The 8 Best Case Fans for PCs in 2021: Buyer’s Guide & Reviews
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PC case fans are responsible for keeping your system cool during operation. Without adequate cooling, your PC will heat up a lot, which in turn can cause it to turn off or even permanently damage parts of your build.
To prevent that, whether you are building a PC from scratch or are looking to upgrade your PC’s cooling system, our goal today is to provide you with the best PC case cooling fans.
To do that, we first had to conduct some community research and find out what the typical user needs and pain points are. This way, we could create comprehensive and accurate criteria, which will help us identify the best qualifying products that you will read more about today.
We found that the average cooling fan ranged in size from 120mm to 200mm, produced no more than 30 dB of noise, span at around 800 – 1200 RPM, generated an airflow of between 35 & 90 CFD, and had a lifespan of around 40,000 hours.
Note: As you could imagine, the above averages can differ depending on the size of the fan that you are looking at.
So, with all that in mind, let’s take a moment and dig deeper into our findings, and hopefully, by the end, you will have found the perfect fan for your needs and budget.
This guide aims to find, review, and compare the best case fans on the market today. Our top priority is to be as transparent, honest, and confident in our recommendations as possible.
In order to achieve this and find the best case fans, we first conducted community research to identify the needs and pain points of the customers. With the results of this research, we created criteria, which we then used to find the best qualifying products, which you will discover within this read.
We knew that picking the best cooling case fans would be a challenge. So, the DiamondLobby team and I jumped on a call and discussed a few ways to approach this guide and review so that we can provide you with the most honest and confident recommendations.
We came to the conclusion that we should first conduct some community research to understand the needs and pain points of the consumer. Using the results from our community research, we created 7-point criteria, which we then used to find the best case fans on the market.
Below, you can read more about each of the points within our criteria.
As the one size fits all approach isn’t relevant when it comes to PC case fans, we first had to discover what the most popular fan sizes are. Our research concluded that the most popular fan sizes are 120mm and 140mm. However, since some gamers have larger builds with larger cases, a bigger fan may be required, and so, we also decided to make 200mm fans part of our guide and review.
So, within this article, you will find a total of 3 of the best fans for all three sizes; 120mm, 140mm, and 200mm.
The RPM at which your case fans spin has a direct influence on the average temperature of your system. This means that the faster the fans can spin, the more air they can blow through your system to cool it down.
To ensure that we are recommending you the best of the best, we went after the products that featured the highest rotations per minute (RPM).
Our community research concluded that gamers don’t generally mind a loud PC as naturally, it is likely to produce more noise as when you game, you push the performance of your build to its limits, which requires more cooling. However, one thing to note was that if it was possible, gamers would rather opt-in for quieter fans, even when they worked at peak performance.
So, we ensured to pick wisely and only go for cooling case fans that produce a low to average noise, even when pushed to their limit.
Note: Bear in mind that the larger the fan, and the faster it spins, the noisier it will be.
Fan Bearing Type
There are four different types of fan bearing types; sleeve bearing, ball bearing, rifle bearing, and hydraulic bearing. Each one is different from the next and has its benefits and drawbacks.
We concluded that it would be best for our readers if we included a mix of those so that you can pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Note: You can find out more about the four different bearing types in the “Things to Consider Before Buying a PC Case Fan” section near the bottom of this guide and review.
When picking the best case fans, one thing that we took a look at was the airflow or the cubic feet per of air per minute that travels through your PC case. The higher the CFM, the more air will flow into your PC, the cooler it will be.
Every system has different cooling requirements. For example, if you have a GTX 970, that would require a lot less CFM to remain cool compared to a GTX 3080, as it naturally produces a lot less heat.
You don’t want a fan or a set of fans that consume a ton of energy. Over time, regardless of how little it may seem at first, the bill will add up and will cause you to pay more for electricity.
Thus, we have ensured to make our selection based on energy-efficient fans. To our surprise, some of the most sophisticated fans were a lot more efficient in their use of energy than other, less powerful models.
Last but not least, our community research showed that the aesthetics of the fans are one of the most important things that make gamers pick a particular model over another. We found that while gamers care a lot about performance, their opinion on aesthetics was split between simple, sleek, and RGB.
So, to help find both parties the best RGB & non-RGB case fans for their PC builds, we decided to include the best of both worlds.
Looking for the best RGB-enabled 120mm case fans? Discover the Antec Prizm 120 ARGB, which is actually a set of 5 RGB fans in a single pack. The most perfect product if you want to build an awesome and cool RGB system.
The price at the time of writing was $59.98.
Visually, the Antec Prizm fans are very sophisticated, compact, and clean-looking, with the RGB lights installed around the ring of the fan. Thus, when you light up the 5 fans inside your PC case, they will look awesome. You can check out the video of the fans in action in the retailers’ product description here.
An individual fan from the set measures at 120mm x 120mm x 25mm, which is pretty standard, so you shouldn’t have an issue with fitting it in most cases.
The Antec Prizm fans use a 4-pin connector, which allows the fan to spin at up to 2000 RPM in order to produce an airflow of around 45.03 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM). The fans can be quite noisy when performing at their peak. To be exact, the noise level can reach around 32.6 dB, which isn’t that loud at all.
If you decide to make use of all 5 fans from this set, you can rest assured that your fans will rarely have the need to operate at full throttle as they can work together at a lower rate to keep your system nice and cool while gaming. It is also worth mentioning that the fans are reinforced with anti-vibration pads, which will further reduce the noise pollution in your room.
The fans’ general lifespan is around 40,000 hours, which is a very decent amount of time and can easily outlive your PC system.
Alongside the RGB fans, you will also get a control hub, through which you can customize your fans.
On the lookout for the best 140mm RGB-enabled PC case cooling fan? Check out our top pick, the Cooler Master MasterFan MF140.
The price at the time of writing was $29.99.
Unlike other 140mm case fans, the MF140 is one of the only fans that can bring you that enthralling light show that will stun just about anyone that comes across your PC. The fan itself features an RGB ring nicely supplemented with RGB-backlighting for the complete RGB experience while the fan spins.
The fan itself measures 140mm x 140mm x 25mm. In other words, it is a very standard measurement, which shouldn’t cause you any complications in terms of compatibility with your PC case.
Thanks to the 4-pin PWM power connector, this 140mm case cooling fan can spin at a range of as low as 650 RPM to as high as 1,800 RPM. The sound-absorbing materials and hybrid static pressure blade design ensure a quieter operation mode while boosting the overall airflow.
The Cooler Master MasterFan MF140 can produce an airflow of up to 55 CFM when operating at full throttle, which is unlikely to make more than 30 dB of noise. On the lower end, should you run the fan at 650 RPM, you can expect a noise level of around 6 – 10 dB. In other words, you won’t even hear the fan working.
If you are a fan of RGB lights, you’d be pleased to know that this fan features a duo-ring addressable RGB lighting with 24 individually controlled ARGB LEDs to achieve a stunning visual light show effect in your PC case. It is also compatible with most RGB-capable motherboards like Aura, Mystic Light, and Polychrome Sync.
Thanks to the rifle bearing, you can expect this fan to last upwards of 160,000 hours. To put it simply, that is a very very long time.
After the single best 200mm fan for your PC build? Check out the awesome Cooler Master MasterFan MF200R. Upon finalizing our research, we concluded that this is the most complete fan in terms of performance, aesthetics, and value for money.
The price at the time of writing was $39.99.
Visually, the MF200R is nothing short of beautiful. The RGB lights are thorough and detailed, which immensely contributes towards achieving that complete contrasting RGB look.
The MasterFan MF200R measures at 200mm x 200mm x 25mm, which makes this case fan slightly thinner as compared to the other 2 200mm fans that you will see in this guide and review.
The rifle bearing design also contributes greatly towards expanding the lifespan of the fan by a significant margin and helps it to operate at quieter levels, even when it is pushed to its limits.
The 12V, 3-pin power connector helps this fan achieve a fan speed of as low as 150 RPM to a high as 800 RPM. Despite the fairly standard RPM, this fan can produce a truly great airflow level of up to 90.3 CFM thanks to the fine combination of jet engine and helicopter blade design.
Not only can this fan self-sustain the temperature of your PC system, but it can also do that for anywhere between 160,000 to 280,000 hours thanks to the rifle bearing structure. A mix of noise reduction technology and sound-absorbing rubber pads also allow this fan to operate at the relatively low 28 dB at full throttle.
One of the most practical features is the smart fan sensors, which are implemented into your fan to protect your cables and components from being snagged, damaged, or even pulled by your fans.
If you are a big fan of the RGB lights that this fan features, you’d be pleased to know that this fan is fully customizable. Besides that, it is fully compatible with Asus Aura, ASRock Polychrome Sync, and MSI Mystic Light Sync to help you achieve a consistent RGB environment throughout your setup.
Note: For full compatibility of this fan, please check out the retailers product description here.
Other Awesome 120mm PC Case Fans
upHere 120mm Silent Fans
Are you after an affordable, RGB-enabled, set of case cooling fans for your PC? Check out the upHere 120mm Silent Fans. In this pack, you will get 5x 120mm of the same fans alongside a fan controller.
The price at the time of writing was $36.99.
On the outside, the fans are enclosed within a wear-resistant hydraulic bearing construction, which not only helps towards making the fan operate without producing any unnecessary noise but also helps towards increasing the fans’ lifespan.
There is no RGB ring around the 5 blades; however, there are lightning effects that show through the spinning fans for an attention-grabbing RGB experience.
A single fan from the pack measures 120mm x 120mm x 25mm, which can easily fit within most standard PC cases.
If you are after a fine balance of performance and silent operation, these fans by upHere are perfect for you. When operating at full throttle, which is 1100 RPM, the fans will produce a noise level of up to 14.8 dB, which is nearly half the noise as compared to some of our other recommendations.
Yes, for this little noise, you can’t expect the highest level of airflow; however, if you use all 5 fans individually, they will be able to cycle through 32.7 CFM of air.
The sleeve hydraulic bearing structure of the fan ensures a longer life expectancy of up to 40,000 hours, which is great news if you plan on making good use of your PC for the years ahead.
You will also get a 3-in-1 RF remote control alongside the fans, which you can use to customize your fans’ RGB lights to a particular mode like breathing, static, and multi-color.
PCCOOLER Magic Moon Series
Making an awesome RGB show in your very own PC case is not complete without a set of awesome RGB fans. Upon conducting our research, we concluded that one of the best 120mm picks should go to the PCCOOLER Magic Moon Series case fans.
The price at the time of writing was $19.99.
Straight out of the box, the fans feature a very minimalistic, sleek, and simple design in black. There are four mounting holes in each corner of the fan, which are supplemented with anti-vibration pads for minimizing the output of noise.
In terms of RGB lights, each of the fans comes with 6 high-brightness LED lamp beads, which can be found directly behind the blade. Those are responsible for a vibrant RGB look once the fans begin to spin.
Each of the fans measures 120mm x 120mm x 25mm, which is the standard fitting criteria for the large majority of PC cases on the market today.
The 9 custom blades with a special threaded design ensure a solid wind pressure, which will keep your system cool with powerful fan speeds of up to 1,200 RPM. Each of the fans can push out up to 31.68 CFM of air at the super minimal 18 dB.
The quiet operation is also partially achieved thanks to the four sound-absorbing cushion pads that are strategically allocated around the fan.
The FX-120 fan hosts a hydraulic bearing structure, which can absorb and conserve lubricating oil to improve the efficiency and lifespan of the product.
The fans can be connected either by the 5V 3-pin or the 12V 4-pin connectors, however, they cannot be connected via both at the same time to avoid short-circuiting.
As these fans are very budget-friendly, they would be a great fit within most under $500 PC builds.
Another Great 140mm PC Case Fan
Corsair ML140 Pro
If you are after a sleek, simple, and super effective 140mm cooling solution for your PC system, then we couldn’t recommend you the Corsair ML140 Pro enough.
The price at the time of writing was $29.99.
The ML140 Pro doesn’t feature any RGB lights. Rather, it comes in a sleek black design optimized for pure performance. Now, if this clean look is a little boring for you, you can also find this exact model in blue, red, and white.
Though the mounting holes are fixated, leaving no room for flexibility, if you have a standard PC case, you wouldn’t have any problems with making this cooling fan part of your system.
The ML140 Pro by Corsair delivers unrivaled performance at the fairly standard 35 dB, which can be a little too noisy for some. This performance is achieved thanks to the maglev technology and custom rotor design. On top of that, the innovative design of the blades provides both high static pressure and airflow of up to 97 CFM, which is quite an insane amount of air for a 140mm fan.
This fan also features an extensive control range that allows you to push the speed of the fan to its limit, as high as 1,600 RPM for absolute performance.
The magnetic bearing also further ensures a balance between performance and noise. Besides that, the magnetic bearing also guarantees a longer lifespan for the fan.
Other Good 200mm PC Case Fans
The Noctua NF-A20 is another great 200mm case fan. The premium quiet design make this model one of the most desirable on the market, which is the reason behind its inclusion in our guide and review today.
The price at the time of writing was $34.90.
Visually, this non-RGB cooling case fan is very appealing, especially if you are after a simplistic and sleek black look. If the full black design doesn’t quite rock your boat, you can use any of the 24 corner anti-vibration pads to change the color of the corners of the fan. The colors include red, black, white, blue, yellow, and green.
The fan itself is pretty flexible in terms of fit (as long as there is enough space for the overall design to fit within your case). The NF-A20 provides a total of three sets of mounting holes; 154x154mm, 110x180mm, and 170x170mm.
The Noctua NF-A20 features a 12V, 4-pin PWM connection, which permits the fan to automatically control its spin speed in accordance with the demands of your system.
In terms of spin speed, the fan can operate from as low as 350 RPM to as high as 800 RPM. Regardless of whether you use this fan at full throttle, the noise level will remain one of the quietest (18.1 dB) as compared to the large majority of 200mm cooling case fans.
The premium-grade SSo2 bearing greatly contributes to the life span of this fan, extending it as high as 150,000 hours.
At full speed, the fan can produce an airflow of up to 146,9 m³/h or approximately 86.462 CFM, which is more than enough to keep a mid-range system nice and cool.
Thermaltake 200mm Pure 20 Series
Last but not least, we have one of the quietest yet most effective and simple case fans, the Thermaltake 200mm Pure 20 Series in black.
The price at the time of writing was $16.95.
The Thermaltake Pure 20 hosts a rather minimalistic and delicate design. There are no RGB lights or any lights for that matter. Rather, the manufacturers have focused on manufacturing a fan for pure cooling performance.
The fan measures 200mm (W) x 200mm (L) x 30mm (D), and can perfectly fit in most mid and full-tower PC cases like the Mastercase H500P Mesh White. Alternatively, you can use this fan as the main cooler for non-standard PC cases such as the Thermaltake Core V21.
If you are after a 200mm case fan that offers the perfect balance of silence, style, and efficiency, then the Pure 20 by Thermaltake is perfect for your needs.
With a fan speed of 800 RPM, this cooling fan will not only bring down the average temperature of your build but will also do that without making a whole lot of noise (28.2 dB to be exact at peak performance).
This is thanks to the anti-vibration eleven-bladed design, which is designed for optimal airflow. This allows the fan to bring in over 129.639 CFM of air through your PC case.
Moreover, the sleeve bearing offers better reliability and further extends the life span of the fan (around 30,000 hours), which pretty much means that once you install this fan into your build, it can easily outlive it, regardless of how much you use it.
Things to Consider Before Buying a PC Case Fan
Before you shop for a case fan, there are four things that you should consider before you click the buy button. Those include your case’s size, your system’s cooling requirements, the noise that the fans will produce, and the aesthetics, which are optional.
The Size of Your Case
The size of your PC case will determine what size case fan you should purchase. The most popular sizes are 120mm, 140mm, and 200mm. The best way to approach and find the right fan size for your PC is to actually check the manufacturer of your case and their recommendations for picking the right fan.
Generally speaking, the larger your PC case is, the bigger and more fans it can fit within as generally, bigger PC cases equal to larger, more powerful builds that require more comprehensive cooling.
Your System’s Cooling Requirements
When shopping for case fans, you should do some research on the cooling requirements that your system requires. If you have a more powerful GPU & CPU and play on ultra-high graphics, as you could imagine, your PC will produce more heat due to the increase in demand for performance.
On the flip side, if you play in 1920 x 1080p and cap at 120 FPS, your systems’ cooling requirements are going to be much lower as your system will produce less heat.
Thus, one of the things you should consider is the airflow that the fans that you are shopping for can produce. This is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). The higher the CFM of the fan is, the cooler your system will likely be.
Fan Noise Levels
Adding more fans to your PC doesn’t automatically mean more noise. That of course would depend on the type of fans you decide to go for. Some fans produce more noise than others. So, if noise is something that you are worried about (even though the typical fan doesn’t produce any significant level of noise that can disrupt your gaming experience, especially if you have a headset on), the safest bet is to go for quiet fans under 30-40 dB.
When it comes to the aesthetics of a PC fan, there really are two things that you need to consider; the overall design of the fan and whether or not it is RGB-enabled. Thus, if you have a case with a glass panel that allows you to see inside the case, you will need to have a good think whether you want to light it up with RGB lights or keep it simple, clean, and neutral.
Fan Bearing Type
There is a total of four different bearing types. Each one is different to the next. Sounds confusing? Let us explain what each bearing stands for so that we can provide you with a little bit more clarity.
Sleeve-bearing fans are usually of the lowest quality as well as price. Fans with sleeve bearings are generally avoided for the fact that they do not work well with high temperatures, especially at horizontal angles. Despite this, sleeve bearings are one of the most popular.
Ball-bearing fans are quieter and more favored by those who like to upgrade or build their own PCs. Fans with ball bearings can be installed vertically or horizontally. The downside is that they are usually more expensive.
Rifle-bearing fans are a compromise between a sleeve and ball bearing, rifles are very similar to ball bearings although it is of less quality and price. They are suitable if you have a gaming PC under $1000.
Hydraulic bearing fans are similar to rifle bearings. They are quiet, long-lasting, and cheaper than ball bearings.
Before you make a decision on a particular PC case cooling fan from our selection, make sure that your specific case is compatible with the case fan that you are interested in. The fans from above range in size from as low as 120mm to as high as 200mm.
If you want to achieve an aesthetic RGB look, we would recommend you to purchase a set of fans as you would know that they work perfectly together than trying to sync up two different types of RGB fans.
Buying a set of fans will prove to be a cheaper option as compared to if you were to shop for 5 fans individually.
All of the fans within our selection are relatively quiet, so, regardless of which one you decide to go for, you shouldn’t worry about noise at all.