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How Many Case Fans Should a Gaming PC Have? – According to Professional Gamers

by  Karina -  Last updated on May 26, 2021

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If you are familiar with the world of video games, chances are you have heard of gaming PCs and their potential to bring your simulative experiences to the next level. What may not be known to you is the important function that fans can play as a core component to the internal build of your rig, and how many are needed for a successful build.

The minimum required number of fans a gaming PC should have is 3.

Here is a list of information that can help you make the right choice for your gaming setup.

Why Are Gaming Fans Important?

Gaming PCs consist of powerful and intense technical components that allow them to deliver the quality and superior gaming experience that are lost on traditional consoles.

GPUs (graphics processing units), CPUs (central processing units), and many other internal components work constantly and at high power levels providing top quality simulations to run in real-time through a video output.

All of this power generates lots of heat that builds up in the chassis, and there are only a few ways to get it out: fans or liquid cooling. The latter is the more expensive option leaving fans to be the more affordable and common method of cooling.

Here are a few reasons why cooling is necessary for your PC build:

  • May compromise gaming capabilities by reducing framerate and resolution output.
  • Allows for your PC to run faster, especially if you plan on overclocking the CPU.
  • Has the potential to damage internal components with consistent use.
  • Reduces the longevity of your PC increasing the frequency of upgrading.
  • May create excess heat around the area where your PC is located.

With gaming fans placed properly inside your PC unit, all of these risks are virtually erased.

How Gaming Fans Work?

Any gaming PC device that runs hotter than 173° F (78°C) is highly recommended to have at least 3 fans pushing that hot air out of its exhaust.

Placed at different locations around the inside of the casing (instructions below), the 3 fans push hot and potentially damaging hot air, generated by the motherboard and GPU, outside of the unit.

This heat is replaced by more fresh and temped air that will eventually heat um the same way and subsequently face the same fate. This cycle allows your PC to run at full capacity, providing the best gaming experience your components are possible of, and never reach a state of overheating.

What If There Were No Fans?

A PC build without a fan would cause the internal heat inside the PC’s enclosed case to reach levels that may start to melt plastic internals and potentially ruin the most important parts that make your unit operational.

Most contemporary and more recently manufactured CPUs and GPUs, made within the last 5 years, possess a built-in temperature gauge that automatically shuts them down if they reach certain levels.

Although this failsafe may save your components from damage, it is highly problematic and not a sustainable solution for those who play for long periods at a time.

What Fans Are Needed?

Like mentioned before, at least 3 fans for your gaming PC will provide enough relief from hot air to avoid compromising your user experience.

An intake and outtake function between fan air paths helps push out hot air and replace it with cooler air.

There are many makes and models of gaming PC fans on the market that vary widely in price. And although all of them essentially perform the same function, many provide different features that may be important to you.

Below are a few things to think about when looking for gaming PC fans:

  • What is your price range?
  • The noise level of each fan.
  • Different types of bearings.
  • Different speed settings and power.
  • Level of airflow provided.
  • Are they aesthetically in line with your PC build theme?
  • What sizes do you require?

The Cost

Depending on a few factors like what type of PC build you have, what kind of games you play (and how long), and how much money you have in the bank determines what PC Fan is right for you.

Below are three different price ranges for gaming PC fans and what cost to expect.

Low-Price Range

Buying on a budget can be tough, but if you know exactly what your minimum needs are then saving a few bucks by opting for a lower end, but a plausible fan is a reasonable choice for many. With around $45 to $55, you’ll find yourself in this bracket.

The minimum equipment needed at this price range is:

  • A 120mm intake fan is placed in the front end.
  • A 120mm exhaust fan is placed in the backend.
  • A 120mm intake/exhaust fan.

Mid-Price Range

Perhaps your budget is a bit more modest, but you’re still cognizant of not spending too much on a fan. Nearing the $95 to $125 range, here is the equipment that would fit your needs:

  • A 120mm to 140mm intake fan is placed in the front end.
  • A 120mm to 140mm exhaust fan is placed in the backend.
  • A 120mm to 140mm exhaust fan is placed on the top of your unit.

High-Price Range

Once you broach the $145 to $175 price spectrum, you’ve entered the big leagues. This investment level can give you the freedom to maximize your fan’s capabilities and features. If you’re a hardcore gamer who spends hours and money on the best equipment available for your build, then this may be the best choice for you:

  • A 140mm to 200mm intake fan is placed in the front end.
  • A 140mm to 200mm exhaust fan is placed in the backend.
  • A 140mm to 200mm exhaust fan is placed on the top of your unit.
  • An OPTIONAL intake fan is placed on the bottom of your unit (for maximum airflow).

The Bottom Line

Gaming PCs offer the best video game experiences available on the market. With upgradability and long-term use in mind, gaming PCs can blow consoles and other forms of gaming out of the water.

All this power comes with a cost, and if you aren’t careful, you may create unsustainable conditions for your specific PC build. A basic gaming system needs at minimum 3 fans to keep things cool.

Choosing the proper gaming PC fan is paramount to keep your internal components, gaming performance, and wallet in reasonable conditions.

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