Cooling is an important consideration when putting together a custom build, and the right fan can spruce up the aesthetics of your build. You might also need to upgrade an old PC with a new fan if you’re experiencing overheating issues. Choosing an underperforming fan can result in vents clogged with dust or cause hot air to remain in your machine. Choosing a top-performing fan is also an important step in building a customized PC since this component will ensure that there is proper airflow inside of your custom PC case.
If you’re on the market for a new fan, our selection of the best PC fans for 2020 will come in handy.
The best PC fans at a glance
- The best PC fan: Noctua NF-S12B Redux-1200
- The best PC fan for watercooling: Noctua NF-F12 PWM
- The best RGB PC fan: Corsair QL120 Pro RGB
- The best budget PC fan: Scythe Kaze Flex
- The best low-profile PC fan: Noctua NF-A12x15
Noctua has been making some of the best fans and coolers for almost 15 years and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing. Its NF-S12B Redux-1200 fan is an excellent example of that. It’s high-powered, super quiet, and features a unique blade design to maximize airflow without introducing additional noisy turbulence.
For those who don’t like Noctua’s typical brown and cream color scheme, this fan ditches that in favor of a uniform grey aesthetic that can be accented by colorful anti-vibration mounts (sold separately) if you choose.
The best part of it all, though, is the price. It’s barely more expensive than our budget fan.
When it comes to watercooling radiators, average case fans will do a passable job, but they aren’t what you really need. For pushing air through high-density heatsinks like radiators, you need a fan that can generate high-static pressure. That’s where wide-bladed fans like the Noctua NF-F12 PWM come in.
Once again, Noctua’s quality comes to the fore with this fan. It not only delivers high-static pressure, but it does so at whisper quiet noise levels. This would be a great replacement for a closed-loop all-in-one cooler’s stock fans, or a key component in your custom watercooling loop. It would even be a worthy replacement for a loud CPU heatsink fan.
It comes with built-in anti-vibration mounts, to help further reduce noise. It’s a little pricier than some, but it’s one we’d recommend paying for.
Whether it’s memory modules, peripherals, case fans, Corsair’s RGB lighting is at the front of the pack. The QL120 RGB fans aren’t cheap, but they are some of the best-looking fans we’ve seen. The low-noise fan blades keep these fans whisper-quiet and they look absolutely gorgeous with the custom LEDs all lit up. This new design even lets you split the colors so you have different coloring on the front and back or top to bottom, with 34 individually addressable zones.
They can even operate in concert with one another, or other lighting systems in your PC, if you use the control hub. Corsair LINK compatible, the bundled Node Pro (if you buy the three-pack) lets you create some impressively dynamic lighting profiles that will leave even the most experienced RGB lovers spoiled for choice.
You can get a fan for just a few dollars if all you care about is how cheap it is. Unfortunately, a cheap fan isn’t necessarily a great budget fan. The Scythe Kaze Flex is a much more attractive option to look at, but it also offers many of the features more expensive fans do. All at an affordable price.
At just over $10, this budget fan won’t break the bank. You could easily outfit your whole PC with these on a budget. They’ll move plenty of air without getting on your nerves, too. Quiet operation is the name of the game, with no rattling or whooshing sounds. Rubber anti-vibration mounts come pre-fitted, too, promising to last more than 120,000 hours. That pretty much guarantees you’ll upgrade your entire PC before these economic fans give up.
Noctua’s back again and this time with a low-profile cooling solution. If you’re building a miniature PC, you don’t have to miss out on high-performance. Especially with a smaller case — and less thermal headroom — efficiency is crucial. You need the hot air out and the cold air in, and that’s what Noctua’s NF-A12x15 will do. The only difference is the Noctua model accomplishes the transfer in a shorter form than most.
At just 15mm deep, this 120mm fan is perfect for mATX and mini-ITX cases or space-restricted builds. It offers high air-flow, low noise output, and reliable build quality. It won’t decimate your budget, either.
An underperforming fan can severely limit your PC’s functionality. The good news is that you don’t have to compromise whether you’re looking for a budget buy or something with more aesthetic appeal. Our top PC fan selections will keep your build cool with no caveats — so you can focus on using the computer rather than offering it first aid.
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