Last update on 2020-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
Your computer’s components will generate heat while you’re using it. If too much heat is built up, your pc will slow down, its lifespan shorten and even a system break down may surface. You don’t want anything of the sort to happen to your precious machine. To prevent such disaster from happening, a PC fan is necessary.
It can be a bit confusing at first to choose a computer fan since there are too many models available. Read through this buying guide we’ve put together and you will know how to choose the best PC fans by the end of it. On the other hand, we’ve also covered the best CPU coolers, an alternative option to cool down your computer.
It is undeniable that this component is crucial to every PC build. It helps your rig stay cool and healthy all the while running demanding programs. If you are new to the PC fans market, here are the factors you need to know about before buying a one:
Fans come in different sizes, there’s no one-size-fit-all so make sure you choose the fan that fits your case. They are commonly available in between 80-250 mm.
A large fan is able to push more air than a small fan in one rotation. This means that a large fan can spin at a slower speed; thus, noise level is reduced. However, the problem with big fans is compatibility. Not every case is big enough to house a wide fan.
Your safest bet is going for 120mm fans like ARCTIC F12 PWM as it is the most common size.
2. Connection Types
Fans have different pin types. Pin types is the connector that is used to connect the fan to the power supply. With few exceptions, PC fans come with either 3-pin or 4-pin options. Thanks to the extra pin, the 4-pin fans allow for PWM which give you full control of the fan speed. On the other hand, you could only adjust the fan speed of 3-pin types in the BIOS.
3. Noise level
You don’t want your fan to produce loud sounds that distract you from your work or gaming session. Try to find one with the lowest decibels (dBA) possible. You should aim for those with noise level between 10-25 dBA. Noctua NF-S12A and Silent Wings 3 are among the most silent PC fans you could find on the market.
4. Bearing Types
The bearing is the small piece(s) of metal that rest between the frame and the spinning part of the fan. Each bearing type has different performance and lifespan.
Sleeve Bearings: Reasonably price and quiet. However, when they malfunction, you just replace them as it costs more to repair them. They perform poorly when mounted in any orientation other than vertical.
Rifle bearings: Quieter than and have identical lifespan to sleeve bearing.
Ball Bearings: More durable, longer lifespan and more expensive than the two types above. However, they can have a gradual increase in noise over time.
Fluid Bearings: Lowest noise and greatest lifespan. This type can be found on high-end machines.
If you are willing to spend a little extra, you will get a fan that will keep your computer cool while looking “cool” themselves. LED/RGB components are all the rage at the moment, PC fans are no exception as you could find many shiny or bright color fans. Thanks to this trend, you can match your fan with all of your other parts.
1. Where should I plug my fan into?
You typically connect them to the fan headers located on the motherboard. This way, you could control the speed of your fan in the motherboard BIOS. Refer to the motherboard manual if you can't locate the fan headers.
In case you are using more than one fan and your motherboard doesn’t have enough fan headers, you can simply plug them into the PSU. Alternately, you could get a fan splitter which allows you to connect 2 fans to one fan header.
2. Is it possible to plug a 4-pin fan connector into a 3-pin slot?
Yes, it still works. However, as you lack the 4th slot for PWM, you will lose the ability to control the speed freely. The fan speed will be controlled by voltage in this case. On the other hand, you could also connect a 3-pin fan into the 4-pin slot. Similarly, you also lack the PWM ability as it is a 3-pin fan.
3. My fan is too loud, what should I do?
Fans that spin too fast and make abnormal or loud noise may be the signs of problems. There are various methods you could try to fix it:
Clean the fan is self.
Check and clean air vents.
Ensure proper ventilation.
Update drivers and BIOS.
Scan your computer for malware.
Check and limit startup programs.
4. How do I clean my PC fan?
Cleaning your computer fan is pretty easy. First and foremost, make sure your PC is turned off. Then open the case and locate your fan. Next you need to remove the fan to be able to clean both sides of it. Then hold the fins of the fan in place so that they don’t spin when you clean it. You could clean it with compressed air, electronic vacuum or a damp cloth.
5. What is the difference between a CPU fan and a case fan?
A CPU fan, as the name implies, is a component that mounts the processor. Its primary function is to keep the CPU from overheating. The case fan mounted on the inside of your PC case. A case fan is typically cheaper than a CPU fan.
Our pick for the best all-round PC fan is Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200. It’s a super quiet (<20 dBA) and high-powered fan. It features an attractive and minimal look of light gray color scheme. The major advantage of this fan is its extremely affordable price.
Another great option is the Corsair ML120. Anti-vibration pads and low-noise adapters make this fan one of the most silent fan on the market. Its performance is also top-notch as well.
If you want something more eye-catching, then you can’t go wrong with Corsair LL Series LL120. Its design is definitely the first thing people would mention when they see it. This fan boasts of having the best airflow. Furthermore, its lifespan is advertised to be about 30,000 hours.
There you have it, almost everything you need to know about PC fans. We hope that this comprehensive guide to choose the best PC fans has been helpful to you, the reader. If you have any remaining questions, feel free to contact us as we are more than pleased to get all the answers for you.