When crafting a custom gaming rig, one of the most important components to include besides a powerful CPU is a graphics card. And like any other PC component, GPUs come in a vast range of sizes and designs. Different GPU models offer distinctive cooling systems that help to maintain temperatures within safe levels for the best performance.
The most common graphics card models include single fan and dual fan GPUs. While both GPU models are engineered to deliver the best performance for gaming, they vary greatly when it comes to their sizes, functionality, cooling performance, noise levels, and even pricing.
So which one should you choose between single fan GPU versus dual fan GPU? Well, to help you decide on the right one to use for your gaming rig, here’s a detailed comparison of these two graphics card designs.
Single Fan vs Dual Fan GPU: Comparison
Both single fan and dual fan GPUs have their own benefits and shortcomings. That said, let’s look at some of the key similarities and differences between the two GPU types to help you better understand which one would be most ideal for your rig.
Both GPUs are designed with cooling systems that include a fan and heatsink that help eliminate excess heat from the GPU itself and maintain ideal temperature levels.
One of the most notable differences between a single fan and dual-fan GPU is in their style of cooling. This is mainly on how the fans on both graphics cards work in removing the excess heat.
Single fan GPUs typically employs a blower-style cooling system that involves expelling the hot air from the GPU completely out of the case.
In contrast, dual fan GPUs uses an open air cooling system where air from the fans is spread over the heatsink and then released back to your PC’s casing through the GPU’s front and bottom vents. This is because it has an open design.
Before you choose the best graphics card for your rig, you need to ensure your PC chassis has enough clearance to allow for a perfect fit of your chosen graphics card. You should also check that your power unit can provide your GPU the recommended wattage.
When it comes to the two graphics cards differences in sizes, the single fan GPU is usually small in size and can nicely fit into any small form factor PC case as well as mini-ITX ones. Not only can a single fan GPU fit into your compact PC chassis, but also take up less motherboard space, allowing you to fit other components without clearance issues.
A dual fan GPU, however, has a larger footprint almost double that of single fan models. This makes them most suitable for mid- to large-sized PC cases. Due to their larger sizes, they will take up much of your motherboard space.
Compatibility is a huge plus for single fan GPUs. They stick to standard dimensions and should perfectly fit in a wide range of builds.
In terms of cooling performance, a dual fan GPU will dissipate heat much faster and more efficiently than a single fan model due to its two powerful fans. On top of having two fans, this gpu model also comes equipped with a larger heatsink with copper heat pipes that makes it incredible efficient in cooling the graphics card.
The fact that a single fan GPU uses a single fan and smaller heat sink, makes it deliver reduced cooling capacity. However, when both models are used for a limited amount of time, there will be no any noteworthy difference in their performance. Their difference in dissipation of heat is only significant when both graphics are used for extended periods of time.
Over time, a single fan GPU often starts slowing down in performance whereas a dual fan GPU maintains the temperatures within safer levels due to the additional power from the second fan. This means that a Graphics card with two fans can help you achieve a higher frame rate that’s ideal when you’re gaming or performing graphics-intensive jobs.
Overclocking your GPU is inarguably a great way to boost performance, especially if your graphics card is not factory overclocked. The main problem with overclocking is that it generates a lot of heat, which may demand a powerful cooling system for better performance. Excess heat can as well significantly shorten the lifespan of your GPU.
To prevent throttling, you need to choose a GPU with a more powerful cooling system that allows you to optimize fan speed settings to achieve maximum cooling capacity.
That said, graphics cards with a single fan provide sufficient capacity to keep the temperatures down while operating at stock speeds but may not be powerful enough for high overclocks.
So, the best option is choosing a GPU with multiple fans such as the dual fan GPU that delivers enough airflow to tremendously reduce temperature levels, which helps eliminate throttling. You should as well ensure that your PC case can provide ample airflow as a dual fan GPU doesn’t eliminate the heat from the chassis.
Both the single and dual fan GPUs are designed with PWM support, meaning they automatically adjust fan speeds for the best performance. They also allow you to max out fan speeds when temperatures go beyond the safe range and lower the speeds when temperatures reach extreme lows.
Different GPU fans produce varying amounts of noise levels depending on a number of factors. For example, smaller fans will typically rotate much faster to complement the smaller heat sinks. And an increase in fan speeds leads to increased noise levels, which is the reason why a single fan GPU is noisier.
On the contrary, dual fan graphics cards come with two axial-style fans with larger blades that rotate at lower speeds while providing ample and streamlined airflow to keep the heat sink cool. The fact that they can deliver improved cooling capacity without rotating at maximum speeds means that they’ll maintain a quiet operation throughout.
Overall, dual fan GPUs produce less noise than single fan GPUs as they can rotate at lower speeds and still move a lot of air, while maintaining noise levels to a minimum.
Just like any other hardware component, pricing plays a significant role when deciding the best GPU for your rig. While you may expect the smaller, single fan GPU to cost much less than the dual fan GPU, the price difference is actually very small.
Most single fan graphics cards cost significantly less mainly because of their limited cooling capacity and the fact that they don’t include extra features. On the other hand, high-end dual GPUs are a lot pricier since they offer better heat dissipation and come packed with extra features such as additional thermal pads, RGB LED lighting, sensors, advanced customization options and much more.
Dual fan GPUs nearly always cost more compared to single fan models. However, you can find a superb budget dual fan model but with less features.
You should expect to spend a little more if you want a GPU model with more advanced features or one that can support higher overclocking. The great thing is that most modern GPUs are designed to provide great performance using any decent cooler.
Pre-built cooling system
A single fan GPU may be the best option if your PC’s pre-built cooling system doesn’t provide the best cooling solution. This is because it will not only keep your graphics card cool but also eliminate the heated air out of the case, keeping even the other components within a safe temperature range.
A dual fan graphics card, however, can be the most suitable choice your PC pre-build cooling system offers ample cooling capacity. This is mainly because it provides better heat dissipation to keep your GPU cool but doesn’t blast the hot air out of your PC case. As such, the pre-built cooling system will help eliminate the hot air from the GPU, preventing other VRM components from overheating.
There you have it! We hope you’ve gotten a better understanding of the key differences between a single fan GPU and dual fan GPU to help you know which one is the most ideal for you.
Both GPU types have their own benefits and shortcomings, so you should choose one that will best meet your needs. However, if you’re looking to craft a small-form factor build, then your best choice is the single fan GPU. It will perfectly fit into your small case and provide you with sufficient cooling capacity to keep your graphics card in peak performance.
In contrast, a dual fan GPU can be your best choice if you’re planning to build a full-sized PC and need a more powerful cooling solution for your graphics card. This model will help keep your GPU cool even under heavy load, allowing you to enjoy higher overclocks, higher frame rates and overall improved system performance.