It’s quite hard to understand all of the components of a computer as there is a lot of internal and external hardware attached to it to make it work. There are many moving parts on a computer build, too, like the fans installed in it, and it’s quite confusing for users to understand Sys fan vs CPU fan, and that’s our topic for today.

Sys Fan vs CPU Fan? What are their Differences

In short, a system fan maintains the airflow in the case and makes all of your components cool down so that there will be no overheating issue in them. While at the same time, a CPU fan cools down the heatsink or CPU block installed over the processor to maintain its temps.

In almost every motherboard, there are headers to power up these fans, and they allow you to change the fan speed, check out their RPM, and a lot of other things, which we will discuss below.

System Fans

System fans, known as case fans, are used to ventilate the computer case. These fans are used to intake and exhaust air from the casing.

The location of these fans could be on the top, bottom, front, or backside. In a computer case like Fractal Design Meshify C, you can install three 120mm fans on the front side while at the same time there is space for two 120mm fans on the top.

Most other casings don’t allow this simultaneous installation of fans on the two sides simultaneously.

The exhaust fans are usually located on the top or backside of the casing because these are the most suitable place to get warm air out of the case. While the intake fans are located at the front of the bottom side of the case and in most builds, the bottom side also comes with vents for the Power Supply Unit fan.

There are white case fans that you can use if you are making a complete white gaming build. While if you are following the trend and making an RGB build, you can consider RGB case fans that will make your build aesthetically appealing.

Many well-known casings also come with bundled RGB case fans, which are worth considering as you can save some money on them and get their job done without any problem.

CPU Fans

At the same time, a CPU fan is used to cool down the heatsink installed over the processor socket as it dissipates the heat from the CPU block and needs cooling.

Some builds use liquid coolers which don’t have a CPU fan installed over the socket, but they must be on the radiator, which is installed in place of case fans.

Some coolers like Hyper 212 come with a single CPU fan, but some high-end coolers like Noctua NH-D15 or Deepcool Assassins III come with two CPU fans for better cooling.

Like the case fans, you can have RGB CPU fans, but it depends on your cooler whether they come with it. Also, there can be simple CPU fans without any lightning or fancy stuff for non-RGB lovers.

The headers for CPU fans usually come with 4-Pins, and the reason behind that is you need to check whether your fan is working or not. Also, you may need to overclock your CPU to increase FPS so that you’ve to change the fan speed.

Can I Run the System without Sys or CPU Fans?

There must be a common question in your mind can you run the system without the sys or processor heatsink fan? I know, and that’s why you are reading this guide to get an answer to this query.

Without Sys Fan?

You can play games in your build without the sys fans, but there is a risk of damaging hardware as when gaming or putting loads on the hardware, they will get heated up in the case and need some cooling or airflow.

However, if you got an open case that is not packed from all sides and the air can go inside and get out of it, there will be no problem using your computer without the sys fans.

Without CPU Fan?

My answer will be NO, as you need a CPU fan to cool down the heatsink so that you can play games and put some load on the processor.

Though if you are using a low-power processor, then a good heatsink cooler will be enough for you as it will be able to dissipate much heat. And as you may have sys fans installed on your build, they will cool down the inside of the case, so there will be no problem.

Final Words

In short, a sys fan is used to maintain the airflow in the case, and the CPU fan cools down the heatsink and is installed over it. You can run your system without sys fans, but it will be slightly hard for you to run the computer if you don’t have a CPU fan.

We’ve made dedicated guides on many CPU coolers to be easy for you to decide between them. In addition, we’ve made guides on system fans too, don’t forget to check them.

Kevin Penson
Love to build gaming rigs, play games and do benchmarks on them and write about them. That's all that I've in my hobbies.