Do You Really Need High Static-Pressure Fans In Your PC?

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Yes and No

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  • Since high static pressure fans are optimized for moving air through obstructions, your CPU cooler fan(s) must have a good static pressure rating.
  • Also, if your PC case has dust filters, you’d be better off using high-static pressure fans there.
  • Your CPU cooler fans are most likely already optimized for high static pressure and don’t need to be swapped, but it’s possible that the case fans are not.

If you’re building a PC today, especially a high-end one, you’ll need a good amount of fans in there to keep everything cool. Now, PC fans typically have three important ratings one should focus on: the RPM, the static pressure, and the airflow. High airflow fans are probably self-explanatory, but what’s up with high static pressure fans? Do you really need them in your build? 

Understanding Airflow Vs Static Pressure

Technically, both airflow and static pressure measure a fan’s ability to move air, but there’s a fundamental difference. Airflow is the air a fan can move through an open space, measured in CFM (Cubic feet per meter). Meanwhile, static pressure is the force with which a fan moves air through an obstructed face, and its common unit is mmH₂O (millimeters of water). 

Corsair iCue Link RX120 fans front
The Corsair iCue Link RX120 fans have excellent airflow and static pressure ratings! (Image by Tech4Gamers)

High-airflow fans move air through unobstructed spaces, making them ideal for use as case fans. They either dissipate hot air from your components or bring in cool air from outside. High static pressure fans, meanwhile, move air through radiators and heatsinks (and dust filters), making them best for your CPU cooler.

High-airflow fans are characterized by many narrow, curvy blades, while high-static-pressure fans have fewer, wider blades.

You Need A High Static Pressure Fan, But..

The short version is that, yes, you need high static pressure fans for your CPU cooler. But, if you have a CPU cooler from an even fairly reputable brand, it’s highly likely that it already comes with a fan with good enough static pressure ratings. Sure, you could swap out the fan(s) for some top-notch static pressure ones, but the improvements you’ll see will be sub-optimal at best.

Corsair 6500X bottom
The Corsair 6500X features a large dust filter at the bottom (Image by Tech4Gamers)

A good, high-airflow fan will benefit your case much more. The only exception is that a high static pressure fan will be better if there’s a dust filter over some intake fans inside your case (as a dust filter also counts as an obstruction). Remember that a high static pressure fan isn’t necessarily a bad airflow fan.

Take These Steps Instead

If you’re facing high CPU temperatures, or high temperatures in general inside your PC, some other actions might prove more beneficial: 

  • Get better/more fans: Consider investing in more case fans and improve airflow inside your PC case. Also, ensure the case fans you use have a decent airflow rating. If there are dust filters on the top or bottom of your case, the fans used there should be high static pressure ones.
  • Swap out your cooler: High CPU temperatures could mean that your cooler [and not the fan(s)] is inadequate for your CPU.
  • Troubleshoot your CPU cooler installationIncorrect thermal paste application (not spread uniformly) and CPU cooler installation (not seated properly and not making full contact with the CPU) could be responsible for high temperatures. 
  • Replace your thermal paste: There can be a significant difference in CPU temperatures between a good and bad thermal paste, something I put to the test.

If you’re facing temperature issues, one or more of these steps will most likely fix your problem more than a high-static-pressure fan would (except in the case I mentioned).

You Probably Don’t Need To Worry About The Static Pressure Rating Of Your Fan

There’s no need to stress about the static pressure rating of your fans if your system is running too toasty. The odds are very low that the static pressure rating of your fan has anything to do with it. Instead, one or more factors like bad airflow, improper cooler installation, or inadequate cooler (and thermal paste) are the culprit. 

However, if you have a dust filter up top or at the bottom of your case and fans set up there, the fans should ideally have a high static pressure rating. That’s because high airflow fans will not be able to deal with such an obstruction and will be rendered nearly useless in this scenario.

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