How to choose a fan for your computer?

Whether it is for your case, your processor or your graphics card, the choice of a fan is important. As you might expect, the main focus should be on quietness or optimizing the airflow. Follow this guide!

The characteristics of a fan

A fan can be defined by two main characteristics: its ability to circulate air and its quiet operation. Most of the time, the two do not go together and it is necessary to dissect the data sheet of a fan. First of all, the manufacturers mention the noise pollution generated by their models in dB(A). Please be aware that below the limit of 20 dB(A) the noise nuisance is very low. The lower this value (in dB(A)), the more likely it is that the fan will run slowly. A fan running at 2,500 revolutions per minute will inevitably be noisier than a model running at 800 revolutions per minute. You should also be aware that larger diameter fans are more interesting because, at the same speed, they propel or draw in more air than a smaller model. This ability to move air is measured in CFM (Cubic Foot Meter). Also consider the type of bearing that equips the fan: a type model will theoretically make more noise than a model . Finally, fans compatible with the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) system will ensure a finer management of the ventilation. For this, your model must have a 4-pin connector and your motherboard must be compatible.

For a processor

You are looking to cool your processor more efficiently or you want to replace a defective model.
  • First of all, you have to consider your hardware: processor fans are designed to fit a particular socket. So check the compatibility with your motherboard;
  • Take care about the material of the heatsink. Copper conducts heat better than aluminium, but is also more expensive;
  • The diameter of the fan is also very important, as mentioned above. A large model will have a better noise to cooling ratio.
Sophisticated fans (fan/heatsink units) often weigh a lot and/or have a fixing system that can deform the motherboard: make sure that the motherboard can withstand these constraints. You should also make sure that you have enough space around the socket if you want to install a large fan or heat sink. Finally, as far as speed is concerned, it all depends on your goal: users looking for a good level of silence will choose models with 800 rpm, those who are not bothered by noise pollution and who prefer cooling will opt for a faster fan.

For a graphics card

Your graphics card fan causes unpleasant noise, so you want to replace it with a quieter model without sacrificing performance. As with processor devices, the use of copper provides superior heat dissipation. The presence of heat pipes theoretically allows for better heat dissipation, especially when combined with efficient ventilation. Also make sure that the cooling fans are self-regulating, i.e. they adjust their speed to the temperature of the graphics card. These devices can be connected in a variety of ways: PWM-compatible connectors are preferred, if your motherboard is compatible. Finally, the simplicity of assembly is to be taken into account.

For a box

Your enclosure needs air and you want to equip it with an additional fan, or you want to replace existing models for quieter elements. The size of your enclosure fan is important: it can be up to 20 cm, although 12 cm models are the most common. It also depends on where you want the fan to be placed in your enclosure. For those who are looking for quiet operation, some fans come with rubberized rods that reduce the transmission of vibration to the enclosure. Better still, some fans are even made entirely of rubber! Some enclosure fans offer remote control systems on a wire: just make sure that this system remains accessible once the fan is installed. Finally, favour the vertical position for your fans in your tower: the axis is thus less stressed than in a horizontal position, in which it tends to sag, thus becoming noisier.
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