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How Many Case Fans Do I Need? (Explained)

To maintain the PC’s health, you need to make sure the PC doesn’t get overheated and is getting cool air properly. For proper cooling, you must install fans inside the PC case to ensure your PC’s components run smoothly and get proper airflow.

If you run your PC for a long time, like for gaming or coding or programming, or even other highly demanding tasks like writing or composing, the PC, especially the GPU, works to its full capacity and generates more heat. The generated heat can affect other PC components like the other hard drives, the motherboard, the RAM, and even the buses inside the PC case. Hence, you must install case fans to ensure the PC remains in a cooler temperature range.

But how many fans do you need? If you install one small fan, it may not be enough to cool down the PC. On the other hand, if you install too many fans, it can also cause a hindrance. Besides that, you also need to install the fans in the pearl place, like in front of the motherboard, the GPU, and so on, to get the optimum cooling.

If you are getting a customized PC or planning to build a PC all by yourself, knowing the number of case fans can help you greatly. Well, this guide is what you need to see. Before you start, you will find all the details here, like the number of case fans, type of fans, etc..

What Do Case Fans Do?

Case fans are the main cooling components of the PC. The modern computer case fans are designed to offer optimal cooling while your PC is running. Your PC has a thermal limit, and the cooling fans dissipate the extra heat. In general, the processors have a thermal limit of 95 degrees C. Whenever the temperature rises above this limit, the heat must be dissipated.

The cooling fans do exactly this. The fans blow away the heat generated by the case and the components. Some fans then open a cool airflow channel and push the air inside the case to cool the GPU, RAM, motherboard, etc.

Hence, often you may need to install multiple fans as one fan cannot exhaust the hot air and bring the cooler air. The PC may need more than two fans if it has an advanced motherboard or a larger GP.

How Many Fans Do You Need On a PC?

Well. The number of fans your PC needs depends on the computing work you usually do. If it is light coming and you only do basic activities, in this case, you will need only two fans. Usually, such PC cases come with two intake fans and one exhaust fan. It is enough for regular day-to-day computing tasks.

But, if you do extensive gaming, coding, programming, or editing, these fans may not be enough to manage the heat generated in your PC. In this case, you will need more fans.

Most gaming PCs have larger cases like mini-tower, mid-tower, and super cases. In this case, you may need four or even eleven fans. Five to seven fans can generally be a standard for those playing games or programming experts.

How Does Airflow Work?

The airflow channel inside the PC is simple. One fan pushes out the hot air outside the PC case while the other fan brings in the cooler air inside, creating a continuous airflow channel. Interestingly, the fan that pushes out the air cannot bring in the cooler air. Hence, each fan is different.

1. Intake Fan

The intake fan is the fan that is responsible for bringing in the cooler air from outside and pushing it through the PC case. Usually, multiple intake fans are installed inside the PC to ensure it gets more cool air. An intake PC fan usually has an arrow that is pointed toward the PC.

2. Exhaust Fan

These fans push out the hot air from the PC and usually come with an arrow that points outwards from the PC.

What are the Factors to Consider for a Case Fan?

1. Fan Dimensions

Fan dimensions should be checked properly before you get one. Usually, the PC case fan ranges from 40-200 mm in diameter. The thickness also varies; the regular fans have a thickness of 25 mm, while thinner fans have only 15 m. You must also install the fans inside the case using SATA, 3-pin, and 4-pin.

Generally, fans of diameter 12-140 mm are chosen most of the time because they fit almost all the PC cabinets and offer good performance. But, if the case is extremely small, you can choose fans with a diameter of 80 mm only.

2. Fan Speed

Fan speed is extremely important to get the proper cooling gone. The smaller fans are known to have higher speeds than those with larger diameters. But, the fast speed also produced higher static pressure and noise, reducing airflow. On the contrary, larger fans offer less speed and noise with more airflow.

The speed of a fan is measured in RPM or rotation per minute. A smaller 80mm fan will have a speed of 7000 RPM, while a 200 mm fan will have a speed of 800 RPM.

3. Noise Level & Lifespan

The noise level of fans is extremely important. The fans can have noise ranging from 20-50 dB.

You may not like the higher noise while the fans are working. Smaller fans often have higher noise levels due to their higher speed, while larger fans make less sound. Besides that, fans with ball bearings often make more noise. Dusty and dirty fans also tend to make larger noises.

If you do not like noisy fans, it is better to go for certified noiseless fans that make less than 20dB of noise.

Now for lifespan, the design or type of the fan matters a bit. The ball bearings and maglev fans often last longer, But these are very expensive. On the other hand, the fluid-bearing fans last less.

4. PWM Controls

PWM controls of Pulse Width Modulation controls refer to the mechanism that allows control of the RPM metric of the fan, increasing or decreasing it depending on the temperature of the PC system. It can be controlled through motherboard software or sometimes with a separate hardware network.

5. Bearing Types

The fan’s bearing is extremely important as it often denotes how long the fan will last and how well it will perform. The fan blades are attached to the rotating shaft placed inside a cylinder. The shaft moves the blades, and the cylinder or the bearing ensures less friction while the fan works.

Usually, PC Fans Come with Three Types of Bearings-

1. Fluid Bearing

The fans with fluid bearings are the most affordable. But, these do not have longer lifespan. The bearing contains mineral oil to reduce the surface tension between the fan hub and the rotating shaft.

These fans are prone to leaks and dust build-up. A fan with leakage often makes loud noises while running. On the other hand, if the fan has dust build-up, it will not run properly.

If you are getting fluid-bearing fans, you need to clean the fan properly and add a small amount of the fluid to keep them running. Fluid-bearing fans work better if installed vertically as it prevents leakage and loud noises.

2. Ball Bearing Fans

Ball-bearing fans are undoubtedly the best option, even though these cost a bomb. The bearing shaft comes with a ring of balls that reduces friction. Ball-bearing fans are extremely durable and can work even in higher temperatures. On top of that, these fans do not accumulate dust.

But, there is a problem with ball-bearing fans. These fans are heavier and have higher noise levels due to the balls. The fan also tends to fall quickly if installed vertically. So, try to install them horizontally. If you are bothered by the noise, you can buy ball-bearing fans, which may be a bit more expensive than regular ones.

3. Maglev Bearing

Maglev bearing fans use magnets or magnetic levitation to ensure the rotating shaft does not touch the fan hub while spinning. These also have a longer lifespan. But since the technology is comparatively new, these cost a lot.

6. Airflow

Airflow is extremely important when choosing case fans. You must balance the exhaust and intake fans to create a good airflow network. You need to ensure the intake fans are stronger than the exhaust ones. The exhaust pulls out the hot air while the intakes bring in the cool air. If the cool air exceeds the dissipated hot air, the airflow will work better, and the PC will also cool faster.

7. Static Pressure

Static pressure is the generated air force when the fan runs. Usually, it is measured in mmH2O, how much pressure a 12 mm water column can exert, or sometimes in Pascals. The 120mm to 140 mm case fans are preferred because these offer a balance between the airflow and the static pressure to make sure the fans work in optimal condition.

How Many Fans Do a PC Need Based on Case Size?

1. Mini Tower Cases – 1 to 3 Fans

Mini tower cases usually come with Intel Core i3 or similar cores, like Celeron or Athlon, and are usually used for basic computing tasks. These PCs do not work a lot and do not need a lot of fans. Usually, one to three case fans are enough.

For basic computing work for a few hours, one simple exhaust fan or one intake fan combined with one exhaust fan is enough. But, if the PC runs longer, one exhaust and two intake fans can easily manage the airflow with proper cooling.

One to the fans is also enough for those who play games for two to three hours daily.

2. Mid-Tower Cases – 2 to 6 Fans

Mid-tower PC cases are often used when the PC runs long and has a mid-range of current generating activities like gaming, video editing, photo editing or graphic designing for hours. Such PC cases come with a GPU, CPU, higher storage, motherboard chipset, and VRM. In this case, two to six fans can be used depending on how long the PC runs.

For Light Usage, this Combination Can Work-

  • One intake and one exhaust
  • One intake and two exhaust
  • Two intake and two exhaust

For Medium to Heavy Usage-

  • Two intake and two exhausts (one rear, one top)
  • Two intake and three exhaust fan(1 rear and 2 top)
  • Three front intake fans and three exhaust fans(one rear and two top exhaust)

3. Full Tower & Super Cases – 4 to 11 Fans

Full tower PC cases are the most advanced and are used for hardcore gaming and computing tasks; These PC cases come with multiple GPUs and multi-core processors with advanced RAM or other hardware parts; hence, such PC models generate higher temperatures, which calls for a larger number of fans, depending on the usage the full tower PC cases may need six to eleven fans in the following combinations-

  • Two intake front fans and two exhaust fans1 rear and 1 top)
  • 2 intake and3 exhaust(one rear and 2 top)
  • 3 Intake (Front) & 3 Exhaust (1 Rear & 2 Top)
  • 3 Intake (Front) & 4 Exhaust (1 Rear & 3 Top)
  • 4 Intake (2 Front & 2 Bottom) & 4 Exhaust (1 Rear & 3 Top)
  • 5 Intake (3 Front & 2 Bottom) & 4 Exhaust (1 Rear & 3 Top)
  • 5 Intake (3 Front & 2 Bottom) & 5 Exhaust (1 Rear & 3 Top & 2 Side)
  • 5 Intake (3 Front & 2 Bottom) & 6 Exhaust (1 Rear & 2 Top & 3 Side)

Case Fans – FAQs

1. Can I use different-sized case fans in my setup?

Ans: Yes, you can use different-sized fans in the PC case but make sure the fans are compatible and adequate for the PC case size.

2. Can I use more case fans for better cooling?

Ans: Well, more case fans mean more cooling. But that may not always be right. If you install more fans, the temperature may drop instead of being at its ultimate level, which can be another problem.

3. Can I control the speed of my case fans?

Ans: The PC fans usually have headers, which you can use to control the fan speed. Some extra fan controllers and software may allow you to control the fan speed automatically.

4. How do I determine if I need additional case fans?

Ans: First, monitor the temperature of the PC case. There will be more heat if you do hardcore computing tasks like long gaming, video or photo editing, and programming. In this case, adding an extra fan can be beneficial.


Case fans are essential in maintaining the temperature and offering people cooling to your PC. Adding the right number of fans can be beneficial for maintaining PC health.

But, the number of fans depends on the PC case size, computing task, and how long the PC runs. Depending on your preference and budget, you can buy fans of different types and sizes.

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