Whether you’re upgrading fans or kitting out a new gaming PC, our picks have you covered. From value picks to RGB stunners to high-performance fans, our list has something for everyone. Let’s get started.
- Best 120 mm Case Fan Overall: Arctic BioniX P120 offers amazing performance at half the price of premium rivals.
- Best Premium 120 mm Case Fan: Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM offers a brilliant combination of performance, low-noise operation, and overall quality.
- Best High-Performance 120 mm Case Fan Alternative: Phanteks T30 boasts massive static pressure performance and excellent airflow, albeit at the cost of a thicker frame than usual.
- Best 120 mm RGB Case Fan: Lian Li Uni AL120 V2 has great looks and performance, with clever interlocking frames that eliminate typical RGB fan cable clutter.
- Best Silent 120 mm Case Fan: Be Quiet! Silent Wings 4 120 mm PWM lives up to the company name, with whisper-quiet performance perfect for silent PC builds.
- Best Budget 120 mm Case Fan: Apevia AF312S-BK is a three-pack for less than $15, ideal for ultra-budget rigs.
Our Favorite 120 mm PC Case Fans
|RPM Range||200 - 2100 RPM|
|Maximum Airflow||67.56 CFM|
|Maximum Static Pressure||2.75 mm-H2O|
|Maximum Noise||0.45 Sone*|
* Arctic uses Sone to measure fan noise, and conversions to dBA are approximate at best.
Arctic could have rested on its laurels and kept the much-loved P12 PWM as its flagship fan, but that’s not how the German company does it. Its new BioniX P120 fans are a clear upgrade over the P12, offering performance that rivals fans costing twice as much.
Arctic markets the BioniX P120 as a static pressure-optimized fan, and it justifies that branding with a staggering 2.75 mm-H2O of pressure. But it’s no slouch regarding airflow, either; 67.56 CFM isn’t as good as the best 140 mm fans, but it’s right up there with most of the 120 mm competition.
As with Arctic’s other fans, the BioniX P120 hits these numbers at impressively low noise levels. The company claims an impressive 0.45 Sone at maximum speed, which should be equivalent to somewhere in the 25 dBA region. Not silent, sure, but quieter than many fans with this much performance.
Unfortunately, these performance upgrades over the P12 PWM come at a cost, literally. BioniX P12 fans will cost you around $15 apiece, a noticeable increase over the roughly $10 the P12 costs. However, we think the better overall performance is worth the price, especially considering that these are still about half the price of a high-end Noctua or Phanteks.
Overall, the Arctic BioniX P120 is a great example of a company continuing to push itself and the quality of its products. These are quiet fans that push a ton of air, all without breaking the bank.
|RPM Range||450 - 2000 RPM / 200 - 1700 RPM (with low noise adapter)|
|Maximum Airflow||60.1 CFM / 49.7 CFM (with low noise adapter)|
|Maximum Static Pressure||2.34 mm-H2O / 1.65 mm-H2O (with low noise adapter)|
|Maximum Noise||22.6 dBA / 18.8 dBA (with low noise adapter)|
No list of the best 120 mm fans would be complete without a Noctua product, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM at the top of our list. It’s not necessarily the best value fan, but its combo of low noise, high performance, and premium packaging means it’s an excellent buy if it fits your budget.
The NF-A12 is an all-rounder PC case fan that excels at both airflow and static pressure, with 60.1 CFM and 2.34 mm-H2O respectively. The NF-A12 will do a good job no matter where you put it, whether as an exhaust fan or as an intake drawing cool air through a restrictive dust filter or radiator.
There are a small handful of 120 mm fans that push more air than the Noctua, but none of them can compete when it comes to noise. 22.6 dBA maxed out is excellent and bettered only by silence-focused PC fans that sacrifice performance.
As with all of Noctua’s mainline fans, you get many extras with each NF-A12. You get an extension cable, a four-pin Y splitter for connecting two fans to a single PWM header, and a low noise adapter that caps the fan’s maximum speed to 1700 RPM. You also get an adapter bracket for 140 mm radiators, letting you use the NF-A12 to replace the fans on 280 and 420 mm radiators.
You also get what’s likely the nicest, most premium packaging for a case fan ever, alongside a class-leading six-year warranty. Noctua fans are the total package, and deserve all the admiration and hype they’ve received over the years.
Of course, you’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege: at around $30 bucks a pop, these 120 mm fans are pricier than most 140 mm fans. But if you want the best combo of performance and noise, these are the fans you want.
3. Phanteks T30
|RPM Range||0 - 2000 RPM|
|Maximum Airflow||67 CFM|
|Maximum Static Pressure||3.3 mm-H2O|
|Maximum Noise||27.3 dBA|
Phanteks may be best known for its computer cases, but the T30 case fan shows that the company has more up its sleeve than just great airflow PC cases.
Phanteks’ T30 is an all-rounder fan in the style of Noctua’s Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM. It boasts great airflow (67 CFM) paired with an impressive 3.3 mm-H2O static pressure. These numbers outperform almost every 120 mm fan out there, making the T30 an excellent (if pricey) choice to populate an entire case.
What we like about the T30 is that Phanteks didn’t resort to cranking up fan speeds to achieve this excellent performance. The T30 tops out at 27.3 dBA, which is much more tolerable than the 30-plus dBA measurements of some high-speed fans. It’s not as silent as the Noctua or Be Quiet! fans on our list, but it’s still tolerable and shouldn’t be an issue for most users.
Phanteks managed this by going with a thicker 30-mm (1.18-inch) design instead of the 25-mm thickness of most other PC case fans. The extra five millimeters help a lot, allowing the T30 to outperform the Noctua in some real-world tests.
Unfortunately, the 30-mm frame also makes the Phanteks T30 a slightly trickier fit in size-constrained builds. While those building in full-tower cases won’t have any issues, anyone building in a small form factor case may find the T30 just a bit too thick.
If you have the space, the Phanteks T30 is an excellent 120 mm fan capable of class-leading airflow and static pressure. The roughly $30/unit price will be hard to swallow for some, but those seeking the absolute best PC fan should do well to consider this.
|RPM Range||250 - 2000 RPM|
|Maximum Airflow||77.3 CFM|
|Maximum Static Pressure||2.97 mm-H2O|
|Maximum Noise||28.7 dBA|
Lian Li’s Uni AL120 V2 is the company’s crowning achievement, combining attractive RGB and its clever interlocking connectors with genuinely great cooling performance. As far as we’re concerned, Lian Li is the new name to beat in RGB case fans.
The AL120 V2’s main claim to fame is its edge connectors, which let you connect up to six together without the usual mess of cabling you get on traditional fans. This makes the AL120 fans great for radiators and front intakes, eliminating the cable clutter for a much cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing look.
Your connected fan groups then go to the controller (included with a three-pack) using a single cable, making cable management a breeze. The controller then connects to a motherboard USB header, letting you customize the lighting and manage your fan speeds via L-Connect 3.
Unlike many older RGB fans, Lian Li hasn’t had to compromise on cooling performance with the AL120 V2 fans. These RGB fans have an impressive 77.3 CFM of airflow and 2.97 mm-H2O of static pressure, putting them in the same league as non-RGB fans. They’re not too loud, either, topping out at 28.7 dBA.
The RGB lighting is excellent, with smooth lighting across the blades and thin RGB strips at the fan corners and along the aluminum frames. Everything is fully customizable, of course, with the lighting visible from both sides. We think the combination of fan and frame lighting looks great, especially in white.
Overall, the Lian Li AL120 V2 fans are the new standard for 120 mm RGB case fans. Yes, they’re expensive at around $80 for a three-pack, but that’s the price you pay if you want a fan that performs as great as it looks.
|RPM Range||200 - 1600 RPM|
|Maximum Airflow||48.7 CFM|
|Maximum Static Pressure||1.79 mm-H2O|
|Maximum Noise||18.9 dBA|
Be Quiet!’s Silent Wings 4 120 mm PWM fans live up to the company’s name, offering ultra-quiet operation without any significant sacrifices in cooling performance.
The Silent Wings 4 120 mm fans push 48.7 CFM of air and generate 1.79 mm-H2O of static pressure at a relatively low 1600 RPM. This slow maximum RPM results in a maximum noise output of just 18.9 dBA, significantly quieter than many 120 mm fans.
Be Quiet! ships the Silent Wings 4 with anti-vibration mounts pre-installed, which support push pins to minimize vibration transfer to your case. But they also come with standard plastic frame edges for use with radiators, which support traditional mounting screws.
However, this low-noise performance doesn’t come cheap. You’re looking at around $25 per fan, and unlike Noctua’s offerings, you don’t get many extras. You get a set of washers and push pins alongside the standard fan screws, but that’s pretty much it. Thankfully, Be Quiet! has improved its warranty coverage over the previous generation, with a five-year warranty now present.
Overall, the Be Quiet! Silent Wings 4 are excellent low-noise 120 mm fans ideal for silence-focused builds. Yes, they’re slightly noisier than the previous version, but we think the improved warranty and multiple mounting options are a worthy trade off.
|RPM Range||1350 RPM|
|Maximum Airflow||57.67 CFM|
|Maximum Static Pressure||Not listed|
|Maximum Noise||24.7 dBA|
|Connector||Molex and 3-pin|
Apevia’s AF312S-BK three-pack is a great choice for those of you on a budget. They’re not the best or newest fans you can buy, but that’s a minor issue when money is tight. Three fans for less than $15 is a bargain, a perfect affordable PC fan choice if you need to fill up those empty fan mounts in a budget case.
Like many budget multi-fan packs, the Apevia fans are old-fashioned fixed-speed fans. These run at 1350 RPM and push 57.67 CFM, which is quite impressive for the price. The main benefit of the low maximum RPM is that these fans are relatively quiet: 24.7 dBA at 100% fan speed makes these a good choice if you’re building a quiet PC on a budget.
Another common trait with other budget fans is the lack of information about these fans’ static pressure performance. That’s not too problematic, as you’re likely not shopping at the budget end if you need high static pressure fans for a radiator or heavily-filtered intakes. But if you do, we recommend spending a bit more and getting the Arctic fans instead.
That said, three of even the more affordable Arctic fans will still cost about $15 more than this Apevia three-pack. So they’re not really in the same league. The Arctic fans are a better overall package; we’d recommend those if you can afford them. But if that’s impossible, these Apevia fans will do a decent job.
Before You Buy
There isn’t too much to consider when shopping for the best PC case fan. However, there are still a few topics that are worth discussing, such as 120 vs. 140 mm fans and static pressure vs. airflow specs.
120 mm vs. 140 mm Fans
Choosing between 120 and 140 mm fans can be tricky, as there isn’t a hard and fast rule that can help you determine which is better suited for your setup. On paper, 140 mm fans should always dominate 120 mm fans, but that’s not always true.
For example, high-quality 120 mm fans like the Phanteks T30 can outperform many 140 mm fans, especially when it comes to static pressure. The T30’s 3.3 mm-H2O, for example, outstrips the Noctua NF-A14 PWM’s measly 2.08 mm-H2O spec. The Phanteks’ 67 CFM isn’t quite as impressive as the Noctua’s 82.5 CFM, but the T30 still has enough airflow to cool a system adequately.
The main advantage of 140 mm fans is that they generally push more air at lower RPMs than 120 mm fans, providing better airflow performance at a given RPM (and noise level). So, if you want to find the sweet spot between airflow and noise levels, you may want to prioritize 140 mm fans if you can.
Otherwise, you can really go with whichever size fan you fancy, as the real-world differences won’t be all that significant. Just make sure your case (or radiator) supports the fans you’re buying! After all, there’s no point buying a bunch of 140 mm fans if you case only has room for 120 mm intakes.
Static Pressure vs. Airflow
There are two main specs you’ll spot when browsing for PC case fans: static pressure and airflow. Static pressure measures the fan’s ability to pull or push air through restrictions such as dust filters, radiators, and drive cages. On the other hand, airflow simply measures how much air the fan can move without anything in the way.
Generally, high-quality fans will do a good job in both areas. Fans like the Phanteks T30 offer excellent airflow and static pressure, making them all-rounder fans that will work in any scenario. However, some fans perform better in one metric than the other. In that case, you should pay attention to their strengths when installing case fans.
The usual rule of thumb is to use high-static-pressure fans for radiators and filtered intakes, while high-airflow fans are perfect for unobstructed exhaust fans. However, the potential differences are small enough that most air-cooled rigs can get away with using any fans in any position.
It’s a slightly different story for water-cooled rigs, where you’ll want to use high-static-pressure fans to pull and push air through your system’s radiators. Whether rocking a 280 mm AIO or a custom loop, you’ll want the best radiator fans to ensure your cooling solution performs its best.
Airflow vs. Noise
If you’ve read our guide to setting fan curves, you’ll know that I prefer fans and fan curves that strike a balance between cooling and performance. In most cases, I’m willing to accept slightly higher temperatures if it means a quieter rig.
That’s why our top pick isn’t doesn’t have the best outright airflow or static pressure. Don’t get me wrong; the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM is an excellent performer, but its key strength is providing good airflow (and static pressure) for its noise output.
That said, I may not be the most typical gamer: I don’t use headphones (or in-ear monitors) daily and prefer listening to music and games through a good set of studio monitors on my desk. So loud fans can be quite annoying, especially during quieter moments. Quieter PC fans are a must-have for me.
However, those of you who game with headphones might not have any issues with loud fans. In that situation, you might want to get fans that spin at high RPMs and move as much air as possible, regardless of the noise level.
If noise levels aren’t a concern, you can get high-speed fans and crank them for maximum cooling. It eliminates the tricky balancing act you need to do if you’re trying to optimize for noise, at the cost of a louder system overall.
Both approaches are valid, and there’s truly no right or wrong here. It’s an entirely personal choice, and I’ve only brought this up as a reminder that the best PC fans for one person might not always be the best case fan for you.
Buying 120 mm fans can be simple or complicated; it all depends on how specific your needs are. Almost any fan will work if you just want to cool your rig, but the best 120 mm fans excel in particular categories—silence, performance, RGB, or value—that set them apart from the competition.
If you’re after a good deal, there’s no other choice than the Arctic P12 PWM. It’s not the best performing or quietest fan, but it’s excellent value and should be perfect for most gaming rigs. If you want a premium fan with all the bells and whistles, Noctua’s NF-A12x25 PWM is still the fan to beat. RGB fanatics, on the other hand, will definitely want to make a beeline for the Lian Li Uni AL120 V2 fans.
Not sure how many fans you need? Check out our quick discussion of fan quantity and placement for some guidance.