One of the big brands in the PC sector is Corsair. Hardly any other brand offers so many different components and has built up such a large fan community. From cases to RAM, power supplies, custom water coolers, SSDs and fans, you can find just about everything. When it comes to fans, the unlit Corsair AF Elite have already delivered quite convincing results, so now the RGB version will also be put to the test. In the Corsair iCue AF RGB Elite fan review, we compare these models to the non-illuminated version and also look a little left and right to compare to the competition.
|Size||120 x 120 x 25 mm|
|Speed||550 – 2100 RPM|
|Max. airflow||65.57 CFM|
|Max. static pressure||2.68 mm H2O|
|Max. volume||34, dB(A)|
|Control||4-pin PWM + Corsair iCue|
|Price||€ 29.99 * (black, single)
€ 29.99 * (white, single)
€ 89.90 * (black, set of 3 with controller)
€ 99.90 * (white, set of 3 with controller)
|Size||140 x 140 x 25 mm|
|Speed||500 – 1700 RPM|
|Max. airflow||89 CFM|
|Max. static pressure||2 mm H2O|
|Max. volume||33.8 dB(A)|
|Control||4-pin PWM + Corsair iCue|
|Price||€ 34.99 * (black, single)
€ 33.58 * (white, single)
€ 69.61 * (black, set of 2 with controller)
€ 68.67 * (white, set of 2 with controller)
Packaging and scope of delivery
- Fans are protected by several layers of cardboard
- Typical signal color scheme of the packaging
- Case fan screws are included
The box of Corsair fans is in the typical colors of the company in black and yellow. A picture of the illuminated fan is printed on the front. The specifications can be found on the back of the box. When you open the box, there is a yellow insert inside that protects the fan even better in addition to the outer packaging. Pulling this out reveals the fan, while the two cables are tucked under another cover. Under this cover there is also a bag with the typical fan screws for case mounting.
- Nice back panel with simple Corsair logo instead of full lettering
- Lighted fan blades to the black frame
Different fan series specialize in different areas of expertise. Where the Corsair QL models are particularly focused on design and extreme lighting, the AF models are focused on high performance. The RGB version doesn’t really change that. The basic design is the same as the non-illuminated version, but there is a second cable for iCue control and the fan blades are transparent-bright.
The design of the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans shows its best side in this review, even from the back. Instead of a technical imprint, there is only the Corsair logo on the back of the fans, just like on the front. The accents on the side, such as the Corsair lettering, are also quite cool here. This can almost always be made visible or rotated out of sight as needed.
The RGB lighting of the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans is controlled via eight LEDs around the fan motor. Thus, the frame remains unlit. The illuminated fan blades make it relatively unobtrusive to combine with other fan models, such as the Corsair iCue SP Elite RGB.
- Robust case
- Rubberized corners reduce transmission of vibrations
- Thin cable is easy to install
The frame of the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans makes a solid impression and rubberized bearing surfaces can be found in the corners. This ensures that vibrations are dampened, which reduces potential noise. The fan cable has a regular 4-pin PWM connector. The RGB cable has the proprietary connector for Corsair’s iCue system.
The cables of the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans are kept thin and flat. Therefore, they can be easily hidden during cabling. True, they do not look as high-quality as sheathed cables. But that doesn’t affect the function. It’s also easier to tie excess cable lengths together and keep them out of sight, which makes sense with two cables per fan that are each more than half a meter long. With this cable length, the fans can be easily inserted even in large cases. But especially when fully equipped, you have to pay attention to the cable management accordingly.
- A suitable Corsair RGB controller is required
- The software control runs via Corsair iCue
The Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans themselves are controlled via a normal 4-pin PWM fan connector. The situation is different with the RGB lighting. Here the fans are equipped with the connector for Corsair iCue and for this you need a suitable controller, if you do not directly use a Corsair case with built-in controller.
Accordingly, the appropriate software is also needed for the controller. The iCue software can be found in the current version at the downloads on the official website of Corsair. This proprietary system has the disadvantage that you cannot control fans of other brands with it. But also the advantage that thus not all contingencies must be addressed and the function is therefore very safe given.
In Corsair iCue you can take complete control of the fans. Depending on the controller and its capabilities, of course. In the test, the Commander Core XT (€ 60.00 *) was used. Here, for example, the RGB functions can be controlled, but also the fan speed and the orientation of the fans.
- Performance is slightly lower than the unlit version
- Tested on radiators, as case fans and on the air cooler
It is often the case that the RGB sister models to unlit fans lose a little performance. This is also the case in this case. However, Corsair has managed to not let the performance level drop too far with the iCue AF Elite RGB and even keep it at one level in some cases. This is especially true for the larger Corsair iCue AF140 RGB Elite. Tests are run on the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240 and 280 radiators, which offer high resistance with a special thickness. And the heating processor in this case is the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.
Testing as a case fan takes place with two fans – one at the bottom front and one at the back – in the DeepCool CH510 Mesh Digital. Here, the fan automations on the air cooler and graphics card are disabled, so the fans are on a fixed speed and the case fans are the only difference.
We also test the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite on the DeepCool AK400. Here’s how to test its performance on regular air coolers.
Testing as a case fan
- Ordinary performance
- Head-to-head with Noctua fans
The Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite do decently well when the fans are allowed to spin at a consistent 1100 RPM. Here they sit pretty much on par with the non-illuminated AF120 Elite in terms of performance, and thus-although within the measurement tolerance-sit just ahead of the Noctua NF-A12x25, aside from the AF120 RGB Elite’s minimally higher volume. The comparison between the Corsair AF140 Elite and the Noctua NF-A14 looks different when running them at a uniform 800 RPM. Where performance is in favor of the Noctua, the Corsair AF140 Elite are noticeably quieter. The non-RGB version is a bit more powerful here.
Setting the fans to a uniformly low volume at the audible limit changes the ratio a bit. This is where some fans pull ahead performance-wise. Among the 140mm fans, the Corsair iCue AF140 RGB Elite cuddle up to the be quiet! Silent Wings 3 High-Speed and the ENDORFY Fluctus 140 PWM ARGB in terms of volume within the range of measurement tolerance. They are beaten by the be quiet! Light Wings 140mm and various Arctic fans, such as the P14 and F14.
If volume is unimportant and you simply want the highest performance, the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite remain in the performance range of the Noctua NF-P12 redux fans and are on par with the non-illuminated version of the AF120 Elite fans. Here, the fans pull away with a particularly high speed. The Corsair iCue AF140 RGB Elite, on the other hand, clearly pull ahead of the non-illuminated version, which is due to the higher speed. There are only a few fans here that lie a better performance.
Overall, the Corsair iCue AF RGB Elite fans are good as case fans, though not unbeatable top performers in this area.
Use as radiator fan
- Still a good performance of the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite
- Extremely strong performance of the Corsair iCue AF140 RGB Elite
The Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite perform quite acceptably on radiators. At a uniform 1100 RPM, they find themselves in the mid-range of performance, being beaten by the non-illuminated version in terms of performance at a very similar volume. Overall, however, the noise level is very acceptable. At a consistent volume, it stays that way. Therefore, the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite are mainly beaten by some fans, including the cheaper Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite. At peak performance, the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite pulls even with the non-illuminated version in terms of performance, but requires a higher speed for this, which also leads to a higher noise level.
The Corsair iCue AF140 RGB Elite, on the other hand, don’t let the non-RGB version run as far away and are only slightly behind at a uniform 800 RPM, actually running a bit quieter. Therefore, if you run the test at the uniformly low volume, the AF140 RGB fans actually pull ahead and are among the absolute top performers, even overtaking the ENDORFY Fluctus 140 PWM ARGB. When it comes to maximum performance, the tide just about turns again and the RGB version largely pulls even with the regular Corsair AF140 Elite in terms of performance. However, the higher RPMs make the RGB fans a bit louder, whereas the regular version has the volume a bit better under control at higher RPMs. Overall, however, the Corsair iCue AF140 Elite fans are also very far ahead in the performance field in this test.
Air-cooler performance of the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite
- Good performance with acceptable volume
- Catches up to the non-RGB version performance-wise depending on the use case
In the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fan test on the DeepCool AK400 air cooler, some fans pull ahead performance-wise in the test at a uniform 1100 RPM, and even the non-illuminated Corsair AF120 Elite is a bit stronger, as expected from the previous tests. There is no difference in volume between the two versions – they are both barely noticeable. However, with a consistent volume at the audible limit, the Corsair iCue AF 120 RGB Elite catches up to the regular version of the fans in the range of measurement tolerance. This makes both versions of Corsair’s AF series better on the air cooler performance-wise than any other Corsair fan available at the time of testing.
In the high performance department, the trend remains and the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite even pulls ahead of the regular AF120 Elite, helped by the high RPM. The extra performance does come at the expense of volume, but when performance is the priority, the RGB fans actually have the advantage. The Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite definitely show themselves to be powerful fans on the tower cooler, and they definitely maintain a pleasant volume in everyday use. And that even with the RGB lighting and the quite respectable back, if you want to mount two fans at once.
Overall, the 120mm version of the Corsair iCue AF Elite RGB fans suffers more from lighting integration than the 140mm fans in testing. The larger version of the fans retains the performance for the most part, so you won’t notice a significant difference in everyday use – except for the lighting in the case. Still, both offer a pretty good ratio of workmanship, performance, and volume, which puts them on the better side of the RGB fans. Sure – the version without RGB lighting is both a bit more powerful (realistically, the difference is measurable, but not really relevant to everyday use) and cheaper, and with the lighting you’re also tied to Corsair’s proprietary iCue system. If you’re okay with that, both Corsair iCue AF RGB Elite fans from this review are well worth a recommendation.