Want cooler and lag-free PC experiences but don’t know a thing about installing PC case fans or case fan sizes? You’re not alone. Most of the chips and processors inside modern-day PCs generate a lot of heat. Unless these components receive active cooling, they’re unable to remain stable. For example, most Intel and AMD processors start malfunctioning when CPU temperatures reach over 212°F.
If your PC’s processors are demanding more heat dissipation, installing new case fans can help meet those demands. To do that you’ll need to learn what PC case fans are, the different PC case fans sizes, and which CPU fan size is ideal for your PC set-up. Don’t worry, I’ve answered all of these questions in great detail. Keep reading.
Do you have a particular question about case fan sizes? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we'll cover:
- What Is A Case Fan?
- How Many Fans Are Typically in a Desktop Case?
- Types of PC Fans
- Standard Computer Fan Sizes
- How to Measure PC Fan Size?
- What Size Case Fans Do I Need?
What Is A Case Fan?
A case fan, i.e., a system fan, is an essential PC component that comes attached to the front/rear of the PC’s chassis. These fans help regulate the heat within the PC by circulating hot air away from PC components and cool air towards them. Standard PC cases typically come with at least three built-in system fans: two intake fans and one exhaust fan.
But, the three-fan configuration might not work for everybody. For instance, let’s say you’re an avid gamer. Your PC case may not have fans configured to promote GPU cooling. That’s when you’ll need to install third-party intake or exhaust fans to ensure your PC case pulls in enough cool air. Here’s an example of how PC case fans look like:
How Many Fans Are Typically in a Desktop Case?
Three: two intake fans and one exhaust fan. This configuration has a long history of creating the perfect airflow & dispersing the most amounts of hot air. But, that doesn’t mean it has to work for the PC case you’ve bought.
Types of PC Fans
PC fans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, designs, and even colors. From large axial fans found in most gaming PCs to small barrel-type fans designed specifically to cool processors: there’s a lot of variety in the world of PC fans. Since I can’t list them all, here are four types of fans that are commonly featured on most PCs:
- Case Fans: These fans are typically attached to the interior sides of computer cases. They blow hot air out of the cases.
- CPU Fans: These fans are typically installed on top of CPUs. They pull hot air away from CPUs, helping them stay cool, even when handling large workloads.
- Power Supply Fans: These fans are usually located inside power supplies and they blow out hot air from PCs.
- Video Card Fans: These fans are commonly found in GPU-intensive PCs. Video cards are designed to stop the most powerful graphics processing cards from overheating while performing intensive tasks like editing HD videos or playing video games.
Standard Computer Fan Sizes
Whether you’re building a beastly gaming rig or a mini workstation, the case fan sizes play a vital role in maintaining optimum temperatures inside your PC. And honestly, we’re here for the tech party, so let’s delve into the world of computer case fan sizes without any dilly-dallying. Grab your geeky glasses and let’s dive in! Standard computer fan sizes vary a lot. From compact, 80mm fan dimensions right up to colossal 200mm air-circulation monsters: there are multiple PC case fans sizes to choose from. Here’s a succinct computer fan sizes chart describing the most common CPU fan sizes and in what types of applications they’re typically used:
40mm fans are the smallest CPU fan size that’s commercially available on a wide scale. A lot of companies market these small fans as low-end CPU coolers, small PC cases, etc. 40mm fans typically run at high RPMs to provide swift cooling for specific internal components. For instance, these 40mm fans from UMLIFE run at a maximum of 4200 RPM.
80mm fan dimensions are possibly the most common. They’re found in most HTPC and Mini-ITX cases. Basically, any PC case with dimensions not big enough to fit standard 120 or 140 mm fans will feature two 80mm exhaust fans. These fans are also found in low-end CPU coolers.
92 mm Fans
These are the Goldilocks of fans for many. Not too big, not too small—just right. Perfect for those mid-tower and mini ITX builds where you can’t cram in a monstrous 120 mm fan. These fans can deliver decent airflow while managing to be quieter than their smaller 80 mm siblings.
Fun fact: A higher fan speed doesn’t necessarily mean a cooler PC. Sometimes, it simply means full power consumption and a noisy room. The 92 mm variants strike a balance, ensuring lower RPM (revolutions per minute) which translates to less noise. If your PC cabinet is of the small form factor variety, and you’re aiming for a blend of performance and peace, these might be your best bet.
120mm is the unofficial standard computer fan size for modern desktop PCs. Fans of this size can be found in super tower PC cases like the Corsair Obsidian 1000D and in super-compact cases like the Mini-ITX cases. 120mm fan dimensions are known for delivering stable performances in almost all types/sizes of PC cases.
If 120mm is the unofficial standard computer fan size for today’s desktop PCs, 140mm will be the standard computer fan size for tomorrow’s desktop PCs. These fans are growing in popularity because they perform better at lower RPMs and make less noise than their 120mm counterparts.
There are 180mm and 200mm fans in the market. But, they’re rarely used by average users. Only the largest super tower PC cases feature 180mm, 200mm, or larger fans.
180 mm Fans
Now, enter the big leagues: the 180 mm fans. Often found in full tower cases, these are for those who want their PC to breathe easy. Think of them as the bodyguards of your PC—larger in size and always on the lookout for overheating elements.
The beauty of these fans is their capacity for high static pressure. So, whether you’re looking to attach it to a radiator for liquid cooling, or you just want to maximize airflow, these fans can handle it. Although they have a higher power consumption due to their enormous size, they can manage cooling without running at full speed all the time. This means they’re also quieter despite the size.
Word of advice: Before you buy one of these cooling beasts, ensure compatibility with your PC case. Not every PC case can accommodate this fan size, and the last thing you want is to feel like you’re trying to fit an elephant into a clown car.
200 mm Fans
Finally, the titans of the fan world: 200 mm fans. These are your go-to if you’re looking to move mountains of air inside your computer without the noise of a jet engine. They have a lower RPM, yet the sheer volume of air a fan this size can move is impressive.
Now, while you might be thinking, “Why not stack two 120 mm fans instead?” It’s not always feasible. Chances are a single 200 mm fan will outperform two smaller ones, especially in airflow and static pressure. Plus, it’s less complicated to manage one fan’s speed than two.
However, as with all things grand, they’re not commonly found. You’ll typically see these in extravagant ATX full towers or specific high-end case fan models. Also, keep in mind that 200 mm fan support is rare. But if you find the right PC cabinet and have a need for massive airflow, then this is the best case fan you can opt for.
One last note before we wrap this fan-fest: Always remember the golden rule of tech – bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes, it absolutely is. Whether you’re choosing a cooler master for your PC or pondering over airflow and static pressure, always prioritize compatibility and purpose over size.
Biggest PC Fan
Currently, the world’s biggest PC fan is the Corsair 500mm fan. The fan is big enough to take up an entire panel of a large PC case and needless to say, it delivers magnificent cooling. Here’s a cool video on the record-breaking Corsair 500mm fan:
Smallest PC Fan
As stated before, 40mm fans are the smallest CPU fan size available on a wide, commercial scale. If you want fans that are smaller than 40mm, you’ll have to partner up with niche fan manufacturers like SUNON. This company specializes in manufacturing super-small fans. These fans are part of a series called “Mighty Mini” and the smallest fan in this series is 8x8mm in size.
Here’s a video demonstrating how to use the 10x10mm size (second-smallest version in the series) PC fan:
How to Measure PC Fan Size?
To collect PC fan measurements, you’ll need a measuring tape. Measure the PC case fan edge-to-edge along each side. The measurement should be in millimeters.
Method 1: Measure the fan from edge to edge
This one’s as straightforward as it sounds, but it’s important for your pc build. Lay your cooling fan flat on a table. Using a ruler or a measuring tape, measure the fan straight across its diameter, from one edge to the other. In the world of PCs, you’ll often find fan sizes like 80 mm, 120 mm, or even larger. If your fan is 120mm, congratulations, you’re rocking one of the most popular sizes in the geek world! But remember, whether you’re rocking an 80 mm fan or another size, different computer builds might need different sizes.
Method 2: Measure the distance between the screw holes
Now, if you want to dive a bit deeper into the world of PC enthusiasts (and trust me, it’s a deep, fascinating world), this method might be more up your alley. It’s particularly handy when you’re dealing with standard case fan sizes. Here’s what you do:
- Lay your cooling fan on a flat surface.
- Measure the distance between the centers of two adjacent screw holes. Most standard case fan sizes available will have this measurement. It’ll give you an idea if you’re looking at 40 mm fans or one of the three case fan sizes that are more common.
Here’s a pro tip: If you ever come across an old cooling fan and you can’t remember its size, this method is the way to go. Fans run quietly in the background, but they’re the unsung heroes of every personal computer. So, the next time you’re thinking about fans also remember, the higher the fan speed, the better. But, it’s not just about speed; factors like rpm can be automatically controlled in newer models. And hey, ever heard about high static pressure fans? They’re even seen in high-end cooling setups and can be a game-changer in smaller case designs, especially for a factor pc.
What Size Case Fans Do I Need?
Your current PC case will have at least three built-in fans. Measure these fans to get a basic idea of your PC’s cooling needs. The most common case fan sizes are in the 80 mm-140 mm range. So, expect to shop in this range. If your PC case is relatively new, it can probably fit fans with a diameter of 140mm. 140mm is currently the most-preferred case fan size.
If you need fans that are more efficient than the ones that are currently in your system, look for fans with low noise levels (Dba) and high airflow (CFM). Always look for these details on the product info pages when shopping.
Credits: Thanks for the photo to Canva.
At ipoki.com we only mention the products that we’ve researched and considered worthy. But it’s important to mention that we are a participant of several affiliate programs, including Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate ipoki.com earns from qualifying purchases.