Graphic processing units (GPUs) are getting more powerful with every version that is released. While having a powerful GPU is great and produces better performance, it also produces more heat. An important aspect of GPU cooling is understanding how the GPU cooling works, and whether GPU fans are intake or exhaust.

When building a PC, it is crucial to have proper cooling to ensure that the components function at optimal levels. Graphics processing units (GPUs) generate a lot of heat, which must be dissipated efficiently to prevent damage to the card. GPU fans play a vital role in cooling the graphics card, and one of the most common questions asked by PC enthusiasts is whether GPU fans are intake or exhaust. In this article, we will explore this question and provide an in-depth understanding of how GPU fans work.

What is a GPU?

The GPU, which stands for Graphical Processing Unit, is one of the most critical components of a gaming computer. Without a graphic card, your PC won’t be able to run any games. A GPU is specifically designed to render 3D graphics and generating the stunning visuals that we see in modern computing and gaming.

While a graphic card can do all these amazing things, it also creates a lot of heat while working. GPU manufacturers are always researching how to keep them cool. However, with graphic cards always getting more powerful, they’re also generating more heat.

You may have noticed that running a demanding game will heat your GPU significantly. That is because the GPU is working heavily to render those sweet graphics. This is why a GPU always has cooling fans, so that it can reduce the graphic card’s heat.

Types of GPU fans

When it comes to GPU fans, there are two primary types to consider: blower fans and open air fans. Each of these fans has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice between them will ultimately depend on the user’s specific needs and requirements.

Open Air Fans

Source: Amazon

Open air fans are designed to draw in air from outside the case and expel it directly onto the heatsink of the graphics card. The primary advantage of this design is that it can provide more efficient cooling than blower fans, as it allows for greater airflow over the heatsink.

Another advantage of open air fans is that they tend to be quieter than blower fans. This is because they are designed to work at lower RPMs while still maintaining proper cooling. Additionally, open air fans tend to be more affordable than blower fans, as they are simpler to manufacture.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using open air fans. One of the biggest downsides is that they can create negative pressure inside the case, which can lead to dust buildup on the components. Additionally, open air fans can be less effective in small form factor builds, as they require more space to operate properly.

Blower Fans

Source: Amazon

Blower fans are enclosed in a shroud so air cannot be vented out from all directions. These fans are designed to pull in cool air from the surrounding and expel it from only one direction. This helps to cool the graphics card and improve the overall airflow inside the computer case. These fans are usually installed in small form factor builds where space is limited.

One of the advantages of blower fans is that they can cool the graphics card efficiently, even in cramped spaces. The shroud design ensures that the hot air is expelled directly out of the case, which helps to prevent the heat from building up inside the computer case.

However, blower fans are not as efficient as open-air fans in cooling the graphics card. The shroud design can restrict the airflow, which can cause the graphics card to run hotter than with an open-air fan. Due to their inefficiency, blower fans operate at very high RPMs. This tends to generate quite a lot of noise, so if you’re looking for a silent GPU, a blower fan GPU isn’t for you.

Are GPU fans important?

Yes, GPU fans are extremely important, unless the GPU is water-cooled. If a GPU is not water-cooled, the fans can not be removed. Without fans, a GPU will overheat within seconds of working. Since GPUs tend to generate a lot of heat, the more fans it has the better. This will keep your GPU cooler and will be able to handle heat better.

A gaming GPU usually comes with two or three fans. There are single fans GPU, however, they won’t be able to handle a lot of heat. Picking a triple fan graphic card is the best way to go in terms of heat management.

Are GPU fans intake or exhaust?

GPU fans are intake, so as to pull cool air and keep your GPU cool while gaming. The cool air is then dispersed throughout the GPU and the hot air is pushed out.

Airflow of AORUS RTX 4090
Airflow of AORUS RTX 4090 – Killer Gaming

When installing a new GPU in your gaming PC, it is important to know how the air flows. If set up correctly, you shouldn’t have any problems with your GPU overheating.

GPU fans are intended to be placed facing down. The direction of the air flow should be clear by the text on the side of the GPU. Taking the AORUS RTX 4090 as an example, the AORUS logo on the side of the GPU should be the correct way up. This way the GPU fans will be facing down to pull the cool air into the graphics card.

Are Graphics Card Fans Required to Always Spin?

No, GPU fans are not required to always spin. GPU fans will start spinning whenever they are required to. If the GPU does not need cooling down, the GPU fans won’t spin. They usually start spinning when your GPU is under heavy load. That is why you’ll notice that your GPU fans start spinning when playing a game, or maybe rendering 3D animation,

If your GPU fans do not start spinning while playing a game, its probably because the GPU hasn’t reached a high enough temperature to start cooling down yet. Most GPUs nowadays come with dedicated software to control the fan speed and the preferred temperature. I usually set my GPU fans to start spinning as soon as possible, and then pick up the pace as the temperature gets higher.

Final Thoughts

GPU fans should be facing down, so that they can cool air is pulled from down below and hot air is vented out. A triple fan GPU is best to keep your GPU at a lower temperature and keep it from overheating.

It is absolutely crucial to take care of your GPU by making sure that your GPU fans start spinning as soon as the GPU gets hot. Without working GPU fans, your graphic card will overheat as soon as it starts working.

Categories: Blog

Tim Jones

I've always been fascinated with computers and gaming setups, and have spent countless hours tinkering with hardware and software to improve my gaming experiences. With 10 years of experience in PC building, and countless hours of gaming, you can be rest assured that our reviews are as thorough as can be!


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