Whether you’re gaming, rendering, or video editing, a smart cooling system is essential for your desktop PC, and a smart cooling system almost always involves a few 120mm case fans.
Keeping a stable airflow through your desktop computer is essential in intensive tasks like these, and though there are many other fan sizes out there, the most common 120mm is the size of choice for most applications.
Best 120mm Case Fans for PC
Though they may not seem like much, 120mm case fans can make a huge difference to the temperatures and cooling solutions of your PC. Companies like Corsair, NZXT, Thermaltake, CoolerMaster, Noctua, and many more make some great case fans. Some come with LED and RGB lighting speaks, while others keep a minimalistic look.
There are hundreds of options out there, and we’ve selected our 6 favorite 120mm case fans out of them and reviewed them in this article. Be sure to also check out the buyer’s guide after the reviews for some insight about what to look for in a 120mm case fan.
Our Top Pick
Corsair ML120 Pro LED
The Best 120mm Case Fan
The Corsair ML120 Pro LED 120mm case fan features magnetic levitation bearing. It operates at a whopping 2400 RPM, generating airflow up to 75 CFM.
When in doubt, just buy the Corsair ML120 Pro LED. It is bound to reduce the temperatures of your PC and will look beautiful while doing it.
Incredible Performance in Silence
The Noctua NF-S12A has an RPM of 1200 and a massive airflow of 62 CFM. It also has a great static pressure of 1.19mm/H20. This powerful fan continues Noctua’s distinct color scheme of beige and brown as well to bring an elegant yet high-performing solution to the table.
When you first install the Noctua NF-S12A, you’ll wonder if it’s even on. It’s that quiet. Then, when you look at the temperatures, you’ll be amazed at how effective this case fan is, and you’ll pat yourself on the back for spending the money you did for it.
Our favorite overall 120mm case fan is the Corsair ML120 Pro LED edition. This high-quality fan utilizes specialized magnetic levitation bearings to ensure safe operation that is both quiet and long lasting.
Corsair dominates most desktop PC hardware niches for good reason. They make incredible products that are reliable and safe, particularly in their cooling solutions. The same is true for the ML120 Pro that can reach insane speeds of 2400 RPM, producing a whopping 75 CFM with little trouble. This is the highest airflow among the 120mm case fans we’ve reviewed, a testament to what the ML120 Pro is all about.
We love the LED versions the most because the implementation of the LED lights is stylish without being gawdy. The same is true for the RGB version, though you should expect to pay a lot more for that.
Because of the very high RPM, the ML120 Pro can produce some levels of noise at the highest speeds. However, during operation at regular speeds this Corsair 120mm case fan maintains silent operation.
- Beautiful LED lighting
- Very high speed
- Incredible airflow
- Magnetic bearing eliminates noise at normal levels
- Loud at very high RPMs
NZXT makes some of the best cooling solutions and cases for computers, and we’ve been fans of the company for quite a while. It’s no surprise that this manufacturer has succeeded in creating one of the best performing 120mm case fans out there.
Meet the NZXT FN V2 120. This modern-looking fan has a design similar to the fan blades of a turbofan jet engine. All-white blades are housed in a black mount, emphasizing minimalism yet looking classy as ever. The minimalistic design may not appeal to the RGB enthusiasts who love lots of bling, but it’s effective for just about everyone else.
NZXT uses Rifle bearings in this fan that results in extremely quiet operation. This is one of the quietest 120 case fans out there. A respectable 45 CFM at a maximum RPM of 1200 means plenty of airflow from the fan as well.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get your hands on these fans at the moment despite how much they’re loved, which prevents the FN V2 120 from taking our top spot.
- Very quiet operation
- Minimalistic design
- Decent airflow
- Lack of availability
You know a product is special when it has an average rating of 4.8/5 stars on Amazon with 400+ reviews. The Noctua NF-S12A 120mm case fan is one of those rare products out there. Noctua makes some of greatest cooling solutions for PCs out there, and though they demand a premium price for their beige and brown colored products, it’s worth every penny as it beats the competition by a mile.
Their 120mm case fans, the NF-S12A PWM, are simply incredible in performance. They have a 150,000 hours lifespan, so it’s more likely you replace your entire rig before you ever need to replace one.
The 1200 RPM speed ensures these fans are never too loud, and they combine effectively with the SSO2 bearings for ultimate stabilization to minimize vibration. You get an insane 62 CFM with this fan for maximum airflow, with a reasonable static pressure for a case fan at 1.19mm/H20.
In-terms of performance, this is one of the best 120mm case fans around. You’ll get reliable cooling, extremely quiet operation, and no vibration issues thanks to the well-designed frame. The major downsides are the looks (not for everyone) and the price point, but the latter makes sense as this is a premium product.
- Very quiet operation
- Incredible airflow
- Long lifespan and reliable performance
- Color scheme isn’t for everyone
- Very expensive
If you have a PC that runs hot and needs some crazy cooling solutions, adding a couple of Corsair Air Series SP120 Performance variants will probably have a dramatic effect. With it comes to raw power and cooling ability, very few 120mm case fans can beat the Corsair SP120 HP mode.
It features a crazy 2350 RPM at max speed – nearly twice as much as what most 120mm case fans would offer. This results in an insane air flow at a huge 62.74 CFM. To top it all off, the static pressure created by this fan is 3.1mm/H20, one of the highest we’ve seen for case fans of this size.
The specs are backed by the performance. The high speeds and efficiency make this the perhaps the most effective 120mm case fan out there. The obvious downside with such high RPMs and power is the sound level, which can reach all the way up to an unpleasant 35 dB at highest speeds.
You probably won’t need this fan if you have liquid cooling solutions and a well-maintained PC, but anyone with a compact desktop that requires lots of airflow will gladly withstand some noise for more manageable temperatures.
- Insane speed
- Crazy airflow
- Very high static pressure
- Cools your PC instantly
- Very noisy at higher speeds
The Thermaltake Riing 120mm case fans come in a pack of three so you don’t have to buy the fans separately. Functionally, these fans not only look beautiful thanks to their multiple LED color options, they also function very well.
Thermaltake brands their patented blade design as “Concentrated Compression Blades.” Essentially, these blades are designed in a manner to optimize flow direction, whether you’re mounting them to pull air into the case or out of it. Airflow with these fans is rated at a very respectable 51.1 CFM.
Perhaps the best part of the Riing 120mm case fans is how quiet their operation is. Hydraulic bearings ensure the fans run at a quiet noise level even when operating at max speeds. An anti-vibration mounting system also ensures no excessive vibration of the fan while running.
If you want the RGB version of this fan, be ready to cough up over $100. Single color options are available for much cheaper and come in Red, Green, or Blue.
- Quiet operation
- Great airflow
- Vibration reducing mounting system
- Can’t buy individual fans separately
- RGB version is ridiculously priced
Thermaltake succeeds with another product of theirs on our list with the Thermaltake Luna. One of the most stylish looking fans around, the Luna combines LED lighting, style, and performance into a single offering.
The standout feature of the Thermaltake Luna 120mm case fan is its mounting system. Nothing will be able to budge this fan once it’s fixed thanks to the mounting system, and the reduce vibration thanks to it ensures there is no unwanted or damage in the long run.
The Thermaltake Luna features a very respectable 50 CFM air flow. Thanks to its self-lubricating hydraulic bearing, the product is highly durable. LED color options are available in either blue, red, or white, so you can continue the color scheme of your PC with little trouble.
The Thermaltake Luna does have the disadvantage of being a bit noisy at higher speeds though. Despite their performance and looks, this is what prevents it from being our top choice.
- Good air flow
- Great aesthetics
- Excellent mounting system
- Can get noisy
The performance of the fan depends on a lot of factors. The most important is the blade design. The spinning of the blades is what creates the pressure to force air in or out of the case. While the RPM can dictate this, the shape of the blades is what dictates how easily it happens.
Therefore, it is a great misconception that only the RPM matters. In order to assess the performance of a fan, you need to consider three major features: the RPM, the static pressure generated, and the airflow measured in cubic feet per minute.
The RPM is how fast the fan spins. A high-speed fan will deal with a lot of air in a short period of time but will also generate a lot of noise at higher RPMs.
The static pressure is the pressure created by the fan while pushing air into the case or pulling air out. The more the pressure create, the fastest the air will be forced out, keeping your PC cool. A higher static pressure isn’t as necessary for case fans as it is for liquid coolers. However, it becomes more important in less ventilated PC cases or ones with tightly packed components.
Finally, there’s airflow. This is the amount of air that can flow through the fan in a specific unit of time. It is measured in CFM. Higher airflow will result in more intake or exhaust of air into/from the PC case.
All rotating and moving components generate vibration, and vibration creates noise. Noise is unavoidable with case fans, but excellent blade design, high-quality bearings, and a great mounting system can all greatly reduce the amount of noise emitted.
Noise is measured in decibels, and you want anything below 32 decibels when a 120mm case fan is running at max RPM. Unfortunately, if your PC case needs a very powerful case fan due to heating problems, you’ll have to take it on yourself to withstand the noise a high RPM one will produce. When it comes to silent performance, Noctua generally tends to create the best fans out there.
The mountain system not only determines how easy it is to install the fan, but it also determines the alignment and stability of the when while it operates. An improperly mounted fan will vibrate when it runs, generating excessive noise and greatly affecting its lifespan.
To avoid these problems, manufacturers try to optimize the mounting system and the frame to ensure optimum operation even at high speeds. You should read reviews and check the design of the frame and mounting system of the case fan you decide to buy to properly know whether it is easy to mount and won’t vibrate excessively when running at high speeds.
120mm fans are the most commonly used for mounting in casings, particularly the front and back. They allow for a compact push-pull airflow system for maximum efficiency and cooling effect. Almost all mid to high range cases support 120mm fans while not every PC has the space for 140mm and 200mm fans.
Does the bearing type matter?
The bearing type does influence the fan’s longevity, noise levels, and its maximum RPM. Generally, magnetic levitation bearings used by Corsair are the best. Hydraulic bearings are also excellent and provide longevity. Noctua’s sleeve bearings are better than normal sleeve bearings and provide lifespans that can match other, better bearing technologies.
What type of connectors are used for case fans?
The most common types of connectors are 4-pin and 3-pin connectors. These connectors are also cross-compatible. 2-pin connectors were once used, but they are archaic and not commonly found in modern computers. 3-pin and 4-pin connectors allow for better control of the fans through the motherboard.