Cooling systems are just as important as the PC parts they’re built to cool.
Having a good cooling solution, such as an AIO cooler or a system of air coolers, will extend the life of your components and even improve your performance.
In today’s day and age, there are endless options when it comes to case fans. You can buy basic fans for a couple of bucks, or you can easily spend a couple of hundred dollars on premium case fans with a plethora of extra features.
And because of this, we’re going to take a closer look at premium case fans in general and help you understand whether the extra features and the visual flair are worth spending the extra money on or not.
Are Premium Case Fans Worth It?
3 Reasons Why Premium Case Fans Are Totally Worth It
Between the PWM control, high static pressure, and even customizable LEDs, there’s a lot to love about premium case fans.
In fact, we found it so difficult to find substantial cons for these little air pushers that we omitted that section completely from this article!
So, what are these great reasons and benefits?
- Premium case fans, in 99% of cases, come with PWM, which can lead to a quieter machine overall
- High static pressure fans are a dream for overclocking
- Even at the highest end, premium case fans are still affordable on most budgets (not on all budgets, though)
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More Control and Quieter Operation
One of the biggest reasons to pick up a premium case fan over a lower-end budget fan is the level of airflow control on offer.
Fans are built in a variety of flavors, but the most important feature we urge you to look into is if the fan is pulse width modulated or DC.
If you purchase a higher-end case or a premium case fan, more than likely, it will have PWM fans. PWM fans allow for extremely precise fan speed control through software installed on the computer or firmware installed on the motherboard itself!
In other words, it can change the speed without having to muck around with any power settings.
Why does this matter?
Imagine you’re playing a AAA game at 120 FPS, and it’s really pushing your machine hard.
Heavy sessions like this require a good amount of cooling, and your fan to spin probably close to its max to maintain cooler temperatures. Not to mention the noise!
Now, imagine you’re just browsing the web, which takes very little GPU and CPU power to do. If your fans are still spinning near max just to do this simple task, then that’s an issue!
That’s the main advantage of having a premium case fan equipped with PWM.
With PWM, the software/firmware on your computer can adjust your fans as needed given the current temp, which leads to less noise during less intensive computer operation.
For example, if you’re streaming a movie, you’ll actually hear the movie and not the fans.
PWM by itself can be the definitive answer to whether premium case fans are worth it, but we’d be remiss not to discuss how this directly impacts overclocking performance.
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Premium Case Fans Improve Overclocking Performance
Premium case fans, in general, tend to have more blades than their lower-end (or stock) brethren, which increases the airflow in and out over the area it covers.
This, coupled with PWM (as mentioned before), provides a higher level of cooling, which is super important for overclocking.
Premium case fans, however, come in a variety of flavors, including static pressure fans. Static pressure fans are essentially focused airflow PWM fans that provide cooling to radiators. These are generally pricier and come in single units as they provide a different type of cooling.
Spending a bit more money on high-quality static pressure fans is usually worth it because of their ability to keep a CPU or GPU cooler at lower temperatures during extreme moments.
When overclocking a CPU or GPU, the main enemy is high temperatures, as most components have automatic shutoffs set for certain temperature thresholds.
As an added bonus, most of these static pressure fans come equipped with LED or RGB lighting by default. You don’t have to sacrifice the aesthetics of your custom build for the performance they offer. Not bad!
Now we mentioned price a few times during this section, so it’s probably a good idea to dive into that now.
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How Much You Should Spend On a Case Fan?
Surprisingly, the price may be one of the smaller deciding factors when you’re shopping for new case fans. This is due to the odd pricing you can find around the net.
As of 2023, lower / mid-tier pricing starts at around $7.99 USD, with the premium tier starting at around $14.99 (but can go way above that). That’s not a huge difference compared to cheaper, non-premium fans.
So, why are these prices so close? The major differences come from the quality of construction, brand, and lighting offerings. Fans without LEDs tend to be a lot cheaper than fans with LEDs.
In addition, fans with ARGB LEDs, however, are more expensive than fans with just single-color LEDs.
What to Look For When Buying Case Fans
This rather confusing situation means you’ll want to know what features to check before picking up what may appear to be a good set of fans for your case.
Here is the checklist we follow before spending too much on a case fan:
• Size Matters – Make sure to pick up a fan that actually fits your case or radiator. All case fans are measured in millimeters (mm) along the bottom side of the fan itself, so be sure to measure and find one that will not cause issues for your build
• PWM Only – Just don’t waste your time on the cheaper ones if they don’t have PWM. It will seriously save you money on electricity and make your machine run a lot quieter during lower-activity moments
• Blade Count –This is a “gotcha” by some manufacturers. Here’s the truth. A 120mm fan with 20 blades does not cool better than a 120mm fan with 11 blades. Depending on the size of the fan, there are “golden numbers” that produce the most airflow and performance boosts with diminishing returns as the number of blades increases. At the moment, 7 – 11 blades on a PC case fan is more than good to cool any component
• Lights – Do you need them? You’ll always save more on high-end, non-LED fans with the exact same performance. However, if you’re looking to show off your design, RGB lighting on your case fans is one of the best ways to do it
These are all the things we look for in a case fan (premium or not), and recommend you definitely do the same. You’ll notice during your PC building journey that there are lots of fan packs out there (even for brands like Corsair) as well as individual units.
Typically, you should aim for the packs as they will have more cost savings unless you are looking for a specific look from just a single component in your machine.
So in case you haven’t figured it out by now, we highly recommend investing in premium fans if you’re moving away from the stock options.
If nothing else, the higher blade count, PWM, and lighting options all make them a great way to express yourself or just have better (usually quieter) performance.
If you’re building a brand new PC (or just looking to upgrade), then premium case fans are definitely worth it. Just remember to find one that fits your case, has PWM, doesn’t have more than 11 blades, and of course, features a design you enjoy.
If you’re looking to seriously water cool your build and overclock, then investing in a premium static pressure case fan is well worth the money as well.
As always, if you learned a thing or two, make sure to share the article on your favorite social media. And if you have any additional questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below, and we’ll be more than happy to help you out.
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