Push Vs Pull Vs Push-pull Radiator Configuration

Push Vs Pull Vs Push-pull Radiator Configuration

Liquid cooling had been dominating the CPU market for years now, and it was a popular choice amongst overclocking enthusiasts. The demand for something better than air or water cooling had never been higher, which is when liquid coolers came into existence. These newer models were capable of keeping even high-powered processors cooled adequately with its small footprint when compared to older water-cooling systems; not to mention that they are also cheaper too!

When you go searching for a new CPU cooler, you’ll find there are many different types of coolers that can suit your needs. However, there may be some confusion when deciding which type of CPU cooler you should use – pull or push. Of course we would always recommend one of each; after all, why settle for just one option? In this article we will discuss the difference between push and pull types of CPU coolers and which one is best for you!

Liquid Cooling

Lately, liquid cooling has been a hot topic. Liquid cooling refers to the use of water or other liquids as a way to conduct heat away from CPUs. Heat is dissipated by means of fans which can be positioned in push or pull configurations depending on whether they’re connected to the radiator (or not).

Types of Liquid Cooling

A closed-loop liquid cooling system (sometimes called all-in-one liquid cooling) and an open-loop liquid cooling system are the two types of liquid cooling.

Open LoopClosed Loop
Open-loop liquid coolers generally provide better cooling performance. Closed-loop liquid coolers provide somewhat worse performance.
Open-loop liquid coolers are much more expensive. (for example, Thermaltake Pacific M240 240mm Kit, $299)Closed-loop liquid coolers are cheaper. (for example, NZXT Kraken X53 240mm, $135)
Open-loop liquid coolers components are installed in steps and installation is rather complicated.Closed-loop liquid coolers are easy to install. You only need to install the fans on the radiator and then mount the radiator on the case.
Open-loop liquid coolers are completely customizable, including the fans, radiator, block, tubing as well as reservoir.Closed-loop liquid coolers are not customizable, except for the fans.
Compatibility is often an issue for open-loop liquid coolers, primarily because of the reservoirs, which take up a lot of space.Compatibility isn’t a major problem; case manufacturers detail which AIO coolers their cases can accommodate.
Open-loop liquid cooling can be used to cool your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard VRMs, as well as your memory. Closed-loop liquid cooling is generally used for cooling CPUs, but GPU and RAM cooling AIO coolers are also manufactured. 

This table summarizes the key difference between closed-loop and open-loop liquid cooling systems. Components may vary, but radiators and fans are always present in either type of system to diffuse heat. The question boils down to push or pull configuration for these systems respectively.

Push vs Pull vs Push-Pull Configuration 

Push or pull configuration is the difference between how you place the fan before or after your radiator. With push configuration, fans go in front of the radiator and move air through it pushing out of the case – where as with a pull configuration, fans go behind the radiator and move air through it pulling out of the case.

If you put your PC case fans in Pull mode, they’ll push cool air towards the back of the computer. In other words, they’ll pull it into the machine. It’s easier to keep your computer running at a cooler temperature when you do this because these back-mounted fans will keep the powerful CPU fan from overheating and shutting down your system unexpectedly.

Fans are mounted on either side of a radiator in the push-pull configuration, and the two work together to move air in different directions. The back fan pushes the hot air towards the cooler radiator, and sends it out with a current of fresh air coming through. On the other hand, the front fan directs this cool breeze away from the area where it might interfere with warmer objects nearby.

Depending on what kind of fan layout you have for your computer tower case – whether it’s push or pull – there might be slight differences in cooling performance between each setting. But, the big difference is seen when running a system with both settings set up together (push-pull). We’ll also go over some other important factors to consider such as price and compatibility.

Cooling Performance

The radiators we’re using are the thicker XE (60mm thick, 16 FPI) and the thinner SE (240mm thick, 28mm thick, 22 FPI). We’ll use both a GPU and a 4-core CPU to put out heat. With these rads we’re right in the middle of 120mm vs 360mm rads so there should be some solid comparisons with what you’re considering.

There are a few takeaways from these performance tests.

  • Without a surprise, the push-pull configuration takes the lead in every test.
  • In a best-case scenario, there’s only a difference of 1.25°C between push and pull configurations. 
  • The thicker radiator variant (XE, 60mm; 16 FPI) gives us better cooling than the slimmer variant (SE, 28mm; 22 FPI)
  • Surprisingly, At 1600 RPM, we see far less gain for the thicker XE variant in push-pull configuration. But the thinner variant sees up to 7.75°C of improvement in temperatures with the push-pull configuration. Therefore, the variant with more FPI benefits more from the push-pull configuration, at least at higher fan speeds.

Takeaways From the Performance Tests

Our testing showed a surprising result that requires further investigation. In our push and pull configurations, we saw very little difference in performance times. But when using push-pull, we found an improvement in speed on average – but this depends on the situation as well as how thick your radiator is.

If your radiator fan configuration doesn’t create enough pressure against the radiator, then using a dual push-pull fan setup won’t do anything for you. But if it does create enough pressure, and if it’s big enough so that it can disperse heat properly amongst two fans, then having one of them set up in reverse could give you some benefits.

As it turns out, there are many factors to consider when it comes to determining how good your cooling system will perform. Radiator thickness is one of these important considerations as thicker radiators provide better cooling performance compared to thinner ones. Fin density can also affect how well your radiator performs; thin radiators typically have higher fin densities, but taller and narrower FPI radiators still benefit more from push-pull configurations in our tests. Just keep in mind what type of radiator you’ll be using before deciding which fan or fans to use with it; most people prefer using high static pressure rated fans if they’re planning on placing their radiator up front or using them as an intake.


Cost is a significant consideration for those who compare push or pull against push-pull. Push-pull involves additional fans which means it can be expensive if not purchased right the first time. For instance, Corsair’s H80i v2 ships with 2x120mm fans while other all-in-one liquid coolers may come with either one or no fan at all. This makes the decision complicated because there are many factors that need to be considered such as radiator size, location of the radiator, and number of cooling tubes before deciding which type of liquid cooler will work best for you.

If you’re using a closed-loop liquid cooling system, then you don’t need to spend money on extra fans for your push-pull configuration.


Considering aesthetics, I believe the push-pull configuration will win. Personal preference, however, requires consideration.!

Aesthetics for Push-Pull

With this configuration, there are two different ways to put the fan blades. You can put them on the outside of the radiator and have only white lighting or inside of the case with both RGB fans and non-RGB ones. For those who love adding any kind of fun twist to their setup – you can choose to do so as well! Just place one set on each side panels or place them all together for everyone to see from every angle possible!

Aesthetics for Push and Pull

A push or a pull configuration won’t give you the opportunity to admire your work, but either way one thing remains true – the radiator will always face outwards rather than towards the blades. As for viewing pleasure, there are only so many cases that allow you to see through both sides at once; and even then only if it has a transparent side panel.


When it comes to sound between push and pull, there is no difference. For push-pull however – since you have twice the number of fans running at once – noise does become an issue. But what about noise? Push-pull offers the advantage of being able to operate fans at low speeds without sacrificing much on performance.


There are many factors to consider when choosing between push, pull or push-pull configurations. Push-pull configurations might interfere with the motherboard or clearance of your CPU socket if they’re installed at the top of a case, which can cause problems. It’s important to measure how much space there is in your computer and how much air flow there is before installing anything inside; this ensures you get what you need and nothing superfluous.

Ease of Installation and Cleaning

While there are many factors that account for the different types of roofing systems, one of the most important things to consider when deciding between these is how easy it is to clean and install.

Installation and Cleaning for Push vs Pull

It is easy to install a pull configuration on the front of the case (intake). If you are using a push configuration, you must install the radiator fans from the front of the case, then install the radiator screws through these fans. Installation becomes difficult if it is set up in reverse order – always remember that there are two ways to do things, only one will work best!

One might think cleaning the radiator would be easy, but it isn’t really possible if you’re using a push configuration. To fix this problem, try switching to a pull configuration. This will allow you to easily clean up any dust on the outside of the case without removing the fans from the radiator.

Which Configuration is For You?

You will learn about how to set up push and pull systems, but we are going to talk about them separately.

Push vs Pull

We don’t want to suggest one type of fan over another when it comes to performance. Even if you take away the stats, there isn’t much difference between them; not enough for us to tell which is best. It all depends on what matters most to you – either how they’re positioned in your computer or how easy they are to install inside.

When installing your radiator in the front of the case, you are rewarded with a clean, streamlined aesthetic; not to mention easy access for cleaning. Furthermore, this type of installation does not incur any additional costs when compared to push-pull configuration.

A pull configuration has some benefits over a push-pull one. For starters, it is pretty to look at which means that they are the perfect way to install your radiators in an aesthetically pleasing manner. In addition, these radiators are easy to clean since they have no dust buildup and this comes without an extra expense over its counterpart – Push-Pull configurations.


Have you ever wondered why some of the best CPU air coolers come with two fans? And how these dual fans cool your computer better than a single fan can? Well, we’ll tell you now. It’s because of an idea called push-pull. Push-pull configurations are when there are two separate fans facing in opposite directions. If you’re wondering what it means and how it works, then this article will answer all of your questions!

Which One To Get

If you’re looking for a cooler rig then going with a push-pull configuration is best. But keep in mind that this particular setup will come at a premium price tag, especially if you’re trying to build something on the cheaper side. This type of design isn’t recommended for those who want the best possible performance per dollar spent. It could also be worth your while investing in an even thicker radiator if what you care about most is maximizing cooling efficiency without shelling out too much cash for your PC parts.