standard air cover at the bottom of the wall should give it a pretty natural look. Use the same size vents that are in the rest of the house and it will blend right in and youll never notice that its not a real return. From the looks of it everything is in the basement so im guessing the floor is fairly cool already which should really help the situation. How many cases are you talking about putting in there? I think one would be fine but too many and you will probably run into problems

Also why would you want to put your pc's in the wall?
Smee, creating a 2nd 'structured wiring box' for the PC's is what I want to do.

The reason I like this idea is because it allows me to mount my toys such as the USB hub, powerlinc, ocelot etc, all nicely in the first panel, and run it the computer without having a wire bundle sticking out of the wall.

I am actually considering removing the cases all together in the future, to create a better airflow (and avoid the issue BSR mentioned) plus save some space.

Right now, about 3 machines would have to go in the wall (4th one is a rackmount server).

But I am not planning on installing the sheetrock right away, so I have some time to figure this out, I just have out right now if I should space the studs so a PC will fit or just forget about that idea (it's obviously not a load bearing wall).
Have you looked into cooling deivces for the pc's or for in the wall. Iv never looked at them but i know alot of people are water cooling the CPU's and doing some other fancy things.

Also you may want to be careful with condensation since you are in the cool basement where there tends to be alot of moister and you are going to be heating up a small place. You may want to think about catching any moister that could drip into the open PC's after you remove their cases.
Any reason to sound proof the contents on one side of the wall from the other? If so, stagger 2x4s so that the drywall on one side of the wall is attached to every other 2x4. This helps sound insulation. And, dependent on how you space em, can build a thicker wall (width of beam) with cheaper wood (2x4s).

I have a media closet and put adjustable shelf brackets on the wall and put my watercooler and PC on the shelf. I don't think I would build the pc into the wall as I am always changing stuff.
I would still be able to work on them, it basically would just be an in-wall closet, but I rarely touch those machines since they are 'critical', so it wouldn't be a problem anyways.

I agree with most everything suggested here. Should be very doable.

Just one thought that came to my mind as I first started reading your post, and I kind of hate to even mention it, but it has to do with the topic, "Another One Bites the Dust" ;)

I'm sure you've considered this in your design plans.

And please believe me, no offense intended.
lol, I never had mice in the actual house. They were stuck in the exterior wall connected to the garage, but worst case, there will be an 'Ocelot' guarding that room ;)
it isnt a load bearing wall, so stud spacing really isnt going to be that much of an issue. space the studs at 20 inches, and if you decide to stow your computers in there you've got the room, and if not, no harm no foul
I don't want to rain on your parade, e, but there are a few issues with putting electronics IN walls. I wouldn't want a unit to overheat, short out and start a fire, and you find out later that since the installation didn't meet building and electrical codes your insurance company wouldn't pay to replace the house...

It has been mentioned that a metal case/box would be a good idea, but I just wanted to point out that codes probably require that electronic devices (such as a PC) be enclosed in metal cases when mounted IN a wall.

Also, regarding fans to move air in the wall, that makes it a plenum, and you have to deal with fire-rated cabling and equipment that doesn't burn fast or give off certain fumes when it burns, fire-rated wall materials, etc.

Ie. I would just make the wall and wall and put your electronics on a backer board ON it. Maybe I'm being overly cautious...
no, I totally agree, it's why I haven't ordered the wood yet, I had the same concerns, so I figured I would post here. The more I think about it, the less I want to do this (eventho I would keep the PC in their cases).

I just have to figure out how to get the wiring into the wall (check the picture for reference), since I can't drill a hole in the beams right above it, so I probably still have to go with 2x8's or something (beam is 2x6 wide), so I can run the wiring from the side of the beam into the wall.