10 Best Radiator Fans in 2021 – Top 120mm & 140mm Fans for Water Cooling

Best Radiator Fans

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Liquid cooling is the best way to get the highest performance out of your PC, no question about it. But even liquid cooling will require fans to keep your radiators cool. This can be tricky because the best radiator fans are going to be different from the fans you’d be using for an air-cooled rig.

To help with your build, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best radiator fans available in 2021, with options for both 120mm and 140mm fans. All of the fans on our list are PWM, which means their speed can be controlled by your motherboard and adjusted based on moment-to-moment heating demands.

Best Radiator Fans in 2021 Round-Up

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the 10 best radiator fans currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Noctua NF-F12 PWM

''Best radiator fan overall''

9.9

2. LIAN LI UNI Fan SL120

''Best RGB radiator fan''

9.8

3. Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM

''Best performing radiator fan''

9.7

4. Phanteks PH-F120MP

''Best cheap radiator fan''

9.6

5. be quiet! Silent Wings 3

''Best quiet radiator fan''

9.5

6. Corsair ML120 Pro

''Best Corsair's radiator fan''

9.4

7. ThermalTake TOUGHFAN 12
''Editor's pick''

9.3

8. Scythe Kaze Flex Slim

''Best slim radiator fan''

9.2

9. ARCTIC P12 PWM
''Honorable mention''

9.1

10. NZXT AER P
''Honorable mention #2''

9.0



1. Noctua NF-F12 PWM

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 300 – 1500 RPM | Airflow: 55 CFM | Static Pressure: 2.6 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 22.4 dBA | Warranty: 6 years

Noctua NF-F12 PWMREASONS TO BUY

  • High static pressure perfect for liquid cooling
  • Very quiet even at higher speeds
  • High-quality construction
  • Fits with most radiators and cases
  • Only draws 0.5 W
  • Comes with a 6-year warranty

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No RGB
  • Lower static pressure when using low-noise mode

Our Rating:   9.9/10

If you’ve decided on a liquid-cooled build, chances are you want your fans to be as unobtrusive as possible. That means slim, hardworking fans that take up very little space and make little to no noise. That’s why the award-winning Noctua NF-F12 PWM comes in at the top of our list.

The best radiator fans, whether they’re 120mm or 140mm are going to be set in square frames that will create a sort of seal (for lack of a better term) across your radiator, meaning that any air that moves across or around your radiator will be flowing through the fans.

Most of the radiators on the market are 120mm wide and either 240mm or 360mm long, so a 120mm fan is needed, and naturally going to be the more popular choice for most builds. The Noctua NF-F12 PWM is 120mm square, and only 25mm (roughly 1”) thick, meaning that it will integrate well with the top radiators currently on the market, and not require much additional space in front or behind.

The most important metric in radiator fan performance is static pressure, the amount of air it can displace through or around objects, which in this case would be your radiator or radiator fins.

Fans that are optimized for static pressure as opposed to airflow will have wide, flat blades with relatively little space between them. Static pressure is generally measured in mm H₂O, with the best radiator fans producing an excess of 2-3 mm H₂O.

The Noctua NF-F12 PWM uses what it calls Heptaperf design, which is seven precisely angled fan blades atop eleven stator guide vanes. This produces a maximum static pressure of 2.6 mm H₂O, putting it firmly in the higher end of available cooling fan options. It’s also the first offering from Noctua to use their SSO2 magnetized bearing to deliver extra power and stability.

For such a powerful fan, it’s extremely light on power consumption, only drawing about 0.5 W.

A large part of what determines static pressure is your fan’s RPM, which means that higher static pressure fans will often (but not always) be noisier. If the reason you opted for liquid cooling was to get high levels of performance without the noise of fans, this can be a make-or-break factor in choosing which fan to buy.

Fortunately, Noctua has taken this into consideration. The fan blades are angled for both optimal static pressure and minimal noise. In addition, the corners of the fan are equipped with silicone pads to reduce vibration.

Running at full capacity, the fan is literally whisper-quiet, at a maximum of 22 decibels. If that’s still too much noise for you, the fan also ships with a low noise adapter, which reduces power to the fan, limiting the noise to 18.5 decibels. This comes at the expense of performance, and the static pressure will also be reduced to about 1.8 mm H₂O.

The fan is available in black, grey, and a bookish beige and brown, but none of the color options include RGB. In addition to the low noise adapter, it ships with a 4-pin y-connector, a 30cm (11.8 inches) extension cable, 4 vibration compensators, and 4 fan screws.

Like most radiator fans, it’s more expensive than a simple case fan. That said, the NF-F12 PWM is one of the more affordable radiator fans on the market, and should still be less than what you spend on your radiator(s). Better yet, it includes a six-year manufacturer’s warranty, one of the highest on the market.

All things considered, the Noctua NF-F12 is going to be exactly what most people need for a liquid-cooled build. It will fit on most radiators while providing excellent performance at minimal noise. It’s not much to look at, and if you were going for an air-cooled build or wanted to show off your fans that and the lack of RGB might be a downside.

Typically though, if you’re going liquid-cooled, you want powerful cooling without noticeable fans. The Noctua NF-F12 delivers on that perfectly without going overboard on price.

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2. LIAN LI UNI Fan SL120

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 800 – 1900 RPM | Airflow: 58.5 CFM | Static Pressure: 2.54 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 31 dBA | Warranty: 2 years

LIAN LI UNI Fan SL120REASONS TO BUY

  • Great performance
  • Excellent build quality
  • Modular daisy-chain construction
  • Gorgeous RGB
  • Multiple sizes and colors available

REASONS TO AVOID

  • High power consumption
  • Single fans don’t ship with an RGB controller

Our Rating:   9.8/10

Taiwanese manufacturer Lian Li is known for producing high-quality computer accessories. We’ve had an eye on some of their cases for their ability to show off your build, and what better way to complement a stylish liquid-cooled build than with these gorgeous, and highly functional fans.

Their UNI Fan series comes in two variants, the SL120 and SL140 which are 120mm and 140mm respectively. The 120mm, which is the more common dimension for radiators, is the more powerful of the two, with a static pressure of up to 2.54mm H₂O. That’s in what we’d consider the ideal range for radiator fans. The 140mm is still reasonably powerful as well, at 1.67mm H₂O.

Now, the fan uses a hybrid bearing system, with a fluid dynamic core supported magnetic bearings which allow for plenty of power with more stability and durability. On top of that, it is also supported by rubber vibration pads on all four corners, which allow it to be securely mounted to your radiator.

Admittedly, these aren’t exactly quiet fans, each maxing out at about 30dba when running at full speeds. Considering that the SL120 only reaches 1900RPM, and the SL140 is even lower at a max 1500RPM that’s pretty loud. If you can put a little distance between you and the fans, or have a way to muffle the noise the power and beauty are worth a little extra noise.

The addition of RGB elements makes these a little more power-hungry than most, with a 5.2 watt draw from the SL120, but a slightly lower 3.6W draw from the SL140.

What really makes these fans stand out is is their assembly and RGB components. Where a lot of fans have the LEDs embedded in a way that illuminates the fan blade, the UNI SL has LED strips around the edge of the case, making for a geometric cyberpunk design that doesn’t draw as much attention to the fans themselves.

In addition, the fans are inherently modular and able to be daisy-chained just by slotting them together. When installed, up to 16 fans can be addressed by a single central controller.

The fans are available in both black and white, which gives you a bit more compatibility with the aesthetics of your build.

Furthermore, the fans can be shipped individually or as a multi-pack. Individually they ship with just the fan, cable, and mounting screws. In a multi-pack, you get either three SL120s or two SL140s, the screws, cables, and a controller addressable RGB elements.

It’s hard to strike a balance between stylish RGB and de-emphasizing the fans themselves, but the Lian Li’s SL series achieve exactly that. They are gorgeous fans that will create a memorable effect in your build showcase. They’re a bit more expensive, and the multi-pack doesn’t offer a discount because of the addition of the controller, but if aesthetics are as important to you as performance, you’ll love what these fans can do for you.

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3. Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 750 – 3000 RPM | Airflow: 109.9 CFM | Static Pressure: 7.6 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 43.5 dBA | Warranty: 6 years

Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWMREASONS TO BUY

  • Tremendous cooling power
  • Unparalleled static pressure
  • Sturdy and resilient
  • Suitable for industrial use
  • Comes with a 6-year warranty

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Very loud, especially for home use
  • No color customization options

Our Rating:   9.7/10

At a glance, the Noctua NF-F12 iPPC is basically the same fan as the PWM above. It uses the same heptaperf design of 7 angled blades on top of the 11 stator guide vanes, which creates a powerful vortex of air.

It’s the same standard 120mm square by 25mm thick, though it uses a fiberglass reinforced polyamide construction for extra stability. It also has an IP52 certification against both water and dust.

The reason for the extra sturdiness, on top of Noctua’s already strong construction, is that this fan has a lot more power feeding into it. 3.6W total, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s six times more than the version above, even though it uses the same SSO2 magnetic bearing construction for the three-phase motor.

That extra power delivers up to 3000 RPM for a massive 7.6 mm H₂O of static pressure. Keep in mind that anything above 1 is technically adequate, and 2-3 is considered optimal in most cases. This fan will force heat off your radiator to an unparalleled degree, letting you get the most out of your liquid cooler no matter what you’re doing with it.

Unfortunately, there’s no amount of engineering that’s going to make a 3000RPM fan quiet. Running at full speed it produces 43.5 dBA, which makes it quieter than most household appliances, but not by much. It’s more or less a linear correlation between noise and power compared to the other fans we reviewed.

The black construction with the burgundy corners (silicone insulators) for reduced vibration is striking, but it’s still a very simple-looking fan. There’s no RGB and no other options for color.

It has a built-in 4-pin cable but otherwise doesn’t ship with any additional items besides the fan screws.

The extra power is mostly just a matter of power input, so it’s not significantly more expensive. You’re paying slightly more for the better materials used in the construction, and that’s about it. Like most of Noctua’s products, it also has a 6-year warranty.

Chances are this is more fan than you need. You may be tempted by the huge jump in power compared to a relatively small jump in price, but the noise is going to be a major distraction, especially if you use a speaker system and not a headset. However, if your computer is a workstation for high-demand operations or you’re a hardcore overclocker, these fans are going to deliver unparalleled performance.

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4. Phanteks PH-F120MP

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 500 – 1800 ± 250 RPM | Airflow: 53.3 CFM ± 10% | Static Pressure: 1.72 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 25 dBA | Warranty: 5 years

Phanteks PH-F120MPREASONS TO BUY

  • Budget-friendly
  • Good performance for the price
  • Still very high quality
  • Variety of color schemes available
  • Surprisingly good warranty

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Low static pressure for the power
  • Not as quiet as hoped
  • Poor cable management options

Our Rating:   9.6/10

Liquid cooling is expensive, no way around it, so it can sting to still be spending hundreds of dollars on fans. But if you’re trying to budget, it’s especially important to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

With that in mind, the Phanteks PH-F series is our choice for budget radiator fans. Both the 120mm and 140mm options are serviceable fans, with nothing exceptional about them except the price, which is solidly $5-$10 below average.

For starters, the fan features a standard square construction that rests securely against the radiator. Silicone pads at the main points of contact add extra stability and noise/vibration dampening.

The seven broad, angled blades sit on top of four stator guide vanes, which produces 1.72 mm H₂O in the 120mm version, and 1.62 in the 140mm version. This is towards the low side for radiator fans, but technically anything above 1.0 is going to be adequate for radiator cooling.

Like other, higher-end options the Phanteks uses a magnetic motor for quiet, frictionless power, which means that it’s a longer-lasting fan, and it only produces 25 dBA running at full power. It’s a noticeable level, but one that’s not obnoxious, and can easily be tuned out. The 140mm is only half a decibel louder.

Power consumption isn’t extravagant, but 2.4W is a bit high for the power, especially for a fan with magnetic bearings.

Cable management is going to be a major downside, though that shouldn’t be too surprising for a budget option. You’ll need to purchase extra cables if you want to daisy chain your fans together. The default PWM cable has far more insulation than it needs, which makes it bulky and visible in a very unattractive way.

You do have a few choices for color, inasmuch as black and white are colors. Both the 120mm and 140mm are available in all black, all white, or with white blades in a black case. Sadly, none of them include RGB.

If you’re concerned about this being a cheaper option, it comes with a 5-year warranty against manufacturer defects which further increases the value.

Sure, this fan has some downsides. It’s certainly not the most powerful, or the quietest fan on the market. None of that should be unexpected from a budget option, and it works. If you’re trying to make room in your build budget by saving on fans, this is a choice that’s not going to burn you in the long term.

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5. be quiet! Silent Wings 3

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: Up to 1450 RPM | Airflow: 50.5 CFM ± 10% | Static Pressure: 1.79 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 16.4 dBA | Warranty: 3 years

be quiet! Silent Wings 3REASONS TO BUY

  • Extremely quiet
  • Quality, sturdy build
  • Great balance of power and noise levels
  • Variations in power and size available
  • High-speed variants are still very quiet

REASONS TO AVOID

  • The default models are on the weaker side
  • No RGB versions of the fan

Our Rating:   9.5/10

German manufacturer be quiet! is known for producing high-quality fans, coolers, power supply units, and cases that all have one thing in common: whisper-quiet performance. The Silent Wings 3, available in both 120mm and 140mm variants, is a perfect example of this.

To start with, at maximum speed both the 120mm and 140mm only produce about 16 decibels, about the same as someone whispering from across the room. There are high-speed variants available which increase the noise level to almost 30 dBA (someone whispering over your shoulder) but obviously increase performance as well.

be quiet! uses several features to achieve this effect, starting with a rubberized fan case and anti-vibration mountings. This allows the fan to sit securely on your radiator without producing unnecessary noise or wear and tear.

There are small spaces in the corner of the frame where it doesn’t go all the way to the edge, which will leave a little bit of your radiator exposed which isn’t ideal, but not enough to majorly affect performance. Plus, the seven fan blades are carefully angled and have grooves to keep noise low at higher speeds.

Now, all versions of the Silent Wings 3 use a 6 pole motor with fluid-dynamic bearings, which provides quiet, variable power and durability. However, to get that silence, you are sacrificing some power. The basic versions are only 1.79 mm H₂O for the 120mm, and a feeble 1.08 for the 140mm.

The high-speed variants (which are louder) are quite a bit better. The 120mm ramps up to 3.37 mm H₂O, while the 140mm gets an acceptable 2.17 mm H₂O.

The power consumption varies quite a bit across models, from 1.44W on the 120mm to 4.44W on 120MM high speed, and 3.6W to 6W on the 140mm models.

The fan ships with two adaptors, a 3-speed SATA adaptor, for better control from your motherboard, and a 20-inch extension cable.

All sizes and speeds are the same dimensions, either 120mm or 140mm square, and 25mm thick. They all look identical (apart from the difference in size): matte black with no RGB.

be quiet!’s fans cost a couple of dollars more than average, but are still not the most expensive on the market. On top of that, it includes a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The reason to get be quiet! fans is in the name. The liquid cooling is already doing the lion’s share of your cooling, so if you need a way to keep air quietly moving across your radiator this will be exactly what you’re looking for.

However, if you’re going liquid-cooled because you’re doing major overclocking or are otherwise putting off a ton of heat, these fans might come up short.

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6. Corsair ML120 Pro

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 400 – 2400 RPM ± 10% | Airflow: 75 CFM ± 10% | Static Pressure: 4.2 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 37 dBA | Warranty: 5 years

Corsair ML120 ProREASONS TO BUY

  • Optional LEDs for additional visual customization
  • Plenty of static pressure and airflow
  • Well-engineered blades and rotor
  • Excellent build quality
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty

REASONS TO AVOID

  • On the verge of being too loud
  • Not very budget-friendly
  • No included cables
  • LEDs can’t be programmed

Our Rating:   9.4/10

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting for an LED option, this is finally it. The Corsair ML series is a bit more expensive, even without the LED, and a bit louder than they need to be, which is why they’re a few spots off from our number one pick. But if you want powerful, visually striking fans to complement your liquid-cooled build, these should shoot to the top of your list.

The ML series is available in both 120mm and 140mm sizes and has the requisite square frame for radiator cooling. The seven fan blades and four stator guide vanes are carefully and specifically engineered for maximum static pressure and airflow.

Besides that, the fan uses a levitating magnetic bearing, which reduces motor friction. This optimizes power consumption, noise output, and wear on the fan.

In terms of actual performance, the ML120 has a maximum static pressure of 4.2 mm H₂O, which safely above what you’ll need for most home builds. The ML140 is a bit lower at 3.0 mm H₂O, but that still makes it one of the more powerful fans on our list.

Once again, you’ll notice that the relation between power and noise being almost exactly linear. Running at maximum both the 120mm and 140mm produce about 35 dBA. Of course, a 2000 RPM control range means that it won’t usually be running at maximum, though it typically will at startup and during peak performance tasks.

The noise level is right at the line of what might bother you, depending on your preferences and environment. Some reviewers complain about the noise on these fans, others rave about how quiet they are.

The power draw is decent, coming in between 2.5 and 3.75 W, depending on the size and whether you include the lights.

On top of the Corsair ML series being the first fans with optional LEDs, they’ve also got a small, but sensible range of choices for colors. You can choose blue, red, white, or “colorless” which is a sort of metallic black.

It’s important to note that if you opt for the LEDs, they are only available in those specific colors, and just the frame is blue or red, leaving the blades white if you choose not to include them.

Finally, the fan only ships with the screws required to mount it, so you’ll need to get the PWM cables yourself. It’s not a huge expense, but it is one that makes this fan firmly the most expensive on our list. On the other hand, Corsair’s warranty covers the fan for up to five years, making this a decent value overall.

If you’re a hardcore fan of Corsair or someone who treats their PC like a Christmas tree, this is the “gotta have it” option for you. They’re well-made fans, and the power is enough to handle the upper limits of what you’d be doing with a home build, but if you’re not big on lights or don’t need to showcase your fans in your build, there are better options for the price.

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7. ThermalTake TOUGHFAN 12

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 500 – 2000 RPM | Airflow: 58.4 CFM | Static Pressure: 2.41 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 22.3 dBA | Warranty: 2 years

ThermalTake TOUGHFAN 12REASONS TO BUY

  • High performance and relatively low noise
  • Multiple sizes and power options available
  • Multi-packs make it more budget-friendly
  • Excellent build quality
  • Fairly priced

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Short warranty period
  • Relatively high power consumption
  • Limited visual customization

Our Rating:   9.3/10

The ThermalTake TOUGHFAN is right on the edge of being called overbuilt. The nine overlapping fan blades make it look more like a jet turbine than a case fan. The blades have the appearance of brushed metal, though ThermalTake is quick to point out that they’re actually a liquid crystal polymer.

If you’ve got a preference for components that look more rugged then these fans will be perfect for you. If not, it’s a bulkier, more industrial look for fans that don’t perform any better than the most minimal-looking fans on our list.

The TOUGHFAN is available in 3 models, the 120mm PWM, the 120mm Turbo, and the 140mm. All three are the standard 25mm (approximately 1 inch) thick.

In terms of performance, the overlapping fan blades will give you a bit more static pressure than you’d expect from the 2000 maximum RPM (2500 for the Turbo). The 120mm creates 2.41 mm H₂O, the Turbo 3.78 mm H₂O, and the 140mm 3.54 mm H₂O. The 140mm is where the specialized blade design really shines.

Additionally, all three use a second-generation hydraulic bearing, essentially a slightly more refined version of a dynamic fluid bearing.

Surprisingly, these fans are relatively quiet. You could be forgiven for expecting a fan that looks like a jet engine to sound like one, but they’re not any louder than fans that deliver the same, or even slightly more power.

The 120mm is whisper quiet at 22 dBA, the Turbo is a bit louder, but still a very subtle 28 dBA. The 140mm pushes into what you might call “loud” at 33 dBA, but it’s still not bad for the power.

On the negative side, the 120mm versions are a little higher on power consumption, at 1.4 and 2.6 respectively, and the 140mm draws a total of 4 Watts. Also, there’s not a lot of customization available as there’s no RGB and the fans are available in either black or metallic grey.

On a more positive note, the fans ship with the connector screws, rubber corners, and the 4-pin connector cable, which is longer than most, making cable management easier. The 120mm PWM and 140mm are available in a two-pack which gives you a decent saving if you need multiple (which you typically will).

And finally, the warranty is only two years, which is slightly worrying for a brand that seems to be built around stability.

Given these points, the 140mm TOUGHFAN is one of the better 140mm fans on the market currently. The 120mm perform well, but for the most part, are going to come down to preference. If you’re going for a more industrial aesthetic, these are going to be more memorable than the Noctua and cheaper than the Corsair while still providing solid performance.

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8. Scythe Kaze Flex Slim

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 15 mm | Speed: 300 – 1800 RPM ± 10% | Airflow: 50.8 CFM | Static Pressure: 1.35 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 30 dBA | Warranty: 2 years

Scythe Kaze Flex SlimREASONS TO BUY

  • Slim design perfect for compact builds (120mm)
  • The frame makes excellent use of space
  • RGB version available
  • Quality construction
  • Budget-friendly

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Noisy, especially for the amount of power
  • Simple design appearance
  • 120mm version has a minimal static pressure

Our Rating:   9.2/10

The Scythe Kaze Flex, available in both 120mm and 140mm versions, has a couple of main things that recommend it.

First, it’s on the budget-friendly side of the spectrum. If your radiators are already doing most of the cooling, and you need to keep a bit of air moving across them but don’t want to spend too much money, these are a great choice.

The second is that the 120mm is noticeably thinner than most case or radiator fans on the market. The 120mm is only 15mm (about 0.6 inches) thick, compared to the 25mm (approximately 1 inch) or more you’ll find with the majority of radiator fans.

The low profile combined with the dark grey color makes them easy to downplay as part of your build. If you’re trying to do liquid cooling with an mATX or mini-ITX build, the extra 10mm of space can be a lifesaver. The 140mm version of the fan is the usual 25mm thick, but you’re generally not going to use 140mm fans for a compact build.

Moving along, the rotors of both fans use a dynamic fluid bearing, meaning a temperature-resistant lubricant ensures smooth movement of the fan. It’s a slightly less efficient solution to friction reduction, but still entirely functional.

Besides that, the frame of the fan is going to sit perfectly flush on your radiator, leaving no space, and the rubberized corners allow you to secure them firmly without vibration.

Now, you may notice that the 120mm fan has more fan blades than most of the options on our list and that they’re slightly thinner and wider spaced, but are still angled in the same way as most radiator fans. This signals an attempt to strike a balance between airflow and static pressure.

It still produces enough static pressure to function as a radiator fan, 1.35 mm H₂O running at max speed. That’s getting close to the lowest feasible amount of static pressure, but still functional. The 140mm has the same 7-blade, minimal gap setup as most of the other radiator fans you’ll see and produces an impressive 2.8 mm H₂O at max speed.

Power consumption is good, coming in at 1-2 watts, depending on which model you choose.

Unfortunately, neither fan is quiet. The 120mm needs to work harder because of the hybrid construction, and the 140mm has that much more surface area to create pressure across. As a result, the 120mm puts off 30 dBA, extremely loud for the relative pressure, and the 140mm maxes out at 45 dBA, putting it barely below a running fridge.

There is also an RGB version available, so if you want to save money on performance to get the RGB effect, this is also an option.

Both fans ship with the required mounting screws, a four-pin connector, and rubber corners to reduce vibration. Further, it includes a two-year warranty, which is on the low side compared to most fans.

With all this being said, if you’re looking for a budget option that makes excellent use of space, the 120mm Scythe Kaze Flex is your fan. The 140mm version is an adequate budget 140mm option as well. You’re sacrificing some power, and getting a lot of noise in return, so if you’re going to be consistently running your PC at high levels, you may want to consider a quieter and/or more powerful option.

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9. ARCTIC P12 PWM

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm | Speed: 200 – 1800 RPM | Airflow: 56.3 CFM | Static Pressure: 2.2 mm H₂O | Noise level: Up to 35 dBA | Warranty: 10 years

ARCTIC P12P14 PWMREASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent static pressure for the price
  • Extremely budget-friendly
  • Several color options available
  • Best warranty on the market

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No anti-vibration pads
  • Noisier than similarly performing fans
  • Somewhat questionable construction

Our Rating:   9.1/10

If you were to go just by static pressure and no other metric, the arctic P12 and P14 are dollar for dollar the best fans on the market.

To begin with, the five huge scooping blades deliver a level of static pressure that’s comparable to fans that are twice the price. In addition to shipping individually, you can buy them in a 5-pack, allowing you to equip two 240mm radiators and a rear 120 for the price of a single premium fan.

Both the P12 and P14 PWM are fairly similar, in terms of maximum performance. They both use fluid dynamic bearings, which is unsurprising for a budget option. Both deliver an excess of 2 mm H₂O. The 120mm peaks at 2.2 mmH2O, while the 140mm stretches to 2.4 mmH2O.

Some budget options give you the minimum amount (1 to 1.5 mm H₂O) but the Arctic P12 and P14 perform at a level that’s going to be sufficient for all but the most demanding builds.

That static pressure per dollar tradeoff costs you in other ways. They’re on the lower end of construction, for starters. True they sit flush with a radiator, but they’re missing the vibration-reducing feet that most radiator fans (most fans, in fact) have.

Furthermore, these fans are not quiet. Most of the official specs released by the company report the volume in 0.3 sones instead of its equivalent in decibels: 35 dBA. That’s not intolerable, but it’s super loud for a 2.2 mm H2O, 1800 RPM fan. Many users also report odd whining or humming sounds at lower frequencies, which can be distracting, or even infuriating.

On the brighter side, there are more customization options than you might expect for a budget fan, a total of six options in fact, though they’re all various permutations of the available black or white case and black, white, or transparent blades. Unsurprisingly, there is no RGB available with this series.

The fan ships with the requisite screws and a 4-pin cable. If you opt for the 5-pack, you can daisy chain them together with the included cables. Lastly, the manufacturer’s warranty covers the fans for up to 10 years, which is actually the best warranty you can currently get.

All in all, these fans deliver excellent static pressure, especially considering the price, but have major shortcomings in other areas. These are the fans you get if you need serious cooling but have already gone over budget on your build.

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10. NZXT AER P

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 26 mm | Speed: 500 – 2000 ± 300 RPM | Airflow: 73.1 CFM ± 10% | Static Pressure: 2.93 mm H₂O | Noise level: 21 – 36 dBA | Warranty: 2 years

NZXT AER PREASONS TO BUY

  • Great performing radiator fan
  • Quality construction
  • Affordable
  • Customizable trim
  • Built-in vibration dampeners

REASONS TO AVOID

  • A noisy fan that tries to hide it
  • Power-hungry
  • Limited warranty

Our Rating:   9.0/10

The NZXT AER P is not quite a budget option. It’s a less expensive option, but still a couple of dollars more than what you’d typically consider “budget”. The good news is that you don’t make any major sacrifices to performance to get there.

Both the 120mm and 140mm are perfectly square and sit neatly on your radiator and they have vibration dampeners built-in to reduce noise and wear and tear to your fans. They are technically 26mm, not the usual 25mm thickness for most radiator fans, so if you’re working with very limited space tolerances, that could be an issue.

Let’s talk performance as both the 120mm and 140mm are powerful fans. The 120mm produces a maximum of 2.93 mm H₂O, and the 140mm is just behind that at 2.71 mmH2O, both firmly in the upper ranges of what you might need for radiator fans. It uses a specialized multi-bearing fluid dynamic rotor, which is slightly less efficient than levitating magnetic rotors, but also tends to be less expensive.

It’s a little power-hungry for a 2000 RPM fan, with the 120mm drawing 3.8W and the 140mm 4.2W.

A lot of the marketing for this fan mentions that it performs at 21 dBA, which would make it one of the quieter fans available. In reality that’s the minimum operating noise. It peaks at 36 dBA (38 for the 140mm), which is on the noisier side of things.

Add in the fact that most fans that peak in the 20-25 range are running much quieter than that most of the time, and you start to get the idea that this is a fairly noisy fan. Not a deal-breaker, especially at this price, it’s just a little frustrating.

In terms of design, the fan doesn’t have RGB, but you can change the trim color with a separately available accessory pack. It ships with a sleeved 500mm 4-pin cable, which gives you plenty of slack for cable management. Lastly, the warranty is only two years, which is the absolute minimum you’re going to see with radiator fans.

All things considered, if you’re looking to save a little money but still need a solid amount of power in your build, the NZXT AER P is a great fan. It provides plenty of performance, nice aesthetics, and quality construction. For the price, however, you might expect it to be a little quieter and not so power-hungry.

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In Conclusion

The most important metric for picking out a radiator fan is always going to be the static pressure. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a higher number is better. Depending on the fins per inch of your radiator, you can often get away with less.

Higher amounts of static pressure will also usually mean more fan noise, which is often a part of why you made the switch to liquid cooling. If you’re doing major overclocking or otherwise have a large need for cooling, you may want to consider keeping your tower further from where you typically sit to reduce the noise.

The best radiator fan for you is always going to be the one that fits your needs. That can look different depending on your uses and levels of performance. These are the best radiator fans available for 2021, but the one that’s right for you might not be the same as everyone else.

About Richard Gamin 128 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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