The Best CPU Heatsink Fan Shootout, feat. Arctic, Noctua, Scythe, and Thermaltake
Here at TBG, we’ve taken up the challenge of finding the very best PC fans on the market, cutting through the marketing hype and actually testing fans under a variety of conditions. We test fans of various sizes, on small radiators, big radiators, in cases, and now, for the first time, on perhaps the most important category of all for upgraders: a CPU cooler heatsink. And we always test fans in a shootout format for every category, which we believe gives our audience a much better understanding of the market than one-off reviews do. It also forces us to choose winners, and therefore give you a sense of what’s actually worth buying. Hence the name The Tech Buyer’s Guru!
So with that as context, we present our 6th, or 7th, or 8th cooling fan shootout (we’ve honestly lost count), this one laser-focused on finding the very best fan for use on CPU cooler heatsinks. We’re especially proud to share that thanks to our close connections with various manufacturers, two brand-new fans were included in this roundup, which had never before been featured in a fan shootout!
Here are the fans included in this test:
- Arctic P12 PWM PST ($10) – Also available in value 5-pack
- Arctic P12 A-RGB 0dB PWM PST ($17) – Also available in value 3-pack
- Noctua NF-A12x25 ($33)
- Scythe Wonder Snail 120 ($17)
- Thermaltake Toughfan 12 ($20)
And here’s the system setup:
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S, tested with stock NF-F12 as a baseline
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
- MB: Asus X470 Crosshair XI Hero
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 802
- Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H2 10g
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 benchmarks, but we give you a good look at what it’s like to use each product!
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All right, we have a winner! You’ll need to watch to video to see the details, but without a doubt, the brand-new Scythe Wonder Snail 120 now sets the standard for heatsink fans, offering the best performance and among the lowest prices of any high-end fan on the market. It’s been a long time since Scythe last marketed a fan in this category, its Gentle Typhoon, and it seems like the Wonder Snail is almost a blast from the past, but updated with the latest performance tweaks and aesthetic upgrades.
As runner-up, we name the brand-new Arctic P12 A-RGB, which may be a step behind the Wonder Snail, but it’s still an amazing fan at the very same pricepoint, and it comes with the benefit of an awesome ARGB lighting implementation. So if that’s your thing, you can’t go wrong with the newest from the great minds at Arctic!
As always, check out our CPU Cooler Buyer’s Guide, updated quarterly, for all our latest recommendations.