Guide to PC Fans

Guide to PC Fans


Martha Davis
August 16, 2021

PC fans, or airflow fans, have been an essential part of computers since the inception of computing.

When computers were as big as a room, huge fans were used to remove heat from the internal areas of the PC.

Now, things have changed; many manufacturers, including Apple, have removed fans from their ultra-thin laptops. It is done with the help of built-in airflow management and intelligent resource control.

However, you do not have this option when building one of the performance-focused PCs for gaming, content creation, or other tasks. When using the most optimized components like CPU and GPU, you need the right PC fans to beat the heat.

Optimizing your PC’s airflow using fans may seem pretty straightforward, though. The real problem is deciding which PC fans are suitable for your build.

If you want to know it, you should master the basics of PC fans in the first place. Well, here is a short yet comprehensive guide to PC fans you can rely on.

We have tried to answer simple and complex questions, including how PC fans work and why you need them in the first place. Our recommendations will also help you select the most appropriate cooling fans for your PC if you have not bought them yet.

What Are PC Fans?

What Are PC Fans?

A PC fan is a specific type of fan designed to push hot air from the PC case to the outside. It is a crucial part of every computer since PCs cannot work fine with trapped heat. Essentially, PC fans will keep your PC at a recommended temperature level.

Depending on the intensity of the task, different types of PC fans could be used in your build. You will have to consider some factors, including the airflow rate, RPM, noise levels, etc.

Despite these differences, almost all PC fans maintain a standard design and mounting system. Do not worry; we will talk about these things in detail.

What is the Purpose of PC Fans?

Listed below are the primary purposes of using PC fans, including the most obvious reasons.

Heat Management

As we said, PC fans are designed to keep a PC’s internal temperature at recommended levels. We also mentioned that PC components are very prone to overheating.

Therefore, generated heat must be pushed out of the PC case as soon as possible. PC fans installed on different parts of the PC make this possible with the help of sensors.

Whenever the temperature of a component goes beyond the recommended level, the PC fans would start working. By maintaining a constant airflow, PC fans serve the purpose of protecting your PC.

Prevents Thermal Throttling

Users are looking for the best performance when building a gaming/editing rig. However, you cannot attain the best performance from GPUs and CPUs if they start thermal throttling. Thermal throttling happens when a chip downgrades its performance when the heat starts shooting up.

The right PC fan, accompanied by the proper heat sink and thermal compound, ensures that it does not happen. In short, you can enjoy a high-end performance from your PC without worrying about random shutdowns, Blue Screen of Death, or screen stuttering.

Pressure Concerns

You also have to think about the pressure that exists inside the PC chamber while setting one up. Irregular pressure inside the easy case could be leading to many issues, including the malfunction of specific parts.

So it makes sense to ensure that your PC contains the required number of fans that push negative pressure out and pull positive pressure out. Research has shown that guaranteeing this will also impact the longevity of the PC.

Therefore the extra amount you are willing to spend on a few PC fans will be pretty worthwhile. Even though this is not the primary purpose of a PC fan, it makes sense to consider this aspect.

Dust Issues

In addition, these PC fans also make sure that dust doesn’t remain on your PC. As you may already know, trapped dust in your PC can lead to the malfunction of many components.

So even when you have fans set up inside a PC, you should regularly check them for the accumulation of dust.

If you think there is a lot of dust in the compartment, You should remove it as well. When combined with other practices to reduce the exposure to dust, PC fans will ensure that your PC will keep running for an extended period.

Now that you know the particular purposes of having a PC fan on your computer, shall we explore the different types of times you can use?

Types of PC Fans

Types of PC Fans

You can find the following types of fans on a regular PC.

Depending on the size and the desired purpose of the device, you may also find specific fans for specific components. For example, you can find more fans on a gaming-focused computer.

Case Fans

These are exhaust fans attached to the front, back, or side sections of your computer case. They are designed to push the hard air out from the internals of the PC to the outside.

You can find one of these fans on the Power Supply Unit for sure. But then, depending on the top performance a PC may reach, it will have more fans on multiple sides. Case fans do not require any kind of driver installation. They work automatically.

CPU Fans

As we said, the CPU is responsible for the most amount of heat inside your PC. So, it requires a dedicated cooling system equipped with one or more fans. First, the heat from the CPU is passed onto the heat sink through a CPU thermal paste.

Then, fans are used to blow away this extra heat. Based on the type of the cooling system (air or liquid), you may find a few cables between the heat sink and the main radiator fan.

GPU Fans

GPUs are also known for the amount of heat they generate. Even though GPUs are more optimized for these tasks, you cannot ignore the need to push hot air out. So, many people set up a dedicated PC fan for the GPU during PC assembly.

It could be in addition to the fans that the GPU unit comes with. But, of course, it is an essential thing when we consider the issues of overheating.

While these are standard PC fans, you can always equip other exhaust/intake fans on your PC. Everything depends on the kind of performance you expect from a device.

How Do They Work?

As you know, almost all components of a PC will generate some level of heat while operating. We can easily add CPU, RAM, GPU, and HDDs to the list.

Of course, compared to the old days, these devices have been optimized for controlled resource intake and limited heat generation. Even then, the average internal temperature of a gaming/editing PC is always higher than it should be.

PC fans are almost always accompanied by a temperature sensor. In the case of CPU fans, the BIOS software would monitor the temperature of the CPU.

Whenever the CPU goes beyond a predetermined temperature, it will trigger the CPU fans to turn out. Then, with the help of the thermal paste compound and the heat sink, the extra heat is pushed out.

Depending on the cooling system, the excess heat is either moved to another part of the PC case or forwarded to the radiator fans outside. In either case, the system pushes the heat to the outside.

When dealing with the other fans, you have more control over the process. For example, suppose you have set up a super-premium cooling system with RGB LED fans. In that case, you can use special software from the maker to control the fans’ speed, airflow rate, and visual preferences.

Users who need maximum power from their systems tend to run these extra fans at full speed to keep the internal temperatures as low as possible.

If you do not want this level of customization, you can let these PC fans run at their standard speed. Anyway, you can expect better performance than a PC that does not use these fans.

Why Does PC Fan Reduce Inefficiency?

Why Does PC Fan Reduce Inefficiency?

The inefficiency of a PC could occur due to several reasons. One of them is that your PC components cannot function as they should due to excess heat.

As we said earlier, CPUs and GPUs have a failsafe mechanism to downgrade the performance if the temperatures hit a limit. If you allow it to happen, the PC will slow down, leading to inefficiency in productivity. So, for example, even if you have an overclocked CPU, it will not do you any good.

A PC fan reduces this chance of inefficiency by safely removing excess heat from the PC case. This transferring process requires only a few seconds, a limited amount of power, and generates negligible noise.

Compared to the time/money you would lose otherwise, the expenses of installing and maintaining a PC fan are pretty low. We should also add that a PC fan will potentially increase the longevity of the components as they take care of dust removal.

You can check the previous sections to understand the different purposes of PC fans.

How to Install a PC Fan the Proper Way?

You might have noticed the different types of PC fans that we have covered above. Because each of them is made for different needs, you have to follow different steps.

However, most people are looking for a way to install an additional case fan to dissipate more heat properly. In that instance, you have to follow the steps mentioned below.

  • You have to make sure that you have turned off your PC and disconnected the power cable.
  • Now, you have to refer to the size of your PC case and the size of the fan. Once you have found the best place to accommodate the fan, you should look for the installation procedure.
  • Some PC fans may come with custom-made docking systems, while others use standard screws. In both cases, you have to ensure that you install the fans without room for instability.
  • Now, you have to find the power slot for the fan cable and connect it to the Power Supply Unit. You may also have to connect the fan to your motherboard for speed/sensor control.
  • At this point, you can turn on your computer and see if the fans are working correctly. After this, you may use zip-ties or cable management tools to navigate these power/sensor cables.

After the fifth step, you can close the PC and start working. Do keep in mind that PC fans use different power connectors and interfaces.

So, you may have to purchase an adaptor to establish the connection. They cost only a little. But, if you want to be on the safe side, you should check motherboard-level compatibility before you get a PC fan.

How to Keep a PC Fan Working Properly?

How to Keep a PC Fan Working Properly?

You can follow these tips to ensure that your PC fans are working correctly.

  1. Ensure that you have connected the fans to the correct controller/sensor. So, whenever there is a critical temperature rise, the fans will kick in.
  2. Even when you have a fan set up, dust particles will make their way into the PC case. So, you can use compressed air or other cleaners to remove dust.
  3. Running a PC fan at full speed all the time will not be healthy. Therefore, the cooling system must stop the fans whenever they are not required.
  4. Last but not least, you should do frequent maintenance sessions for the fan. It does not take a lot of time or money to reinstall these fans once a year. Trust us; your effort would not go in vain.

On top of these, you can follow the tips/instructions recommended by the PC fan manufacturer.


Did we leave any essential questions about PC fans unanswered?

Do let us know in the comments. As you have seen, PC fans are not something you should ignore on your computer. If you take good care of these fans, you can ensure impressive performance with a prolonged life for your system.


Martha Davis

Martha Davis is a computer hardware specialist who works extensively in designing and manufacturing hardware devices, researching advanced computer technology. She built as a platform to share her insight on computers and PC assembly with the web. Currently, she is carrying out her research on Robotics and Computer Vision and working privately to deliver services. Martha makes sure that readers of master the basics of setting up computer components like motherboard, CPUs, and GPUs through the informative articles that she writes.