How Many Case Fans do I Need for Sufficient Cooling of PC?

Most people consider that the minimum number of fans for a PC is 1 case fan and 1 CPU cooler fan. However, this isn’t true in many cases. How many fans does a pc need? It depends on factors like fan size, heat output and, importantly, your case size & type.

Many people need to realise just how important fans are to a PC. They are not limited to just keeping your CPU cool. With the right amount of case fans, your computer can run much faster and more efficiently and eventually and let the internal components to have a longer lifespan with maintained temp & better airflow.

In this guide, you will learn how many fans a PC should a PC have? or at least a minimum number when building the perfect PC.

3 Factors of a Case Fan to Consider

Case fans are an essential component for any PC. Each hardware has its features, pros and cons. Knowing some crucial facts matter most to your case will let you get the most out of the fans you buy.

1. Fan Dimensions

Case fans come in all sorts of different sizes! You can measure a case fan by its diameter and thickness in mm. Usually, fan sizes range from 40mm to 200mm in diameter, and the thickness can be from 15mm for thin fans to 25mm for regular ones. SATA, 3 pin and 4 pin are main connectors used for installing fan on the case.

Generally, fans that are larger in size generate more airflow, while smaller fans create higher static pressure. 120mm and 140mm are the most famous case fan choices. They tend to fit most PC cabinets well and deliver an ideal balance between airflow and static force.

120mm and 140mm are the most popular case fan options. They tend to fit most cases well and provide a nice balance between airflow and static pressure.

Computer Case Fan Sizes

Your PC case specifications decide what fan sizes you can install. For example, in some cases, you will have to choose between installing three 120mm fans or two 140mm fans.

Smaller cases can only fit 80mm fans, so these configurations’ choices are a bit limited.

2. Fan Speed

The number of revolutions per minute (RPM) differs from fan to fan. For instance, s 200mm fan typically spins at around 800rpm, while a 140mm fan at 2000rpm or an 80mm fan can spin at up to 7000rpm. Thus, smaller fans will spin faster than larger ones.

Do you know ~ Higher rotation speeds are associated with the noisier operation and higher static pressure, while lower speeds result in more airflow and lower noise levels.

PWM for Fan Controls

Many case fans come with PWM controls, a feature that allows you to change the fan speed based on the system’s temperature.

This can be done automatically or manually, and it can reduce noise levels and help save power by turning off the fan when it is not in use. The software with your motherboard or another hardware component likely has PWM controls that you can use to manage the fan speed.

3. Noise level and Life

Should I get more fans for my PC than advised? Well that depends on the noise level you can tolerate which is usually ignored. The noise level from a PC case can make quite a difference – it can be silent or annoying.

This is especially valid for people who want to build a music production or video and audio editing PC because there is a need to keep the noise levels down to a minimum.

In the manufacturer’s specifications for the case fan, you’ll find a measurement of its noise level in dBA (decibels on the A scale). These figures range from 20 dBA, hardly audible at a distance of one meter, to a notably louder volume (~ 50 dBA).

It’s noteworthy to remember that the noise levels stated in fan specifications are often much lower than the reality. The sound of a case fan will ultimately depend on how fast it spins, how it is mounted in the case (vibrations with the case), and how it is placed.

How many Fans does a PC need as per the Case Size?

The case you choose for your PC can greatly impact how well your components are cooled and how many case fans you can install. Let’s get to know how many fans should your PC have depending on your PC case type.

For Mini Tower Cases – 1 to 3 Fans

The Mini Tower is the smallest of the three PC cases, has low TDP components like i3 even athlon or celeron used for school or other office normal office tasks that lives in relatively cool environments. So there is a limit to the number of case fans that can be installed. A good rule of thumb is to install about 1 to 3 case fans.

Because without great demands, you will spend your time browsing the Internet, watching videos, listening to music, or doing school work and office automation in general, the components will hardly heat up, so ventilation can be minimal.

You can also use two fans if you play from time to time (1 or 2 hours maximum) for not-very demanding games that do not put the PC to the utmost. Combining with a ‘Cooler’ heatsink is enough.

It is recommended to use high static pressure fans in the case of SFF-type cabinets because the installation density (the number of electronic components in the enclosure) will be high, and there is limited internal space due to the smaller size.

Thus, in case of small form factor builds, it’s essential to take full advantage of available fan mounts as the hardware is more clustered, and heat flows will be transferred from one component to another.

So in case of Mini Tower, if installing:

  • 1 Fan – 1 Exhaust
  • 2 Fans – 1 Intake (Front) & 1 Exhaust (Rear)
  • 3 Fans – 1 Intake (Front) & 2 Exhaust (Rear & Side/Top)
how many case fans do I need for Mini ITX tower

For Mid Tower Cases – 2 to 6 Fans

Mid Tower chassis for users who run bursty and long-duration workloads with mid-range current generation hardware components and experience warmer GPU and CPU temperatures in summer.

You might plan to put a lot of hours into games or utilizing video editing, photography or design, and 3D modeling as well. In short, for a bit heavier use. The primary sources of overheat inside a PC case are (in order of heating):

  • Dedicated graphics card
  • CPU
  • Storage (HDD, and SSD types like SATA and NVMe)
  • Motherboard chipset and VRM

In Mid Tower Cases, the temperature is moderately higher since powerful PC parts consume power more and generate more heat. To ensure continuous cold air circulation, a couple of fans are required, with an optimal location for air suction and other for blowing. Here it is suggested to install at least 2 to 6 case fans.

how many case fans do I need for Micro ATX case

So in case of Mid Tower, if installing:

  • 2 Fans- 1 Intake (Front) & 1 Exhaust (Rear)
  • 3 Fans – 1 Intake (Front) & 2 Exhaust (Rear & Top)
  • 4 Fans – 2 Intake (Front) & 2 Exhaust (Rear & Top)
  • 5 Fans – 2 Intake (Front) & 3 Exhaust (1xRear & 2xTop)
  • 6 Fans – 3 Intake (Front) & 3 Exhaust (1xRear & 2xTop)

Good to Know ~ An increase in ambient (room) temperature is directly related to an increase in the internal temperature of your PC. The benchmarks shows that the CPU and GPU thermal performance increases by about 1 degree Celsius when the room temperature increases by the same amount. So if you work or live in a particularly hot environment, make sure to get a good cooling system for your PC.

Keep your PC cool if you want it to perform well. We’ve seen from benchmarks that for every degree Celsius that the room temperature increases, the internal temperature of your PC will increase by about 1 degree as well. So if it’s hot where you are, make sure to get a good cooling system for your computer.

For Full Tower & Super Cases – 4 to 11 Fans

The full tower is the largest of the PC cases type. The users who use their computers for extended periods or run demanding applications with high-performance components like multi-core processors and multiple GPUs experience higher temperatures throughout the year.

So, how many fans does a PC need with such a big tower. As a guideline, installing around 3 to 7 case fans or up to 11 fans in a super tower case is standard.

Here is a must to ensure continuous cold air circulation by using mighty fans on the case. Since it’s a relatively enormous case, there’s plenty of room inside. It is even possible to install not only simple water cooling but also full-scale water cooling (which is mainly used in the super tower rather than solely case fans.)

If the chassis design allows, the pair can be placed in front and behind, and another two on the upper and lower lids.

Although it will provide you with excellent ventilation through the different areas of the box, the truth is that so many fans are already for a more aesthetic than practical function. With a good heatsink, up to 6 or large 3 or 4 fans, it is more than enough for such ample cabinets, but putting 6 RGB fans makes the equipment much cooler, which is optional.

In especially big towers, you should always keep your PC clean by installing a filter on your intake fan. If your computer has dust proof case then magnetic filters would be enough for filtering dust.

So in case of Full/Super Tower, if installing:

  • 4 Fans – 2 Intake (Front) & 2 Exhaust (Rear & Top)
  • 5 Fans – 2 Intake (Front) & 3 Exhaust (1xRear & 2xTop)
  • 6 Fans – 3 Intake (Front) & 3 Exhaust (1xRear & 2xTop)
  • 7 Fans – 3 Intake (Front) & 4 Exhaust (1xRear & 3xTop)
  • 8 Fans – 4 Intake (2xFront & 2xBottom) & 4 Exhaust (1xRear & 3xTop)
  • 9 Fans – 5 Intake (3xFront & 2xBottom) & 4 Exhaust (1xRear & 3xTop)
  • 10 Fans – 5 Intake (3xFront & 2xBottom) & 5 Exhaust (1xRear & 3xTop & 2xSide)
  • 11 Fans – 5 Intake (3xFront & 2xBottom) & 6 Exhaust (1xRear & 2xTop & 3xSide)
how many case fans do I need my large size ATX or E-ATX sized case

In some case of special super towers, the number of case fans reach to 16. Still, using more than six fan coolers could be sufficent — it will create the necessary airflow, but it will be quite tangible, even if it is the so-called « silent » model. They also make noise, albeit less than standard wings.

The more fans the better, but prioritize quality

It’s great to have a lot of fans, but it’s even better to have prioritize quality over quantity for several reasons:

  • Many low-quality fans might move less air overall than a couple of good fans.
  • You will barely notice any noise with 2-3 good fans at low revs. But if you install a lot of bad fans, the annoying noise of each of their motors will accumulate.
  • Since bad fans will fail sooner, it’s a cheap deal.

Does this mean that I should install fewer fans on my computer? Not at all. If you have a high budget, you can get better cooling performance by filling your box with good-quality fans and running them at low rpm.

By doing this, you’ll need less RPM (and therefore less noise) to achieve the same effect as if you had installed fewer fans. This not only means less noise, but also you will always have the option of increasing the RPM for extreme cooling power when needed.

While installing a fan, it’s important to get one that is the right size. If the fan is too small, it won’t distribute the airflow well and will spin faster, which isn’t ideal. You want to avoid an 80mm or 92mm fan for a hole that will fit a 120mm or 140mm fan.

How many fans do you need for an office computer?

Office computers often do not even have a built-in graphic adapter because they’re mainly used for work. Games like puzzles, Chess and solitaire, which some office workers love, don’t require a lot of computer power and won’t cause the computer to overheat.

In this case, you can go without any case fans, except the stock coolers come with the dual core processor, and the power supply provides enough airflow to drive the processor fan inside the chassis, specifically for a computer without the GPU built-in.

How many fans do you need for an office computer

Final Words

One of the most important things you can do when building a PC is to arrange your cooling solution. This will help ensure that your components run smoothly by maintaining normal GPU temp and CPU temp. Additionally, it will help maximize the potential performance of your digital computer.

As you have seen, choosing how many fans does a pc need is an uncomplicated approach, and knowing how many fans to mount is simple. You have to be clear about some basic concepts and make a correct choice of fans.

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