Best Cooling Fans for Your Gaming PC

Best Cooling Fans for Your Gaming PC

When building a new gaming PC, it’s important to choose the correct case fans to optimize performance for your gaming rig. The best cooling fans for your gaming PC will depend on a number of factors, such as the space available in your case. 

My top recommendation is Corsair’s LL120 line – I have 6 of them in my own latest build and they look incredible.

 

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

How to Choose Fans for Your Gaming PC

What size fans do I need?

The standard sizes for cooling fans are 120mm and 140mm, with many fans available in both sizes. Be sure to check your PC case’s dimensions to ensure which fans will fit and whether your motherboard has slots for multiple fans. A fan hub may be necessary if your mobo does not support more than one fan. 

Fan Airflow & Why It’s Important

One important consideration when purchasing cooling fans is airflow needs of your CPU. The airflow of a fan, measured in CFM (cubic feet of air moved per minute), determines how well a fan will be able to cool your PC. The more demanding a game or application is on a CPU, the more airflow and higher CFM it will need to prevent the PC from overheating. 

If you only have a couple of fan spots on your case, you need to go for higher CFM output. Note that typically the higher the CFM, the louder the fan. 

Fan Noise

Another factor to consider is how loud each fan will be when running, measured both in dBA (decibels) and RPM (the fan’s rotations per minute ). The higher the dBA and RPM of the fan, the more noise it will produce. Fortunately, any fans with 4-pin connections now come with manual controls to lower or raise the RPM, so that even fans rated at a higher dBA can be set to run at a lower RPM for a reduction in noise. 

RGB Fans – Are they worth it?

The final aspect to consider when choosing a cooling fan is whether you want a fan with RGB lights. While having no impact on performance, RGB fans offer a great way to personalize your gaming PC with countless lighting configurations. With the rise in popularity of RGB lights in PC builds, any fans including RGB lighting will still be competitively priced compared to non-RGB fans. 

Pin Connection

Cooling fans come with one of two types of connecting pins which hook into your mobo. The difference between ¾-pin connectors and 4-pin connectors does not relate to power, but whether the fan speed can be adjusted. The additional pin connection in the 4-pin connecting fans allows the user to have manual control over the speed of the fan. This can be useful if you want to perform a light task on your PC which does not need the full CFM output of your fans or when you want to reduce the noise of the fans while running. It should be noted both pin connection types are equally compatible with the fan slots available on your gaming PC. 

Fan Recommendations and Features

1. Corsair LL Series LL120 RGB 120mm

  • RGB: Yes
  • Size: 120 or 140mm
  • Rated Speed: 600-1500 ±10% RPM
  • Max Airflow: 43.25 CFM
  • Connection: 4-pin

First on the list of cooling fans is the the Corsair LL Series LL120RGB, which are actually the fans I use in my own gaming PC.

Featuring a hydraulic system in which the bearings and axles of the fan are immersed and sealed in liquid, the Corsair LL Series offers excellent airflow and quiet operation without sacrificing on performance. By submerging the fan’s components in liquid, the hydraulic system is able to operate at quieter levels while reducing friction, adding to the total lifespan of the fan. Better still, the fan comes with a fully customizable RGB experience through Corsair’s own lighting software “iCue”. Any peripherals with iCue compatibility can also be synced with the fan’s RGB, including keyboards, mice, and LED strips. Overall, the Corsair LL Series provides a respectable CFM while offering a full-featured RGB software for unlimited customizability.

2. Corsair AF120 LED Low Noise Cooling Fan

  • RGB: Yes
  • Size: 120 or 140mm
  • Rated Speed: 1400 ±10% RPM
  • Max Airflow: 52 CFM
  • Connection: 3/4-pin

Second on the list, the Corsair AF120 LED Low Noise Cooling Fan is a great choice for anyone wanting a solid, high performance fan with high airflow and low noise levels. Available in three LED configurations including white, blue, or red, the opaque fan blades of the Corsair AF120 diffuse the lighting to offer a simple but striking RGB experience. Available in packs of one or three, the Corsair AF120 is an excellent RGB fan for anyone seeking additional customization options for their gaming PC. 

3. Corsair ML120

  • RGB: No
  • Size: 120 or 140mm
  • Rated Speed: 400 - 2400 ±10% RPM
  • Max Airflow: 75 CFM
  • Connection: 4-pin

Topping the list with the highest airflow rating at 75 CFM, the Corsair ML120 offers maximum airflow for even the most demanding of CPU needs. For anyone considering maxing out their in-game graphical settings or interested in installing mods in their next playthrough, the ML120 stands out as a strong contender. While typical fans max out around 1400-1600 RPM, the ML120’s use of magnetic levitation technology and a custom rotor design allows it to reach an RPM of up to 2400! Best of all, if the ML120’s impressive cooling capabilities prove to be overkill for simple day-to-day tasks, the fan can be adjusted to an inaudible whisper at 400 RPM. The best of both worlds.

4. Rosewill 120mm

  • RGB: No
  • Size: 120mm
  • Rated Speed: 1200RPM ±10% RPM
  • Max Airflow: 38.2 CFM
  • Connection: 3/4-pin

Coming in as the best budget option on the list, the Rosewill 120mm fan provides a great value to anyone with less intensive PC gaming needs. As the quietest fans on the list, the Rosewill 120mm is perfect for anyone placing a premium on a silent gaming rig. For those with multiple fan slots, the Rosewill 120mm can also be purchased as a four-pack to compensate for its lower CFM. Overall, the Rosewill 120mm is a great choice for anyone looking for a cooling fan at a great price point. 

5. Noctua NF-P12 Redux-1700 PWM

  • RGB: No, but customizable with colored anti vibration pads
  • Size: 120mm
  • Rated Speed: 1700RPM ±10% RPM
  • Max Airflow: 70.5 CFM
  • Connection: 4-pin

Last on the list, the Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM offers premium cooling at an almost inaudible 25.1 dBA. Using a combined system of hydrodynamic bearings with a self-stabilizing magnetic support system for the rotor axis, Noctua’s fan combines unparalleled cooling performance with a whisper-soft fan. In addition to the silent operation and outstanding long-term stability provided by the Noctua NF-P12 redux, the fan is compatible with a number of optional accessories including low-noise-adapters, Y-cables, ¾-pin adapters/extension cables, and even colored anti-vibration pads. Available in a black, red, blue, white, green, and yellow, the anti-vibration pads allow for a variety of color schemes for your build while also dampening minute vibrations for silent operation. 

While all the fans mentioned offer great performance and value, the best cooling fan for your PC build will depend on your own gaming needs and priorities. Planning on installing 300 mods on your next RPG playthrough and pushing your CPU to the limit with maxed out graphics? You’ll need a cooling fan with a high CFM to keep your PC running smooth and cool. Want to run a noiseless PC setup that can’t be heard when running? You’ll need a fan that runs at or can be adjusted to a low dBA. Whatever your needs, be sure to check your case dimensions and motherboard slots to ensure that any fan you choose is compatible with you gaming PC