They cost just around $20, but they’re one of the most crucial parts of maintaining a PC’s performance and extending its lifespan. Case fans deceivingly have such a huge impact on your computer, and choosing the right one can decide whether your PC would be at its coolest peak or become a heating disaster waiting to explode.
An efficient cooling system is essential for any build to work at its best, and case fans are one of the key components. Not only do they circulate air around your case and keep the insides cool by blowing hot air out, but they can also charge up your case’s looks. Stylish fans are now a trend, and this makes case fans much more important.
Whether you’re a casual user or a hardcore gamer, each of us has different needs for our cooling system. This is why choosing the right fan is an important decision that can sometimes be tricky. With this buying guide, we will make sure that you find the best quality case fan that will suit your needs.
- Things To Look For in a Case Fan
- The Best Case Fans
- FAQs About Case Fans
- Final Thoughts
Things To Look For in a Case Fan
There are several factors you should consider when choosing the right case fan. How big should it be? How many should I get? Is it too loud? It can be a confusing selection, especially if you haven’t bought one before. But don’t worry, we got you covered. Here are the things you should consider when buying case fans.
The size of your fan determines its airflow and noise, so it’s vital that you choose one that suits your budget and needs. Case fans come in different sizes, but the most commonly used are 120mm fans. They can provide sufficient noise with minimal noise.
Basically, smaller fans need to spin faster in order to provide enough airflow; therefore, they produce a lot of noise. The bigger the case fan is, the less RPM it needs to give sufficient air, meaning they give out less noise as well.
There are also 80mm,140mm, 200mm, and other fan sizes as well. Of course, the bigger fans can always perform better, but they will cost more, and you also have to make sure that it fits your case’s fan slot.
The speed of fans is measured in revolutions per minute or RPM. The speed of your fan is a prime factor in terms of performance. The faster your fan is, the better the airflow it can give. But remember that the higher your fan’s RPM is, the louder the noise it produces.
Choosing the right balance between speed and noise is crucial when picking a case fan. But remember that reducing heat is your main priority, so choose a fan that has adequate airflow that your system needs.
Although this doesn’t help reduce your rig’s temperature, it can definitely give you a hot head when your case fans make too much noise. Different case fans produce varying levels of noise.
A fan can make quiet whispering noises or can be as loud as the rustling of leaves. Of course, no one wants a noisy fan to ruin their immersive gaming experience. So this is an important thing to consider when shopping for a case fan.
3-Pin or 4-Pin
Why should you care about the number of pins on a fan’s power connector? Regular 3-pin fans have wires for power, ground, and tach. Meanwhile, 4-pin fans have an additional feature called PWM or Pulse Width Modulation control, which allows you to control your fan’s speed using your motherboard or Fan Control Software (FCS).
Another factor that doesn’t affect your fan’s cooling capabilities is aesthetics. But if the style is important for your build, then you should take the time to choose the right color and lighting for your fans.
The Best Case Fans
There are tons of options when it comes to choosing your case fan. It can be a chore to have to go through every single one just to find a decent pick. But don’t worry, we have narrowed down your choices by considering every aspect you have just read.
This way, we made sure that you won’t be wasting your time by giving you the best of the best, here are the top 5 case fans you should buy.
Noctua NF-p12 Redux-1700 Pwm, High-Performance Cooling Fan, 4-Pin, 1700 RPM
Noctua continues to dominate the kingdom of case fans. What better way to start this list than an Amazon bestseller with full 5-stars from almost 9,000 reviews. The Noctua NF-P12 is one of the best case fans you can get on the market right now.
This is a 4-pin 120mm case fan that offers a perfect balance between performance and quietness. It can reach up to 1700 RPM when needed at only 25.1 dB(A) max noise, and it is virtually silent when idle.
Because of its PWM control, you can easily switch between performance and silent mode. Because of its stunning all-around performance, the Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 deserves all the recognition with more than 100 awards and recommendations from world-renowned PC hardware websites and publications.
Noctua really gives you value for money on their NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM. Its performance and versatility are definitely one of, if not the best all-around fan you can get.
Be Quiet! Silent Wings 3 120mm, bl064
If you’re looking for the most silent fan, well, you’ve found it. Just from the name of the brand, you can already tell where to Be Quiet! specializes in. They’re fans are engineered to be efficient while producing the least noise possible.
The Silent Wings 3 only has a maximum noise of 16.4dB(A), which is virtually inaudible. It has a 6-Pole fan motor which reduces the fan’s vibrations while maintaining a low power consumption. Its advanced IC motor controller takes away the electrical noise, optimizing this fan to deserve its name.
The design of the fan’s blade is optimized for maximum efficiency. It has 7 fan blades with surfaces specifically engineered to produce as much airflow and pressure while cutting down the noise.
Another superb thing about this fan is its lifespan. It is equipped with a fluid-dynamic bearing that gives it a whopping lifespan of 300,000H. Your PC may even say goodbye first. So if you want a long-lasting fan that’s virtually inaudible, go with the Silent Wings 3.
Noctua NF-a12x15 Pwm
Featuring another quality and highly-optimized fan from Noctua. The Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM is a slim premium quiet fan with superb features more than worth its price with Noctua’s stability and longevity.
How did they do this? First, they used a metal-reinforced motor hub, which can be found on high-speed industrial fans, and this fan has fully taken advantage of it. Aided by Noctua’s tested and proven signature SSO2 bearing, the Noctua NF-A12x15 offers stability, precision, and durability.
Besides its superb airflow, the Noctua NF-A12x15 has a very slim design, making it perfect for low-profile CPU coolers and saving space. Even though this isn’t the biggest fan, you don’t have to worry about it being too noisy. It only has a maximum noise level of 23.9 dB(A), plus it comes with a low-noise adaptor.
This is a 4-pin fan that allows PWM control. Meaning you can optimize your fan for better cooling or less noise depending on your needs. It can dish out up to 1,850 RPM at low noise. So if you’re looking for a fan with a premium look, premium performance, and premium features, check out Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM.
Arctic F14 Silent – 140 MM Case Fan
If you are on a tight budget and looking for a cheaper alternative, the Arctic has got you covered. The Arctic F14 Silent offers great performance, low noise, and a slim design at a very affordable price.
This fan gives higher airflow at lower noise thanks to its German-made motor with alloy/lubricant that reduces friction and noises. Pair this with well-designed blades made to facilitate ventilation and produce airflow efficiently, and you have a budget fan that’s both efficient and virtually inaudible.
It offers two-way installation, meaning you can use it as an exhaust or intake fan depending on your needs. The fluid dynamic bearing also has a sleeve bearing because it comes with an oil capsule to keep the lubricant from leaking. So it can give the same results while having a longer service life.
At less than $10, you already have a fan that’s capable of running at 800 RPM at less than 20 dB(A) noise. Not to mention its sleek design and long lifespan. The Arctic F14 Silent is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to budget fans.
Noctua NF-a14 Ippc-3000 PWM
Now, if you’re looking for some heavy-duty cooling for demanding applications but are limited to 140mm slots, this is the perfect answer. The Noctua NF-A14 iPPC-3000 PWM is a ruggedized version of the retail one, and it offers extreme airflow for your overclocking needs.
This is the industrialPPC version equipped with a novel three-phase motor that is two times faster than the 1500 RPM retail version. It is a 4-pin fan with PWM control with a broad range of 800-3000 RPM. As a result, it also has lower power consumption and less noise than other high-speed fans.
When they said “rugged,” you know that they actually mean it because of how robust this fan was made. It made use of fiber-glass reinforced polyamide as its material, allowing the fan to withstand temperatures up to 140°C. This made it even more break-proof than the fiber-glass reinforced PBT fans.
It also comes with a special varnish coating that gives high dust resistance, and it can also withstand dripping water. Once again, Noctua has topped itself in durability. So if you’re looking for superior airflow and heavy-duty cooling and performance, you have found the fan for you.
Cooler Master Fan MF200R RGB 200mm
Big, bright, and badass. That’s how we can describe this baby from Cooler. The Cooler Master Fan MF200R RGB is a 200mm case fan that offers top-notch cooling and a bold style.
The hybrid design of this fan is as dope as it is efficient. Cooler incorporated a jet engine design and helicopter blades to get as much static air pressure without compromising airflow. This allows the fan to provide sufficient cooling for your system even under challenging circumstances.
The MF200R uses silent cooling technology, a mix of noise reduction tech and sound-absorbing rubber pads. It also comes with a Smart Fan Sensor, which keeps your fan safe from jams by automatically stopping the motor when a jam is detected. So when it comes to silence and safety, this fan is a check.
Another great feature is the availability of RGB lighting. So if you want your fan to match your build and components, there should be no problem. It is certified to be compatible with most motherboard manufacturers giving you versatility way above other 200mm fans.
Corsair QL Series, Ql120 RGB
If you love style as much as you need cooling, then RGB fans are your best bet. Not only do they make your case cooler temperature-wise but on the design end as well. We found the Corsair QL Series, Ql120 RGB, to be the best one of all the RGB fans.
It gives you total control and customization with its 34 individually addressable RGB LEDs that produce mesmerizing colors that would captivate anyone who looks at your case. The fan’s blades are designed to operate quietly, and they’re semi-transparent, allowing the RGB lighting to shine through.
When it comes to lowering your system’s temperatures, this colorful baby can definitely get the job done. It can go up to 1,500 RPM and produce adequate airflow for your cooling needs. Pair this with PWM control feature plus RGB lighting, and you have a fully addressable fan that can perform efficiently with minimal noise, all while mesmerizing everyone that gazes upon it.
Overall, the Corsair QL Series, Ql120 RGB, is the best RGB fan we can suggest.
FAQs About Case Fans
Now that you have discovered the best options available and what to look for in a case fan, it’s time to learn more about them. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about case fans.
How Do I Install Case Fans?
Before installing or even buying a case fan, you should check the supported size of your case so you won’t regret buying an amazing fan that would end up unused because it won’t fit your slots.
Case fans are typically attached to the front, side, or back of a PC case. They are held in place by screws or snap-in brackets. Make sure you ground yourself before starting the installation.
After opening the side panel of your case, you have to locate the power connector on your motherboard and then the slot where you will install your fan. Next, remove the old fan if you have one, then install the new one and hold them in place using the screws or brackets that come with them.
Once you’re done with the installation, it’s time to see if your fan is working and monitor its effect on the temperature of your system. You can do this by using temperature monitoring software.
How Many Case Fans Do I Need?
We recommend a minimum of 3 case fans for a gaming PC, not including the power supply, CPU, and GPU fans. You need to make sure that enough air is circulating inside your case in order to maximize your PC’s performance and make sure it lasts as long as it should. The more fans you have, the better.
How Long Do Fans Last?
Most fans typically have a working lifespan of somewhere between 30,000 hours to 50,000 hours. That means your fan will most likely the last for3.5 to 6 years of continual running.
What if Your Fan Stops Working?
Faulty fans would mean compromising your cooling system, and it would lead to overheating and permanent damage to your components. So it is vital that if your fan stops working, you do some troubleshooting and repair it immediately. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you would have to buy a new one.
How Much Power Do Fans Use?
Most case fans usually use 1.8 watts with a rating of 12V. Thus, they use about the same power as your hard drives and optical drive.
Should I Go For the Bigger Ones?
Bigger fans can produce better airflow with less RPM, noise, and power consumption. So, yes, you have an edge if you pick bigger fans. However, they can also be pricier for those who have a limited budget. You also have to make sure that your fan would physically fit into your case. If you have the money and your case supports 200m fans, then go for it.
How Do I Take Care of a Case Fan?
Your fan, like any other components of your computer, always needs to be cleaned. The dust and dirt that gets caught in it can potentially damage the fan, hinder its performance, and shorten its lifespan. So the best way to maintain your fan is by regularly cleaning it.
We recommend you use compressed air or vacuum for minimal effort and efficient cleaning. But you can also use a damp cloth by wiping your fan blades gently. Just make sure that your PC is off and take extra care to avoid grounds and damage.
What Are Other Types of Fans?
You already know about case fans that circulate air inside the case and blow hot air out. Other types of fans include;
- CPU fans are placed on top of your processor to keep it cool.
- Power supply fans located inside your power supply blowing hot air out.
- Video card fans are used to cool the graphics card down, especially when playing high-fidelity games.
- RGB fans are fans with lighting that are preferred for their style and aesthetics.
Well, that wraps up this article. We hope that this buying guide saves your precious time. Each product that we recommended to you is proven and tested by thousands of satisfied customers and PC enthusiasts like you. So whatever you decide to buy from the list will be well worth your money.
Every buck will be worth it. After all, your fans will be the wind that blows your PC to sail as smoothly as it can. A small investment would be a big thing in the long run for your device.
So have you decided yet? Whether you’re after performance, silence, low-cost, or style, we have the fan for you. Now that you know everything you need about case fans, it’s time to give your PC the “cool” upgrade it needs.