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 an example of a fan on a heat sink.
The speed of a fan is measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM and the higher the RPM rating, the faster the fan spins. However, in many cases, the higher the RPM rating, the louder a fan may be.
Types of fans found in a computer
Below is a listing of the different types of fans used in a computer.
- Case fan - a fan on the side of a computer case, inside the case. It helps circulate air in the computer case, and blow 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 or graphic-intensive tasks.
How to install a fan
Nearly all case fans are attached to the front, back, or side of a computer case using four screws, snap-in brackets, or both. If the case fan is being installed on the back or side of the computer case, most often, you 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 should come with the screws needed for installation.
You do not need to install drivers for a case fan to function.
The steps to install a CPU 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 come with a built-in heat sink, and the whole unit connects to the motherboard.
Refer to the instructions that came with the CPU fan for the proper installation steps. Make sure to follow the installation steps very 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 controls the speed of the CPU fan based on the temperature of the CPU.
Power supply fan
A power supply comes with a fan built into the unit, so there is no need to install a fan inside a power supply. 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 need to 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 need to replace the video card to prevent it from 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 usually causes one or more of the components to overheat. When a component overheats, it can cause physical damage. To help prevent damage, most of today's hardware automatically turn off or restart to help prevent the damage.