Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope

Fan may refer to any of the following:

1. When describing a person, a fan is a person who enjoys another person (influencer), product, or service. For example, someone who grew up using an Apple computer may be a fan of Apple products.

Computer heat sink with fan

2. A fan is a hardware device that keeps the overall computer or a computer device cool by circulating air to or from the computer or component. The picture is a fan on a heat sink.

The speed of a fan is measured in revolutions per minute or RPM (revolutions per minute), and the higher the RPM rating, the faster the fan spins. However, in many cases, the higher the RPM rating, the louder a fan.

Types of fans found in a computer

Below is a listing of the different types of fans inside a computer and the computer hardware components that require fans to function correctly.

  • Case fan - a fan on the side of a computer case, inside the case. It helps circulate air in the computer case and blows hotter air out of the case.
  • CPU fan - a fan on top of a computer processor. It helps pull and blow hot air off the processor, helping keep it cooler.
  • Power supply fan - a fan located inside a power supply. The power supply fan blows hotter air out of the power supply and out of the computer.
  • Video card fan - a fan on a video card. It helps keep more powerful video cards from overheating, especially when playing video games, editing videos, and other GPU (graphics processing unit) or graphic-intensive tasks.

How to install a fan

Case fan

Nearly all case fans are mounted (attached) to the front, back, or side of a computer case using four screws, snap-in brackets, or both. If the case fan is installed on the back or side of the computer case, use four screws to secure the fan in place. Case fans installed in the front of a computer case may be attached using snap-in brackets or screws, depending on the type of computer case. If the case fan is new, it comes with the screws needed for installation.


Adding a fan to a side of the case with no mounting brackets or screw holes requires the case to be physically modified to accommodate the fan.


You do not need to install drivers for a case fan to function.

CPU fan

The steps to install a CPU (central processing unit) fan can vary widely, depending on the type of CPU fan, CPU, and motherboard. Some CPU fans attach directly to the heat sink, and the heat sink is then attached to the motherboard. Other CPU fans have a built-in heat sink, and the whole unit connects to the motherboard.

Refer to the instructions with the CPU fan for the proper installation steps. Follow the installation steps closely and carefully to ensure the CPU fan is installed correctly and facing the right direction for proper airflow.


You do not need to install drivers for a CPU fan to function. The computer BIOS (basic input/output system) controls the CPU fan based on the temperature of the CPU.

Power supply fan

A power supply comes with a fan built into the unit. If the fan in the power supply unit stops working, you can try cleaning it out using compressed air to see if that resolves the issue. Otherwise, you must replace the entire power supply unit.

Video card fan

Higher-end video cards come with a built-in fan, so there is no need to install a fan on or inside the video card. If the fan in the video card stops working, you can try cleaning it out using compressed air to see if that resolves the issue. Otherwise, you must replace the video card to prevent overheating.

What if a computer has no fans or the fans stop working

Unless designed to work without fans, a computer with no fans or bad fans can cause one or more components to overheat. When a component overheats, it can cause physical damage. To help prevent damage, most of today's hardware automatically turns off or restarts to help prevent damage.

How many fans are in a computer?

With computers and fans, there is no standard to how many fans may be in the computer. Most desktop computers often have at least four fans (one case fan, CPU heat sink fan, power supply fan, and video card fan). It is also not uncommon for computers to have an additional front case fan to help with the airflow. However, a desktop computer can also have no fans if it uses liquid cooling.

With a laptop, there are usually only one or two small fans because of their size, with limited space inside the laptop case.

Case fan, Cooler pad, Fanboy, Friend, Hardware terms, Heat sink