how to connect case fans to motherboard

Welcome to our guide on how to connect case fans to motherboard. As you may know, case fans play a crucial role in keeping your PC components cool and running smoothly. However, connecting case fans to your motherboard may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to PC building or have never done it before.

In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to connect case fans to motherboard, along with some tips and tricks to make the process easier. We’ll also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different methods, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.


Before we get started, let’s first define what we mean by “case fans” and “motherboard.” A case fan is a type of fan that is typically mounted inside a computer case to facilitate cooling of the PC components. A motherboard, on the other hand, is the main circuit board that connects all of your PC components together.

Connecting case fans to your motherboard can help regulate the temperature inside your PC case, prevent overheating, and increase the life of your components. By doing so, you can also monitor your system’s temperature and adjust the fan RPM accordingly, leading to better performance and less wear and tear.

There are generally two ways to connect case fans to your motherboard: using a fan header or a fan splitter. Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to connect case fans to your motherboard.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Check your Motherboard Manual

Before you start connecting case fans to your motherboard, check your motherboard’s manual to ensure that it has the necessary fan headers. Fan headers are connectors on your motherboard designed specifically for connecting case fans.

Most modern motherboards have at least two to three fan headers, with some high-end gaming motherboards having up to six or more. However, if your motherboard doesn’t have enough fan headers, you can always use a fan splitter to connect multiple fans to a single header.

Step 2: Identify the Fan Connector

Next, identify the type of connector on your fan. Most case fans use a 3-pin or 4-pin connector, with the latter being more common amongst modern fans. The connector is typically located at the end of the cable and is labeled “CPU_FAN,” “SYS_FAN,” or “CHA_FAN,” depending on the header type.

The 3-pin connector is the older standard, and it typically only enables monitoring of the RPM and has no PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) control. The 4-pin connector, on the other hand, includes PWM control that allows the motherboard to adjust the fan speed according to the system’s temperature, leading to quieter operation and better performance.

Step 3: Locate the Fan Header

Once you’ve identified the type of connector, locate the fan header on your motherboard. Fan headers are typically located near the CPU socket, at the bottom, or around the edges of the motherboard, and are usually labeled “CPU_FAN,” “SYS_FAN,” or “CHA_FAN,” depending on the header type.

If you’re not sure where to find the fan headers on your motherboard, consult your motherboard manual for the exact location.

Step 4: Connect the Fan to the Header

With the fan and header identified and located, it’s time to connect the fan to the header. Start by aligning the pins on the fan connector with the holes on the header, making sure that the arrow on the connector aligns with the pin one on the header.

Once aligned, gently push the connector onto the header until you hear an audible click. The click indicates that the connector is securely in place and will not come loose during operation.

Step 5: Repeat for Additional Fans

If you’re connecting multiple fans and your motherboard doesn’t have enough fan headers, you can use a fan splitter to connect multiple fans to a single header.

A fan splitter is a cable that allows you to connect multiple fans to a single fan header. To use a fan splitter, connect the splitter to the header and then connect the fans to the splitter. Be sure to connect the fans according to the polarity of the cable (Red = Positive, Black = Negative).

Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Methods

Method 1: Fan Headers


:white_check_mark: Can control fan speed through PWM control

:white_check_mark: Typically more reliable and stable connection

:white_check_mark: Can monitor fan RPM and temperature through BIOS or software


:x: Limited number of headers, may require the use of a fan splitter

:x: May not be compatible with older fans with 3-pin connectors

Method 2: Fan Splitters


:white_check_mark: Allows the use of more fans than available headers

:white_check_mark: Can be used with both 3-pin and 4-pin connectors


:x: May cause voltage drop if too many fans are connected to a single header

:x: Can result in a noisy and less efficient system if not properly configured


Q1: Can I connect 3-pin fans to a 4-pin header?

A1: Yes. 3-pin fans can be connected to 4-pin headers, but they will only run at full speed and not have PWM control over the fan speed.

Q2: Can I connect 4-pin fans to a 3-pin header?

A2: Yes. 4-pin fans can be connected to 3-pin headers, but you will not have access to PWM control in this configuration.

Q3: How many fans can I connect to a single motherboard header?

A3: It depends on the current and voltage requirements of the fans you’re using and the available current and voltage on the header. Typically, you can connect up to 3-4 fans on a single header using a fan splitter.

Q4: How do I know which type of fan connector my motherboard has?

A4: Check your motherboard manual or look for the label “CPU_FAN,” “SYS_FAN,” or “CHA_FAN” near the header location for identification.

Q5: Can I control fan speed without a PWM fan?

A5: Yes. Fan speed control can also be achieved through voltage control, but this type of control is less efficient and more prone to noise.

Q6: How can I monitor fan RPM and temperature?

A6: You can monitor fan RPM and temperature through the BIOS or through software tools such as SpeedFan or MSI Afterburner.

Q7: Can I connect case fans to a fan controller instead of a motherboard?

A7: Yes. You can connect case fans to a fan controller instead of a motherboard, but make sure that the controller has enough power to run the number of fans you’re using and that the voltage and current requirements of the fans match those of the controller.


Now that you know how to connect case fans to motherboard, you can make sure that your PC components are running smoothly and without overheating. Whether you choose to use fan headers or fan splitters, be sure to follow the steps carefully and consult your motherboard manual for any specific instructions.

Remember, regular maintenance and monitoring of your PC’s temperature and fan speed can go a long way in improving your system’s performance and longevity.

If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to consult our experts at How to Connects Friends, and we’ll be happy to help.


The information in this article is provided as a general guide and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. How to Connects Friends disclaims any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage caused by the use of this article or its content.

Connector Type Features
3-Pin – Older standard
– No PWM control
– RPM monitoring only
4-Pin – PWM control
– RPM monitoring
– Quieter operation
– Better performance