How Many Fans Does a Gaming PC Need?

I don’t mean to make you panic, but if you don’t have good airflow in your PC, you could be doing some serious damage. A gaming PC runs at much higher temperatures than a regular PC, so having a good airflow is really important.

On a gaming PC, you should have at least two fans in the front of the rig and at least one at the back. That is not including component fans such as CPU or GPU fans. The purpose of the fans is to create airflow through your PC. Your front fans should pull air in while the fan or fans at the back act as an exhaust.

There are different ways of setting up the airflow in your PC. You could have a traditional fan setup with two or three fans in the front, one in the back or on the roof of your case. If you have a liquid-cooled system, things tend to be a bit different. Let’s jump into the article and find out everything you need to know.

How does the airflow work on a gaming PC?

The first thing I want to do is give you an understanding of how the fans keep your system cool. I believe that it is essential to understand why things work—understanding why often helps people understand how they work.

We need to start with the exhaust fans and the component fans. You will have fans on your components, and these do not blow onto the components, they actually act as exhausts and pull heat away from the components. If the hot air that is pulled off of your components has nowhere to go, the temperature in your system will just keep increasing.

To get rid of this warm air, you need an exhaust fan. This pulls all the heat out of your system. For this to work, you need to have a constant flow of air, and this is where the intake fans come into play. The intake will bring cool and fresh air into your system.

As you can see, everything works together, and it is almost like clockwork. A good PC builder will build a PC with optimized airflow, which not only keeps your PC cool but it also improves performance. A good cooling system also enhances the lifespan of all your components.

Does stacking fans increase airflow?

Stacking intake fans do not increase airflow; it actually has the opposite effect. When you stack fans, the front fan will interfere with the second fan. This means that less air will be pulled in the fans.

The same can be said for exhaust fans. If you stack them, the front fan will always interfere with the second one.

Can you have too many fans in a pc?

The primary purpose of PC fans is to create a good airflow in your PC, having too many, could produce worse results than having the right amount.

I wouldn’t say that too many fans are bad for your PC, it is all about how they are set up. If you have too many exhaust fans for the number of intake fans, you end up pulling too much air out too quickly.

If you have too many intake fans for the number of exhaust fans, you create a negative airflow. You will end up pulling in too much air for your exhaust to handle, and this will allow air to sit in the tower for too long.

What RPM should my PC fans be?

You want to strike a balance in airflow efficiency and noise. Your PC case fans should run at between 900 and 1000 RPM. In my experience, this is the best RPM for your case fans.

I just want to point out that your PC fans should run at the same speed as each other. This is to optimize airflow. Running your fans at different speeds could create a negative airflow.

If you arent worried about noise, you can run your fans at full speed, this only has one negative side effect. The side effect is, if you run your fans at full speed, they will have a shorter life span, but this obviously depends on the quality of your fans.

One way of looking at it could be that even though you are decreasing the lifespan of your fans, you are increasing the lifespan of your other components.

What size fans are the best?

If you are wondering if you should get 120mm or 140 mm fans but can’t figure out which is best, here is one thing you should consider.

Bigger is not always better. While 140mm fans might let more air into the case, it does not spin as fast as 120mm fans. The result of this is, with 120mm fans, you get a faster airflow through your system. The faster the airflow, the less time the air has to warm up in your case.

Liquid cooling

When you install liquid cooling into your system, it changes the structure of your cooling completely. I suggest keeping your intake fans at the front of your PC and mounting the liquid cooler radiator on top of your case. The fans on the radiator do not disrupt airflow if done correctly.

How does liquid cooling work

The basic principle is the same as air cooling; you are transferring heat away from the CPU. You mount a water block to your CPU. The water block acts as the heat sync, and heat is transferred from the CPU to the heat sync.

The heat sync transfers the heat to the liquid. The liquid then travels to the radiator, where it passes through a system of fins and tubes. The radiator cools the liquid as it passes through the fins and tubes. The liquid is then sent back to the water block, and this cycle continues and is called a “loop.”

As the radiator warms up, you need to send that heat somewhere. This is where fans come into play.

Liquid cooling radiator fans

If you have been wondering, “what does liquid cooling have to do with fans?” Let me explain.

In the process of cooling down the liquid, the radiator starts to warm up, and this heat needs to be transferred and sent out of the PC case. You will have one, two, or three fans mounted on the radiator. These are exhaust fans, and they pull heat off of the radiator. That warm air is then pulled out of the case by your main exhaust fan.

This does not affect airflow because you are not pulling more air into the case; you are using the airflow in your case that is generated by your original intake and exhaust fans.

Can a liquid cooling radiator fan act as a case fan?

I am sure the thought pattern behind this question is, can the radiator fans act as intake fans?

The answer is yes, radiator fans act as intake fans, but in my experience, it is not efficient enough for good airflow. It is better to mount your radiator to the top of your case and allow your original intake fans to do their job.


The amount of case fans you have in a PC needs to have the right balance to have a good airflow. In my experience, three intake fans with one exhaust are often the best for a well-balanced, steady airflow.

When you throw liquid cooling into the mix, some people like to use the radiator fans as case intake fans. I prefer not to do this as it is not as efficient. Basically, when you use the radiator as an intake, the air you pull into your system already starts warming up as it passes the radiator.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful. Be sure to bookmark it so that you have a reference when building your next PC.

David Sacks

I have worked in the IT industry since 2011 and have been an avid gamer my whole life. My first consoles were the sega genesis and the Nintendo SNES. I play both console and PC games, I love both. I decided to become combine my passion for gaming with my passion for writing.

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