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Air Cooling: "High Airflow" Fans or "High Static Pressure" Fans?

I looked through Tom's and while I found multiple diagrams on how to position fans with regards to direction of intake/outtake, I didn't find a single place that discussed the two main types of fans and in particular, the different specific applications for both types. Because this is very important to get right in order for your cooling system operating correctly, I decided to clear this up so that no one else has to wonder, "Did I choose the right fan type?!"

For some of us, this is a no-brainer. But to others, it may as well be speaking Greek. What's the difference in these two fan types? Does it really matter which one I use and does one perform better than the other? The answer to "Does it really matter which fan type I use" is, "YES!"

These are questions that I once asked myself when I was relatively to building my own computer. Unless you do decide to build your own computer, you probably do not ever run in to a situation that you need to know the answers to these questions. But if you do decide to build your own computer like the vast majority of us here on Tom's has done, these are valid questions that you will face when deciding on the fans that you want to complete your build. And as it turns out, these are VERY important questions that you need to answer correctly in order for you to get the most out of your cooling system.

So now that we have determined that there is an important difference in the two types of fans, lets start discussing that difference and how it applies to your decision to purchase one fan type or the other.

We'll start off with "High Air Flow" fans. As the name implies, they are a fan that is designed to deliver the most possible "cubic feet per minute", or CFM. Their job is simple: Move as much air as possible. Some good examples of "high airflow fans" includes:

*Case fans
*Intake fans
*Exhaust fans
*Unrestricted spaces

Now we're left with "High Static Pressure" fan types. The definition: Static pressure is the measure of how well a fan can push air in a highly restrictive environment. These fans work best with and are intended to use:

*On radiators
*On heatsinks
*Drive bay intakes
*Anywhere that the fan is mounted directly adjacent to the heat source
*Restricted space

Now that you're aware of the difference between the two main types of fans, you can choose the correct fan(s) for your particular needs. For those of you who are in need of a good brand of fan to purchase, my personal recommendation is Noctua and Corsair. In general, both make very good products. But to satisfy any doubt that you have, I encourage you to post in the forums and ask for others opinions as well. We are all here to help one another. Happy building everyone!
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