Fans are an often overlooked part of PC building. Most cases come with one or two fans and people assume that is good enough. However, most of the time pre-built coolers with your PC case are of lower quality, won’t last long, and are insufficient to keep your equipment optimally cooled.
Better cooling can lead to higher performance and even a longer lifespan for your electronics. Knowing this, we’ve reviewed the four best PC fans we could find on the market. Below that, we’ve included a small buyer’s guide that offers some information on how to pick the right one for your needs.
Best PC Fans
|Model||Sizes||Noise at Max RPM||Airflow at Max RPM||Price|
|NZXT AER RGB 2||120mm and 140mm||33dBA for both sizes||120mm: 52.44CFM|
140mm: 91.19 CFM
|Noctua NF-F12 PWM||120mm Only||22.4dBA||55.15 CFM||Check Price|
|Corsair ML Pro||120mm and 140mm||120mm: 25dBA|
|120mm: 47.3 CFM|
140mm: 55.4 CFM
|Noctua NF-A14 Industrial||140mm Only||31.5 dBA||107 CFM||Check Price|
Table of Contents:
NZXT AER RGB 2 – Great Looking with Well Rounded Performance
In the year 2019, no PC is complete without an ample serving of RGB. If the current fans in your computer’s case don’t suit that need, then we have plenty of options on this list for you, and this is certainly one of them.
NZXT is known for their very good looking cases and appealing aesthetic design, so it makes sense for them to make some good looking. The AER is offered in either two or three packs which come with an included HUE 2 controller, or a single one on its own. The HUE controller is needed in order to customize the RGB.
Each fan has 8 individually addressable LEDs that can be set to a wide variety of colors and patterns. The curve and lights can be controlled through NZXT’s CAM software.
The 8 lights in these come in the form of a light ring around the edge of the it. This design looks amazing and prevents any lighting components inside it’s hub from compromising the it’s performance.
They are available in either 120mm or 140mm sizes letting you choose the right size for your needs and case. At max speed, they can rev up to 1500 RPM which gives the 140mm fan the ability to move 91 cubic feet per minute of air through your case, while the 120mm size can move 52 CFM.
At maximum speed, they get up to 33 decibels, but are a hardly noticeable 22 decibels while at idle. Both sizes have around 1.5mmH20 of air pressure at max speed.
If you’re looking for the one that will add a certain flair to your PC while also offering great performance, then these are for you.
Our Rating: 9/10
- Customizable RGB lighting
- Good airflow
- Included RGB hub
- Make a decent amount of noise at max RPM
- Somewhat oddly shaped in a way that is unappealing to some
- Difficult to install
- Tons of options including 120 or 140mm as well as one, two, and three packs
- Excellent looking RGB lighting which can be controlled using software and the included RGB and fan hub
- Runs pretty well with a good amount of both airflow and pressure with a reasonable level of noise
Noctua NF-F12 – Unparalleled Performance
Noctua embodies the expression “a face only a mother could love”. For the most part, their fans only come in a two-tone brown color that most people find pretty undesirable. However, if performance is your first and only priority, then there’s absolutely nothing that beats a Noctua.
The NF-F12 is probably their most well-known model, and for good reason. This is very high performance and is meticulously designed in every way. It has a relatively low RPM for a fan with this kind of performance, with a maximum speed of 1500RPM. This somewhat low speed allows it to be shockingly quiet running at only 22.4dBA at full speed.
Where these truly impress is not their speed or near silence though. The 120mm fan will fit into practically any case, and will push an impressive 55 cubic feet per minute of air through it. Even more impressively, they have a very high static pressure of 2.61mmH2O. This static pressure makes them ideal for use as a radiator for blowing air into or out of a case over a water cooling radiator.
These meticulously designed fans also come with small rubber pads on the mounting points to prevent vibrations from being transferred to the case of your PC causing excess noise.
Unfortunately, these are only sold individually. However, if you buy two or three of these your PC will have insanely good airflow and will easily be kept cool and quiet.
Our Rating: 9/10
- Pretty quiet
- Impressive airflow
- Very high air pressure
- Only available in brown
- 120mm only
- Not very appealing visually
- You can get highest performance , with impressively quiet operation and a high CFM
- High enough air pressure to easily push air through a radiator or even a heatsink
- Does not look very good
Corsair ML Pro – Super Quiet RGB
The next one on our list we’ll be looking at today are the Corsair ML Pros. These are not only incredibly quiet but also boast amazing RGB lighting.
The ML140 Pro kit comes with not only two fans, but a lighting node pro that is needed to allow you to control the four individually addressable lights inside each fan hub. The blades are made from a somewhat translucent plastic so the lights shining from the center of its hub can glow through them.
Aside from the huge variety of colors and patterns that the lights in they offer, these are some of the quietest ones you’ll find anywhere. They use magnetic levitation, rather than bearings. This means that there is practically no friction between the parts in the fan hub. This frictionless design lasts longer than standard fans and produces substantially less noise.
These are available alone as a single fan, or in two and three packs that come with the lighting node included. They are also available in 120mm or 140mm sizes, as well as without lighting, or with solid color LEDs rather than RGB.
While quiet and beautiful, these do have a major shortcoming, they aren’t incredibly powerful. The RGB versions have a max speed of 1200 RPM, and can only move 55 cubic feet per minute of air. The LED versions and unlit version can go slightly faster and move a little more air, but not much.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Super quiet
- Long lifespan
- Awesome RGB lights
- Low RPM
- Very Low cubic feet per minute
- Unimpressive air pressure
- Very nice LED lighting inside the fan hub that is controlled through an included lighting node
- Incredibly quiet thanks to magnetic levitation technology, which also lends them a greater lifespan than the traditional ones
- Due to the weight of the lights being inside of the fan hub, they do not reach a high enough RPM to push much air
Noctua NF-A14 Industrial- Unbeatable Airflow and Reliability
The last fan we’ll check out in this roundup is another from world-renowned fan maker, Noctua. As silly as that sounds, it’s no joke. Noctua has earned over 100 awards for their design and engineering. They really pride themselves in what they make and take fans VERY seriously.
This commitment is easily apparent in the NF-A14 Industrial. This is designed with one thing in mind, moving lots of air. If the inside of your case is heating up and you need more fresh air to keep your GPU and CPU cool, this is the one for you.
This 140mm won’t fit all cases, but it isn’t really designed for small cases anyways. It can move a mind-boggling 107 cubic feet of air per minute. To give this stat some perspective, this means that a single one of these fans can move the entire internal volume worth of air of the average ATX computer case in less than two seconds.
This fan runs at a maximum RPM of 2000 and can push air with an impressive 4.18mmH2O of pressure. This makes it more than suitable not only as a fan for clearing hot air out of a case, but also for pushing tons of air through a radiator or heatsink.
The major drawback to it is that it is pretty noisy since it is designed for industrial applications such as servers. It can get up to 31.5dBA when running at max speed.
However, it’s durability and long lifespan make up for that in some ways. It comes with a 6-year warranty from Noctua and it’s unlikely for it to die on you any time soon.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Incredibly high air pressure
- Very impressive airflow
- 6-year warranty for guaranteed durability
- Noisy at full speed
- No RGB
- Only available in a 140mm size
- Extremely high-performance fan from trusted brand Noctua can clear all the air out of your case in less than two seconds
- Very high air pressure makes it great for water cooling radiators and even dense heatsinks
- Very durable, but it can be loud at times due to the very high RPM
What to Look for In PC Fans
There are three factors that generally determine how good a fan’s performance is. The first is noise level, which is something pretty much everyone already understands. Sound is measured in decibels, and the higher the decibel level the louder the sound is.
If you’re looking for the quietest ones possible, then the Corsair ML series are your best bet. They use magnetic levitation rather than traditional ball bearings to reduce friction. Less friction means less noise, and a longer lifespan.
Other factors include airflow and pressure, which are a little more nuanced so we’ll talk about them in greater detail.
The most important factor for it is that will be used to get air into and out of a PC case is the airflow. This is measured in cubic feet per minute and measures how much air they can actually move at their maximum speed.
Greater airflow means that the volume of air in your case can be replenished faster. Naturally, 140mm fans will have greater airflow than smaller 120mm, but not all cases can accommodate larger fans.
If you want the most airflow possible then the Noctua NF-A14 Industrial is incredibly powerful. The drawback, however, is that it is very loud. The Noctua NF-F12 is a smaller 120mm that is much quieter and still offers excellent airflow. The Noctua AER RGB also has good airflow, as well as looking better than the Noctua options, but can also be a little loud.
Pressure is measured in millimeters of water, or mmH2O, and shows how hard the air is being pushed by it. This is important if you plan to use the fan for either a radiator or heatsink.
The dense fins of a water cooling loop’s radiator or a heatsink push back against the air pushed from it, requiring them to push the air harder in order to get through.
If you’re looking for a fan to use on your PC’s radiator or heatsink, then either of the Noctua fans on our list are your best bets. Both offer impressive air pressure paired with balanced airflow.
How do I plug in PC fans?
PC fans can be plugged directly into the motherboard. There are a number of headers on the motherboard that allow you to use a 4-pin plug that is attached to the fan to connect them to the motherboard. This will provide them with power and also allow them to be controlled based on the temperatures of your hardware.
Best PC Fans to Help you Keep your Cool
Fans are an important aspect of any PC build. They play the underappreciated role of keeping things cool, and are expected to do so while remaining as silent as possible. Despite their often overlooked nature, they truly are the silent heroes of any PC. They allow the computer to run at higher clock speeds, and can even help your hardware to last longer.
No matter what your airflow needs and expectations are, we are sure that you will find a fan on this list that is right for you. If you have any questions regarding cooling or the fans on this list, please let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you guys and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have.