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How Long Do PC (Case) Fans Last?

Fans keep everything cool. They’re absolutely essential for a healthy PC to stay healthy.

So, when shopping for some new case fans, how long can you expect those fans to last, and is there anything you can do to extend their lifespan?

How Long Do PC (Case) Fans Last?

Case fans last between 5-10 years. Their life expectancy depends on the fan quality, whether they’re maintained or not, and how often the fan is running. Just because a PC case fan still works doesn’t necessarily mean that it shouldn’t be replaced.

PC case fans are built surprisingly well, and generally do not give up without a fight. Some people still use fans that they bought a decade ago. Whether that is a good idea or not is debatable, but the point is that, generally speaking, fans have a long shelf life.

Even cheap fans can last 5 – 7 years before they start making noises and stop cooling the PC down as well. Most of the time, when a fan is giving out, it’s due to the bearings wearing down which will cause them to become louder and less effective.

How Often Should Your Replace Your PC Fans?

You should replace cheaper PC fans every 3-5 years and more expensive fans every 5-10 years. Even cheap PC fans have a pretty long shelf life, but if your fans start making a lot of noise, or you notice that your hardware is running hot, it’s probably time to upgrade.

When determining how often you should replace your fans, you’re also going to want to think about how often your fans are running. If you are using your PC 24/7 (not just idling in sleep mode, but running programs), then your fans are going to wear out much faster.

In that case, you may still end up seeing 5+ years of use out of your fans, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them after that 3 year mark.

On the other hand, if you just game for a few hours everyday and let your PC idle or turn it off the rest of the day, then you’re probably not going to need to replace them for almost a decade. Either way, if your fans start yelling at you for running easy-to-run programs and games, it’s probably time to replace them.

How Long Do PC Fan Bearings Last?

PC fan bearings last from 5-10 years depending on how well they’re maintained and how often the fans are running. If you dust your fans regularly and do not run them at 80%+ capacity 24/7, then you should get 7+ years out of your fan bearings before they need replaced.

When the time has truly come that your fan bearings fail, you will know. The rattling and noise coming from your fans will be undeniable. However, you’ll probably want to replace them before that point in order to be proactive.

If you dust your PC often and stop the dust from building up on your fans, then you won’t have to worry about your bearings for a long time (10+ years). Of course, this depends on the model of your fans, but even cheap models can make it to 7 years if treated right and if they’re not ran 24/7 most of the year.

Why Do PC Fans Fail?

Case fans fail due to the moving parts wearing out over time. Most models have a guaranteed spin life estimated by the manufacturer that will tell you how many hours a fan will last while spinning at full capacity. After that amount of time, the components will start to wear out and break.

Generally speaking, when moving parts are involved, the reason a component fails is due to that moving part. For fans, it’s usually not worth it to get into the nitty gritty of things and fix them up because it’s easy and inexpensive to simply replace them.

Dust is the enemy of components like fans, as well. So if a bunch of dust and grime builds up on the fan bearings, then they’ll be more likely to break. This is why it’s so important to keep your fans (and your PC) clean by air dusting it once every month or two. 

How To Make PC Fans Last Longer?

To make PC fans last longer, keep them clean by air dusting them every couple of months. On top of keeping them clean, make sure that they are not running at full capacity 24/7. You should run them at 30-40% most of the time, unless your PC is getting too hot, then let them run at full speed.

Most fans are rated for the number of hours they can run at full capacity. This number is typically extremely high. Even cheap fans might see 5+ years running at full capacity nearly 24/7. However, if you want your fans to last longer, the best thing you can do for them is to limit how often they run at 100%.

30% is a great target to aim for, and if you can hit that target most of the time when you use your PC, then your fans are probably going to last over 10 years as long as you also keep them clean. Of course, this will depend on the brand and build quality of the fans as well.

How To Tell When Your PC Fans Are Going Bad?

Fans generally get louder when running a highly demanding game or even installing certain software. However, if your fans are getting excessively loud from just idling or doing something very simple, then they are probably going bad. Monitor your temperatures too, as a bad fan will not cool your PC as well.

Noise is the most common symptom of a PC fan going bad. However, noise alone won’t tell you anything since some fans are just noisy. If your fans used to be fairly quiet while using your PC, but now they’re extremely loud just from watching a YouTube video, then there’s a problem.

On top of the noise, monitor your temperatures to see if your fans are still doing their job. If your fans are getting loud while you play a game, but all of your temperatures are in check, then everything is working as expected. However, if your PC is running very hot, despite your fans, then it is probably time to replace them for your PC’s safety.

👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.