Even if you’re planning a water-cooled system, the best PC fans are a requirement. They’ll provide additional cooling for your system, but that’s not all they’re useful for.
The greatest PC cooling fans will help your PC run quicker thanks to intelligent clock speed control in today’s leading silicon.
If you’re seeking to load one of the top PC cases with the newest high-end components, adequate airflow through the whole case is required—especially if you plan on overclocking your system. Ideally, your PC fan should not contribute to the noise level of your system. That’s generally easier said than done, but if the sound really matters to you, the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM is your best choice.
We’ve chosen some of the top computer fans we’ve tested and listed them below, along with some of the important features that we believe set them apart. However, if you’re searching for the best CPU coolers, we’ve got you covered there as well.
Best PC Fans:
- Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200
- Bearing Type: Self-Stabilising Oil Pressure Bearing
- RPM range: 400–1200
- Listed CFM: 2
- Listed dBA: 1
- RGB: No
- 140mm model no.: NF-P14s Redux–1200 PWM
- It is inexpensive yet functions admirably.
- Less obnoxious than previous Noctua models
- No RGB
- Not the quietest Noctua fan
If you’re interested in case fans, chances are you’ve heard of Noctua. It’s a tried-and-true favorite among many do-it-yourself builders, and with good reason. Noctua creates fans that are long-lasting, circulate a lot of air, and do it silently. The issue was that, until recently, purchasing Noctua fans meant committing to an unattractive (ed. note: gorgeous) khaki-and-mud color scheme right out of the 1970s. Noctua was the epitome of the function above appearance, an engineering marvel that would amaze any PC geek but offend everyone else.
Noctua’s Redux series, on the other hand, addressed this issue by recasting time-tested designs in a contemporary gray-and-black aesthetic that won’t detract from the rest of your PC setup. And, of the two Redux models handed over by Noctua, the NF-S12B quickly became a fan favorite. It’s not as quiet or efficient as another blacked-out Noctua model, the NF-S12A, but it’s less expensive. Previously, being a Noctua fan included spending lots of money on your setup, but the NF-S12B redux mixes outstanding performance with a low-price tag and looks wonderful in the meantime.
There’s no RGB lighting here, and no-frills of any kind. The NF-Self-Stabilising S12B’s Oil Pressure Bearings, on the other hand, will endure for years while moving more air at mid-range speeds than any non-Noctua fan we tested and remaining quieter than the competition. It’s a foregone conclusion.
- Corsair LL120 RGB
- Bearing Type: Hydraulic Bearing
- RPM range: 600–1500
- Listed CFM: 3
- Listed dBA: 8
- RGB: Yes, with Corsair Lighting Node Pro
- 140mm model no.: LL140 RGB
- Amazingly quiet at full speed
- Excellent RGB lights
- At mid-range speeds, it is somewhat louder.
- Not recommended for low-budget setups.
Do you need to have RGB fans? No. Do you want to have RGB fans? Why not. They look fantastic in an all-glass case or even through a typical side window, and if you want to go full-cyberpunk, Corsair’s LL120 Pro RGB fans are the finest you can purchase.
The LL120s are jam-packed with RGB LEDs. Each features a set of LEDs beaming out from the rotor, spreading light down the length of the blades as they rotate. Then there’s a second ring of light inserted around the outer border of the housing. As a result, the LL120s are the brightest and most visible fans we reviewed, making them ideal for any RGB enthusiast.
But they’re not just for show. The LL120s are also good fans, lighting or no lighting. At mid-range speeds, they’re somewhat louder than the competition, but at load, they’re quieter than almost every non-Noctua fan we tested—and that’s only because most Noctua fans max out at 1200 RPM, but the LL120 tops out at 1500 RPM.
The most serious issue? They are pricey. It’s, insanely pricey. To install LL120s, you must purchase a three-pack of fans with an accompanying Corsair Lighting Node Pro, which retails for $120. Each additional fan will cost you $35. Even if the outcomes are fantastic, that’s a lot of money.
- Cooler Master MF120R A-RGB
- Bearing Type: Rifle Bearing
- RPM range: 650–2000
- Listed CFM: 0
- Listed dBA: 0
- RGB: Yes, either through motherboard or Cooler Master’s controller
- 140mm model no.: N/A
- Affordably priced RGB lights
- Ample airflow possibility
- At peak speed, it’s extremely, incredibly loud.
- It’s also not exactly silent below that.
Cooler Master’s RGB architecture is a little less high-tech than Corsair’s, with simply fan-blade lights rather than the second ring around the exterior. However, it is still a visually appealing fan, with brilliant colors and seamless transitions. And, while the bundle is listed at $99, you can typically buy it for far less. Couple that with the fact that extra fans are only $20 each, and you’re on your way to saving a lot of money on your cooling system.
So, what’s the snag? They’re obnoxious. Extremely, really loud. Cooler Master confirms it as well, putting the MF120R at 31 dBA. In our tests, the MF120R kit was relatively quiet at 1200 RPM but utterly useless at its maximum 2000 RPM speed, recording the loudest readings of any fan we examined than the NZXT Aer RGB 2 and the Noctua NF-A12x25.
Granted, at peak speed, the MF120Rs move a lot of air, tying the Noctua NF-A12x25 for the most airflow. But you wouldn’t want to operate them at that pace, at least not for normal gaming purposes. Nonetheless, you get a full RGB lighting system as well as some very powerful fans for a tenth of the price of Corsair’s kit. As long as you keep the MF120Rs to a maximum speed of 1200 or 1500 RPM, they may be a viable option.
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