The most effective PC followers in 2021

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Two of the best PC fans side by side on a blue background

(Picture credit score: Corsair, Noctua)

The most effective PC followers are a should even in the event you’re planning a water-cooled construct. They’re going to give your machine that additional cooling enhance, however that is not all they’re good for. With a serving to hand from intelligent clock pace administration in right now’s high silicon, the perfect PC cooling followers will assist your PC run sooner. 

Should you’re staring down one of many finest PC circumstances, seeking to fill it with the newest high-end parts, enough airflow via your complete case is compulsory—particularly in the event you plan on overclocking your system. Ideally, your PC fan wont add to the noise your machine produces both. That is usually simpler stated than executed, but when sound is a high precedence, the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM is your finest wager.

We have picked out a few of the finest laptop followers we have examined, and listed them beneath, together with a few of the key factors that we predict make them stand out. Alternatively, in the event you’re in search of a few of the finest CPU coolers, we have you coated there too.

Finest PC followers

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1. Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200

The most effective PC fan in 2021

Specs

Bearing kind: Self-Stabilising Oil Strain Bearing

RPM vary: 400–1200

Listed CFM: 59.2

Listed dBA: 18.1

RGB: No

140mm mannequin no.: NF-P14s Redux–1200 PWM

Causes to purchase

+Cheap however performs nice+Much less ugly than the outdated Noctua fashions

Causes to keep away from

No RGBNot the quietest Noctua fan

Should you care in any respect about case followers, chances are high Noctua is a reputation you already know. It is a trusted favourite amongst many DIY builders, and for a great purpose. Noctua builds followers that final a very long time, transfer quite a lot of air, and do it quietly. The issue: till just lately, shopping for Noctua followers meant committing your self to an unpleasant (ed’s be aware: lovely) khaki-and-mud colour scheme straight out of the ’70s. Noctua was the definition of function-over-form, an engineering surprise that will impress any fanatic who checked out your PC however disgust everybody else.

Noctua’s Redux line rectified this subject, although, recasting time-tested designs in a contemporary gray-and-black look that will not detract from the remainder of your PC construct. And of the 2 Redux fashions Noctua despatched over, the NF-S12B turned a fast favourite. It isn’t as quiet nor as environment friendly as one other blacked-out Noctua mannequin, the NF-S12A, however it’s low-cost. Time was, Noctua followers meant shelling out some huge cash in your construct, however the NF-S12B redux balances nice efficiency with a budget-friendly price ticket and appears nice within the course of.

You will discover no RGB lighting right here—no frills of any form, actually. However the NF-S12B’s Self-Stabilising Oil Strain Bearings will final for years whereas transferring extra air at mid-range speeds than any non-Noctua fan we examined and one way or the other maintaining quieter than the competitors as nicely. It is a clear winner.

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2. Corsair LL120 RGB

The highest fan for RGB builds

Specs

Bearing kind: Hydraulic Bearing

RPM vary: 600–1500

Listed CFM: 43.3

Listed dBA: 24.8

RGB: Sure, with Corsair Lighting Node Professional

140mm mannequin no.: LL140 RGB

Causes to purchase

+High-tier RGB lighting+Surprisingly quiet at full-speed

Causes to keep away from

Barely louder at mid-range speedsActually not for finances builds

Do you want RGB followers? No. Would you like RGB followers? After all. They will look nice in an all-glass case and even via a standard aspect window, and in the event you’re chasing that full-cyberpunk aesthetic, then Corsair’s LL120 Professional RGB followers are the perfect you should purchase.

The LL120s are packed filled with RGB LEDs. Every has a complement of LEDs shining out from the rotor, diffusing gentle down the blades’ size as they spin. Then there is a separate ring of sunshine embedded across the housing’s periphery. Consequently, the LL120s are the brightest and showiest followers we examined and an ideal match for any RGB addict.

They are not only for present, although. The LL120s are additionally strong followers, lighting or no. At mid-range speeds, they are usually barely louder than the competitors, however at load, they’re quieter than simply about any non-Noctua fan we examined—and that is solely as a result of a lot of the Noctua followers high out at 1200 RPM, versus 1500 RPM for the LL120. 

The largest drawback? They’re costly. Like, extremely costly. To make use of LL120s, it’s essential commit to buying a three-pack of followers with an included Corsair Lighting Node Professional, a bundle that lists for $120. Further followers will run you $35 every. That is an entire lot of cash, even when the outcomes are stellar.

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Cooler Master MF120R ARGB

(Picture credit score: Cooler Grasp)

3. Cooler Grasp MF120R A-RGB

RGB followers on a finances

Specs

Bearing kind: Rifle Bearing

RPM vary: 650–2000

Listed CFM: 59.0

Listed dBA: 31.0

RGB: Sure, both via motherboard or Cooler Grasp’s controller

140mm mannequin no.: N/A

Causes to purchase

+Inexpensive RGB lighting+Plenty of airflow potential

Causes to keep away from

Actually, actually loud at high paceNot precisely quiet beneath that both

Cooler Grasp’s RGB design is a bit much less high-tech than the Corsair LL120s, that includes solely fan-blade lighting as a substitute of the second ring across the exterior. It is nonetheless a horny fan, although, vibrant and with easy transitions. And whereas the bundle lists for $99, you’ll be able to normally discover it on sale a lot cheaper. Add in the truth that extra followers solely value $20 every, and also you’re set to save lots of an entire lot of cash in your cooling setup.

So what is the catch? They’re loud. Like, actually loud. Even Cooler Grasp admits it, itemizing the MF120R at 31 dBA. In our personal checks, the MF120R equipment was fairly quiet at 1200 RPM however utterly unusable at its most 2000 RPM pace, posting the loudest measurements of any fan we examined—louder than the opposite 2000 RPM followers we examined, the NZXT Aer RGB 2 and the Noctua NF-A12x25.

Granted, the MF120Rs transfer quite a lot of air at high pace, tying the Noctua NF-A12x25 for the very best airflow. There is not any manner you’d wish to run them at that pace, although, no less than not for typical gaming use. Nonetheless, you get a full RGB lighting setup and a few fairly sturdy followers for a fraction of the price of Corsair’s equipment. So long as you restrict the MF120Rs to operating at 1200 or 1500 RPM max, they is likely to be a great various.

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4. Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM

Finest for transferring quite a lot of air

Specs

Bearing kind: Self-Stabilising Oil Strain Bearing – Second Era

RPM vary: 450–2000

Listed CFM: 60.1

Listed dBA: 22.6

RGB: No

140mm mannequin no.: NF-A14 PWM

Causes to purchase

+Highest airflow of any fan we examined+Plenty of equipment included

Causes to keep away from

The styling is not to everybody’s styleExcessive worth

This is some good ol’ Noctua khaki-and-mud for the diehards. The Noctua SF-12B above is a improbable fan, and rightly our total choose, however in the event you’re in search of a top-tier 120mm mannequin that may transfer a lot of air, the awkwardly named NF-A12x25 blows away the competitors. Of all of the followers we examined, that is the mannequin that pumped essentially the most air via our check rig.

However—and that is essential—the NF-A12x25 was additionally the quietest fan we examined when operating at decrease RPM. Our numbers have it placing out much less noise at 1200 RPM than some followers operating 300 RPM slower. Since these mid-range speeds are typically extra prone to come up in day-to-day use, that makes the NF-A12x25 a wonderful selection in your common gaming PC whereas nonetheless giving it the headroom to spin as much as 2000 RPM in the course of a heatwave.

Positive, Noctua’s trademark brown followers will stick out like a sore thumb in no matter PC you construct, however they’re additionally an indication of high quality, and the NF-A12x25 lives as much as the legacy. It is also a pleasant contact what number of equipment include the NF-A12x25, from a 12-inch extension cable and a Y-splitter to a bunch of rubber vibration dampers. The value is excessive, however it’s exhausting to argue the worth.

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5. NZXT Aer RGB 2 120mm

RGB with a subtler impact

Specs

Bearing kind: Fluid Dynamic Bearing

RPM vary: 500–1500

Listed CFM: 52.4

Listed dBA: 22.0

RGB: Sure, with NZXT Hue 2

140mm mannequin no.: Aer RGB 2 140mm

Causes to purchase

+Simply actually fairly+Loads of equipment included

Causes to keep away from

Louder than mostBundle pricing is complicated

NZXT makes attractive {hardware}. It isn’t at all times essentially the most cost-effective, nor essentially the most environment friendly, and certainly the NZXT Aer RGB 2 will not win any prizes for its efficiency in our checks. At its high pace of 1500 RPM, the Aer RGB 2 strikes a shocking quantity of air, however it’s additionally louder than almost each different fan we examined. And even in our low-speed checks, the Aer RGB 2 proved a hair noisier than the remainder of the competitors.

Have a look at it, although. It is actually a sight to behold. In contrast to Corsair, NZXT limits the Aer RGB 2’s LEDs to the outer ring, casting a slight glow on the spinning fan blades with out instantly illuminating them—and shining a lot of sunshine outwards into the case. It is an immaculate look, objectively as gaudy as another RGB setup however seeming a bit sleeker and refined one way or the other. The Hue 2 controller can also be extra enticing than any of the opposite bins we checked out, that means you will not thoughts having to incorporate it alongside the followers in your all-glass case.

Like Corsair, NZXT struggles with the value, although. A 3-pack of 120mm followers plus controller lists for $130, much more than Corsair’s LL120 starter equipment, although extra followers one way or the other listing for $30—$5 lower than Corsair’s add-ons. Bizarre.

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6. Scythe Kaze Flex 120 PWM

The most effective finances PC followers

Specs

Bearing kind: Fluid Dynamic Bearing

RPM vary: 300–1200

Listed CFM: 51.2

Listed dBA: 24.9

RGB: No

140mm mannequin no.: N/A

Causes to purchase

+Cable is sturdy+Pretty cheap

Causes to keep away from

Feels cheaper than the remainderComparatively loud at any pace

Do it your self

Our information to the right gaming PC construct. Every thing it’s essential know to create gaming perfection.

Scythe would not make an amazing first impression, granted. The Kaze Flex 120 PWM arrives in an inexpensive plastic bundle, wanting extra prefer it got here from an auto store than a contemporary PC retailer. Facet-by-side with Noctua’s Redux packaging, or Corsair’s weighty bins, Scythe feels each a part of the finances fan answer.

The Kaze Flex 120 PWM we examined is among the firm’s higher fashions, although. At 1200 RPM, the Kaze Flex 120 moved extra air in our check rig than a few of the competitors (Corsair, for example) did at 1400 and even 1600 RPM, presumably a results of having eleven blades the place most followers have solely 9. Plenty of air goes hand-in-hand with noise, although, and certainly the Kaze Flex 120 PWM can also be noisier than the competitors at any given pace setting—although because it tops out at 1200 RPM, the noise isn’t as unhealthy as fashions that spin as much as larger speeds.

If you’d like a good budget-friendly fan and the SF-12B is not doing it for you? Scythe’s blade-heavy blower is likely to be the correct selection. And hey, it is yet another firm that hasn’t dipped into the RGB LED nicely but. That is value one thing.

Finest PC fan FAQ

How do I enhance my PC’s airflow?

Poor airflow can have a significant impression in your PC’s efficiency. There are various opinions on fan placement and which supplies the perfect airflow. A very good place to start out is to keep away from a impartial stress surroundings as stagnant, scorching air gathering round your parts will not assist any PC.

Primarily, you will wish to just be sure you have followers for consumption and exhaust in order that the air is transferring inside your PC case. Each constructive and unfavourable air stress setups will do the job nicely and be sure that cool air is being pulled into your case whereas scorching air is expelled.

How are PC followers examined?

There are quite a lot of case followers on the market, so we needed to set a number of tips. First, we restricted our checks to 120mm followers. It isn’t as a result of we hate 140mm. Quite the opposite! 140mm followers are typically quieter and transfer extra air, making them an amazing selection for any case that may deal with the bigger measurement. However 120mm remains to be the “default” case fan, and it is exhausting to check totally different fan strains while you’re additionally evaluating totally different sizes, so we caught to 120mm variations as a management. (We have tried to offer the mannequin quantity for the 140mm model the place potential.)

With that in thoughts, we contacted various the most well-liked case fan producers and had them ship over each their best-selling and their private favourite 120mm fashions. Then we hacked collectively a miniature wind tunnel with an anemometer inside, a tool that measures airflow. This helped us match airflow between totally different followers at totally different RPM after which use a decibel meter to measure relative loudness. As we stated up high: You need a stability between airflow and noise. We took our decibel readings from 5 inches, which is nearer to those followers than you’d ever be, however helped make clear what in any other case minute variations in noise stage are.

We then maxed out the RPM on every fan to check a theoretical airflow restrict and the accompanying noise. Chances are high you’d by no means run most of those followers at one hundred pc—that is why they’re PWM followers! However when you have an older motherboard with out PWM (or have a system that runs scorching), you may hit this restrict, and it is good to know the way loud your PC may probably get and the way a lot air these followers hypothetically transfer. As for RGB lighting? Nicely, we now have eyes for these checks.

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