A significant part of effective operation, PC case fans help keep the interior workings of gaming towers or workstation computers at optimal temperatures for high-performance tasks. Most cases ship with a few fans built-in, but powerful system builds require extra cooling power that protects the components. Each case fan works differently, but they all give your PC long-lasting durability as they move the heat that internal components generate when under load. From standard computer case cooling fans to elaborate units with ultra-quiet operation and RGB LEDs, there is a unit for the designer, gamer, or even the performance enthusiast.
PC case fans come with set maximum revolutions per minute (RPM), and faster models tend to move more air. Another telling specification for cooling performance is the CFM (cubic feet minute). The higher the CFM, the more air it pushes or draws from CPU fans and heatsinks. Fans come in different sizes and the larger the size the more air it pushes, but 80mm, 120mm and 140mm fans are compatible with most cases. Many people use smaller fans for motherboard and memory chipset cooling. Some case fans have a fourth pin that allows for Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control, so you can adjust fan speed via a compatible motherboard or fan control software. A few models have smart sensors that detect unwanted jamming of other components.
Another way to compare fans is to look at their noise level, usually in dBA ranges between 10dB and 36dB. Most quiet computer fans have hydrodynamic bearings, which feature a self-lubrication design without intervention that make them most durable. Other fans have ultrathin blades with minimal vibration that stay quiet during use. The fan RPM affects the noise level, so running at constant high RPM leads to more noise. PC case fans with sound-absorbing rubber pads further help eliminate noise.
Many PC case fans come with different designs and lighting options for customizing the look of your system. Modern LED lighting does not add heat to the system, and does not interfere with airflow. Some have interchangeable colored rings, so you can color-coordinate with the system’s graphics card, motherboard and fans and PC cooling components. Depending on the model, case fans have an addressable RGB lighting system for full-color customization with ASUS® Aura, MSI® Mystic Light and ASRock® RGB software. Other LED case fans simply offer lighting in one color for a radiating light show.
Airflow PC case fans help move air efficiently when nothing is blocking the unit. Static pressure fans are a better option when pushing air through objects like a CPU heat sink, a water-cooling radiator or other obstructions. Invest in a fan controller if you want to install more case fans than your motherboard can support, or when installing an RGB fan not supported by the motherboard.