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Computer Fans

Thursday, October 18th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals
 
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Q:
I have a quick question about the fans in my computer. I’m not sure if they’re working properly. Can you give me some information on how they should be acting? Thank you for your help!

A:
That is an excellent question and I’m so glad you asked! I’m sure you’re not the only one who has ever wondered about this either. So, in a sense, I’ll be taking care of two birds with one stone by helping you and everyone else who reads this tip. I love it when it works out that way! Well, let’s not waste any more time and get right into it. Go!

I know every computer is different, but most of them usually have a heatsink fan and some case fans. All of the fans work to keep your computer protected so that it does not overheat or become inoperable. Let’s start with an explanation of the heatsink fan.

Basically, the heatsink fan usually works right along with your CPU and it helps monitor the motherboard, video card and any other circuit boards that may work with your computer. The heatsink fan should always be blowing any heat away from the components I mentioned above. Its main purpose is to give the heat an escape route out of the computer case so that it doesn’t damage any of the circuits inside. For example, if your motherboard was hit with too much heat, it’s possible that it would stop working. And well, you need the motherboard to be able to use your computer, so you don’t want that to happen!

So, while the heatsink fan is doing its job of blowing the air out, the case fans are working just as hard. How your case fans work depends on how your chassis is set up. Chassis is just another word for your computer case. It’s the housing unit that holds all of your computer’s components together. So, depending on how yours is laid out, the case fans will either be blowing the air out or sucking it in. Allow me to explain this a little more!

If your computer case only has one fan, it will more than likely be located in the back. In that case, the fan will be blowing hot air out. Now, another common configuration is to have one fan in the back and another in the front. In that instance, the fan in the back will be blowing hot air out while the fan in the front is sucking cooler air in. By default, your computer case brings cool air in from the front, because it’s not constrained and it’s more of an open area. So, once that cool air is sucked in by the front fan, it’s blown out by the back fan once it’s heated up. Interesting, huh? It’s like this:

If you’re still a little confused, all you really need to remember is if your computer case has two fans, one should always be sucking air in while the other is blowing it out. That’s the best configuration to use to keep your computer in proper working condition. The heatsink fan then will always work on its own to blow hot air out, because it works in such close conjunction with all the major components of your computer.

That’s it. Now you know exactly how the fans work for your computer. Who knew there was so much going on inside that little case?!

~ Erin

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