We've published over a dozen cooler shootouts over the years, but we've never tested fans on their own... until now. After receiving requests for this comparison from lots of YouTube viewers, we decided it was time to put it together.
So it's with great pleasure that we share our Best 120mm Fan Shootout for 2020. This review features eight of the most popular fans on the market from the very best names in the cooling business: Arctic, be quiet!, Corsair, Noctua, and Scythe.
Our test bench consisted of an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, running in our SilverStone SG13 mini-ITX chassis, and using the Corsair Hydro H60 Liquid CPU Cooler. Here's the full lineup of competitors, with prices noted:
- Arctic P12 PWM ($9)
- be quiet! Pure Wings 2 ($20)
- be quiet! Silent Wings 3 ($26)
- Corsair ML120 ($28)
- Noctua NF-A12X15 ($20)
- Noctua NF-A12x25 ($30)
- Noctua NF-F12 PWM chromax.black ($25)
- Scythe Kaze Flex PWM ($14)
As with all of our reviews at this point and going forward, this review appears exclusively on YouTube, which you can see below. Not only do we show you what comes in the box and share some impressive benchmarks, but we give you a good look at each cooler as well!
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Here's the full list of winners:
- BEST OVERALL 120MM FAN: Noctua NF-A12x25 ($30) - this cooler was the quietest, tied for the best temperatures, was the easiest to install, was among the least expensive, and offers fantastic compatibility with motherboard components.
- BEST BUDGET 120MM FAN: Arctic P12 PWM White ($9) - this is the best cooler under $50, bar none. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and offers fantastic performance, with the only tradeoff being higher noise levels than average.
- BEST FAN FOR SLIM PCs: Noctua NF-A12x15 ($20) - while this cooler is fairly loud and only offers lower performance than most of the coolers in this shootout, it's also the only one that will fit in most small form factor mini-ITX cases.
As always, check out our CPU Cooler Buyer's Guide, updated quarterly, for all our latest recommendations.