Static Pressure vs Airflow Fans | Will Both Cool Your PC Equally Well?

Updated: June 6th, 2020By: BrantonGuidesLeave a Comment

computer fans

If you can’t figure out how to make a great selection for your PC fan, you’re not alone. Choosing between static pressure fans and airflow fans can be hard, especially if you don’t understand their differences or where to use them. However, this choice doesn’t need to be complicated. If you understand how these fans work, you can add them to your system without any worries. 

Static Pressure vs Airflow Fans - Which is Better?

If you are looking for great static pressure vs airflow fans, you’re not alone. There are tons of differences in these fans that make some of them perfect for specific builds or projects. 

When it comes to building a great PC computer, the difference between sp vs af fans will apply based on what the rest of your build contains. A PC build that requires a radiator, for instance, will be more useful with a static pressure fan instead of an airflow fan. However, an external air source from the outside of your build allowing airflow into a part of your computer requires constant cooling through the build may be happier with an airflow fan. It’s entirely up to how modern your build is -- one is not inherently more efficient than the other in every circumstance. 

Modern technology is beginning to heat up, especially where overclocking is concerned. With this in mind, you may see more and more builds that either use static pressure fans or require static pressure fans. Overclocking may heat up your system more than you are aware of, and as this becomes more popular, we’re seeing a rise in the use of static pressure fans. 

This does not mean that air flow fans don’t have their purpose, it just means that airflow fans cannot move air within the system if there is something blocking their air supply. 

Static Pressure vs High Airflow

High airflow fans are exactly what they sound like -- they push as much air as they can as quickly as possible through your build using a fan. They use larger angled blades to push air through the system. 

Airflow fans are very useful where there is no resistance, however if there is anything impeding your build, such as a tighter fit on a case, you may come into contact with some issues. Even more importantly, if your case has mesh inside of it or it comes into contact with dust, your airflow fan may create some future problems for you. 

Static pressure fans, on the other hand, are great for radiators and case meshes, and use resistance to push heat through your build. If there is anything impeding your airflow, such as blocking the air from going through the vent from behind, a static pressure fan will be far more efficient. 

Static pressure fans are very good at creating negative or positive pressure, which pulls the air through the fan and forces it to move, even if there is something in its way. It creates a vortex of air in an inverse or converse fashion, and moves the air through this pressure. 

What fan should you use?

Determining if you should use an airflow fan or a static fan truly comes down to making a decision about how much cooling you need within your build.

The best pc fans on the market are only as good as your understanding of the airflow and case fan airflow direction. 

If you have an expensive, high performing airflow PC fan setup and simultaneously not see results if you have not taken into consideration if something is blocking that air. When there is something, whether that’s your case’s wall or another piece of technology, blocking your fan, you would be better recommended to use a static fan. 

The biggest difference in fan performance is not necessarily in between airflow or static, but rather in the manufacturer that designed it. By focusing your attention to the RPMs, or revolutions per minute, the CFM, or the cubic feet for minute, and the quality of the bearings and blades as well as the airflow, you can make a more educated determination of where your fans should be placed. Great placement and a quality fan are far more important than the type of fan in that location. 

Where should you use these fans? 

If you are building a PC for yourself, knowing where to put the different types of fans will greatly improve the function of your build.

Understanding your PC airflow will really allow you to make educated choices about where to place your fans within your build. 

PC airflow is the biggest contributing factor, and ignoring it will cause your build to overheat no matter how strong of a fan you put into your system. 

Airflow fans, for instance, are great additions where there is no impedance or resistance. This means that an airflow fan would be most efficient at any location with an open mount. Your PC fan airflow direction is very important in installing these fans, as well. Are you pulling hot air out, or moving cool air in? This will determine how you place your fans. 

Your static pressure fans will be a very useful addition to any place inside of your build that has somewhat blocked airflow. These are great by radiators and GPUs, and are very good at funnelling air through the machinery within your build.

white fan

Difference in fan blade designs

There are many different fan blade designs on the market, and picking the most efficient one may seem complicated. However, it doesn’t need to be. Think about what fans move the most air. 

Fans should push the air past themselves, using the right angle in how it attaches to its bearing to really make that push. An incredibly efficient fan should sit at about a fifteen-degree angle on its bearing. This creates broad blades that simultaneously push forward while allowing the air behind it to be pulled into the fan. 

Axial fans need to be properly set up, and while the most efficient fans tend to be long and narrow, fitted into the fan bearings and edges, they should be able to be sped up. This goes for both static fans and airflow fans. Considering the RPMs of your fans should be one of your top priorities, along with the fan blade designs. 

Some fan blades come with RGB light sources, which provide interesting lighting displays that can be programmed to appear in patterns or designs. Taking these into account does not necessarily improve your fan’s productivity, but it can definitely add some spice to your personal setup. 

Air Travel Differences

Taking the computer case fan direction into account will really make a difference in how your air travels inside of your PC. Airflow fans require less pushing and may not move the air as far inherently as your static fan will. This is why they are not as useful when it comes to moving hot air away from a radiator or other heated up internal system. 

To account for your air travel differences, you will need to consider the fan’s CFM, or cubic feet per minute. This is the metric that breaks down how far the air travels when you pull it through the fan, or in other words, how powerful the fan is. A high CFM computer fan is going to be far more efficient for your system, whether it is an airflow fan or a static pressure fan. 

Airflow fans typically do not have as serious of a CFM rate, because they base the air moved based on simply applying pressure to the air, compared to static pressure fans that legitimately push the air through them.

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in tough!

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