Last Updated on July 1, 2020 by Scott Krager
Once you’ve selected a case for your gaming PC, the next step is about choosing its fans.
Actually, most PC cases do come with a few fans installed but they are very few to make a strong impact. So the only viable option for you is to get some 3rd-party case fans.
But if you’ve ever searched online, you’d know that this isn’t as easy as it seems. You can’t just buy a fan and install it in your PC case.
Best Case Fans 2020 Buying Guide
- Noctua NF-S12A (Best 120mm Case Fan)
- Corsair ML140 Pro (Best 140mm Case Fan)
- Noctua NF-A20 (Best 200mm Case Fan)
- Cooler Master MegaFlow
- ARCTIC F8-80mm (Best 80mm Case Fan)
Having less suitable fans installed in your case will result in poor heat control, which is not so good for the PC itself.
Heat and dust are two eternal enemies of efficient PC performance, after all.
This is the reason why we have only listed some of the best case fans you can buy right now.
Best Case Fans 2020 Roundup Review
Noctua NF-S12A: Check Price On Amazon
Best 120mm Case fan 2020
If you ask me what the best case fan is, I will simply say Noctua. For the longest time, their case fans have been the industry standard, as well as a benchmark for many companies.
They are getting better and better, and while the biggest complaint people had with Noctua was the color scheme they used, but they greatly deal with it by releasing the Chromax lineup of their fans.
However, today, we are looking at the Noctua NF-S12A. Now the fan itself was released back in 2013, however, it has managed to stay relevant even today, and for all the right reasons.
To start with, the good thing about this fan is that it comes with a flexible RPM, so you should not have any issue with adjusting the speed. Additionally, the fan is nearly silent, and the power consumption is also on the lower side.
Last but not least, the fans are pretty powerful, and they are easily able to push or pull a lot of air based on the configuration you use them in
Normally, it is pretty easy to tell if the fans you are getting are good or not. With the Noctua NF-S12A, I did not feel like the fans are performing any less, or if there is anything wrong. If anything, I would say that the color combination is something that not everyone might like.
- The fan runs quite.
- Consumes less power.
- Good RPM range.
Corsair ML140 Pro: Check Price On Amazon
Best 140mm Case Fan 2020
When Corsair released their ML series of fans, I was really excited, because the ML stands for magnetic levitation; the fan itself does not have any bearings, and the blades spin thanks to magnets that keep everything in place.
I know it might sound like a disaster at first, but this technology results in whisper quiet fans spinning at a pretty fast RPM.
Today, I am reviewing the Corsair ML140 Pro, the bigger brother of the ML120 fan, or the other ML series fans that are available in the market.
Now the good thing about these fans is that they have the capability of working on really high speeds without making a noise. It was a bit hard to believe at first, but after testing it out thoroughly, I can attest to the fact that the fans are really quiet.
They are even available in single color LED, and RGB options are available as well. In terms of performance, the Corsair ML140 Pro is a beast of the fan, easily going against some of the toughest competition in the market.
As far as the complaints are concerned, I do not think I can find anything wrong with the fan. Sure, the price can be an issue, but you are paying for impressive technology.
- Top of the line performance.
- Whisper quiet even at the fastest speeds.
- Great looks if you go for the LED versions.
- Magnetic levitation is next level.
- There is none.
Noctua NF-A20: Check Price On Amazon
Best 200mm Case Fan 2020
Since the 200mm fans are coming back into the fold, and a lot of people are actually getting them for their PC builds, I thought it would be a good decision to test out one of the most legendary 200mm fans in the market.
If you have not guessed by now, I am talking about the Noctua NF-A20.
Now the thing about this fan is that it is one of the most solidly built fans available in the market, it is quiet, and it comes with blades that are broad enough to ensure that air is properly moved.
Considering its giant size, another great news is that it is able to move a lot of air without any issue whatsoever. Additionally, the fan itself is very efficient so you won’t be having any issues whatsoever. You get a great set of accessories as well, so installing the fan is not an issue.
To make installation easier, Noctua has done two things that I really love. For starters, the fan comes with four different set of screw holes that allow for easy and flexible installation.
However, if you want more, you have three different ways of fastening your fans, making things even easier for you when it comes to installing the fan.
Overall, there is no major issue with the Noctua NF-A20. The only issue that I think people might have is the color scheme, and that is about it.
- High performance.
- Great for airflow.
- Flexible installing.
- Runs quiet.
- The color scheme.
Cooler Master MegaFlow: Check Price On Amazon
Cooler Master has been making great fans for some time now, and the good thing is that they are very consistent with their products. Today, we look at the Cooler Master MegaFlow.
As the name suggests, this is a fan for people who are looking for a high airflow fan that delivers high airflow without compromising on anything.
Now the thing that you need to know here is that the Cooler Master MegaFlow is actually a 200mm fan, and not your standard 120 or 140mm fan. It is not really a bad thing as many people are actually opting for this fan size.
Now the good thing here is that you are going to be getting a really high airflow as the name of the fan suggests. It can easily push a lot of air into your case, which is certainly a great thing.
However, dust might be a concern, so just be careful about that. Additionally, the fan looks decent as well without being dull or over the top.
Overall, the Cooler Master MegaFlow is a pretty great fan.
However, I have to tell you that before buying it, make sure that your case has support for the 200mm fans as the fan support for these fans is limited at best, and not many fans support it.
- Great performance.
- High airflow.
- Looks pretty decent.
- Does not make a lot of noise either.
- Case support might be limited.
ARCTIC F8: Check Price On Amazon
Best 80mm Case Fan 2019
When it comes to great fans, Arctic has a great history of releasing some amazing options in the market. I have used plenty of Arctic fans, I have never had a bad experience.
Their 120 and 140mm offerings are amazing, but today, we are looking at something that is more of a niche product than something that is widely available.
Today, we are going to be looking at the ARCTIC AFACO-08000-GBA01 F8. This is an 80mm fan that is not as commonly used in most of the builds; however, it does come with multiple uses.
With the cases being more and more flexible in terms of fan support, it is great for fitting in the small places as long as the case actually has the support for 80mm fans.
The good news is that despite being small, it runs pretty nicely, and push a lot of air. This fan can run pretty fast, which is a good thing, but at the same time, it does make some noise when running, so you need to be a bit careful.
With that said, there is one thing that might be a concern for people who are buying this fan. The fan might not be supported in all cases, because the 80mm standard is not something that is common in the case market at the moment.
- Small package, massive performance.
- Pretty powerful in terms of RPM.
- Case support might be an issue
How To Choose Case Fans For Your PC
Below are some of the things to know while choosing a case fan.
1. Static Pressure vs AirFlow Fans
PC fans can be differentiated with the respect to their functionality.
Yes, different fans work in different ways.
In terms of functionality, there are two types of fans: High Airflow fans and High Static Pressure fans.
High Airflow fans are designed to push as much air as possible. These fans are the ones marked with CFM rating, which basically tells how much air volume they can intake/exhaust. Airflow fans are generally used as case fans.
On the other hand, high static pressure fans are known for forcing the air to ‘pass through’ small spaces. While they don’t push as much air as high airflow fans do, they are better at pushing the air more strongly over a small area.
While static pressure fans aren’t used as case fans, their ability to exert pressure on air makes them suitable for things like heatsinks, radiators, HDD cage, or any component that need the air to “pass through” it.
2. 3-Pin Vs 4-Pin Fans
Case fans can also be differentiated in terms of connecting pins they have. There are 3-pin and 4-pin fans in the market.
A 3-pin fan has wires for power, ground, and tachometer. This tachometer is responsible for conveying different types of information (like rpm) to the motherboard.
A 4-pin fan, on the other hand, has an additional 4th-pin for PMW. Also known as Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is a very handy feature which allows motherboard (or any other software) to control the fan’s speed.
So if you want to manipulate your fans’ speed in the future, it’s important the note the difference.
3. Fan Speed
CPU fans’ speed is measured in RPM (Revs Per Minute). More RPM generally means more spinning (and more cooling) but also more noise production.
4. Fan Size
In terms of size, there are different types of fans, such as 80mm fans, 120mm fans, 140mm fans, and even 200mm fans etc.
If two fans of different sizes run at same rpm, the larger fan will push more air than the smaller fan. It means, if you want a quiet PC, you can buy a large fan and set it to low-speed. It will push as much air as a smaller but speedier fan.
The only problem with extra large fans is the compatibility. Most PC cases aren’t made to work with fans beyond 120mm and 140mm size.
If you aren’t sure about your PC supporting a particular fan size, check out the manual that came along with your case, or do online research.
5. Fan Noise
Fan noise is measured in decibel levels (dBA).
You can check specifications to find out the noise of a particular fan but most companies don’t mention how they have calculated this number, how was the sound level of that area, and from how close that noise was measured.
These things make the numbers given by the manufacturers, really ambiguous. One solution here is to check online reviews, like this one.
But even that option doesn’t make it totally transparent.
It’s because everybody perceives noise differently. What is a harsh noise for me, might be a normal sound to you.
6. Cubic Feet/Minute
Most people focus on the rpm speed of a case fan, which is totally wrong. Yes, rpm is important but even more important is the CFM (Cubic Feet/Minute).
CFM is a specification which tells how much air a fan can move. More often than not, more CFM equals a better fan.
7. Positive vs Negative Air Pressure
8. Bearing Types
All fans – PC fans included – consist of a rotor that spins on a bearing to displace air, and bearing plays an important role in the overall performance and durability of a fan.
In PC fans, there are four different types of bearings used and each of them has its respective pros and cons.
Sleeve Bearing Fans
This is the most common and the cheapest type of case fan bearings. Due to their cheap price, there are a little less reliable than other types. Sleeve bearing fans usually run at low speed and don’t perform well in high temperature.
Also, these fans can only be placed in a vertical position.
Ball Bearing Fans
Ball bearing fans are a total opposite of sleeve bearing fans. They last longer than sleeve bearing fans and can be placed vertically as well as horizontally.
The only problem is the high noise production and the high cost of manufacturing ball bearing fans. These bearings only come in limited high-end case fans.
Rifle Bearing Fans
You can think of rifle bearings as the updated version of sleeve bearings. These bearings offer better durability and can also be mounted horizontally.
Fluid Dynamic And Hydro Dynamic Bearing Fans
Among all types, fluid dynamic fans have the lowest noise. They also last longer than sleeve bearing fans and are suitable for horizontal mounting. The only downside here is the extra cost.
For some people, 3rd-party case fans are another way of making their PCs more colorful. For this purpose, many case fans come with RGB lighting that can be further customized.