How to Set up PC Fans for Optimal Airflow? [With Images]

Today you’re going to find the complete guide to set up the best PC airflow optimization on your computer. 

Both laptops and desktop PCs have cooling technology. Compared to a desktop PC, a laptop will get more heat in less time. It is because of the architecture in it.

But why do computers need cooling?

All the electronic components in a computer are designed to operate under specific operating temperature ranges. When the current passes through them, they can dissipate some energy in the form of heat because of the internal resistance of the computer components.

If you don’t remove this heat, it will lead to damage to your computer’s major components like the motherboard, processor, GPUs, etc.

So, we need a cooling system in a computer. Here you can find the symptoms of an overheating computer and how to fix it.

PC cooling system :

The process of controlling the temperature rise in a PC with the help of CPU coolers and fans is called a PC cooling system. In the olden days, we had only CPU fans to control the CPU temperature. But now, liquid cooling is dominating fan cooling.

However, based on the CPU architecture, the operating temperatures are different. For example, all the processors you are using for domestic purposes are operating anywhere between 55° – 80°C.

But the processors used in the military are more efficient and they even work in negative temperatures.

Based on the processor architecture and its usage, various cooling techniques apply to it. But now, liquid cooling is the latest technology that has a wide range of uses.

If you are a gamer, never, ever compromise in controlling your CPU temperature.

The liquid cooling technology is costly but shows a high impact on temperature control. So, mainly liquid cooling is used for processor cooling instead of the entire CPU case.

There is a way to cool down the temperature in a CPU case at a cheap cost – a CPU fan.

What is a computer cooling fan?

A computer cooling fan is nothing but a small fan that can fit into a CPU case and help to increase the airflow in it. These fans are cheap in cost, effective in performance, and colorful to see. Various fan sizes are available but 120mm is the most commonly used computer cooling fan.

There are the best advantages that you can get with a computer cooling fan

  • The cost of the fan is less.
  • The consumption of power is also low. (How much power does your computer consume?)
  • You can reduce the temperature effectively with the help of fans.
  • Easy to install.
  • If the fan has RGB lighting, it gives a colorful look to your computer.

CPU fan price

When it comes to price a normal cooling fan is at a cheap price compared to the CPU cooler. The price of a computer cooling fan is around $12 on average. It costs more or less based on the features like RPM, speed control, RGB, etc. More features, more cost.

Sometimes, you may find a pack of 3 or 5 pieces in it. Make sure the quality and quantity as well before buying it. If you are building a PC, then these types of products (packs) are just fine for you to fit all the slots on your CPU cabinet.

Where is the CPU fan located?

Well, the CPU fan is in all 4 directions (front, rear, top, and bottom) of a CPU cabinet. In some cabinets, you can see the side slot for a CPU fan.

The manufacturer makes the design of CPU fan slots in a cabinet. You don’t have a choice to choose. But, you can choose CPU cabinets that feel good for you.

Not all manufacturers give the fan slots in the same way. Some cabinets support 140mm fans and some don’t. It is all up to you to choose the best for you.

My suggestion is to choose a case that has at least 6 fan slots in it. It helps your PC performance.

PC fan airflow direction

Now you need to know the PC fan airflow direction.

If you know this, it will be easy for you to set the optimized airflow in your CPU case without a doubt.

When the computer case fan spins, airflow occurs through it. The intake of fresh air occurs through the front face of a fan, and the exhaust airflow goes out from the grill side. The fan airflow direction is the same for all computers.

pc fan airflow direction
PC Fan Airflow direction

Always remember, the grill side is the way air out-coming through the fan.

In the above picture, you can see the direction of airflow through the fan. Of course, it is not working on my PC anymore. I just want to show you the airflow direction.

I noticed the fan was not working on my PC and I replaced it. If I don’t do that, there is a chance of getting the Blue Screen error because of overheating.

Types of airflow in a CPU case

Based on the pressure inside the CPU case, there are three types of air pressures. We will see each of them and conclude which one is best to optimize PC airflow in a CPU case.

  • Positive air pressure
  • Negative air pressure and
  • Neutral air pressure

No matter how many fans or slots you use, the pressure in a case must be any of the above three types.

Positive air pressure – (more ‘intake fans’)

In the CPU case in which more intake fans are present than the exhaust fans then the pressure inside the CPU is called positive air pressure.

positive air pressure
Positive air pressure

This is not the best air pressure inside the case because even if the input air or fresh air is high, the output air is low which means it does not exhaust the hot air from the computer components at the required level.

This leads to the generating more air pressure inside the case and eventually leads to the damage of hardware components or weakens the system performance.

Negative air pressure – (more ‘exhaust fans’)

If the system has fewer intake fans and more exhaust fans, then the pressure inside the CPU is called Negative air pressure.

Negative air pressure
Negative air pressure

The negative air pressure also doesn’t suit the CPU case because the intake fans are low means the fresh air coming from the atmosphere is low and it leads to a rise in the temperature and pressure inside the CPU. 

So the computer loses its stability because of this negative air pressure. And also it affects the system’s performance.

Neutral air pressure – (intake fans = exhaust fans)

This pressure is defined by having an equal number of intake fans and exhaust fans in the CPU.

Neutral air pressure
Neutral air pressure

The neutral air pressure or airflow is the best airflow for a computer case because the balanced airflow occurs because of the same number of intake and exhaust fans, and it leads to control of the temperature of the CPU. So, the computer efficiency will increase by this airflow optimization.

Now you know the PC fan airflow direction and the best airflow direction in a CPU case. You can combine both to achieve PC airflow optimization.

The following comparison table will help you understand better.

Sourcepositive Air pressureNegative Air pressureNeutral Air pressure
Intake fansMoreLessEqual
Exhaust fansLessMoreEqual
System stabilityLowLowHigh
Comparison of air pressures in the CPU case

How does the fan help in cooling the CPU?

In the very worst case, you have at least one intake and one exhaust fan. If you can’t provide the fan cooling to the CPU, the temperature gradually increases, and it leads to burnout in the motherboard or processor.

For example, if the processor is at 81 degrees Celsius temperature when you turn ON the computer with no fans in the CPU case except the stock cooler, the temperature will rise from 81 to 82, 83, 84,… and the system will burn out or give trouble like Blue Screen Of Death BSOD.

To avoid this, you need to install one intake and one exhaust fan (minimum). Because of these fans, we can control the temperature of the processor from 81 to 78°C. And you can achieve more temperature control by installing more fans.

Also, remember that the diameter of the fan matters here. A fan with a high diameter provides more cooling, but it is not the only factor to consider when buying a CPU fan.

When you are going to buy a CPU fan, many factors like diameter, RPM, RGB lighting, and more need to be considered. You don’t need to change your case fan frequently until it expires. So choose the best one.

I recommend you install as many fans as your CPU cabinet or case supports. And for gaming PCs, you must use all the fan slots available in the case. Find more about how a fan works on a computer.

Mistakes you should know

You may make some mistakes when you are using a PC. They seem to be small but impact a lot on your PC. There are plenty of mistakes that you make in the computer space. Now I want to highlight the common mistakes that are related to CPU fans. So that you can avoid these mistakes and use your PC in the long run.

These mistakes will help you to know more about a computer.

Clean your PC frequently :

You need to keep your PC clean. Dust is one of the most unwanted factors in a computer. High dust in a CPU indicates a high-risk factor. Dust can damage any component in your computer like the hard disk, Motherboard, GPU, etc.

If you are not using an IO shield, you may get a problem. Here you can find the importance of an IO shield on a desktop computer.

For every three months, clean your PC by disassembling the CPU. If you don’t know how to assemble a CPU, go through the guide How to build a PC?

Provide enough power supply :

As the number of fans increases in a CPU case, the power requirement also increases. If you have a good RGB lightning fan and a weak power supply like 200-watt SMPS, your PC will get into trouble.

A low-powered Power Source Unit (PSU) can’t deliver enough power to various things like RGB fans, GPU, etc, and as a result, you’ll get a lag in performance.

When the PC is in high-performing mode like gaming, rendering, etc., the computer will hang or stop working.

So, maintain a good power source.

Use the latest technology :

Liquid cooling is the latest cooling technology that is used in computers. If you want to build your PC, make sure you are using the latest technology like featured motherboards, CPU cases, CPU fans, liquid cooling technology, etc.

The selection of the CPU case is in a way that the CPU case must have an option of fan installation on four sides (front, rear, top, and bottom).

Note: Before selecting any PC component, compatibility is the primary thing you need to focus on.

Conclusion :

The final thing I want to say is, “The more fans you put in, the more cooling the CPU takes, and the more performance you’ll get.” I think you might have understood the optimization of PC airflow in a CPU case.

And you can avoid problems like PCs not booting BIOS, etc, with this technique.