PC Case Fans – How to choose the right case fans.

When going to purchase case fans for your computer, you may be wondering what is the best case fan for me? Well, if you are looking to educate yourself on the different types of case fans you have come to the right place. This article will cover everything there is to know about case fans, including speed, noise, sizes, aesthetics, and airflow.

And if you already know everything there is to know about case fans; check out our article on the Best Case Fans 2020. Before we begin, it is important to understand exactly why case fans are needed and what they are used for.

What are case fans for?

Case fans are used to cool the air temperature within your PC case. Whether that be by moving fresh air into the case (intake) or by pushing hot air out of the case (exhaust). Case fans are an important component as they provide the means of keeping your PCs internals from overheating. There are many different sizes and designs for case fans, and it is important to choose one that meets your needs before purchasing. Below we discuss all the different factors that can impact your decision on which case fan(s) to choose.

red case fan

Size (mm)

The amount of air your fan can move is directly correlated to the size of your fan. The bigger your fan, the more air it will be able to move. Case fans come in sizes 80mm, 120mm, 140mm, and 200mm, with the more typical sizes being 120mm and 140mm. If you are not sure which size will fit your case, check out your PC case manual or your case manufacturers website.

And if you cannot seem to find the size that will fit in your PC case. You can then whip out the measuring tape and measure the fan slot inside your case.

Airflow Case Fans VS Static Pressure Case Fans

When purchasing a case fan, the first thing you must take into consideration is the type of air circulation you are looking for. A high static pressure vs a high airflow fan is determined by the width of the fan blades. This means you can get the same size and model of fan with different fan blades.

airflow fan vs static pressure fan

Airflow Case Fans

Airflow fans focus on pushing air faster directly in a line rather than dispersing it widely. Meaning that airflow case fans work best when there are no obstructions directly in front of or behind the fan. If your case has plenty of open space, this type of fan allows your PC to have a more efficient airflow.

Static Pressure Case Fans

Static pressure fans on the other hand aim to disperse the air throughout the case more evenly. This means they do not send as powerful of airflow in a direct line. These types of fans are more effective when your PC has many obstructions inside such as large components or radiators.

Speed (RPM)

The speed of a fan is measured in RPM or Revolutions Per Minute. The amount of air that is blown through the fan is directly correlated to the number of RPM. Furthermore, the number of RPMs directly affects the level of noise the fan emits. In simple terms, the higher the RPM, the faster your fan will spin, and the more noise it will generate.

Depending on your case fan, there may be a correlated 3rd party software you can use to directly adjust your fan’s speed and noise.

Noise (DBA)

The noise a fan generates is measured in dBA or A-weighted decibels. Decibel is a measurement that we use to quantify how loud a sound is to the human ear. Any fan rated below 20dBA is considered quieter than a whisper. Most fans land somewhere between 12dB and 40dB. Depending on how important a quiet fan is to you, this may be one of the most important factors to consider. There are a few factors that can lead toward a noisy fan, those being:

  • Design of the fan and fan blades.
  • The speed of the fan (RPM).
  • The type of bearing used.
  • The connection between the fan and the case.

If your case fans are being noisy there are ways to fix them.

Aesthetics (RGB)

Each fan has a somewhat different aesthetic, whether that be the inclusion of RGB lights or the design of the fan. Depending on the look and feel of your PC rig, you may want to consider purchasing a fan with RGB. Adding a cool-looking fan with a customizable RGB ring can completely overhaul the look of your PC! Trust me, it can make your PC go from looking mediocre to making you feel badass with a cool RGB setup. However, if aesthetics and RGB are not something you are concerned about, no worries, as it does not improve the functionality whatsoever.

RGB case fans in pc

Type of Bearing / Lifespan

Case fans today use one of three different types of bearings:

  • Double Ball Bearing
  • Sleeve Bearing
  • Fluid Dynamic Bearing / Hydrodynamic Bearing

Double Ball Bearing

Double ball bearings generate the most amount of noise, compared to other types, and last around 60,000 to 75,000 hours of usage.

Sleeve Bearing

Sleeve bearings are cheaper than double ball bearings and in turn, are expected to have a shorter lifespan ranging around 40,000 hours of use. These types of fans are designed to be mounted vertically and provide a low operating noise.

Fluid Dynamic Bearing

This type of bearing is the most premium. They typically last longer than both the other types of bearings; with life span ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 hours of usage.

Intake Case Fans or Exhaust Case Fans

Case fans, no matter the make or model, can be used as an intake fan or an exhaust fan. Whether you are to use your fan as an intake fan, or an exhaust fan is up to you. This step is decided in the installation phase of your case fan.

In the ideal scenario, you should have at least one intake, and one exhaust fan within your PC case. Adding additional fans beyond these two will still increase airflow.

To decipher which way your fan will blow air, check on the side of the case fan for an arrow. This arrow will indicate how air is to be blown.

arrows on the side of a case can

Push/Pull method

When you are utilizing an exhaust and an intake fan within your PC setup, you are utilizing a method called the push/pull method. The push/pull method is achieved when you have one fan pushing hot air out of the case and one pulling air in from outside the case. This method is a great way to increase the airflow within your system and ultimately have your PC garner lower temperatures.

describes the push pull method


In conclusion, the fan you choose should be based on your personal needs. Fan speed, noise production, and aesthetics are three important aspects to consider when purchasing. With all this considered you now know how to properly select a case fan that suits your needs! If you are looking to pick up a case fan check out our list of the Best Case Fans 2020.