Even the best computers rely on small and inexpensive components for top performance. A good example of such a small building clock is a case fan. Specifically, it is important to identify the best 120mm case fan for the best pc running.
We have reviewed the top picks in this category, along with an eye-opening buying guide for the best fan choice. Nevertheless, before we identify our recommendations, let’s first get to know what a 120mm fan is.
What is a 120mm Case Fan?
Any computer heats up during use, making it necessary to have a case fan for blowing cool air while taking out warm air for the best running of programs. Even a water-cooled pc will still need a fan-cooling effect. Consequently, we have identified a 120mm pc fan that rotates to give the cooling effect. The description of 120mm distinguishes it from other fan sizes, such as the 140mm fan.
Therefore, the 120mm fan is smaller than the latter. To further identify exactly what is the logic of a 120mm fan, it features a blade design that provides optimal airflow with utmost durability and reduced noise. Ultimately, it has the cooling punch you would desire in a relatively small yet effective pc hardware. Having understood what a 120mm fan is, let’s look at the five best products in this category.
Our first choice for the best 120mm case fan is the Corsair QL Series QL120 which doubles on style. This product comes as a kit of three fans, with each fan having an incredible 34 RGB LEDs. Additionally, these RGB fans are designed with semi-transparent fan blades for the best color shine. Subsequently, you can easily see light loops coming out on both fan sides, with each fan having four light zone with an adjustable capability.
Moreover, these RGB fans feature less noise at 26dBA while producing excellent airflow. Therefore, this fan will provide you with a quiet operation with a beam of interesting LED colors that can be adjusted through a Corsair software that reduces cable clutter using SATA and USB 2.0 connectivity. However, other quality 120mm fans in the same category are generally quieter with a better performance in airflow than the Corsair QL120. Nonetheless, its style is worth the consideration and pick as a top 120mm case computer fan.
- Colorful RGB lighting
- Adequate cooling capacity
- Not the quietest fan option
Indeed, be quiet! Silent Wings 3 is another remarkable 120mm pc fan made specifically for silent yet optimal cooling. This premium fan also offers anti-vibration mounts built with fluid dynamic (FD) bearings that work to ensure it has a long lifespan of about 300, 000 hours. Unlike most fans, the be quiet! fan also has a 6-pole motor which produces fewer vibrations at lower power uptakes.
Specifically, this fan produces an estimated noise of 28.1 dB(A) while performing at 1,600 RPMs. Regarding its airflow, it has seven fan blades for an optimal Air (flow) – 77.57 CFM. Its cooling system is also built with funnel-shaped frame air inlets, suited for intense air pressure at maximum RPM. Also, the speed of the be quiet! case fan is regulated by the pulse width modulation (PWM). Generally, this is the ideal pc fan among the quietest case fans to rid hot air from your pc for high performance.
- Reduced noise
- Anti-vibration reinforcements
- Inside electronics might be unreliable at high RPMs
Another reliable fan, especially for a PC gamer, is the Noctua NF-A12x25 that has the capacity to move more airflow for a 120mm case pc fan, just like larger fans. This fan runs at a variable fan speed PWM with the ability to reach 2,000 RPM and achieve more than 60 CFM. Among the best Noctua fans, the NF-A12x25 PWM also stands out for fair quietness as it cools.
Even though this fan doesn’t offer complete control over its functionality, you can conveniently install a low noise adapter for improved quiet performance at even 1,700 RPMs. Furthermore, it applies an excellent airflow output supported by an equally high static pressure when it comes to cooling. Consequently, this fan is versatile across different cases and applications, making it the ideal workhorse for your high-performing pc. Eventually, the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM guarantees longer durability due to its self-stabilizing Noctua oil pressure bearings.
- Versatile for different cases and functions
- Ability to add a low noise adapter
- Highest airflow for a 120mm fan
- A bit pricey
- Style might not be likable to all users
Our fourth pick among the best pc fans is the Cooler Master, which is less high-tech but with a pleasant RGB design around the fan blades. The LED transitions are smooth, giving it a calming and almost unnoticeable effect. However, this RGB fan is really loud with a listing of 31 dBA. Concerning fan speeds, the MF120R is relatively quieter at 1,200 RPMs but gets unpleasantly noisy at 2,000 RPM.
With this Cooler Master fan, you can be guaranteed an excellent airflow, but with noise limitation at the maximum speeds. Therefore, it is not ideal for gaming because it cannot be run at high speeds, which are necessary for a gaming PC. Nonetheless, for its price, this Cooler Master is a worthy bargain due to its full RGB LED lighting and strong fans for effective cooling. In the end, if you settle for this Noctua fan, you should aim to run it at 1,200 to 1,500 RPM at the highest.
- Affordable RGB LED lighting
- Great airflow potential
- Unpleasantly noisy at high speeds
The final pick among the best case fans is the Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200. Its reputable high performance is characterized by a build that enables 59.2 cubic feet of air per minute for the best cooling with minimal noise. You can also add anti-vibration pads to make your case or rig silent as the fan spins. Even better, the redux-1200 can reduce noise while being run at lower speeds, or you can also apply a Low-Noise adaptor or reduce voltage to achieve reduced noise.
It has a gray tone that can easily blend with any pc build. With this fan, you can enjoy the benefit of adding optional accessories such as y-splitters and extension cables. You can trust this award-winning hardware to keep your pc cool and at a tip-top performance affordably.
- Affordable and effective
- More appealing than the signature Noctua looks
- Reduced noise with a capacity to reduce noise even more
- It can become noisy at high speeds
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best 120mm Case Fan
- Cooling Capability
The cooling capability is the main functionality you should be looking for in the best pc cooling fans asides from the appearance aesthetics. Furthermore, the strength of the different gaming pc fans is usually measured in terms of cubic feet per minute (CFM) and Revolutions per minute (RPM). CFM works on the principle of how much airflow capacity a fan can deliver, while RPM works on the measurement of spins a fan makes within a minute. So ideally, the best pc fans are those with high CFM functionality with a complimentary moderate RPM.
Despite the superiority of the RPM turning mechanism, high RPM fans might be noisy, but innovations are working to reduce the noise in types of fans. However, by all standards, you should aim to acquire a fan with high cubic feet per minute of airflow to ensure your PC remains cool enough for optimal performance.
Besides the consideration of large airflows and high RPMs, there are some fans optimized to produce high static pressure. For example, the intensive static pressure fans work better in a pc case with a restricted airflow where high airflow fans are ineffective. Additionally, you might also have the option of a focused flow frame Focused for an enhanced high static pressure with the ultimate quiet output.
Secondly, you should consider durability while shopping for the best 120mm case fan. The durability or life expectancy of a fan is usually measured in hours. Different fan types and brands present different lifespans with a wide range of 30,000 to 300,000 hours expected, depending on your choice of a computer case fan. When it comes to application, the life length of your fan also depends on the working and temperature conditions you expose it to.
A pc fan with longer durability should be made with quality materials that provide high performance while withstanding the toughest working temperatures. Additionally, the type of bearing in a pc fan affects the durability of a fan. Therefore, a gaming pc fan should be replaced while needed to maintain peak performance. Next, we will look at the fan-bearing component to understand its role in providing you with the right fan.
- Fan Bearings
In addition to the role of bearings in the durability of a fan, they play other vital roles depending on the type of bearing installed in your fan. Unlike other features you might see first on a fan, bearings are more intrinsic, and you can only know the type of bearing by reading the manufacturer’s guide. The other functions bearings have on a fan include the determination of maximum noise level and performance. For instance, sleeve bearings are cheaper than fluid dynamic bearings but have a shorter lifespan than the latter.
Below is a brief description of the different pc fan bearings:
- Ball bearings: This type has medium-range longevity with a relatively silent operation and can be placed in various directions.
- Fluid dynamic bearings: High-performance bearings, which are often installed in expensive rigs. They present an excellent performance with a relatively long lifespan and low noise level.
- Sleeve bearing: As highlighted earlier, these are the cheapest bearings in this category, with a shorter lifespan and relative quietness. A sleeve bearing can only be installed vertically.
- Rifle bearings: A rifle bearing is similar to a ball bearing based on noise levels, mounting, and lifespan.
Based on the above-highlighted bearing types, you can now determine a good fan depending on the durability, noise, and performance you desire. Another important aspect to remember for all pc fans is that they tend to become noisier with time. Therefore, a 120mm fan should be changed after some time to lower noise during cooling.
- Noise Level
We already have the noise aspect covered in the scope of the best 120mm case fan, but let’s get into the specifics. Fan noise is measured in dB(A), with most of the available silent case fans falling between 15 and 30 dB(A). This range of noise a fan generates can be described as the sound of a dropping pin, a whisper, or a quiet conversation.
Moreover, the noise of a fan depends on the activity of your computer, and it increases when the speed of a fan increases. Another factor that has been highlighted under bearings that also affects the noise level is the age of the fan. Finally, while still on the noise levels, the rotations per minute of a fan also determine the noise a fan produces with higher RPMs producing more noise.
- LED Lighting
Having identified some of the functionality considerations, let’s look at one factor for appearance aesthetics. More so, if you are a gamer, having computer hardware with a splash of colors creates calming and fun moods. Accordingly, you can also choose to have a fan with an LED lighting to compliment your colored speakers, keyboard, and mouse.
Moreover, the RGB lighting of the modern fans allows for color adjustments. Of course, you might be only interested in a minimalistic version, but you still shouldn’t worry about the performance. Therefore, LED lighting is not a determinant of a fan’s performance, but it is still important in adding fun to your gaming.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best 120mm Case Fan
- What is a good CFM for 120mm case fans?
A good 120mm case pc fan should be able to operate at least 50 CFM. This standpoint means it should be capable of enabling 50 CPM of airflow for effective cooling. Some of the quality 120mm case fans in the market might offer between 30 to 40 CFM at the highest speeds, which is still manageable for the average pc cooling. However, you should get a minimum of 50 CFM.
- Are 120mm PC fans good?
Yes, they are good and effective considering the excellent airflow handling as well as reduced noise. The 120mm case fans are the default case fans, but there have been other developments such as the 140mm case fan, which aim to improve the strengths of the 120mm. Therefore, a 120mm computer fan is an ideal fan for most computers with different functions.