When it comes to personal computers, cooling is a tremendously critical factor. Without sufficient cooling, the components inside your case can overheat, causing severe damage. For most of us, the solution lies in air cooling through the use of intake fans. Over the years, PC cases have increased in the number of fans, but which case can hold the most fans?
The Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D is one of the largest PC cases, with the capacity to house up to 18 fans and four radiators. A computer case’s “form factor” will determine the maximum number of fans it can accommodate, with ATX full towers having the most and mini-ITX cases the least.
Eighteen fans is a lot of cooling power, but is this normal, or is Corsair a bit over the top? What is the minimum amount of fans needed? Are there other PC cases that are comparable to the Corsair ‘beast’? And if this is the most, what is the least amount of fans?
Understanding PC Case Fans And Why Not All PCs Are Made Equally
When choosing a computer case, it is not a simple as “which one accommodates the most fans.”
Yes, fans are great for cooling off a high-performance system to ensure the longevity of your components; however, the number of fans is not the be-all-and-end-all of your decision.
PC cases come in three different size categories (form factors). They are full-tower, mid-tower, and mini-ITX.
These cases are each designed for a specific purpose and will cater to a different user accordingly. Due to the fact that these cases are not all the same size, the total number of fans which they can house also differs.
PC cases are also regularly grouped according to the size of the motherboard they can house.
These groups are:
Standard Form Factor Motherboards
These include mid-towers (ATX) and full-towers (ATX and E-ATX).
Mid-towers usually have around four fans, while full-towers (and super towers) can have anywhere up to 18 fans.
Small Form Factor Motherboards
These are the Micro ATX motherboard cases, designed for slightly smaller components (especially when space and budget are factors) compared to mid-towers, and require only two fans, one intake, and one exhaust.
Very Small Form Factor Motherboards
These cases are for minute PCs and are generally home entertainment systems. They are Mini ITX motherboards.
These tiny PCs only support one fan.
As the name would imply, these cases are designed to run quieter than some of their counterparts. They are also generally mid-towers or full-tower cases. They do, however, typically run at hotter temperatures.
Some Of The Top PC Cases In Terms Of Numbers Of Fans
In the table below, we compare some popular full and mid-towers regarding the number of fans, case dimensions, and price.
|Case Name||Dimensions||Number Of Fans||Cost as of 2023|
|Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D||27.4 (h) x 12.1 (w) x 27.3 (l) inches||Up to 18 fans||$500|
|Phanteks Enthoo 719||22.6(h) x 9.45(w) x 23.6(l) inches||Up to 15 fans||$210|
|Corsair Obsidian Series 900D||25.60(h) x 9.90(w) x 27.20(l) inches||Up to 15 fans||$370|
|Cooler Master COSMOS II||27.7(h) x 13.5(w) x 26.1(l) inch||Up to ten fans||$288|
|Cooler Master HAF 932||22.2(h) x 9.6(w) x 22.0(l) inches||Up to ten fans||$145 (excluding tax)|
|NZXT Phantom 630||28(h) x 13(w) x 28(l) inches||Up to ten fans||$179|
|Cooler Master Cosmos C700P||25.6(h) x 16.2(w) x 25.2(l) inches||Up to nine fans||$450|
|Antec Twelve Hundred V3||22.9(h) x 8.4(w) x 20.2(l) inches||Up to eight fans||$175-$200|
|Thermaltake ArmorPlus||24.6(h) x 9.6(w) x 23.6(l) inches||Up to six fans||$200|
|Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced||20.8(h) x 8.4(w) x 19.5(l) inches||Up to ten fans||$80|
|Rosewill Blackhawk||19.89(h) x 8.35(w) x 20.28(l) inches||Up to ten fans||$135|
|NZXT Tempest EVO Crafted Series TEVO-001BK||22.13(h) x 8.33(w) x 20.53 inches||Six fans||$120|
|Rosewill Gaming Challenger S||17.08(h) x 7.48(w) x 18.50(l) inches||Up to five||$53|
As seen above, the towers which support the most number of fans are the full-towers.
These PCs are for (not limited to) top-end gaming, video, editing, and cryptocurrency mining, where heat is the enemy and every means possible needs to be used to reduce the amount of it inside the case.
One of the PCs that stands out in this regard is the Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D. Although these cases technically belong to the “super” class, they are still oversized full-towers.
This case has the potential to support up to 18 x 120mm fans.
The locations of these fans are:
- Front panel: 8 fans
- Top panel: 8 fans
- Rear Panel: 2 fans
Although possible, this is not the standard setup. The stock version uses 13 fans which include:
- Front panel: eight fans (120mm)
- Top panel: three fans (140mm)
- Rear panel: two fans (120mm)
These cases also, however, have the capacity for up to four 480mm radiators as well.
By working together, these cooling systems can compete with almost any operating condition, both current and in the future.
Additional Factors To Consider When Choosing a PC Case And Its Fans
- Airflow vs. number of fans
Although fans contribute to the critically important cooling of a computer, the number of fans is less critical than the amount of airflow achieved within the case.
Fans do, however, play a role in the airflow, as they have a dual function. Intake fans pull cold air into the case, while exhaust fans push hot air out.
140mm plus, fans, however, are generally able to pull more air in than smaller fans, at a quieter noise level.
This means that fewer fans of more significant size are more effective than more numerous, smaller fans.
- The shape of the case you are purchasing is also essential when it comes to airflow.
Larger cases have more room for air to move around (circulation), whereas less spacious cases trap hot air on components for longer, allowing them to heat up, which could cause breakages/malfunctions.
- The location of the fans and how they work together further play a role in airflow.
A minimum of three fans for sufficient airflow is recommended.
These fans should be positioned so that the air intake fan is at the bottom or front panel. This results in the most amount of cool air moving into your pc.
If your PC has a side panel for a fan, then that should be an intake directed onto your CPU/GPU for dedicated cooling.
An exhaust fan is recommended to be either on the rear of the PC or at the top. This helps to maximize cold air coming in and hot air moving out.
Any additional fans follow this process but allow more significant air volumes to move through the PC case.
- Liquid cooling has gained popularity over the two decades.
The benefit of this system is space is less of an issue. Water pipes can be placed in areas which air may struggle to reach, plus the case does not need to accommodate such big fans.
Water is also believed to be 30 times quicker in removing heat from components. Many experts feel that liquid coolers are the future of computing.
The Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D can support an astounding 18 fans, making it one of the biggest fan “houses.” However, fan numbers alone are not the final authority of PC cooling. Sometimes it helps to have fewer, bigger fans to increase the amount of airflow through a case. You could even decide to move to liquid cooling, which, one day, may very well be the standard practice in personal computers.