Best Computer Case Fans

Top 10 Best Case Fans For Your Rig

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When I first started building gaming PCs, there was one critical component I always underestimated - Case fans. When considering the more "Functional" components of a PC build, such as monitors or keyboards, I just didn't think case fans could possibly be that important.

If you're reading this article, you may have felt similarly up until now - or you might have just been smarter than me to begin with! At any rate, picking the right fans for your rig is extremely important for maximum temperature reduction.

To make things easier for you, I've compiled a list of my top 10 best case fans for your new or existing gaming rigs! These fans have all proven to be some of the best in class in terms of cooling and silent operation.

After all, nobody wants noisy fans interrupting their gaming sessions, and what's the point in buying case fans if they won't actually reduce your system temperatures?

Best Computer Case Fans

Do You Need Case Fans?


If you aren't already scrolling down to the list, you might be wondering how important case fans actually are - do you even really need them? Will they make that much of a difference?

And why should you buy aftermarket case fans specifically? Aren't the fans included in most PC cases good enough? These are all fair questions, and the answers vary depending on your specific situation.

For example, different cases come with different amounts of case fans - and their quality can also vary. Some cases with 4 built-in fans will have less efficient cooling than a case with 2 built-in case fans, if one case is higher end than the other.

If you have a higher-end case, you'll probably already have all the fans you could ever need (And they'll probably be pretty solid quality, though upgrading to one of the fans on this list is still not a bad idea).

However, if you got a mid-range case (Such as the Corsair Carbide SPEC-01), you might only have a couple case fans pre-installed - and they probably won't be all that great.

Additionally, case fans are super cheap. You can often get a nice bundle of them for under $14.

Why You Should Get Aftermarket Case Fans

  • Lower system temperatures
  • Reduces stress on components due to heat
  • Your parts will last longer
  • Helps keep dust from settling in inconvenient places
  • Aftermarket case fans are typically quieter and more powerful than pre-installed fans

If you're worried about excessive noise, don't be - the fans on this list will have negligible noise levels. That's one of the main things I look for when picking out new case fans for myself.

Not Sure How To Install Case Fans?


If you've never tried installing case fans of your own before, no worries! It's a really simple process. In fact, installing your fans shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes - if you follow the steps below!

What You'll Need

  • A screwdriver.
  • A little time (No more than an hour).
  • Access to your case's details (What size fans it allows, how many fans it allows, and where they can be installed). This information will be found on the online store page (If you bought it online), or in the form of a digital or physical manual (You can grab a digital manual for your case from the manufacturer's website).

The Process

Step 1. Power off your PC. Seriously. Don't forget this.

Step 2. Eliminate static by touching a nearby piece of metal (Just in case).

Step 3. Determine what type of connectors your fans use. They will typically use 3-pin, 4-pin or MOLEX connectors. See the image below for details.

Step 4. Inspect the inside of your motherboard for the corresponding pins sticking out - these are typically placed near the edges, but every motherboard is different. There might be markings/lettering to help you locate them, but if not, the image below might be useful.

Step 5. Now that you've determined what connectors your fans use, and where they need to connect to, you can install the fans themselves.

First, you need to find out where to do so! Your case manual (If you kept it around) will have the details for this, as every case is different.

Typically, though, you'll see 4 screw holes surrounding a large square-ish grate, or other airflow-supporting pattern. It should be pretty obvious.

Step 6. Now you simply hold your fan(s) in one hand, and press it evenly against the grate (On the inside) so that the 4 holes at each corner of the fan meet up with the corresponding holes on the case itself.

Important: Make sure your fans are facing the right directions! There should be little arrow markings somewhere on the fans to tell you which way the air flows.

If it's pointing outside of the case, it's an exhaust fan - if it's pointing inside of the case, it's an intake fan. You can flip these at will most of the time.

In order to maintain positive pressure, your case's intake fans should have a higher combined CFM than your exhaust fans.

This helps to prevent dust build up!

The Best Computer Fans - What You Should Know


So, first, you need to determine how many fan mounts your case has, and what size fan those mounts can hold. (If you already know this, just scroll down for the list) If you don't feel like digging up your case manual, just look at the store page (If you bought it online) for it and look at the tech specs.

In regards to fan sizes - Generally speaking, case fans come in 120mm and 140mm sizes. Though there are other sizes available too - 200mm and up, in some cases - this is all I've ever needed. If you're overclocking any of your components, it might be better to go with the best PC case fans you can afford, in terms of size and airflow capabilities.

This article is geared more towards mid-range to lower-level enthusiast PC gamers, not so much those of you who overclock every component you have - not that there's anything wrong with that. 😉

Another important thing to note - especially if you consider yourself a PC gaming enthusiast - is that some these fans don't come with fan controllers by default.

If your case has 5.25" drive bays, however, you'll be able to install a fan controller to tweak fan speeds, etc.

Lastly, not all of the cases on the list below come with their own LEDs. If fancy lighting is important to you (As it is to me), bear that in mind!


So what IS the best case fan?

There must be hundreds of choices out there - How do you choose? Well, you can either go it alone, or use a handy dandy Top 5 list such as this one!

Now, when it comes to case fans, I generally like them to have two major things going for them - Silence and efficiency. Nobody likes loud, ineffective fans, so why don't we focus exclusively on quiet,  hyper-efficient fans instead?

To that end, the fans on this list will (hopefully) be some of the best silent case fans you can get for a decent price.

Again, if you really wanted to push your budget, you could obviously go with larger, 200mm fans that will provide some insane cooling potential (Here's a great 200mm fan option, if you want to go that route).

But they are unnecessary for most of us.

Well, I've rambled on long enough. Shall we get started? Without further ado, here's my list of...


The Top 10 Best Quiet Case Fans


#1 - Cooler Master JetFlo 120 (120mm)

Cooler Master Jetflo 120

Details

  • Noise: 36 dBa
  • Airflow: 95 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


Although these are technically (In terms of numbers alone) a little louder than other fans on this list, you won't notice the difference at all - and it more than makes up for it with its insane cooling performance.

This thing can easily reach over 90 CFM with little effort - and without generating additional noise! The fans themselves are very sturdy, and the blades feel like they will last quite a long time.

These fans also have pretty brilliant looking LED options, should you prefer that (Though there's a Non-LED version as well) - I went with the red version myself.

#2 - Corsair Air Series SP 120 LED (120mm)

Corsair Air Series SP 120

Details

  • Noise: 26.4
  • Airflow: 57.24 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


Corsair's fans are always pretty fantastic, and the SP 120 is definitely no exception. For around $20, you get two high-powered, long-lasting fans with pretty sick LEDs to boot.

The performance is quite a bit better than standard case fans, but if pure airflow is your main concern (And not so much sound, durability or looks), there are better fans on this list for that purpose.

One big plus about these fans is that they work perfectly for both heatsink and radiators, potentially saving you some money down the line (Instead of buying "specialized" fans).​

#3 - Noctua NF-S12A (120mm)

Noctua NF-S12A

Details

  • Noise: 17.8 dBa
  • Fan Speed: 1200 RPM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


Noctua is a pretty big name in the PC cooling industry, primarily due to their case fans in particular. They make phenomenal fans that are sturdy and high-performing.

Noctua fans are definitely some of the more expensive fans out there, but they are well worth the price due to their longevity and silent performance

Unfortunately, though I know these fans are super powerful and high-performing (Due to personal experience and the countless positive reviews by others), Noctua is a little weird on airflow details. All they tell you about is RPM, not so much CFM, so I can't offer specifics there.

#4 - Corsair ML120 Pro LED (120mm)

Corsair ML120 Pro

Details

  • Noise: 16-37 dBa
  • Airflow: 75 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


If you want a more powerful 120mm fan from Corsair, they've got you covered with the ML120 Pro. With beautiful LEDs and magnetic levitation technology (Lowers noise and increases airflow), these fans are pretty sick.

These fans are also super quiet! The main reason for this is the anti-vibration dampeners attached to each corner of the fan (Which are replaceable, if you prefer a different color). This significantly reduces overall sound output.

The ML120 Pro has a 2,000 RPM control range, allowing for pretty fine tuning to meet your needs.

#5 - Arctic F12 (120mm)

Arctic F12

Details

  • Noise: 22.5 dBa
  • Airflow: 74 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


This is one of the better budget fans on the market - coming in at just under $9 currently (Price is prone to fluctuation, of course), it has pretty high airflow combined with almost entirely silent operation (Only 22.5 dBa!)

The white-on-black coloring is pretty nice if you have a mostly-dark case, but the lack of LEDs if a bit disappointing (But not a big deal - other cases on this list are LED-less, as well).

I've heard a few reports from some users that the fans require a bit of a break-in period, of sorts - in other words, they were a bit noisier for the first few days to a week, but became significantly quieter past that point. Just thought I'd mention it!

#6 - Rosewill Long Life Fans (120mm) (4-pack)

Rosewill 120mm Long Life Fans

Details

  • Noise: 22 dBa
  • Airflow: 38.2 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


These fans are pretty awesome for the price (Around $15-20 currently), and you get 4 of them - it's an easy (And quick) way to completely replace any stock fans that came with your case (I find that 120mm fans work particularly well with micro atx cases).

The only negative thing I have to say about these fans is that they are pretty lacking in the LED department - it's far from a dealbreaker, but it's always nice to have some extra light inside your case.

#7 - Corsair Air Series AF120 (120mm) (2-pack)

Corsair Air Series AF120

Details

  • Noise: 25.2 dBa
  • Airflow: 52.19 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


Corsair is pretty well known for quality products, but in my mind that's usually in relation to their awesome keyboards and other peripherals. I've never purchased a case fan from them prior to the AF120s, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, this time around they only come in a 2-pack. This is still adequate  (While the price-per-fan is more expensive than the Rosewill, you are getting a more powerful and efficient product), and honestly I didn't really see the need to buy a second set. The airflow and utter silence (These things are whisper quiet) of the AF120s was more than enough value for me.

My system temperatures dropped by about 10-14 degrees Fahrenheit, but I live in a hot climate (Louisiana - Gross, I know) and didn't necessarily optimize the placement of the fans.

#8 - Corsair Air Series AF140 Quiet Edition (140mm)

Corsair Air Series AF140

Details

  • Noise: 25.5 dBa
  • Airflow: 66.4 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


I'm not really a huge fan of large fans, but the increased airflow they usually offer might be worth it. If you prefer larger fans, then the AF140 might be a good pick for you.

It's easy to setup (So long as your case can fit 140mm fans easily), but the per-fan price is more expensive than some others on this list. 

This is a great case fan all around - It keeps my build running cool, and the wide range of LED options are nice for customization.

The only complaint I have is that while the LEDs are nice, they are a bit TOO bright and flashy. I would prefer something a bit more understated, personally, but I suppose some of  you may prefer "Louder" LEDs.

#9 - NZXT Technologies FN V2 (140mm/120mm)

NZXT FN V2

Details

  • Noise: 21 dBa
  • Airflow: 120mm - 45 CFM, 140mm - 50CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


I've used NZXT cases (Such as the PHANTOM), I guess it's only fitting that I try their fans too! The NZXT FN V2 is a solid fan all around, coming in both 120mm and 140mm versions. I personally purchased the 120mm version, so I cannot speak to the quality or efficiency of the 140mm. It's probably pretty much the same, though.

The FN V2 is surprisingly quiet (At only 21 dBA for both 120mm and 140mm versions) with excellent airflow (45 CFM, 50 for the 140mm), but it can't quiet reach the maximum airflow potential that some of the other fans on this list can.

It's a solid pick if you want something a bit plainer (I personally like the white on black without any super flashy LEDs), but it's not going to set any records.

The Best 120mm Case Fan

#10 - Cooler Master Sickleflow 120mm

Cooler Master Sickleflow

Details

  • Noise: 19 dBa
  • Airflow: 69.69 CFM
  • Fan Size: 120mm


Cooler Master proves their name true more often than not, and they certainly don't disappoint with their SickleFlow 120mm fans.

Quieter than both of the previous fans on this list and with significantly higher airflow (69.69 CFM maximum), it should come as no surprise that Cooler Master doesn't offer these in 2 or 4-packs.

Disappointing, sure, and the per-fan cost is definitely going to be higher as a result, but well worth it.  These little guys are built to be attached to a number of components within your computer - The case, of course, the CPU heatsink and radiators.

I've personally never bothered trying to attach these anywhere other than my case itself (And I recommend the Noctua NF-F12 for radiator/CPU cooling), but for those of you who really want to maximize your cooling capabilities, the option is there for you. Go wild!

Conclusion


Overall, I honestly think that the SickleFlow is the best 120mm case fan available - It's the perfect mixture of silence and efficiency.

My temperatures dropped down into the high 20s when I combined several of these together, and I couldn't be happier. If you don't live in the south, you may even be able to push it a  bit farther!

It's by far the best computer case fan on this list - It's one of the best silent case fans you can get whilst also offering above-average airflow (A max of about 69 CFM!).

As always, if you have any comments, questions, or concerns -​

Let me know in the comments!

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About the Author

Cohen

Hi there! My name is Cohen - I'm a freelance writer, blogger, and PC gaming geek. I love to take apart and re-assemble my own custom gaming PCs! I'm all about squeezing every last ounce of performance out of my rigs. I'm currently playing a lot of World of Warcraft, but I primarily enjoy single player RPGs and strategy games (Witcher 3, Crusader Kings 2, Mount & Blade, Skyrim, etc.).

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