Reduce Cooling Fan Noises

Generally, larger fans can move sufficient air while spinning slower, creating less noise.

Computer components create heat as a byproduct of their operation. A computer’s cooling fans keep the components from overheating by pulling in cool air from outside the computer or pushing out hot air from inside the computer. The noise they make can be annoying, especially if the computer is in the living room or bedroom. Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of them (unless you’re willing to deal with complicated, unwieldy solutions like water cooling), but you can minimize the noise each fan creates.


1. Check the amount of space between the back of the computer and surface nearest it. There should be at least 5 to 6 inches. Since the fans expel hot air out the rear of the computer, inadequate space will cause heat to build up behind and inside the computer, which will cause the fans to spin faster and louder. Reposition the computer if necessary.

2. Open the computer’s case according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Heatsinks are commonly found on the processor, RAM, graphics card, and a motherboard chip called the “northbridge.”

Spray air from the can into each fan until it is free of dust. Dust can prevent fans from working quietly and efficiently. Also spray any heatsinks (metal surfaces which help dissipate heat) because dust acts like an insulator, trapping heat in heatsinks and causing the fans to work harder.

4. Turn on the computer. Check the fans. They should be spinning freely, and there shouldn’t be a grinding or rattling noise. If any fan is not spinning well or is making such a noise, make a note of it.

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5. Turn off the computer. If any fans were spinning slowly or poorly or were grinding, rotate their blades with your finger. If there is any resistance, the fan may have reached the end of its life and thus requires replacement. If any fans were rattling, check if they’re mounted securely to the case.

6. Unmount one fan by unscrewing the screw in each corner. Remove it from the case.

7. Fit a silicone gasket into place on the side of the fan that will be against the case. The gasket will dampen the vibrations from the fan, preventing them from being transferred to the case where they would become noise.

8. Insert a silicone mounting pin through each of the four mounting holes from the outside of the case. You may have to wiggle the pins to get them through.

9. Line up the fan’s four screw holes with the pins. Press the fan onto the pins while wiggling the pins until they pop into place.

10. Repeat steps 6 through 9 for each remaining fan except the processor, graphics card, and power supply fans.

11. Close the case.