Poll: How big is your CPU fan?

As CPUs have become more power efficient, the fans used to cool them have grown in size. That might seem counter-intuitive, but it speaks to a new focus on lowering the noise output of modern PCs. Larger fans are capable of moving more air at lower speeds, offering the potential of improved cooling and quieter acoustics.

Over the last decade or so, the CPU fan in my own rig has doubled in size from 60 mm to 120 mm. And I’d go bigger if the case would allow it. So, what about you? How big is the CPU fan in your primary desktop? If you’re running a water-cooled rig, go with the size of the fan strapped to the radiator. You can cast your vote over on the right column on the front page or after clicking on the comment link below.

In our last poll, we dipped into the realm of PC audio and asked how much you spent on your best PC speakers or headset. It pains me to report that 20% spent $50 or less. No wonder some folks can’t tell the difference between integrated audio and a good discrete card. Among the rest, 21% paid between $51 and $100, which is enough to get quite a nice set of headphones. 17% spent $101-150, while 12% shelled out $151-200. Another 12% dropped between $201 and $300, and an impressive 20% spent even more. Fortunately, most of our readers have discerning ears.

Comments closed
    • Cannyone
    • 9 years ago

    My Swiftech Edge has 2x 120mm fans, and not in “push-pull”. Course these on not technically “on my CPU”…

    • deinabog
    • 9 years ago

    My CPU cooler fans are 110 mm (Zalman’s CNPS 8700 NT).

    • fantastic
    • 9 years ago

    Greater than 80 and less than 120mm, so I’m guessing 92mm. It came with the HS and isn’t loud with the motherboard controlling the fan.

    • Thesprunk
    • 9 years ago

    120mm in a Coolermaster V8

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    Running a Delta tri-blade fan 92mm (3000RPM) paired with an Alpha PRE9045 heatsink. It keeps my Q6600 B3@3.0Ghz at 60-63C when fully loaded (Prime95).

      • willmore
      • 9 years ago

      Two 120mm fans on a Danger Den radiator on my Q6600 @ 3.2 GHz keeps it under 50C on Prime95. I’m never going back to air.

        • puppetworx
        • 9 years ago

        One 120mm Scythe Slip Stream 1900rpm keeps my Q6600 @ 3.6GHz under 50C at load using a Themalright IFX-14 heatsink. Have some cardboard ducting in there too though with a 120mm Scythe S-Flex Exhaust fan. Too messy and about 10db too noisy for most though.

    • Prestige Worldwide
    • 9 years ago

    Used to rock a Noctua NH-U12P with 120mm fan, now using several fans on radiators on a custom water loop.

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    Fanless Atom N330. šŸ™‚

    • parasite66666
    • 9 years ago

    IĀ“m running a six-fan (6x140mm) combo on a car radiator in a watercooling loop – somewhat oversized for a 125W quadcore and a 108W GPU.
    But: it allows for some overvolting and overclocking, giving me a 20 – 25% performance increase over stock clocks.
    Plus: The whole thing is temperature regulated, so it

    • tdizzle
    • 9 years ago

    hyper212+ 120mm fan on low, my hard drives are louder than my fans

    • jackbomb
    • 9 years ago

    60mm on a Pentium III-S @ 1.8GHz
    80mm on a Pentium M 780 @ 2.82GHz
    120mm on a S939 Opteron X2 185 @ 3.2GHz.

    • ReAp3r-G
    • 9 years ago

    Stock Intel C2Q Q8300 heatsink which I think is 80 or 90mm (I voted 80). Quite capable of keeping noise levels down considering I overclocked it.

    • Arominus
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve got a Zalman CPNS-10 Quiet on my I7 940, not the best there is but still it works really well even @ 3.8ghz.

    • Bauxite
    • 9 years ago

    I’m guilty, NH-14 on one box with fans on slow, H70 in another.

    • mav451
    • 9 years ago

    120mm – P12 Noctua. Paired first with the TRUE, then my CM212+.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    Much like in mech warrior, i run passive… on my phenomII x4 with a zalman flex block. the quieter the better.

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    Because I do not overclock (it’s already hot enough out here in the desert), the stock cooler that came with my Phenom II X4 works plenty well.

    On my next build, however, I would give serious consideration to one of those nifty water cooling setups that are self-contained.

    • mongoosesRawesome
    • 9 years ago

    Efficient vs. fan size is a strange way to think about it. Certainly CPU’s have become more efficient, but this is more because their “speed” has increased, while their power envelopes have roughly remained constant.

    Stated slightly differently, a more efficient CPU may actually require more cooling. Such is the case with the core i7’s. They are very efficient but they also draw a lot of power.

    However, I think the main point you were getting at, that fan size has increased over time regardless of power draw of the CPU, remains true and shows that consumers like their PCs cool and quiet.

    • jstern
    • 9 years ago

    How should I know Connie?

    • RagingDragon
    • 9 years ago

    Dual 120mm Noctua fans on a TRUE black. I remember buying copper Thermalright heatsink, one of the first to support the ovesized 80mm fans! That was on a (now dead) Athlon XP1600.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    With a big enough heat sink, i5-670 doesn’t need a fan (no case fan either)

    • Zenith
    • 9 years ago

    Running an archaic Thermalright XP-120 with a 120mm fan sped down to almost silent on my stock Athlon X2 5000+.

    • A_Pickle
    • 9 years ago

    A Xigmatek HDT-S1284 with a Scythe SFF21E 120mm fan with the silent Sony Fluid Dynamic Bearing is cooling my AMD Phenom II X6 1055T.

    Geek sentence of the day acheived.

      • Lans
      • 9 years ago

      I have same cooler and fan but different CPU (Phenom II X4 955, which actually runs hotter than X6). The only time I might have heard fans was on close to 100F summer days… Fan is currently spinning at ~610 RPM which seems to stay that way even when I run games. šŸ™‚

      • willmore
      • 9 years ago

      Only dual here, but water cooling is a huge step up from air cooling. My next step is to remove the radiator from the case and build a filter/fan/radiator assembly. It should be even quieter as it allows me to hide the fans behind an arbitrary number of baffles. Of course, I’ll need more fluid in the system….

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Big enough that the ladies have never complained.

    (And by ladies, we all understand I mean CPU thermal sensors, right?)

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve been rocking a Scythe Ninja Rev B for several years now – it is the oldest component in my system by a long shot. It is excellent, but more recent models have been catching my eye a bit lately. Edit: with 120mm fan.

      • anamericangod
      • 9 years ago

      Upgraded from one of these to a Thermalright Silver Arrow and I couldn’t be happier.

    • willyolio
    • 9 years ago

    I have one of the large, multi-heatpipe towers, no fan. The airflow through the case is enough to keep the CPU cool.

    • plasticplate
    • 9 years ago

    Mine is BIGGER than yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      • parasite66666
      • 9 years ago

      Mine come in a SIXPACK!!!!!!!!!
      ^^

      • jpostel
      • 9 years ago

      Mine goes to 11

    • DrDillyBar
    • 9 years ago

    Mine is 110mm apparently. Zalman.

    • mnecaise
    • 9 years ago

    I voted 120mm; but, it’s really a case fan that happens to line up with and blow air past the copper heatsink on my cpu.

      • Buzzard44
      • 9 years ago

      I have a CPU fan and a case fan that aligns that way. I am very fortunate the setup is like that, because my CPU fan died, but the case fan pulled enough air that I didn’t even notice for perhaps as long as 4 months (not sure exactly). Only noticeable effect was about a 3*C temperature rise. I’ve since replaced the CPU fan, so I’ve got my redundancy back.

      Luckily a 45nm E8400 doesn’t get very hot anyway.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Which am I supposed to pick? I’m using the liquid-cooler block that hooks up to a radiator at the back of the PC. There’s a large case fan that cools the radiator.

      • emorgoch
      • 9 years ago

      Paragraph 2, sentence 5.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    Anyone remember those crazy 7200rpm CPU fans that were somewhat popular in the Athlon T-bird era? Really noisy.

    • bhtooefr
    • 9 years ago

    My primary “desktop” is my ThinkPad, which has the stock cooler with a 40 mm or so fan.

    The desktop that sees the most processing load is my ancient Dell P3 box, which has the stock cooler with a 40 mm fan, IIRC.

    The desktop that gets the most desktop-like use (the P3 runs as a headless server) would be an even more ancient Acorn RiscPC, which is completely fanless (they did come with fans from the factory, but mine’s in an A7000 case, and the fan was putting juuuuuust enough load on the (slightly undersized for a RiscPC) PSU to make it unstable, and the system runs cool,) and the CPU isn’t even passively cooled. (Just a plastic TQFP 233 MHz StrongARM.) Next would be the Apple IIGS, which has a 40mm fan… but it’s on the PSU, the CPU isn’t passively cooled. (A PLCC 14 MHz 65C816S, running at 12.5 MHz.)

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    I have a 100mm fan on my Scythe Mini Ninja, but unfortunately I don’t see that option šŸ˜‰

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Have H5O, but hated to fan, so I got the Scythe fans – the high CFM ones – have loved them every since.

      • RickyTick
      • 9 years ago

      Corsair H50 FTW

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 9 years ago

        I’m using a Scythe SY1225SL12H-P for one of the fans on the Corsair H70.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    AMD stock cooler. 70mm fan. I always intended to replace it, but since I don’t overclock, I’m having a hard time caring.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    Stock Intel C2D E6300 heatsink. I don’t overclock (the system wouldn’t boot), so I don’t care.

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 9 years ago

    I honestly don’t recall, the Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU on my tower has the stock Intel cooler on it and it has been fine. I have no doubt that it will continue to serve me well in the years ahead.

    • moose17145
    • 9 years ago

    Well… I HAD a nice pair of those 5.1 turtle beach surround sound headphone dealies… but two of the wires leading to two of the speakers in the right ear cup broke off at the speakers. I have yet to solder them back on or figure out which wire leads to which speaker. Those cost 75 off the egg at the time.
    I was a bit saddened when i saw that the X-Fi ExtremeMusic sound card (or any of the actual X-Fi series for that matter) was not included. Maybe the two cards reviewed would have beaten it, idk, but the inclusion would have been nice since it was mentioned that the two main camps seem to be the Xonar and the X-Fi, so having at least one from each party seemed like it should make sense to me. Also the reason i bring it up, is i (and i am sure a few others) tend to recycle components. I had that X-Fi from my old P4C build (and the abit ic7-g mobo had a truly horrid built in sound card) and i saw no reason to throw it away when i built my i7-920 rig, so i reused it. It was a perfectly good sound card still, after all.
    Also… i will never spend really huge dollars on amazing sound setups anymore. One, i just can’t afford it, but my ears are not the greatest sadly. Years of working around construction sites and loud power tools have taken their tole on my hearing (at the ripe old age of 24 sadly… so I’m not looking forward to hearing how bad it’s about to get in another 20 years). I can hear the difference between a truly horrid sound card / speakers and a decent sound card / speakers fairly easily… but the extreme subtle tones and things you guys were listening for in your review… things like that i simply just no longer have the hearing to distinguish anymore. :-/

    As for my cpu fan, i am running one of those big 120mm zalmans. Seems to get the job done fairly effectively. I need to take it off and replace the thermal goop though.
    Ā§[<
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118046<]Ā§ Thankfully i only paid about $55 for it back when i bought it a year ago.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    Don’t know, don’t care. I’m unlikely to see 50C with the stock Intel HSF, and I have it locked at a very low speed. My friend’s X6 doesn’t exceed 45C running the wPrime stress test, and I didn’t hear the fan crank up, either.

    The ginormous HSFs that have been cropping up as of late seem a bit behind the times in application, and more of an attempt to add some sort of flashiness to the lack of interesting things going on with CPUs and overclocking. They’d have been more useful during the Q6600 craze. You know, when CPUs actually still got hot. :p

    • countcristo
    • 9 years ago

    I have to say that I can hear the difference between amazing speakers/headsets, but I just don’t have the money to spend on a “great” pair of cans/speakers. I do mostly gaming and so I use a Steelseries headset and cheapo logitech 5.1 speakers for movies. I guess at retail price they cost 60 and 100 respectively, but I paid 22 and 44 respectively for them during deals because I’m a college student.

    On topic, I have a stock cooler, but if I had the money I think I’d go with the Noctua D14s or the Zalman CNPS xxxx latest edition.

    • Waco
    • 9 years ago

    Water cooled here – 6 120mm Nidec Beta V fans (the triple bladed ones) running at < 5 volts for damn silent operation. Having to kick-start them with the fan controller is a bit annoying (and thankfully I have enough radiator that passive cooling is *almost* viable) but the near-silent computing is wonderful and worth the hassle.

    EDIT: I am running an old Q6600 at 3.5 GHz and a 4870X2 in the loop…most of the noise came from the 4870X2 pre-watercooling.

    • Buub
    • 9 years ago

    Yup, forgot water cooled!

    Edit: OK so you want me to read the entire post. Man, your requirements are stringent!

    As compensation, I offer my sound setup: Old SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum (yes I mourn the loss of Aurreal) output into a Klipsch ProMedia 5.1 system that I paid $500 for back in the day. It still rocks the entire house when I turn it up.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      edit: replied to the wrong post.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      Rocking the entire house and sounding good are entirely different concepts that not many people grasp well.

        • Dashak
        • 9 years ago

        Did he say it was audiophile quality? No.

        • Buub
        • 9 years ago

        OK, they sound really great while rocking the entire house. šŸ™‚

    • maxxcool
    • 9 years ago

    2 x 240 mm fans

      • Jigar
      • 9 years ago

      What kind of heatsink is that ? I am using Thermaltake Ultra 120 and it’s sandwiched by 2 120mm fans.

        • maxxcool
        • 9 years ago

        its the (2) 900 rpm fans that run air gently through my radiator šŸ™‚ ….

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    Freezer cooler 7 pro I picked up for $17 bucks when the Canadian dollar above US back few years ago. In fact, I built my whole PC in that time and boy it was cheap.

    • Jigar
    • 9 years ago

    2X 120 MM here.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t have a desktop. I have a passively cooled iPad and a 15″ MacBook Pro. I do keep toying with the idea of building a ‘cheap’ desktop PC for $400-500 to play some games, but I always come back to ‘why? i have a 360 and a ps3, and a discrete graphics chip in my laptop if I want to play.

    • ClickClick5
    • 9 years ago

    Woo! I’m the only passive? Sweet!

    I have the Scythe Mini-Ninja covering my Q6600 running at 2.7Ghz and with the cooler alone, my cpu temps never push past 58c. Only if I run the computer in a really warm (some 90F+) environment will it exceed 60c.

      • cobalt
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve got the Silverstone NT06 smooshed up against the PSU fan in the SG04 case, so I couldn’t decide whether to vote for passive or 140mm. So instead I answered 92mm for the Zalman CNPS9500 in my HTPC.

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    I have a Mac Pro, so I have two MASSIVE heat sinks and some really big fans. Super quiet.

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    my cpu is water cooled…. pls add the option

      • Dissonance
      • 9 years ago

      pls read the post šŸ˜‰

      “If you’re running a water-cooled rig, go with the size of the fan strapped to the radiator.”

        • willyolio
        • 9 years ago

        I’m also running a water-cooled setup with no fans. =)

          • LawrenceofArabia
          • 9 years ago

          Then thats passive šŸ™‚

        • clone
        • 9 years ago

        I’d say it was passive but that would be stupid, it’s not passively cooled, it’s water cooled using a pump to pass water across the heatsink.

        hence the applied term water cooling and not fan cooling, if the water was recirculated by heat and was not pumped artificially then passive cooling I guess could be applied but by adding a pump to the assembly that pulls away the heat much like a fan does on a heatsink passive no longer applies.

        if the fan is the only component in a computer that cools or matters then yes by these criteria it’s passively cooled by water….. lol.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This