It is usual for electronic components to heat up when current is passed through them. The more loaded they are, the more heat they will dissipate. A PC has many high-performance components installed close to each other, resulting in massive heat accumulation. Heat has an inverse relationship with components’ life. So it’s wise to use a ventilation or cooling system to remove that heat from your case. A fan is the easiest and the most affordable solution to get rid of that excess heat. We are here to assist you in building or upgrading PCs with best case fans to allow them to operate at the optimum temperature and capacity.
PC case fan selection depends on many factors, and the most important of them is the airflow. In older times, airflow was the only parameter that users looked out for in case fans. Still, as the technology progressed over time, the demand for optimization of other factors like noise, rpm, and static pressure also arose. Variable speed control became the new norm for efficiency and noise control, while aesthetics became part of the selection process. To top it off, RGBs were inserted to add flare to the PC case and improve its overall attractiveness. To this date, fans remain the most utilized and most efficient device to control PC thermals.
We will discuss some quick shopping tips that will guide you into selecting the best case fans.
Quick Shopping Tips:
Airflow: A fan’s ventilation/cooling capacity is directly dependent on its airflow. It is measured in CFM (cubic feet per meter) and measures volumetric air displacement per unit length. The airflow should be calculated by measuring the heat dissipation of your PC case under maximum load and adding a suitable margin to it. That way, your component will perform at their best, and it will preserve their health.
RPM: A fan’s RPM is directly proportional to the airflow. Fan speeds go from a few hundred RPMs to a few thousand RPMs. An enormous fan can deliver a similar airflow level at lower speeds than a smaller fan running at higher speeds. Large blade fans produce less noise at the same CFM than smaller blades and consume more energy comparatively.
Static Pressure: Static pressure is the resistance against airflow faced by the fan. A PC case is slightly pressurized (either negative or positive) to keep the airflow moving in/out of the case. Accumulation of hot air around your PC components doesn’t do them any good, so it’s best to keep it slightly pressurized in either direction.Positive/negative pressure is maintained by controlling the airflow of intake and exhaust fans.
Noise Control: People don’t like noisy equipment, except speakers, of course. The manufacturer uses various techniques to reduce noise to acceptable limits. This includes using larger fans as they require less RPM to produce similar airflow than a smaller fan. In addition, anti-vibration pads, fluid bearings, and frictionless blade designs are incorporated to curtail noise as much as possible.
Speed Control: Speed control is necessary to produce optimal airflow at all times and in various load conditions. It is not energy efficient to keep the fan running at full speed, even at low loads. Furthermore, it also produces more noise. Modern case fans utilize PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) to control fan speed. This is incorporated via a 4-pin connector to the motherboard.
Best PC Fans: RGB, Strong and Quiet Case Fans at a glance:
- Corsair LL120 RGB
- Corsair AF120 LED
- NZXT AER RGB 2
- Cooler Master MF120R A-RGB
- Noctua NF-S12A PWM
- Corsair iCUE QL120
- ARCTIC F12 PWM
- Noctua NF-A14 PWM
The Best PC Fans: RGB, Strong and Quiet Case Fans You Can Buy Today
Corsair LL120 RGB
Best RGB Case Fans
Airflow: 43.25 CFM | Noise: 24.8 dBA | RPM: 600 - 1500 RPM | Bearing Type: Hydraulic | RGB: Yes | Power: 0.3 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 1.08 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 4.72 x 4.72 x 0.98 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Customizable LEDs
✓ Max 1500 RPM achievable
✓ Premium quality material and build
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No magnetic levitation bearings
✗ Fan’s effective blade size smaller than 120mm
People used cheap LED strips to glorify the fans and PC cases in the past, but those days are no more. Corsair LL120 RGB is a punchy, vibrant fan that has its class and appeal. LL120 fans stand apart from the crowd as the best RGB Case Fans due to their dual trains of 16 independently addressable RGB LEDs. Out of those 16 LEDs, 12 are wound around the frame and 04 on the hub. These RGBs further produce fantastic lighting effects via Lightning Node connection to an iCUE enabled device.
Corsair showcases this fan in 02 fan sizes, 120mm, and 140mm. The 120mm variant is the most commonly used model and is the center of our attention today. Additionally, the fan can be bought individually or in a pack of three, the latter being the more affordable one. The triple-fan package comes bundled with a Lightning Node Pro header that simultaneously supports the connection of up to 12 LL120 fans.
The fan fancies a black and white theme that is perfect for matching with most DIY PC cases. The outer case is packed with rubber pads on both ends to prevent vibration and reduce noise. The fan also utilizes a hydrodynamic bearing that further reduces the noise and has increased life compared to conventional bearings. Additionally, the fan is PWM controlled between 600-1500 RPM, with the airflow running between 15 to 40 CFM. It is the best fan for people wanting a beautifully colored PC case with dynamic lighting effects and medium cooling demands.
Corsair AF120 LED
Best Low-Noise Case Fans
Airflow: 52 CFM | Noise: 26 dBA | RPM: 1400 ±10% | Bearing Type: Hydraulic | RGB: Mono color | Power: 0.30 A | Speed Control: Variable voltage/resistance | Weight: 0.3 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 4.72 x 4.72 x 0.98 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Lower noise levels
✓ High-quality body & fan blades
✓ Consistent performance on peak load
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No PWM speed control
✗ Only a 3-pin connector available
Corsair is the company of choice for performance-oriented products. Corsair AF120 LED is one of their best Low-Noise Case Fans with a noise level of less than 30dbA and outstanding value for cooling fans. Reducing fan noise is dependent on many factors. Corsair has updated most of their newer fans with rubberized edges to damp vibrations and reduce noise. In addition, the use of hydraulic bearing has a positive impact on motor life and the noise level.
The fan is featured in three variants, performance, silent and static pressure. The variant we have selected is the silent one, as we have decided to go with lower noise by a slight reduction in performance and fan speed. The fan case is provided with red, white, and blue colors for different builder themes. The fan case also houses the 04 LEDs that give a pleasant look with the opaque fan blades. Although the LEDs are scarce compared to other fans, being a low-priced fan, Corsair focused its efforts on the lower noise operation rather than aesthetics.
The fan doesn’t have a PWM controller, which is a shame but is packed with a low voltage adapter used for lower-speed operations. While testing it with the Intel i7 processors on idle and peak loads, we discovered that the fan managed to keep the CPU temp below 78C at max loads, which is an acceptable performance for a silent fan. If you are a more performance-oriented user, you can opt for the performance variant of this fan that can go as high as 1650 RPMs, or you can enjoy the silent performer. The choice is yours.
NZXT AER RGB 2
Best Attractive Case Fans
Airflow: 91.19 CFM | Noise: 35 dBA | RPM: 500-1500 | Bearing Type: Fluid Dynamic | RGB: Yes | Power: 0.2 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.48 lbs | Fan Size: 140mm x 26 mm | Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 5.5 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ PWM fan with optimized cooling
✓ Fluid dynamic bearing technology
✓ Optimal airﬂow and advanced RGB effects
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No powder coating
✗ Too bright RGBs may not be comfortable
NZXT has been the go-to brand for gaming-centric PC hardware, including PC cases, coolers and manufactures the Best Attractive Case Fans. NZXT AER RGB 2 is the upgraded version of their already perfected AER RGB 1 with added support for daisy-chaining multiple fans simultaneously and additional Hue 2 profiles. It is offered in 120mm and 140mm variants and packs a fluid dynamic bearing for noise cancellation and to serve broader market demands.
The starter pack comes with two or three fans, including a Hue 2 controller with all the accessories and cables for easier daisy-chaining of all your NZXT fans. These are the best case fans for RGBs lit PC cases and offered excellent cooling flow to keep your build running at optimal temperatures. These fans are designed specifically for static pressure and would work perfectly with an AIO liquid cooler to beat the additional resistance and maintain optimal flow.
The 140mm variant produces a significant airflow of up to 91 CFM. You can install three fans, one on exhaust and two on intake or vice versa (depending on positive or negative pressure configurations), that are adequate for mid-range to high-end gaming rigs. The fan is built with exceptional quality components and has an estimated life of more than six years. NZXT is a straightforward RGB fan meant to lighten up your build and a cost-optimized cooling solution for most cases.
Cooler Master MF120R A-RGB
Best Budget Case Fans
Airflow: 59 ± 10% CFM | Noise: 31 dBA | RPM: 650-2000 ± 10% | Bearing Type: Rifle | RGB: Yes | Power: 0.34 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.3 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Anti-Jamming protection
✓ Sound absorbers rubber pads
✓ Silent Cooling & Hybrid Design
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No LED controller included
✗ No proprietary customization software
Since the in-rush of RGBs into the gaming industry, every PC hardware manufacturer is building their RGB cooling solutions. Wider variety of products makes it very hard for consumers to identify a quality product from an inferior one. Even more so, if you are on a budget, this decision is a nightmare. Our advice is to stick with the well-known and well-tested brands, like Cooler Master, which designs the Best Budget Case Fans. Cooler Master MF120R A-RGB is their most well-liked offering.
Cooler Master unboxing is always a pleasure to experience. The fan is nicely packaged in a neat retail box with every accessory you can think of. The triple pack is bundled with three fans, an addressable RGB controller, and connecting cables. Like all major brands these days, the Cooler Master also offers 120mm and 140mm editions. The piece we are reviewing today is the 120mm edition, as the 140mm edition is slightly expensive and doesn’t provide as much value.
In addition to classy RGBs, the fan has a massive peak speed of 2000 RPM, blasting off 59 CFM of air at an acceptable noise level of 31 dBA. This feat is accomplished by installing anti-vibration rubbers around corners that dampen noise and reduce excessive vibrations. Another feature used for noise reduction is employing rifle bearings that are almost silent but have a greater life span like ball bearings. It is a silent performer that will furnish a classic RGB case compatible with all major brands.
Noctua NF-S12A PWM
Best Quiet Case Fans
Airflow: 63.27 CFM | Noise: 17.8 dBA | RPM: 300-1200 | Bearing Type: SSO2 | RGB: No | Power: 0.12 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.4 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 4.72 x 0.98 x 4.72 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Built-in Vibration pads
✓ Low power consumption
✓ Low-noise adapter included
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No RGB effects
✗ Max speed limited to 1200 RPM
Noctua NF-S12A PWM is an award-winning cooling fan belonging to the latest generation of Noctua’s trademark S12 series. Noctua has managed to produce the Best Quiet Case Fans via the utilization of their patented Advanced Acoustic Optimization (AAO) technique that uses integrated rubber pads to improve performance and reduce noise. Moreover, Anti Stall knobs are used to optimize airflow and prevent stalling under high static pressure.
This fan comes in 3 editions, ULN, FLX, and PWM. Only the PWM edition offers PWM speed control and a 4-pin adapter, while the other two are missing on these features. It also packs a low-noise adapter (LNA) that reduces peak speed to 900 RPM from 1200 RPM. The SSO2(Self Stabilized Oil Pressure bearing) is a revolutionary enhancement in bearing design to achieve higher precision and exceptionally long life. Noctua has improved on the previous generation with almost 8% improvement in performance and noise efficiency.
Noctua manufactures the best case fans in the industry due to their excellent design, craftsmanship, and patented technologies. The 120mm PWM edition ticks all the boxes and is a top performer in its category with only 17.8 dbA of noise in performance mode and 10.7 dbA in silent mode (LNA). Noctua is a perfect solution for your cooling needs and a worthy addition to your case if you build a high-performance silent PC.
Corsair iCUE QL120
Best PC Case Fans
Airflow: 41.8 CFM | Noise: 26 dBA | RPM: 525-1500 ±10% | Bearing Type: Hydraulic | RGB: Yes | Power: 0.3 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.375 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 4.72 x 0.98 x 4.72 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ 34 addressable LEDs
✓ Long power supply cable
✓ Extensive lighting control via iCUE
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ Noisy at peak speeds
✗ No bundled iCUE RGB controller
After the immense popularity of Corsair RGB fans, especially the LL series, Corsair launched another Best PC Case Fans, namely Corsair iCUE QL120, that took RGBs to the next level with 34 individual addressable RGBs. Corsair offers the choice of 120m or 140mm fans to the users depending upon their needs and builds’ configuration. Although the 140mm variant offers slightly better airflow, 120mm is more suitable for masses and widely compatible.
If you are going for a complete cooling solution for your build, it’s always advisable and economical to buy the multi-fan variant. In addition to 3 fans, the multi-pack comes boxed with lightning node CORE, a combination of lightning node and LED hubs. The lightning node CORE can light up to 6 independent QL120 fans and requires a SATA connection for power and a USB 2.0 hub for communication with iCUE software.
Corsair fan comes with a 4-pin adapter and supports speed control via PWM, although the speed control is only receptive to 30 to 100% PWM duty cycle limiting the lowest speed to around 550 RPM. Even though it’s acceptable, it would have provided a more comprehensive control speed if allowed from 0 to 100% PWM. Overall, the corsair fan is more of a case fan than the radiator. Individual fan pricing is a bit higher, but overall its balanced noise to performance ratio makes it worth our while.
ARCTIC F12 PWM
Best 120mm Case Fans
Airflow: 53 CFM | Noise: 8.4 dBA | RPM: 230-1350 | Bearing Type: Fluid Dynamic | RGB: No | Power: 0.24 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.31 lbs | Fan Size: 120mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 4.7 x 1 x 4.7 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ 2-Way installation support
✓ High airflow and static pressure
✓ Simultaneous connection of up to 5 fans
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No rubber pads
✗ No 8-pin connector
Finding a perfect silent yet affordable case fan is a tedious task. ARCTIC F12 PWM should be the end of your search as the Arctic is known for making the Best 120mm Case Fans that are quieter, economical, and highly reliable. They offer an extra-long 10-year warranty for their fans, showing their optimism and confidence in their product quality. It is a simple yet powerful fan designed for cooling only.
Arctic fans are free of any shenanigans, marketing gimmicks, and RGBs. The Arctic focused all its efforts on performance, silence operation, and reliability of its fans to manufacture the best case fans for the budget section of the mainstream market. Its patented PWM sharing technology (PST) allows the connection of up to 5 fans in series to be controlled by a single PWM controller. The PWM sharing has the added advantage of optimizing the PC case flow and noise by varying the speed of all connected fans depending on the case temperature.
Controlling all fans via a single PWM also allows these fans to be more energy efficient. The noise level is 0.5 Sone (similar to 25bdA) which is very quiet. The fan uses a patented fluid dynamic bearing design that empowers it to run for more than a decade without fault. It’s almost unimaginable to find such optimization of performance and noise at such a low price. If you are not into RGBs, this might be the most economical and effective case cooling solution in the market.
Noctua NF-A14 PWM
Best High-Flow Case Fans
Airflow: CFM | Noise: 24.6 dBA | RPM: 300-1500 | Bearing Type: SSO2 | RGB: No | Power: 0.13 A | Speed Control: PWM | Weight: 0.9 lbs | Fan Size: 140mm x 25 mm | Dimensions: 5.51 x 0.98 x 5.51 inches
REASONS TO BUY
✓ Larger fan design
✓ Integrated anti-vibration pads
✓ 150K hours extra-long service life
REASONS TO AVOID
✗ No color choice
✗ Pricier than similar fans
Even though 120mm fans are more prevalent in the mainstream market, the Best High-Flow Case Fans primarily employ 140mm blades. Noctua NF-A14 PWM has a significantly higher airflow, making it a natural choice for 140mm radiators and high-end machines. NF-A14 is their most famous silent fan that uses an aerodynamic design for optimal airflow and employs noise reduction techniques to minimize it.
Anti-vibration rubber pads, AAO( Advanced Acoustic Optimization), SSO2 bearings, and gradual inlet design are some of those patented noise reduction technologies that make Noctua the king of quiet fans. It features the broadest PWM control from 0 to 100%, permitting the fans to completely halt at 0% to eliminate all noise when not needed. This feature makes it an ideal selection for semi-passive cooled machines.
The retail box also includes LNA (Low-Noise Adapter) for additional noise reduction when you are not pushing your machine to its limits. Additionally, Noctua allows extensive cable management by providing multiple-size cables to match different requirements. The last thing that we loved about this fan is the reliable and high-quality build. The fan has an extensive 150k hours long service life to ensure superior longevity. It is a must-have fan for high-performance silent machines.
PC case fans serve the fundamental purpose of ventilation and cooling the PC components. They keep your PC running at optimal temperatures and ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your build. Nowadays, they serve another purpose that is to make your PC look cool. RGB fans are famous due to the appeal and charm they bring to your build. The third feature that is in demand these days is the quieter performance of fans. Further, build quality is also considered before recommending a particular fan so it won’t fail before a reasonable time. We have shortlisted numerous PC fans for wider market segments and consumer demands.
The fan that showcases the most colorful and vibrant display and is our most premium entry is Corsair iCUE QL120. It has an upgraded 34 addressable LED array that forms two inner loops and the center for perfect light dissipation across the case. It is compatible with all major proprietary software and can be connected with multiple fans simultaneously. Budget users can go with ARCTIC F12 PWM, the lowest priced yet sufficient airflow fan that doesn’t include any flashy RGBs and extras. It has the highest performance to price ratio among all our recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which case fans are the best?
Corsair produces the best pc case fans. They are engineered for performance, adequate airflow, lower noise, and longevity. Corsair LL120 RGB is its flagship product manufactured with the highest quality components and features 16 customizable RGBs and PWM control. You can connect a maximum of 12 LL120 fans via a lightning node adapter and sync with a wider range of iCUE enabled devices.
What are the best 120mm case fans?
120mm fans cater to mainstream consumers. The best among them provide sufficient airflow, acceptable noise, suitable service life, and economical pricing. Noctua NF-S12A PWM fulfills all the above conditions and then some. It has an award-winning design and patented performance enhancement, noise reduction, and durability improvement features we have rarely seen in a PC case fan.
Are 140mm fans better than 120mm?
140mm fans have bigger blades and produce greater airflow than 120mm fans at a similar speed. For generic and mid-range machines, they are overkill. Nonetheless, they are well utilized in high-performance gaming machines and radiators, etc. Noctua NF-A14 PWM is a well-built, high airflow silent 140mm fan that can match multiple cooling solutions and case configuration.
What is the quietest 120mm case fan?
Corsair AF120 LED is one of the quietest PC case fans. It has a noise level below 30 dBA at max RPMs, which is very respectable. For reference, any fan producing below 40 dBA noise enters the range of silent fans. Quieter operation is accomplished via utilizing rubberized anti-vibration pads, optimizing flow acoustics, and employing hydraulic bearing on the fan.