Pc Airflow Guide: How to Position Your Fans for Optimum Cooling | Digital Trends

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Fan placement is an important component in cooling your system. The number, positioning, and orientation of fans affect overall system performance, noise levels, and how often you need to clean your entire system. Although you won’t see a dramatic difference in your PC’s performance by adding another fan or making it push instead of pull (or vice versa), it still makes sense to optimize this part of your PC’s cooling for the best experience You as a PC user.

Whether you want to increase your system’s cooling to improve your overclocking or want to keep fan speeds as low as possible without overheating, here’s a guide to PC airflow as well as some suggestions on fan placement and position You wish might be useful.

Familiarize yourself with the basics

Maingrear Noctua air-cooled PC.
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One of the biggest sins of some inexpensive pre-built PCs is that they only have a single fan. Often it’s an exhaust fan, which is fine, but that doesn’t get a lot of cool air into the system, and it’s unlikely that all the hot air will come out once you do something demanding. This could well result in some thermal throttling, and (as we’ll discuss in more detail below) negative pressure isn’t ideal unless you want to clear every nook and cranny of dust every six months.

If you just want to make sure you have the absolute basics that every PC should have, then you’ll need at least an exhaust fan and an intake fan. Ideally the intake fan should be a little more powerful to ensure you have positive pressure, but that’s not as big a problem as just making sure you have positive pressure some Cool air is pushed or pulled into your PC, and another fan blows the hot air back out.

Diminishing returns

CPU cooler installed in the Hyte Y40 case.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Do you want better cooling performance for your PC? First upgrade the CPU cooler and if possible upgrade the GPU cooler (or buy a better graphics card with a better cooler). If you’ve already done that and want to improve performance, just add more fans. Or rather, fans. But to be clear: there are diminishing returns. A third intake fan won’t improve performance by more than a degree or two compared to the two you already have. Converting an AIO cooler to a push/pull configuration with fans on both sides might save you a few degrees, but is it worth the money you’d have to spend?

Upgrade your cooling if it’s currently underwhelming, but keep your expectations in mind and be mindful of your budget. It could be better spent elsewhere.

The heat is increasing

Most PC cases have intake fans on the front and one or more fans on the back to dissipate heat. However, heat rises upward, meaning air temperatures are usually highest at the top of your case. Placing your exhaust fans in the roof allows you to exhaust hot air more quickly than if they were mounted in the back.

The difference isn’t dramatic, but if you’re paying attention to min-max, don’t forget what heat likes to do when it’s not being pushed and pulled around.

Positive pressure is key

If you hate cleaning your PC (and who doesn’t?), then make sure it’s running at positive pressure. This means that more air is pushed or sucked into the housing than is pushed out. This means additional air is pushed out of any corners, vents, holes or gaps in the panel. This ensures that all air flows into your case through the dust filters on the front or bottom. In a negative pressure scenario, where more air is pushed out than sucked in, air gets sucked in through all those holes and crevices, causing unwanted dust buildup.

From an engineering standpoint, it’s more important from a performance perspective to expel the hot air than to pump more cool air into the case, but the difference isn’t dramatic – especially if you already have a robust exhaust system. For long-term system health, it is more important to ensure that only outside air enters through a dust filter.

Direct cooling helps

Many PC fans on a desk.
Andrey Matveev / Unsplash

System cooling doesn’t have much of an impact on component temperatures once you understand the basics. However, you can achieve some positive results by blowing cool air directly onto the components you want to cool. If you have intake vents in the bottom of your case or in the side panel, placing fans that blow cool air directly onto the graphics card will help reduce its temperature.

Depending on component placement and the size of your case, this may not be feasible for the CPU cooler, but if you get a fan that blows cool outside air directly to a component that needs to be cooled, it will have an effect.

Push is usually better than pull

Push versus pull is a long-standing debate when it comes to PC cooling. When “pushing” the fan is mounted in front of the component or cooler and drives the air in, when “pulling” the fan is mounted at the back of the component or cooler and sucks the air in through the cooling fins before you reach the fan. Although temperatures are slightly better when one fan is mounted in push mode and another in pull mode, there is little difference between push and pull configurations.

The Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler.
Some fan configurations are technically push/pull/push. Noctua/Amazon

However, by orienting the push fan, you can be sure that it will push the air from the desired location into or over the components/cooling fins. With a pull configuration, it is possible that the air is drawn from a different location depending on component or radiator placement, which may not be as ideal.

Watch out for turbulence

This is more about arranging cables than fan placement, but be aware of this: if there is anything in the way of your airflow, it will create noise and reduce the effectiveness of cooling. That won’t be much, but just as direct cooling can make a difference, a fan that has a clear raceway to blow cool air into a case and to the hottest components is more effective than one that goes straight into a mess blows from cables.

Again, yields are reduced, but by clearing away the cables and placing the fans where they won’t be hindered in their work, they can work better, resulting in better performance and lower temperatures.

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