Last updated: August 20, 2021

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The computer fan is part of the computer cooling system, a task of great importance to keep the computer in good condition. They are installed inside the computer chassis, in different positions depending on the type of fan. Some are located at the back, others at the top and others at the sides.

In recent years, fan models with particular styles have been developed. This has been driven by the rise of gamers looking to both enhance and customise the look of their PC. Here at ReviewBox we talk you through everything you need to know about these products, before you buy yours - read on!




Summary

  • The cooling system of computers is one of the most important to ensure the proper functioning of the equipment. In addition, good cooling protects the rest of the computer's components and prevents premature damage.
  • Nowadays one of the aspects that varies from one fan to another is its appearance and look. This is due to the booming market for gamers, who customise all the components of their computer. Due to the extensive use that gamers make of their PCs, this market also demands excellent quality devices.
  • The aspects involved in the quality of a fan's performance may seem very technical, but they are not difficult to understand. The type of fan, the type of connection and the operating mechanism, among other things, have to be taken into consideration.

The Best Computer Fan: Our Picks

Buying guide: what you need to know about computer fans

It's a fact that most models differ in the style and look of the fan offering virtually the same functions. But there are also technical details about the computer fan that affect its performance. These include size, power and connection type.

The cooling system of computers is one of the most important to ensure the proper functioning of the equipment.
(Photo: Nikolay Antonov/ 123rf.com)

What is a computer fan and what are its advantages?

The cooling system is a fundamental part of every computer, which is why it has existed since the invention of the computer. Computer components generate heat, especially when the PC is used for long periods of time. But heat build up is counterproductive, that's where the fan comes in.

A few decades ago, fans were only functional, so their designs were simple and practical. Since the boom of video game culture, a market has emerged with styles designed for gamers. Although the audience is quite targeted, there are also non-gamer users who are looking for fans with different designs.

Over time, not only the aesthetics have been updated, but also the functionality. More efficient blades, better motors and more precise moulds have been developed. All these aspects combined mean that today even the simplest fans can be considered above the standard of decades past.

Advantages
  • Keeps computer components cool
  • Modern models do not produce as much noise
  • Designs help customise the computer
Disadvantages
  • Can consume a lot of power
  • Takes up a lot of chassis space

Computer fan with fluid, sleeve or ball bearing - what should you pay attention to?

The computer fan is a device with several aspects that can change, and that will define whether or not it is suitable for you, but the first one you should look at is the type of mechanism the fan uses. There are three types of mechanisms, and between them vary the configuration and performance of the fan.

Fluid bearing fans are the most complex, in which the motor runs on an oiled surface. Sleeve bearing fans are the cheapest of the three, in which the bearing itself is covered with oil. And ball bearings have a system in which the motor rotates on balls.

Fluid bearing Sleeve bearing Ball bearing
Good quality oil in the lubricated areas Good quality oil in the lubricated areas Double ball bearing is recommended
Silencers, as it is the noisiest System for re-oiling the bearing

The type of mechanism is of great importance and one of the first things to consider. But you also need to consider the size, durability and quality of the product.

Nowadays one of the aspects that varies from one fan to another is its appearance and look.
(Photo: Oleksii Olkin/ 123rf.com)

Buying criteria

Deciding on a computer fan involves keeping an eye on several things. You don't want to make your purchase, try to use your fan, and realise that it wasn't what you were looking for or expecting. Here are the most important ones:

Fan type

This is one of the most critical aspects of choosing a computer fan. There are two types, the radial fan which is used less and less frequently, and the axial fan which is much more popular because it is more effective.

The radial fan has a system with many blades that create an airflow perpendicular to the axis, resulting in air being sucked in. Whereas axial fans generate an airflow parallel to the fan shaft, creating more effective cooling.

The use of axial fans is now generally recommended, in fact radial fans are considered an obsolete design.

The aspects involved in the performance quality of a fan may seem very technical, but they are not difficult to understand.
(Photo: Stanisic Vladimir/ 123rf.com)

Connection type

This refers to the way in which the fan is connected to the PC, which boils down to two different mechanisms: the 3-pin constant speed connection, and the 4-pin motherboard connection.

The 3-pin connection makes the fan spin at a constant speed, although with some technical tricks the speed can be modified. And the 4-pin connection on the motherboard, which includes a fourth wire that self-regulates the fan speed. This second one is becoming more and more popular among users.

Size

There are currently just over 10 different sizes for fans, varying in power and airflow. These sizes vary depending on the model, style and type of fan it is. And it's a significant aspect when it comes to finding the right one for your chassis.

They range from 80mm in diameter up to 230mm on the larger models, but the most commonly used size is 120mm or 140mm. The size of your fan will depend on the size you have available in your chassis, which is also occupied by the motherboard and the components that go into it.

For better space management you could consider placing the fan on the side or on top. To decide you need to check the best way for the airflow to circulate. Keep in mind that the main purpose of the fans is to provide optimal cooling.

(Featured image photo: Andrija Pajtic/ 123rf.com)

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