What is a computer fan? What can it do for the computer? If you want to find the answers, read this post carefully. And you can also know the different applications of the computer fan.

What Is a Computer Fan?

What is a computer fan? It is any fan inside or connected to the computer case for active cooling. The fan is used to draw cooler air from the outside into the housing, discharge the hotter air from the inside, and move the air through the heat sink to cool specific components.

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Axial fans and sometimes centrifugal (blower/squirrel cage) fans are also used in computers. Computer fans usually use standard sizes and use 3-pin or 4-pin fan connectors for power supply and control.

computer fan

In early personal computers, natural convection (passive cooling) was used to cool most components, while many modern components require more effective active cooling. To cool these components, a fan is used to remove the hot air from these components.

Fans connected to the components are often used in conjunction with heat sinks to increase the area of the heated surface that is in contact with the air, thereby improving cooling efficiency. Fan control is not usually an automatic process.

The computer’s BIOS (basic input/output system) can control the speed of the computer’s built-in fan system. Users can even supplement this function with additional cooling components, or connect a manual fan controller with a knob to set the fan to different speeds.

Applications of Computer Fan

After getting some basic information about the PC fans, this part will list some applications of the computer fan.

Case Fan

Fans are used to pass air through the computer case. If the surrounding air is too hot, the components inside the case will not be able to effectively dissipate heat. The case fan can be placed as an intake fan to absorb cooler outside air through the front or bottom of the chassis (it can also be sucked in on the internal hard drive rack), or exhaust warm air through the top or rear.

Some ATX tower cases have one or more other vents and mounting points on the left side panel, in which one or more fans can be installed to blow cold air directly to the motherboard and expansion cards because the motherboard and expansion cards are one of the biggest heat sources.


Although the power supply (PSU) contains fans with few exceptions, it is not used for case ventilation. The hotter the air intake of the PSU, the hotter the PSU. As the temperature of the PSU increases, the conductivity of its internal components decreases. The reduced conductivity means that the PSU converts more of the input electrical energy into heat (heat).

The cycle of increasing temperature and decreasing efficiency continues until the PSU overheats, or its cooling fan rotates fast enough for the PSU to be adequately supplied with relatively cool air. The PSU is mainly installed at the bottom of modern PCs, with its dedicated intake and exhaust vents, preferably with a dust filter in its intake vent.


The CPU fan is used to cool the CPU (central processing unit) heat sink. Effective cooling of concentrated heat sources such as large integrated circuits requires a heat sink, which can be cooled by a fan. However, using a fan alone does not prevent the small chip from overheating.

Graphics Card Fan

The graphics card fan is used to cool the heat sink of the graphics processing unit or the memory on the graphics card. These fans were not necessary on older graphics cards due to their low power consumption, but most modern graphics cards designed for 3D graphics and games require their dedicated cooling fans.

Some cards with higher power may generate more heat than the CPU (dissipating up to 289 watts), so effective heat dissipation is particularly important. Since 2010, graphics cards released have either an axial fan or a centrifugal fan, also known as a blower, turbo, or squirrel cage fan.

Chipset Fan

The chipset fan is used to cool the heat sink of the northbridge of the motherboard chipset. This may be necessary when the system bus is significantly overclocked and consumes more power than usual, but otherwise, it may be unnecessary. As more features of the chipset are integrated into the CPU, the role of the chipset has been reduced and the amount of heat generated has also been reduced.

Bottom Line

To sum up, this post has introduced what the computer fan is. The computer fan is used to draw cooler air from outside into the computer. What’s more, you can know its multiple applications.

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