Case Fan vs CPU Fan

Case Fan vs CPU Fan: All Differences Explained

When either building or dissecting a PC, you’ll come across multiple fans. Since CPU and case fans look the same, it can get a little confusing. But with enough information, you’ll understand the differences easily. 

So, what are the differences between a case fan vs CPU fan

A case fan is used for the ventilation of a PC. On the contrary, CPU fans are only meant to cool the CPU. There are differences in fan headers dedicated to the case and CPU fans. CPU fans are almost 3 times expensive than the case fans. You’ll need more case fans compared to CPU fans in a PC. 

You can barely live with one and ignore the other one. So it’s much better if you know everything about these two types of fans. 

That’s why stay with us for more information on the case and CPU fans! 

Case Fans vs CPU Fans: Basic Differences

When building a new PC, it’s easy to be confused about the fans. Since case fans and CPU fans are almost identical, it’s hard to tell them apart. 

That’s why some users often wonder about using case fans as CPU fans. It’s because people often don’t understand chassis fan vs case fan

Here are all the differences that you’re looking for

AspectsCase or Chassis FansCPU Fans
Primary UsageVentilation CPU Cooling
Fan HeaderCHA_FAN or SYS_FANCPU_FAN 
Speed ControlRequires a Controller or Motherboard SoftwareBIOS Settings or Third-party Software
Maximum Amount in a PC 3 to 6 Fans1 to 2 Fans
RGB YesSpecific Aftermarket Models
Speed1400 to 1600 RPM2500 to 5000 RPM
Noise GenerationLessMore
Availability Can be Bought SeparateOnly comes with a CPU Cooler
Price$8-15$50-80

Are the differences a bit clear than before? 

Case Fans vs CPU Fans: Comprehensive Discussion

If you’ve gone through the table and are still confused, no need to be worried. We have elaborated further on all categories and compared them head to head. 

Simply sit back and read through all the categories. 

Price

One always checks the price of something while buying something. Thus it becomes a major buying decision influencing factor.

These two types of fans are indispensable in a build. So, in reality, you can’t possibly ignore one and go for another. However, there is a huge price gap between these two types of fans.

The case fan price is almost 3 times lesser compared to the CPU fan. You can get a good quality case fan in the range of $8-15. Whereas, it’ll cost you about $50-80 or more while get a CPU fan.

There are some factors that make the CPU fan this pricey. One of them is their usage, and our next topic is about that factor too. So, let’s get into that!

Primary Usage

Although identical, the major difference between the two fans lies in the usage. That’s why we’ve put this category at the very top before others. 

Source: 10scopes

People being new to computers often ask- are case fans and CPU fans the same?

Case fans and CPU fans may look the same. But they aren’t the same because they have two different tasks. Case fan ensures ventilation and CPU fans solely exist to cool the CPU. 

A PC case has lots of components depending on the usage. High-end PCs contain a strong processor and a strong graphics card. These components run really hot and generate extreme heat. 

That’s why a cooling system is a necessity for a PC case. But the cooling systems aren’t so simple.

First, we have the case fans or the chassis fans of the PC. These fans’ only job is to ventilate the PC. By securing airflow, you get to keep the PC cool. 

In simple words, these fans create a constant airflow inside the PC case. This way, the heat dissipates really fast. 

The case fan sizes also differ; 140mm and 120mm fans are the most used ones. For example, comparing 3x 120mm fans with 2x 140mm fans is nothing new. 

Unlike case fans, CPU fans have only one job in the system. And that is keeping the CPU cool. Because a processor always stays under load and that’s why it generates heat constantly. 

Because of that, the CPU requires a cooling system on its own. The CPU fan comes with a cooler that connects to the CPU via the heatsink. 

One thing that PC users often wonder is, can case fans be used as CPU fans? 

The simple answer is no. Because a CPU fan is connected to a CPU cooler that cools the processor. It’s better to use the cooler intact instead of placing the case fan by yourself. 

CPU fans rotate counterclockwise to get rid of the heat. Thanks to the cooler, a processor can stay under 65 or 70 degrees celsius. 

Too much heat can ruin the processor chip. It can also throttle the overall performance. That’s why a CPU fan is super essential to keep the PC stable.

Speaking of case fans, here are some great case fans you can get-

Product NamePrice
ALSEYE PC FansGet it Now!
upHere White LED Case FanGet it Now!
ID-COOLING ZF-12025-PINK Case FanGet it Now!
uphere 3-Pack Computer Case FanGet it Now!
be quiet! Pure Wings FanGet it Now!

You may need to get multiple case fans depending on the PC system. But at least one case fan is needed per system. 

Speed

The difference in speed is also very noticeable between these two fans. This attribute is also co-related with their usage.

Because the case fan needs to ventilate the air that’s inside the casing. This doesn’t require much speed. Thus case fans have an average RPM of 1400 to 1600.

However, the task of the CPU fans is not this easy. Because it has to keep the processor in the range of 60-70 degrees celsius. That’s why it requires itself to rotate from 2500 to 5000 RPM.

This also makes the CPU fan a lot louder compared to the case fans.

Fan Header

Another huge difference between case and CPU fans are the headers they connect to. There are different fan headers on motherboard for the case and CPU fans. 

If you take a look at your motherboard, you’ll see a bunch of headers. Some of them are named CHA_FAN or SYS_FAN. 

Likewise, you’ll also find some headers named CPU_FAN. 

The case fans are considered system fans. Modern motherboards have at least 4 SYS_FAN headers. If you don’t see an SYS_FAN header, look for CHA_FAN instead.

Some of them also have only one case fan header. But it’s barely possible to run your PC with one case fan. That’s where the fan hubs come in.

If you only have one case fan header in your motherboard, then pick any of these fan hubs. You’ll be able to run multiple case fans using this without any issues.

Fan HubsPortsPrice
Fancasee 4-Pin PWM PC Fan Hub1 to 5Order Now!
ARCTIC Case Fan Hub1 to 10Order Now!
DEEPCOOL FH-10 Integrated Fan Hub1 to 10Order Now!
SilverStone PWM Fan Hub1 to 8Order Now!
ThreeBulls PWM Fan Hub1 to 5Order Now!

Here’s an example of a total of 6 fans running using fan hub and some splitter cables.

Unlike CHA_FAN or SYS_FAN, there are only 2 CPU_FAN headers maximum. This is pretty self-explanatory as a CPU only has one CPU fan at the time. 

But some CPU coolers have 2 CPU fans which may require 2 CPU_FAN headers.

Speed Control

This is another aspect where both fans differ. Both case and CPU fans can be controlled but the method is different. 

The case fans can be controlled in two different ways. The first is by using a controller, this controller can be bought separately. 

I normally use Noctua NA-FC1 to control my Noctua fans.

Or you can use the motherboard software that comes with your motherboard. 

Case fan controllers are quite cheap in the market. Since motherboard software is free, it’s better to use that instead.

On the contrary, CPU fans speed can be modified via BIOS setting. You can also use it as a CPU fan speed monitor

Open the BIOS settings and look for the hardware monitor. You’ll find the settings there. 

There’s another way to tweak the CPU fan speed. You can use certain third-party CPU fan control software to modify it from a PC. 

Final Verdict

If you’ve come this far, you already know both of them are equally important. If you’re still wondering- case fan or CPU cooler, the answer is both. 

You’re going to need both fans to have a stable system. Without a CPU cooler, your processor will be at risk. 

Likewise, without case fans, your PC will run really hot which will throttle performance. To keep the performance pristine, don’t forget to clean the computer from time to time. 

FAQs

Do case fans help cool CPU?

Yes, case fans help cool the CPU but indirectly. CPU fans connected to a CPU cooler keeps the CPU cool primarily. But that’s not all. Because the air still needs to go somewhere. If you use a pc without case fans, the heat won’t dissipate properly. That’s why you’ll need multiple case fans.

Is it better to have more case fans?

More case fans mean more ventilation. So, yes! It also depends on the PC case itself. If you have a front-end mesh casing, multiple fans will benefit from it. You can also set up two additional case fans at the top as exhaust. Some cases allow a user to have exhaust fans at the bottom as well.  

Are 1 intake and 1 exhaust fan enough?

This answer depends on your PC specifications. For low-end PCs, 1 intake and 1 exhaust fans are perfect. Because the PC will generate significantly less heat. But for mid-range and high-range PCs, you’ll need more fans. Usually, 3 intakes and 1 exhaust are sufficient for most PCs. 

Take Away

That was everything that we could gather on case fan vs CPU fan. Hopefully, this comparison has helped you understand the differences.

If you’re comparing CPU fans, the quality ultimately depends on the cooler itself. But on the contrary, case fans are cheaper to buy and offer multiple choices.

Finally, have a nice day!

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