How to Install a Desktop Computer Cooler Fan

Written by matthew smith
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How to Install a Desktop Computer Cooler Fan
Computer cooler fans increase airflow to draw hot air away from important components. (Scythe Inc)

A modern personal computer creates heat when operating. That heat must be moved away from crucial components, such as the processor and video adaptor, to insure that the computer will continue to operate reliably. Desktop cooling fans, also known as desktop case fans, are key to improving airflow through a computer and keeping heat from building up.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PC case with an open fan mount
  • Case fan of matching size
  • Molex power connection
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Open the PC case. Most cases will have a left side panel which swings or slides open and is secured by screws on the back of the case. Remove the screws and remove the left panel. If the panel seems to be difficult to open, it may have a latch or a locking mechanism. The manual which came with the PC often provides instructions for opening the case.

  2. 2

    Locate an open case fan mount and determine its size. The most common place to find a free fan mount is in the front or the rear of the case. A case fan mount is simply four screw holes drilled into the case in a box pattern with an area for ventilation between the screw holes. Measure the distance between the screw holes from top to bottom to determine the size of the mount. Mounts are measured in millimetres. The most common sizes are 80mm, 92mm and 120mm.

  3. 3

    Place a proper sized case fan over the fan mount and align it with the screw holes in the case while making sure that the intake side of the fan is facing outward (for an intake) or facing inside the case (for an exhaust). It may require a fair amount of force to secure all four screws. Make sure that the fan is screwed tightly to the case, as any vibrations between the fan and case will cause additional noise.

    How to Install a Desktop Computer Cooler Fan
    Many fan mounts are nothing more than holes drilled into the side of the case.
  4. 4

    Connect the fan to the computer's power supply. This usually is done by a Molex connector. A Molex connector is a long, flat 4-prong connection common in computers. However, some fans can connect directly to the motherboard through the use of a small 3- or 4-pin female connector. Motherboards have matching male connectors which are typically labelled as CASE_FAN or SYS_FAN.

  5. 5

    Switch the fan to the speed desired if it provides a manual fan speed selection switch. With the case of the computer open, but with hands clear of the case (to avoid any electric shock hazard), plug the computer in and turn it on for about five seconds to make sure the fan is spinning and that air is moving in the direction desired. Shut the computer off and reassemble the case.

Tips and warnings

  • Try to balance intake and exhausts. If a the computer already has one exhaust fan but no intake, add a fan at the front of the case to bring in fresh air.
  • Smaller fans will make more noise than larger ones because they must spin faster to move the same amount of air. Install the largest fan size possible when adding new case fans.
  • Always be certain that a computer is unplugged before opening it. Working on a computer which is plugged in is an electric shock hazard.
  • Small static electric shocks can cause harm to computer components. Discharge static electricity by touching a grounded object before working on any computer.

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