Case fan configuration in your PC case matters, even with liquid cooling setups. But how do you figure out your most efficient cooling system? And do you really need all those fans?
We’ll walk you through some best practices, and show you how to test your own system to make sure it stays cool.
The size and type of fans you select will help determine how many you may need in your system.
There are two main types of fans in PC building:
Most standard case fans are measured in millimeters:
Size isn't the only factor that matters for your fan selection, however:
Your case manual should come with recommended fan sizes for your build; keep in mind these recommendations assume that you’re using the max RPM (rotations per minute) setting on that particular fan type.
Your fans don’t always need to run at maximum RPM to keep your system cool. In fact, it saves more energy and can be more efficient to control your fan speed under different loads. This is where PWM, or pulse width modulation, comes into play.
Fans with PWM capability use 4-prong connectors instead of 3-prong. This additional connection allows for precise control of the fan, especially under different performance conditions.
While you might not get that same easy control with 3-prong fans, some motherboards will allow for voltage control to these headers (typically for 5, 7, or 12 volts) which also results in lower or higher RPM.
As tempting as it might be to just load your case full of fans and call it a day, you might be doing more harm than good.
Too many fans in a poor configuration can rob components of fresh air, or even trap hot air in your case. Having the right number of fans may also help keep things quiet.
Fan configuration is about balancing airflow and noise levels, so if you don’t want to over-purchase fans, start small. Use at least 2 or 3 to start (these can often be the fans that came with your case), and test different air pressure environments to see what works best.
How do you do all that? Great question! Keep reading.
In order to understand case fan configuration, even in systems using an AIO, you’ll need to know the basics of air cooling.
To keep your PC cool, you’ll need to create an air pressure environment in your case that vents hot air out, and pulls cool air in, at the right rate to keep temperatures low. Your choice of case, fans, hardware and configuration all matter equally in cooling.
No two PC case models will perform the same way with the same fan configuration. We recommend looking for cooling guides specific to your case model, but if you can’t find anything really useful, look for the following:
Here’s how to test your fan configurations for optimal temperature:
1.) Get system monitoring software
2.) Create different air pressure environments in your case
3.) During tests, idle your system for 10-20 minutes, and then place it under “load”
4.) Compare environment setups before adding more fans
We hope this guide helps you build a system that looks as cool as it runs. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing ATX case, or you want to downsize to an ITX build, HYTE’s got you covered with premium cases that are as fun to build in as they are to use.