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Expert Shopper Electronics

The best computer fan

Which computer fans are best?

One of the most dangerous things for the health and longevity of your personal computer is the amount of heat its various parts naturally create in use. Too much heat will damage your PC parts, sometimes irreparably. However, most of that heat can be easily blown away with the use of a good computer fan. You don’t even need to splurge for this protection, as most computer fans are less than $20.

If you do want to splurge, the best computer fan is the Thermaltake Riing Quad Fan. This powerful computer fan runs stunningly quietly and comes with fully customizable and voice-controllable red-green-blue LED lighting.

What to know before you buy a computer fan

Computer fan sizes

Most computer fans are made and sold in three different sizes: 80, 120 and 140 millimeters. The most common size is 120 millimeters, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right size. You’ll need to make sure your prospective computer fan will fit inside your computer case, both generally and around any other parts that are already installed.

Connection types

Most computer fans are powered by plugging into your motherboard’s headers using either three or four-pin connection types, with a few computer fans being powered via USB or by plugging into your computer's main power supply. Different connection types might have some added benefits, but for more information, visit the computer fan buying guide from BestReviews.

Computer fan CFM

Cooling is the main reason for purchasing a computer fan. Computer fans measure their cooling power using cubic feet per minute. The more CFM, the more air your computer fan moves, the better it cools your components.

Computer fan noise

The noise of a computer fan is measured in decibels as all noise levels are measured. The main variables that affect the decibels produced by your computer fan are the speed at which it rotates (measured in revolutions per minute), the fan’s overall design and the housing that contains the fan. Quiet fans are usually in the 20-24 decibel range.

What to look for in a quality computer fan

Computer fan modes

Some computer fans have special low-power modes meant to conserve energy and lower the fan’s decibels by dropping the rpm. Generally, this mode is switched to during basic tasks like web browsing and streaming video with the high-octane mode specifically meant to cool off the extreme heat that PC gaming can generate.

RGB Computer fans

RGB lighting is strongly in vogue over the last several years, and one of the most common places to find them is in computer fans. Besides being controlled to just about any color, RGB lighting in computer fans can also have patterns and special programs run through them to generate all kinds of images.

How much you can expect to spend on a computer fan

Building a PC can be very expensive; luckily, the computer fan is an area with particularly low cost, as most computer fans can be found for $20 or less. That said, there are still very high-end options with varying extra features like customizable RGB lighting and sound reduction that can soar past $100.

Computer fan FAQ

What’s the difference between cooling my computer with a fan and with liquid cooling?

A. To start, cooling your computer with a fan is far more common than using liquid cooling methods and gets the job done just about as well. Computer fans are a far more affordable option than liquid cooling, and they are also far easier to install, use and maintain.

Liquid cooling adds a lot of complexity to your PC build. They have multiple hoses, loops and more that require specific installation. This gives liquid cooling a more custom approach, and it is also a far quieter and more efficient system. However, the complexity and cost can be prohibitive.

All in all, unless you understand the complexity or necessity of the nigh-silent and maximally efficient cooling system that liquid cooling gives you, a computer fan or two is more than enough.

How often should my computer fans be cleaned?

A. Computer fans tend to collect dust rapidly due to the amount of air they push through themselves. How often you should clean them depends on the dust levels of your room and general air circulation. In general, two to four cleanings a year is enough.

What’s the best computer fan to buy?

Top computer fan

Thermaltake Riing Quad Fan

What you need to know: This powerful and colorful computer fan is the perfect addition to your RGB PC build.

What you’ll love: The 9-bladed fan runs quietly, and the RGB lighting is incredibly customizable and can be controlled with voice via Amazon Alexa.

What you should consider: The included software for this computer fan can be a little challenging to parse through.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top computer fan for the money

ARCTIC F12 Standard Case Fan

What you need to know: A perfect option for those trying to save a bit of money in one area of their PC builds to spend it on another.

What you’ll love: Easy to install and rather quiet in action, this computer fan also comes with a 6-year warranty.

What you should consider: This computer fan isn’t nearly as durable as most would expect and want it to be.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Nocturna Premium Quiet Fan

What you need to know: This computer fan is specifically made to run as quietly as possible without sacrificing performance.

What you’ll love: A perfect choice for high-end gaming PCs, this computer fan is vibration-resistant and very durable.

What you should consider: This fan costs a bit more than other similar fan models.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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