The 120mm Cooler Fan Shootout: Arctic vs. be quiet!, Corsair, Noctua & Scythe

By Ari Altman | Published April 25, 2020 | Updated June 5, 2020


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.

The Test

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:

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!

Don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get in on all our content as soon as it goes live!

Final Thoughts

Here’s the full list of winners:

  1. BEST OVERALL 120MM FAN: Noctua NF-A12x25 ($30) – this fan is simply unmatched as a radiator fan. Best in the business, at a price.
  2. BEST BUDGET 120MM FAN: Arctic P12 PWM White ($9) – this is the best fan under $10, bar none.
  3. BEST FAN FOR SLIM PCs: Noctua NF-A12x15 ($20) – great performance, beating many full-width fans, but with low noise and the ability to run in tight spaces!

As always, check out our CPU Cooler Buyer’s Guide, updated quarterly, for all our latest recommendations.

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