Which is the Best Place to Install a Case Fan? – Part 1

How We Tested

We tested different positions for the case fan using a Core i5-2500K, which is a quad-core CPU with a 3.3 GHz clock and a TDP of 95 W. This CPU was overclocked to 4.5 GHz (increasing the multiplier to x45), with a core voltage (Vcore) of 1.1 V.

In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We used a Thermalright True Spirit 120 CPU cooler, with the thermal compound that comes with this cooler. Click here to read our review for this cooler.

We used the Cooler Master Elite 430 case, which has the power supply at the bottom, and has the possibility to install case fans at the rear, top, front, side, and bottom panels. We didn’t test the fan at the bottom panel because our power supply was too deep and wouldn’t allow this installation. We removed the stock fan from the case before testing.

The fan used in our tests was the SilverStone FM123. We chose this fan because it is very strong, always spinning at 2,700 rpm.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
  • NTFS Filesystem

Software Used

Error Margin

Since both room temperature and core temperature readings have 1°C resolution, we adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Author: Rafael Coelho

Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.

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