Are CPU Coolers Intake or Exhaust?

When it comes to computer hardware, cooling is an essential factor. The central processing unit (CPU) generates a lot of heat and if left unchecked, can result in reduced performance or even permanent damage.

One way to keep the CPU cool is by using a CPU cooler, which is an appliance designed to remove heat away from the processor. One common question when using such a cooler is whether it should be placed as an intake or exhaust device.

In this article, we’ll investigate the various types of CPU coolers and how they can be utilized to efficiently cool a CPU.

Types of CPU Coolers

There are various types of CPU coolers, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Some popular models include:

  1. Air Coolers: Air coolers are the most common type of CPU cooler and consist of a heatsink and fan. The heatsink is an aluminum block with fins that absorbs heat from the CPU, while the fan blows air over it to dissipate it. Air coolers are easy to install, inexpensive, and widely available; however they may be noisy or not as effective at cooling as other types of CPU coolers.
  2. Liquid Coolers: Liquid coolers utilize a water block, radiator and pump to cool the CPU. The water block attaches to the CPU and absorbs heat generated by the processor while the pump circulates water through a radiator which dissipates it. While liquid coolers tend to provide better cooling than air coolers, they’re more expensive and need frequent upkeep.
  3. Passive Coolers: Passive coolers do not use fans, relying solely on a heatsink to dissipate heat. Passive coolers tend to be quiet but may not be as efficient at cooling as other types of CPU coolers.

Intake vs. Exhaust

Now that we understand the various types of CPU coolers, let’s discuss whether they should be used as intake or exhaust. In general, CPU coolers should always be used as intake to draw cool air into them and help dissipate heat more efficiently than using them as an exhaust; otherwise, hot air escaping from the CPU may be recirculated back into the case and reduce overall cooling performance.

However, in certain circumstances it may be better to utilize the CPU cooler as an exhaust. If your case has limited airflow or other components that generate heat, using it as an exhaust can help remove that hot air more effectively from the case. Furthermore, consider how your case is oriented and where exactly your CPU cooler sits within it; if it is near an exhaust vent then using it as an exhaust may be more beneficial.


CPU coolers are essential for keeping the CPU cool and functioning optimally. While it’s generally best to use a CPU cooler as an intake, there may be situations when an exhaust may be more beneficial. When deciding whether or not to utilize a CPU cooler as either an intake or exhaust, take into account your system configuration as well as component cooling requirements.

As the founder and owner of this website, I am an enthusiastic computer software and hardware enthusiast who takes pleasure in troubleshooting and solving computer-related problems. With MTech & BTech degrees in Computer Science & Engineering under my belt, I have worked in this field for over 12 years now. Through my career I have acquired a vast amount of knowledge regarding various computer topics such as software, hardware, and programming - knowledge which I love sharing with others to help people gain more insight into this exciting world of computers!