What is The Proper CPU Cooler Fan Direction? [Read this!]

Written By Farhan Max

Your new PC cooler just came in and you have figured out the installation process. The only question on your mind right now is:


What is the proper CPU cooler fan direction? 

The proper CPU cooler fan direction depends entirely on what kind of airflow you want. Generally, the direction should be set in a way so you can draw in the air using the case fans at the front while the fans at the back of the case will do the opposite.

Worry not, as you are not the only person out there who has been asking the same question. I, a tech enthusiast,  am going to answer that and provide you with everything you need to know.

So, without wasting any time, let’s get straight into the main topic. Make sure to not skip any part because each and every section will be important for you at some point. Also, grab yourself a coffee or tea so you are wide awake when reading this.

Does The Fan Direction For The CPU Cooling Make A Difference?

I would say that yes, the fan direction is one hundred percent a very important factor for CPU cooling. It’s common knowledge that the air flow inside the case and through to the outside is very important.

The CPU cooler is an integral part of the computer, and that is exactly why the fan needs to be set up in such a way so that the airflow is optimal.

For context, let’s take an Intel factory cooler as an example. The airflow in that is downwards through the heat sink and then out in every direction in your case.

On the other hand, in a CPU cooler with a vertical arrangement like the Hyper Evo 212, the air is pushed through the fans and then you will have to point it towards the back of your case.

This is because, most of the time, the hot air coming off the cooler will probably be evacuated with the help of an exhaust fan at the back.

Another very common method is to pull the cool air into the chassis by keeping the intake fans at the front of the chassis. The cool air is then picked up by the cooler and it usually gets heated up and then finally, it will just get exhausted out.

Now, this isn’t the only way to do things. If you wanted, you could switch up and use the back for the intake and put the exhaust fans at the front, and then find the right orientation.

One thing to keep in mind while positioning the fans is to never point fans at each other in the opposite direction as the results would probably end up being unstable or inefficient.

Hence, if you are wondering which way you should point the CPU cooler, then the best place to point it is the exhaust fan.

For more details on airflow and fan direction, check out our complete PC airflow optimization guide.

What Direction Should The Heatsink Fan Face?


Your heatsink fan should face the direction opposite of your CPU. In other words, you have to make sure the front of your CPU fan is facing the back of the heatsink. This is because it is pushing cooler air between the blades and out the back.

Moreover, the air flow in a case is at the best level when it is from front to back. If your case flows the heat from front to back, then the heat leaving your CPU should probably also flow out the back.

There are countless cooling variations available but every variation has either one of the two types of airflow. The two types of airflow to cool the heat sink are:

  • Forced Cooling – In this case, the cold air is pushed on the heatsink solely for the purpose of cooling.
  • Induced Cooling – This is the scenario where the hot air is drawn from over the surface of the heat sink which allows the space to be filled with fresh cool air and that results in cooling.

Now, you must be wondering how do I know when which method is most suitable?

Induced cooling is best used when the air input to the surface is very limited and the surface that needs to be cooled is small.

Forced cooling, on the contrary, is recommended to be used when there is more potential to bring in a lot of fresh air from outside and also if the surface to be cooled is quite large.

How Often Should You Dust Your Fan?

It is extremely important that you dust your fan at least once a week. Don’t forget to turn off the fan before checking for dust on the blades and housing. Making sure your fans are clean will actually boost your CPU performance as well.

I’m saying this because no matter what position you put your fans in, you will still need to clean your fans from time to time. You could have your fan in the world’s most optimal position and it would still manage to get filled with dust without proper maintenance.

You can minimize the amount of dust getting accumulated by making sure that the air flowing into the case is passing through a filter first.

Most of the cases have these filters and they are removable as well so you will be able to clean them very easily with a quick rinse.

All you have to do is just make sure to clean these filters every few weeks or so. If you leave your filters dirty and unmaintained, it will have a negative impact on the air flow and cooling power.


Question: Should AIO fans be intake or exhaust?

Answer: Intake is better for the surface that needs to be cooled by the AIO. The same cannot be said for the system. The CPU performance won’t degrade as long as it’s below the throttling range.

Question: Is positive or negative airflow better?

Answer: You should aim for somewhat positive pressure. Negative pressure would suggest that air is getting sucked into your case due to many tiny gaps that you can’t control, which means less efficient cooling over time.

Question: Do GPU fans push or pull?

Answer: Well, generally, you will find GPU fans pull air into the heat sink. A few coolers come with the ability to simply expel the hot air outside the case. Some cards expel the hot air back into the case.

Question: Can you mount a CPU cooler sideways?

Answer: Yes, that is definitely possible and is pretty common nowadays so you have nothing to worry about.

Question: How tight should you screw CPU cooler?

Answer: All you have to do when tightening screws is just make sure they are quite snug. You don’t really want to overtighten them.

Final Thoughts

Many people ignore a very important step when installing their CPU cooler and that is installing the CPU cooler fan in a very optimal position.

Thankfully, you are not one of them and I hope you know exactly which position to place your fan in now.

If you are interested in more tech guides and fixes, make sure to visit our homepage to get all your confusion cleared.

About The Author
Farhan Max is a tech geek with a particular interest in computer hardware. He's been fascinated by gaming since childhood and is now completing his undergraduate studies while researching and testing the latest tech innovations. Alongside his love for all things geeky, Farhan is also a skilled photographer.

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