Best Case Fans of 2020 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

When building a PC, one of the main things you put a lot of thought into is fans. If you are going to be using your system for high graphics gaming or other intensive tasks, then using the right fan is important. Without it, your system will overheat and eventually slow down. That is the last thing a gamer wants. In this article, we will look at the best case fans to avoid exactly that.  

Comaprison Chart of the Best Case Fans

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Noctua NF-F12 PWM

  • Quality low-noise cooling fan
  • FocusedFlow frame for high static pressure
  • Includes anti-vibration mounts
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Corsair ML120

  • Magnetic Levitation technology for lower noise
  • Good balance between high-static pressure and high airflow
  • Offers extensive control range
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be quiet! Silent Wings 3 BL070

  • Best for the Money
  • Seven fan blades offers optimized airflow
  • Less power consumption and vibration
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Corsair Air Series AF120

  • Best 120mm Case Fan
  • Ideal for mounting at the rear or top of PC case
  • Designed to outperform standard case fans
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Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 140mm Silent Fan

  • Best 140mm Case Fan
  • Installation is simple and easy
  • Move impressive amount of air
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Cooler Master MegaFlow 200

  • Best 200mm Case Fan
  • Quiet operation with low RPM
  • Allows great cooling for PCs
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Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 80mm Silent Fan

  • Best 80mm Case Fan
  • Higher airflow results in better cooling performance
  • Efficient 11-blade fan design
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Noctua NF-A8 PWM

  • Best Noctua Case Fan
  • 8cm format is ideal for compact PC cases
  • 4-pin PWM version for automatic speed control
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What is a Case Fan?

Case fans are also called computer fans because they are used to cool computer hardware. They are just one of the ways of cooling the CPU. Other ways include liquid cooling, but fan cooling is still the most common. For this purpose, they are attached to the CPU, where they intake hot air from the surrounding active components and expel it outside.

They can also bring in cool air from the outside. Sometimes, they are used to cool one particular component while other times, they can be used for the entire CPU. Since they are such an important part of the system, there have been many improvements in their design. Now, buyers don’t just look for efficient cooling but RGB lighting capabilities as well.

How Many Case Fans Do I Need?

New computer systems come with pre-installed fans. They are generally enough for those that don’t overuse their computers, but for avid gamers, they are not sufficient. Serious users do thorough research before buying fans and recommend using 3 to 4 fans, depending on the size of the fans and that of the CPU. The more heat your system produces, the more fans it will need. But it does not just depend on the fan. You need to check if your CPU has enough room and extension options to add multiple fans. It is always advised to go all out on cooling i.e., do as much as your CPU and power supply can handle.  

How to Choose Case Fans

There are several things you need to check before buying your case fan. Just going for the biggest and the fastest is not enough. That is a mistake novice users often make. Here are the things you should keep in mind before buying.

Size

Case fans come in varying sizes, including 80mm, 120mm, 140mm, and 200mm. Larger fans produce less noise than smaller ones. This is because they can effectively push more air compared to small fans when both run at the same RPM or speed. This lets them move slowly and hence produces less sound. So why doesn’t everyone buy bigger fans? This is because of compatibility issues. Mostly, CPUs don’t have room for large fans. The most commonly used ones are 120mm ones.  

RPM

RPM stands for Revolutions per Minute or, in other words, the speed of the fan. Higher RPM means higher speed but also more noise. Many times, people will just pick a fan with more RPM, but that is not always the right choice. You need to make some tradeoffs for noise. The other thing to keep in mind is static pressure, which we will discuss below.

Air Flow vs. Static Pressure

Airflow is how much air the fan can move in our out. It is measured in CFM or Cubic Feet per minute. The higher the airflow, the better, of course. Case fans have different types of blades that are spaced differently. Those that have high airflow features are designed to move as much air as possible through an opening. Manufacturers will give the CFM rating of the fan with it.

The other feature is the static pressure. It is the pressure the fan has to move the air against. This feature is important when there are things that block airflow. You will need a higher static pressure fan that can exert more force to move the air through small openings and obstructions. These are useful in cooling radiators and heat sinks. It is measured in units of mmH2O.

Sound

Fan noise is an important factor because no one wants to hear the constant moving of fan blades. It can be very annoying and distracting while you are working. Noise is measured in dBA or decibel level. You need to look for fans with the lowest possible sound. To compare with, you normally talk at a 40-decibel sound level. Anything more than that is not acceptable. In fact, your fan should stay well below 30 dBA. But noise is something you might have to compromise on. While there are several manufacturers that claim their fans to be virtually silent, that is not always the case. It will always produce some amount of noise. 

Pin Type

The fans are connected to the motherboard via a pin. Motherboards have a slot dedicated to fans. There are two common types when it comes to pins. One has 3 pins, and the other has 4. The fourth pin is for software compatibility. Most of the modern fans will have this feature. It lets you control fan function via a software interface.

Quick Take - Best Case Fans

Just looking for the three best case fans? Here they are:

  1. Noctua NF-F12 PWM
  2. Corsair ML120
  3. be quiet! Silent Wings 3 BL070

Review of the Best Case Fans

Now that you know what you need to look for, let’s review the best case fans that you can currently get your hands on. All of these are nothing less than the best and will ensure a worthy purchase. 

Best Overall:
Noctua NF-F12 PWM

Noctua NF-F12 PWM, Premium Quiet Fan, 4-Pin (120mm, Brown)

PROS

  • Has anti-vibration mounts
  • Maximum speed of 1500 RPM
  • Comes with a low noise adaptor
  • 4-pin PWM enables fan speed control
  • Focused flow frame gives high-static pressure

CONS

  • Airflow could be improved

What Recent Buyers Report

This fan gives extra-quiet operation, and when you add the low noise adaptor, it becomes ‘as quiet as a graveyard.’ Its price is reasonable, given its high quality and performance. Many buyers who have used it as a replacement to older models find significant improvements. It delivers all that it promises.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This fan has a Focused Flow Frame that has 11 stator guide vanes that focus the air for more pressure. This makes it match in performance with fans that run at higher speeds. It has seven blades that are designed to achieve a balance between performance and sound. It uses SSO2 bearing placed closer to the axis to reduce vibrations and improve durability. It also has anti-vibration pads on all four corners. The sound level is between 4 and 22 dBA. With the low noise adaptor, it becomes 6 to 18 dBA. 

Who Will Use This Most

This fan has a high airflow with Focused Flow Frame, which makes it suitable for CPU heat sinks. It uses a 4-pin Y cable and a 30cm extension cable. You will need to check the fan header or port available on your system to see if it is compatible.

Bottom Line

When looking for case fans, Noctua will always come on the top. It always produces top quality and durable fans. Its low noise adaptors are very effective, and the anti-vibration pads help with performance. It is designed to give static pressure. The 4-pin connector manages speed according to temperature and need.

Runner-up:
Corsair ML120

Corsair CO-9050039-WW ML120, 120mm Premium Magnetic Levitation Fan (2-Pack)

PROS

  • Maximum CFM of 75
  • This case includes two fans
  • Maximum speed of 2000 RPM which can be adjusted
  • Magnetic bearing technology for reduced sound level
  • Maintains a good balance between airflow and static pressure

CONS

  • Very noisy at highest speed limit

What Recent Buyers Report

This fan has both good airflow and static pressure, which is not found in a lot of case fans. Its noise level is high, but that comes with the extra speed. It cools the CPU very effectively. Since it comes in a pack of 2, the price is very reasonable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This fan uses magnetic bearing that makes use of magnetic levitation technology to reduce noise and improve lifespan. The blades are designed to give both high static pressure and high airflow. Its highest speed is 2000 RPM, which can be controlled according to need because it uses a 4-pin connector.

Who Will Use This Most

Because this fan has both high airflow and good static pressure, it can be used to cool CPU heat sinks and as general intake and outtake fans as well. It can only be used with systems that have a 4-pin connection. Its highest noise level is 35 dBA, so you will need to check if you can work with that level of noise. It is not too high, given the 2000 RPM speed.

Bottom Line

The 120mm size is one of the most common designs. This model comes 2 in a pack and is as reasonable as the value it gives. Its cooling is very effective, and the noise level compared to the speed is also conventional and what you would expect at that level.

be quiet! Silent Wings 3 120mm PWM High-Speed, BL070, Cooling Fan

PROS

  • Low noise even at high speeds
  • Seven fan blade design for better airflow
  • Fluid dynamic bearings improve the lifespan
  • Fan speed can be controlled by the motherboard
  • Consumes less power and produces little vibrations

CONS

  • Build quality could be improved

What Recent Buyers Report

Compared to other models, it gives more sound, but it is not too high to be a disturbance. The price is very budget-friendly. It is pretty easy to install and cools effectively. The fan speed control is a good option that efficiently maximizes speed according to need.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This fan has an impressive high RPM of 2200, and given the speed, the noise level is very low i.e. 28.6 dBA. It consumes very little power, given its 6-pole fan motor. To reduce vibrations, it has fluid dynamic bearings. This bearing also improves its lifespan to 300,000 hours. It has funnel-shaped air inlets to improve air pressure and seven blades for high airflow.  

Who Will Use This Most

This fan uses the 4-pin connector to adjust fan speed according to requirements. It has a high airflow of 73.33 CFM, so it will be good for unobstructed areas. But it also has good air pressure ratings, so some tightness of space might not be an issue.

Bottom Line

This is a good low priced case fan. As the name suggests, it gives extremely low noise performance. The design is sleek and black and will fit right in the CPU case. It comes in 120 and 140 mm sizes. Both are the most common ones that should fit most CPU cases easily.

Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 140mm Silent Fan for Computer Cases and Radiators

PROS

  • Good speed of 1000 RPM 
  • Very low noise level of 16 dBA
  • Life expectancy of 35,000 hours
  • Very low priced compared to others
  • Environmentally friendly and RoHS compliant

CONS

  • No LED connection
  • Requires a 3-pin connector

What Recent Buyers Report

For the price, its quality and cooling effectiveness are very good. In addition, the installation is very easy, and the case has room to add two extra fans as well. The pin it uses is a 3-pin, so you will need to check for compatibility.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This case fan is very cheap but durable. Its airflow rating is good enough at 60.9 CFM. The noise level 16 dBA is also very low. It cools very effectively despite the low noise. Plus, it follows the guidelines of RoHS (restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive released for electronic components, so it is environmentally friendly.  

Who Will Use This Most

This fan can be bought in sizes of 80mm, 92mm, 120mm, and 140mm. You can choose the size according to cooling requirements and available space. Also, remember that it uses a 3 rather than a 4-pin connector. So anyone looking for these features can go for this model. 

Bottom Line

This is a very simple and easy to install case fan. The price is very low, but it still gives a great cooling performance. It will not produce a lot of disturbance with noise as well. This is one of the simpler and cheap designs that you can use with a 3-pin connection.  

Best 200mm Case Fan:
Cooler Master MegaFlow 200

Cooler Master MegaFlow 200 - Sleeve Bearing 200mm Silent Fan for Computer Cases (Black)

PROS

  • Very low priced case fan
  • High airflow rating of 110 CFM
  • 700 RPM speed is good for a 200mm fan
  • Quiet operation even at the maximum speed
  • RoHS compliant and environmentally friendly

CONS

  • Not compatible with every computer case because it only comes in 200mm size

What Recent Buyers Report

The large size of this fan produces very efficient cooling. This is a very quiet fan and effectively moves a lot of air. The pack has everything needed to install it. It does not take up a lot of power. Installing this fan means your system will remain cool no matter what during operation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a big sized fan that produces a lot of airflow. Its displacement volume is 184 M3/h, which is quite an improvement on the smaller 140mm fans. The large size also means it is very quiet. It does not need to go too fast to cool effectively. Its speed is 700 RPM with a very high 110 CFM.

Who Will Use This Most

This fan is not compatible with every CPU case because of its size. According to the manufacturers, it can fit Cosmos S, ATCS 840, HAF 932, HAF 922, and Storm Sniper. It requires a 4-pin connection.

Bottom Line

If your CPU case has enough room, then buying good quality and effective larger case fans is something that many people go for. These fans are very quiet compared to smaller fans as they don’t need to move as fast to produce good airflow.

Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 80mm Silent Fan for Computer Cases and CPU Coolers

PROS

  • High speed of 2000 RPM
  • Quiet operation at 20 dBA noise level
  • RoHS compliant energy consumption
  • Slim and low profile fans to fit in easily 
  • 11 bladed design for better cooling at low speed

CONS

  • Low CFM rating
  • Only works with a 3-pin connector

What Recent Buyers Report

The only thing that people find this fan lacking is the lack of a 4-pin connection. But that is not a problem for everyone as controlling the fan speed is not vital for cooling properly. Its operation is very quiet and doesn’t produce a lot of disturbance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This fan has a very silent operation at 20 dBA. The fan design is very slim and can fit in the CPU case easily. It has 11 blades to produce more cooling at less speed. The highest speed is 2000 RPM. It is also a RoHS compliant product.

Who Will Use This Most

This case fan is recommended to be used in CM 690, CM 590, and CM 690 II. Because of its small size, it will be easy to fit in. In addition to that, the high airflow makes it good for cooling different components.

Bottom Line

Cooler Master is a name you will have seen a lot on our list. They produce good quality and cheap case fans that can cool very effectively. They produce CPU cases as well as fans. This model can be bought in varying sizes, which are commonly available at different prices.

Best Noctua Case Fan:
Noctua NF-A8 PWM 

Noctua NF-A8 PWM, Premium Quiet Fan, 4-Pin (80mm, Brown)

PROS

  • Maximum RPM of 2200
  • Comes with a low noise adaptor
  • Features integrated anti-vibration pads
  • Low noise level ranging from 7 to 17 dBA
  • Has a 4-pin PWM connection for speed control

CONS

  • Not the best-looking case fan

What Recent Buyers Report

This fan has a very low noise level, given its low noise adaptor. Its build quality is very good and is easy to install. Everything you will need comes in the pack. The only thing that is wrong with it is its look, but that is not as important as the cooling.

Why it Stands Out to Us

 Just like our top pick, this Noctua fan is of top quality. It has an Advanced Acoustic Optimization frame design with four anti-vibration pads to reduce the noise produced. It is compatible with Noctua’s NE-FD1 IC for automatic speed control. It also has a low noise adaptor which, when used, reduces the maximum speed from 2200 to 1750 RPM. This unit also has Flow Acceleration Channels to improve efficiency.    

Who Will Use This Most

This 80mm fan uses a 4-pin Y cable. Because of its small size, it is suitable for smaller CPU cases. The manufacturer suggests its use with HTPC, ITX, and Small Form Factor.

Bottom Line

For the last pick on our list, this 80 mm fan is still of high quality and durable. The low noise levels and high airflow are all you should look for in your fans. This smaller one can fit many systems where the more common larger ones will not. 

Corsair Air Series AF120 LED Quiet Edition High Airflow Fan Twin Pack - Red

PROS

  • Low noise level of 25.2 dBA
  • Has a maximum RPM of 1500
  • Four attached LEDs for a cool look
  • Sleeved bearings to reduce vibrations
  • Can be bought in dual and single packs and in different colors

CONS

  • Does not have a 4-pin connector for fan speed control

What Recent Buyers Report

The different colors of this fan give the build a cool look. The airflow is good, and the noise level is also pretty low. The aesthetic is probably what attracts most buyers. The price is also reasonable, given the operation. The build quality is very good and seems durable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

These fans are designed to give high airflow and low noise. The fan blades are custom molded to give better airflow. The design is very thin and sleek, which further reduces vibrations and noise. Also, it uses sleeved bearings. The noise level is very low, at 25.2 dBA.  

Who Will Use This Most

This fan has an LED feature and comes in different colors, including red, blue, and white. Because it has a high airflow feature, it is more suited in unrestricted areas like the top and back. They are not suitable for heat sinks and hard drive cages where you will require more pressure. It uses a 3-pin connector.    

Bottom Line

For the budget-conscious, this fan is a good option. It gives you the cool look of LED lights that many gamers and CPU builders look for. Its cooling capacity is also very high. Depending on your space availability, you can buy either the 120mm or the 140mm size. It also comes in dual packs.

How to Install Case Fans

Opening up your CPU to install something can be very daunting for the inexperienced. There are a lot of components in there, and you are afraid to mess something up. But don’t worry, you can follow these simple steps to set up your fan without affecting your CPU.

  1. This tutorial is for BitPhoenix Ghost Chassis.

  2. Take one exhaust fan and place it on the space given next to where the chassis fan connection is (below Gigabit Ethernet I/O).

  3. Use the screws to tighten it in place (screw holes are given on all four sides on the square).

  4. You will repeat the process for any other fan you might want to install.

  5. Attach the fan wires to the fan headers.

  6. Different CPUs will have different locations for fans and different numbers of fans that you can install.

If you want to see more details, you can watch the video given below.

How to Connect Case Fans to Power Supply

Fans have wires with a connector at the end. That connector is what you will attach to the motherboard, which will then act as its power supply. Different motherboards will have different numbers of fan connectors and different types. You will either have a 3-pin or a 4-pin connector. If your motherboard and fan connectors don’t match, you can always use an adaptor.

Actually, connecting to the socket is no rocket science. You just put the fan pin in the motherboard socket just like any other connection.  

Conclusion

Now that you know all there is to know about case fans hopefully, you can make an informed decision. Don’t let RGB lighting distract you from what actually matters. And that is the effectiveness of cooling; you can look for lighting at the end. All the products on our list have been selected for their efficiency and compatibility.

People Also Ask

For more information on case fans, you can refer to these frequently asked questions. These can also help to clear up any confusion you might still have regarding these cooling devices. 

What Does Intake and Exhaust Mean on a Fan?

As the name suggests, intake fans draw in cool air from the surrounding area inside the CPU to cool down the components. On the other hand, an exhaust fan takes hot air of the CPU and moves it outside to cool the components down. 

Which Way Do Case Fans Blow?

There are two sides to a case fan. One is open, and the other is closed. The air flows from the open side to the closed side. If you are mounting an intake fan, then the open side will face outside the CPU to draw air in. For exhaust fans, you will do the opposite.

How to Control Case Fan Speed

Case fans that let you control their speed have a software interface to let you do it. It can be accessed through the BIOS. There is no one way of doing it as every computer has a different BIOS setup, and every fan has different options for fan control. You should check the instruction for your system to see how you can do it.

How to Measure Case Fan

Fan cases have their size given on the package, but if you want to make sure it is correct, you can measure one side of the case. The case fans are square, so all sides are the same. They are usually given in millimeter units e.g., 80 mm.

How Many Fans Are Typically in a Desktop Case?

The minimum recommended fan numbers in a case are three. You can add more depending on your needs and availability of slots.

What’s the Difference Between CPU Fan vs. Case Fan?

A case fan is any fan connected to the inside of the computer case. They are of two types i.e., intake and exhaust. CPU fans are used to cool CPU heat sinks.  

What’s the Difference Between Case Fan 3 Pin vs. 4 Pin?

A 3-pin fan has three wires: one for power, one for ground, and one for sending information to your motherboard. The 4-pin fan has a fourth wire PWM wire (Pulse Width Modulation). This connection lets your system adjust the fan speed.

What’s the Difference Between 90mm vs. 92mm Case Fan?

The difference between these two fans just like their size is very small. You can even mount a 92mm fan on 90mm mounting holes. Speed and noise produced are pretty much similar.

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Case Fan Reviews

To help you quickly find what you need, we have organized all of our case fan buyer guides into one place. Feel free to browse around. Thanks for reading!