Best Case Fans 2018 – Buyer’s Guide and Case Fan Reviews

by | Apr 19, 2018

Best Case Fans 2018

We rated, reviewed, & compared 21 of the best PC cases fans across various sizes and budgets. These case fans are designed for performance oriented silent operation.

Best Computer Case Fans for Optimal Static Pressure & Airflow

 NameSizeBearing Type 
best 120mm case fansCorsair AF120 & AF140120mm, 140mmHydraulic

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best case fansNoctua NF-F PWM Chromax120mm, 140mmSSO2

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best computer fansCorsair LL RGB Fans120mm, 140mmHydraulic Bearing

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best 140mm case fansNZXT FN V2120mm, 140mmRifle

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best pc fansCougar Vortex PWW120mm, 140mmHydro Dynamic

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best budget computer fanARCTIC F PWM Series120mm, 140mmFluid Dynamic

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best pc case fansCooler Master MegaFlow 200200mmSleeve

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Corsair AF120 & AF140

best 120mm case fans

What We Loved

  • Performance Oriented
  • Customizability
  • Substantially quiet

What We Didn’t Like

  • None

Noctua NF-F12 PWM Chromax

best case fans

What We Loved

  • Performance Orientated
  • Visual Customizability
  • High static pressure
  • Excellent build quality

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive

Corsair LL RGB Series

best computer fans

What We Loved

  • Customizable 16 Vibrant RGB
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great balance between static pressure and airflow

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive

NZXT FN V2

best 140mm case fans

What We Loved

  • Good price-performance ratio
  • Remarkably quiet
  • Great performance

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only available in black-and-white variant

Cougar Vortex PWM

best pc fans

What We Loved

  • Optimal cooling efficiency
  • Great Price-Performance ratio

What We Didn’t Like

  • No RGB version
  • May not fit aesthetically with some cases

ARCTIC F PWM Series

best budget computer fan

What We Loved

  • Inexpensive
  • Good Price-Performance Ratio

What We Didn’t Like

  • Low Static pressure

Cooler Master MegaFlow 200

best pc case fans

What We Loved

  • Very quiet
  • Available in multiple LED varients

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only comes in 200mm version

Positive Vs Negative Case Pressure and Airflow

heat dissipationAll the components inside a computer, be it RAM, Motherboard, CPU or GPU dissipate waste heat to the surrounding. For this method to work, it is necessary to have colder air surrounding the areas where heat is dissipated.

The air inside the case gets hotter with time, and this is where airflow comes into play. Here, Airflow defines as replacing the air inside of the case with air from outside. This is necessary to keep the process of dissipating heat efficient.

To achieve this case fans are used. In a standard computer, they are divided into two types, intake and exhaust. As the name suggests, intake fans, intake air and exhaust fans are used to push it out.

Implementing such kind of a system improperly can cause disasters. Each case fan added to your case increases the total noise it produces, Thought there are quiet case fans such as Noctua NF, but even they contribute to the overall sound. That's not it, each case fan added also contributes to an in-case pressure change.

Dust In PC CaseHaving too many exhaust fans can create a negative pressure which will force dust particles from surrounding to get inside the case. Having too many intake fans can do the complete opposite and produce positive pressure, this will not cause any issues related to dust(Considering you are using dust filters with intake fans) but it's not the most efficient way to achieve lower temperatures.

The optimal solution for this problem is a balance between both intake and exhaust fans. This way you will only need to get dust filters for the intake fans.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to find out if your case is configured correctly. Unless, you have a smoke machine to test this.

smoke machine for measuring case pressure

Then how to figure out if you need to change your case fans setup?

Just monitor the dust accumulation over time, if you find any abnormal/unexpected results, It's time for you to add an intake fan. If you are unsure of which fan full fills this purpose.

With the introduction of more powerful/advanced hardware and the user's need for it to be compact has made temperature control much harder but keeping in mind the tips given above, You might never need to face such issues.

Different Kind Of Bearings Used In Case Fans

Wikipedia

A bearing is a machine element that constrains relative motion to only the desired motion and reduces friction between moving parts.

In cooling fans bearings are used to efficiently and reliably spin blades. They are the major source of noise production when a case fan is spinning. Different brands use different bearings and it is very important to understand the difference between each to choose the best case fan for you.

Sleeve bearings

Let's start it off with sleeve bearings since they are the most common bearings used in computer fans.
They are very cheap and quiet which makes them the best choice for budget case fans.

The downside of sleeve bearings is they don't last very long. The ideal temperature of their operations is around 25-50 Celsius, Anything above this limit might lead to its dysfunction.

Even if they are operated under their ideal temperatures, they are likely to fail with time due to lubricant loss. Due to these reasons, they are not favored for industrial use.

Even though they have their downsides, they are still the most common type of bearings that popular manufacturers like Corsair, Thermaltake, and cooler master use.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are a better version of sleeve bearings. These have small ball-like structures to reduce the contact area, friction and noise produced. This also helps them last a lot longer than the previously discussed sleeve bearings.

They are much better at enduring heat and have no limitations of how they can be mounted. These are usually quieter at high speeds which makes them a really good choice for case fans.

Ball Bearings VS Sleeve Bearings

CriteriaBall BearingsSleeve Bearing
Fan LongevityLonger LifeShorter Life
Heat EnduranceHigherLower
Fan Mounting OptionsVertical, shaft Center Line, Parallel, PerpendicularVertical
Noise EmissionsQuieter at higher SpeedsQuieter At Low Speeds in Early Life
LubricantLess EvaporationMore Evaporation
ContactPointLine

Magnetic Levitation Bearings

Don't worry if you haven't heard of these before. They are not commonly used in case fans, In fact, they are rarely used. In this list of best case fans, only one of all use these bearings.

Compared to any other kind of bearings these are the quietest, most reliable and longest living. Magnetic forces are used to reduce noise and friction. The ML technology makes them very unique and a perfect choice for enthusiasts.

Types of Fan Connectors

3pin vs 4 pin case fans

  • 3-Pin fans used widely as case fans; They make use of variable voltage to manipulate their RPM.
  • 4-Pin fan is more usual with CPU coolers, The extra Pin (PWM pin) allows high-efficiency speed control.

The speed of both kinds of fans can be controlled with either motherboard (UEFI) or a fan controller. Both 3-Pin and 4-Pin fans are cross-compatible, A 4 Pin fan could be connected to a three pin connector, but it would prevent proper use of the PWM control.

Difference Between Static Pressure Vs AirFlow Fans

You probably know static pressure fans are recommend to be used with radiators, but why is it so? Let’s find out.

Static pressure refers to the amount of pressure a computer fan can create while spinning. This is not an important factor for chassis fans but when it comes to radiators, It totally defines efficiency of the cooling system.

To understand the reasoning behind this claim, we must first understand how a radiator actually works.

How does a Radiator work?

How Radiators Work

Assume you have a CPU, that you want to keep under its temperature limits and you decide to implement a liquid cooling system.

The setup will look something like shown in the image above. The red colored pipe represents the water which rises in temperature due to the heat emitted by the CPU. This heated water travels all the way to the radiator where the tube is coiled to increase the surface area. This is where the radiator fan comes into action. Since a radiator contains dense mass, it's comparatively harder to push/pull air through it.

An Airflow fan is designed to maximize the volume of air it can push though it. Air leaks and pressure management isn't prioritized while designing them because they are meant to be used as fans for chassis. Such fans aren't very efficient while being used with radiators.

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