PC Components

The great air cooler fan test (120 mm)

Air coolers are the most common, simple and safe solutions to cool a processor. And here there can be many reasons to replace or add fans over time. Some fans are too loud, others don’t perform as well as they should. Or you are simply unlucky and the factory fan gives up the ghost after the end of the warranty period. But that’s no reason to change the entire cooler, because fans can be replaced. We take a look at a large number of fans and their performance in the large air cooler fan test for 120 mm tower coolers.

The fans in the test

Image Fan name Speed.
(in RPM)
Warranty in years
RGB connection
Price
Alphacool Aurora Rise 120mm Fan Alphacool Aurora Rise 2500 2 JST € 19.00 *
X-shaped fans Alseye X12 Alseye Xtreme X12 1200 2 proprietary € 44.66 * (set of 3)
€ 21.37 * (single)
Arctic F12 PWM PST 120mm Fan Arctic F12 PWM PST 1350 6 € 28.33 * (set of 5)
€ 8.17 * (single)
Arctic P12 PWM Arctic P12 1800 6 € 30.76 * (Set of 5)
€ 7.79 * (single)
Arctic P12 Max PWM Arctic P12 Max 3300 6 € 9.99 *
Arctic P12 ARGB PWM PST 120mm Fan Arctic P12 PWM PST ARGB 2000 6 Standard ARGB € 37.72 * (Set of 3)
€ 13.90 * (single)
be quiet! Light Wings 120mm PWM be quiet! Light Wings 120mm PWM 1700 3 Standard ARGB € 64.00 * (set of 3)
€ 27.37 * (single)
be quiet Pure Wings 2 be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM 1500 3 € 13.90 *
be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm White be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm PWM 1100 3 € 18.08 * (black)
€ 19.99 * (white)
be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 120mm fan be Quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 3000 5 € 29.49 *
Cooler Master Mobius 120 mm Fan Cooler Master Mobius 120 2050 5 € 21.03 *
Cooler Master Mobius 120 RGB Fan Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB 2400 5 Standard ARGB € 24.99 *
Corsair AF120 Elite Fan Corsair AF120 Elite 1850 5 € 16.90 * (black)
€ 16.90 * (white)
Corsair AF120 RGB Elite Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite 2100 5 proprietary (Corsair iCue) € 69.95 * (set of 3, black)
€ 86.90 * (Set of 3, white)
€ 16.90 * (single, black)
€ 16.90 * (single, white)
Corsair iCue QL120 RGB Corsair iCue QL120 RGB 1500 2 proprietary (Corsair iCue) € 89.90 * (set of 3, black)
€ 74.43 * (Set of 3, white)
€ 26.90 * (single, black)
€ 26.90 * (single, white)
Corsair SP120 Elite Fan Corsair SP120 Elite 1300 2 € 13.92 *
Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite 1500 2 proprietary (Corsair iCue) € 55.75 * (set of 3, black)
€ 48.00 * (Set of 3, white)
€ 21.99 * (single, black)
DeepCool CF120 Fan DeepCool CF120 1500 1 JST (adapter to standard ARGB included) Price not available * (set of 3)
€ 12.31 * (single)
DeepCool FC120 RGB DeepCool FC120 RGB 1800 2 proprietary € 35.99 * (set of 3)
DeepCool FK120 Fan DeepCool FK120 1850 2 € 36.89 * (set of 3)
€ 16.89 * (single)
DeepCool MF120GT X-look fan DeepCool MF120GT 1800 2 JST (controller included) Price not available * (set of 3)
Endorfy Fluctus 120 RGB Fan ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB 1800 6 Standard ARGB € 19.90 *
Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB Fan Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB 1200 2 Standard ARGB € 37.05 * (black, set of 3)
€ 18.99 * (white)
€ 13.99 * (black)
Argus RS-06 120mm RGB fan Inter-Tech Argus RS-06 1200 2 proprietary (adapter to standard ARGB included) € 26.90 *
Lian Li UniFan AL120 V2 Lian Li UniFan AL120 V2 2000 2 proprietary (L-Connect) € 89.90 * (Set of 3, black)
€ 89.90 * (Set of 3, white)
€ 27.90 * (single, black)
€ 27.90 * (single, white)
MSI Silent Gale P12 MSI Silent Gale P12 2000 6 € 38.70 *
Noctua NF-A12x25 120mm fan Noctua NF-A12x25 2000 6 € 32.90 * (brown)
€ 32.90 * (Chromax Black)
Noctua NF-F12 120mm Fan Noctua NF-F12 PWM 1700 6 € 24.90 * (brown)
€ 27.90 * (Chromax Black)
Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM 3000 6 € 29.90 *
Noctua NF-P12 120mm fan Noctua NF-P12 1300 6 € 24.90 *
Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 120mm fan Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM 1700 6 € 14.90 *
Noctua NF-S12 120mm fan Noctua NF-S12A PWM 1200 6 € 24.90 * (brown)
€ 27.90 * (Chromax Black)
Noiseblocker NB-eLoop X 120mm RGB fan with clear fan blades Noiseblocker NB-eloop X B12-PS 1500 2 Standard ARGB € 29.68 * (black)
€ 29.81 * (white)
NZXT F120 RGB Fan NZXT F120 RGB 1800 2 proprietary (NZXT Cam) € 28.89 * (black)
€ 28.89 * (white)
Seasonic MagFlow 120mm Fan Seasonic MagFlow 1225 PWM 2000 3 € 78.09 * (set of 3)
Sharkoon SilentStorm BW120 PWM Sharkoon Silent.
Storm BW120 PWM
1400 € 14.57 *
Sharkoon SilentStorm RGB 120mm Sharkoon Silent Storm PWM RGB 1400 Standard ARGB € 10.99 *
Thermaltake SWAFAN EX12 RGB Thermaltake Swafan EX12 RGB 2000 2 proprietary (controller included) € 108.12 * (Set of 3, black)
€ 102.90 * (Set of 3, white)
Xilence XPF120 RGB Fan Xilence XPF120.ARGB 1500 2 Standard ARGB € 8.26 *
Xilence XPF120 black fan Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM 1500 2 € 7.99 *

It is possible that fans are added subsequently, which are not found directly in the overview or picked up in the texts.

Testing procedure

In contrast to the case fan test and the radiator fan test, only one fan is ever used in this air cooler fan test. The test system is identical to the case fan test: an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X mid-range processor is thrown into the test with a DeepCool AK400 mid-range air cooler. The whole thing sits in a DeepCool CH510 Mesh Digital and two extra quiet be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 140mm are used as case fans, set at a constant 600 RPM.

For the air cooler fan test, the processor is heated up by Cinebench R23 for 6 minutes each and then the temperature is measured over one minute.

The measurement results of the processor temperature are adjusted for the air temperature in order to not let fluctuations in the room temperature influence the measurement results. This means that the results are available as a delta in Kelvin and the current room temperature must be added. So, if the measurement result is 50 Kelvin and the room temperature is 22°C, then the processor temperature is correspondingly 72°C. This also means that the smaller the number, the better the result.

Test at uniform 1100 RPM

The air cooler fan test at uniform speed shows the efficiency of the fans. However, it also shows which fans may be louder than the competition. A volume rating of 30 dB(A) means the fan was too quiet to stand out from the ambient noise.

wdt_ID Name Lautstärke dB(A) Temperaturdelta
4 DeepCool FC120 30,00 49,80
15 Noctua NF-S12A PWM 31,00 49,80
20 Seasonic MagFlow 1225 PWM 30,00 49,90
21 ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB 30,00 50,10
22 Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM 31,80 50,10
23 DeepCool CF120 RGB 31,00 50,20
24 DeepCool MF120GT 32,10 50,30
25 Noctua NF-F12 PWM 32,40 50,40
26 Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 32,90 50,40
27 Noiseblocker NB-eLoop X B12-PS 30,00 50,50
28 DeepCool FK120 30,00 50,50
29 Corsair AF120 Elite 30,00 50,60
30 Arctic F12 PWM PST 31,00 50,60
31 Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite 31,70 50,60
32 Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM 30,00 50,70
33 Cooler Master Mobius 120 30,00 50,70
34 Sharkoon SilentStorm BW120 PWM 30,00 50,90
35 Sharkoon SilentStorm RGB PWM 30,00 50,90
36 Noctua NF-P12 31,70 50,90
37 Corsair SP120 Elite 31,70 50,90
38 Xilence XPF120.ARGB 31,00 51,00
39 Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM 32,20 51,00
40 be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 120mm 30,00 51,10
41 Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite 30,00 51,10
42 Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB 30,00 51,40
43 Thermaltake SWAFAN EX12 RGB 30,00 51,40
44 Lian Li Uni Fan AL120 V2 30,00 51,50
45 Arctic P12 Max 30,00 51,70
46 MSI Silent Gale P12 30,00 51,80
47 be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM 30,00 51,90
48 Arctic P12 PWM PST ARGB 30,00 51,90
49 Arctic P12 PWM 30,00 52,00
50 Inter-Tech Argus RS-06 30,00 52,20
51 Alphacool Aurora Rise 31,00 52,30
52 Alseye X12 37,90 52,60
53 Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB 30,00 52,70
54 NZXT F120 RGB 30,00 53,00
55 be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm PWM 30,00 53,10
56 be quiet! Light Wings 120mm PWM 30,00 53,30
57 Corsair iCue QL120 RGB 30,00 53,70
Name Lautstärke dB(A) Temperaturdelta

Analysis of performance at uniform speed

Performance-wise, there are a few unexpected outliers here. For example, the Noctua NF-S12A PWM did not do well on the radiator, but jumps all the way to the top in this test. This shows that the requirements for fans on the air cooler are quite different from water cooling radiators. Otherwise, the trend is comparable to other tests: The fans that tend to be louder perform slightly better than the quieter ones. Whereas most of the fans in the test were so quiet in this case that they were below the measurement range. Another outlier from this list is the Alseye X12, which unlike other ranges of use is not the weakest fan in the comparison. But it is still by far the loudest for an underwhelming performance.

Two computer fans
Batting at the top of the test are the DeepCool FC120 and the Noctua NF-S12A PWM.

Other fans that finish in the back of the pack here include the Corsair QL120, the be quiet! Light Wings 120mm PWM, the be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm, the NZXT F120 RGB, and the Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB.

Performance at 31 dB(A)

This section in the air cooler fan test shows performance at a very low volume bordering on audible. So the goal here is to achieve the best performance at the lowest possible volume level.

wdt_ID Name Drehzahl RPM Temperaturdelta
10 Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM 1.430 48,40
11 Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB 1.430 49,10
19 ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB 1.385 49,20
20 Cooler Master Mobius 120 1.400 49,30
21 be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 120mm 1.470 49,40
22 DeepCool FC120 1.180 49,50
23 MSI Silent Gale P12 1.435 49,70
24 Arctic P12 Max 1.560 49,70
25 Noctua NF-S12A PWM 1.100 49,80
26 Lian Li Uni Fan AL120 V2 1.320 49,80
27 Arctic P12 PWM 1.430 49,90
28 Seasonic MagFlow 1225 PWM 1.170 49,90
29 Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite 1.240 50,00
30 DeepCool FK120 1.180 50,00
31 Noiseblocker NB-eLoop X B-12-PS 1.220 50,10
32 Corsair AF120 Elite 1.225 50,10
33 DeepCool CF120 RGB 1.100 50,20
34 Arctic P12 PWM PST ARGB 1.420 50,30
35 Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM 1.040 50,40
36 Thermaltake SWAFAN EX12 RGB 1.265 50,40
37 Sharkoon SilentStorm RGB PWM 1.200 50,50
38 Sharkoon SilentStorm BW120 PWM 1.180 50,60
39 Arctic F12 PWM PST 1.100 50,60
40 Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite 1.070 50,70
41 be quiet! Light Wings 120mm 1.365 50,90
42 be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM 1.165 51,00
43 Corsair SP120 Elite 1.075 51,00
44 Xilence XPF120.ARGB 1.100 51,00
45 Inter-Tech Argus RS-06 1.165 51,10
46 DeepCool MF120GT 1.000 51,20
47 Noctua NF-P12 1.040 51,30
48 Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM 1.010 51,40
49 Noctua NF-F12 PWM 1.010 51,50
50 Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM 970 51,80
51 Alphacool Aurora Rise 1.100 52,30
52 Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB 1.145 52,40
53 be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm PWM* 1.160 52,70
54 NZXT F120 RGB 1.200 52,70
55 Corsair iCue QL120 RGB 1.230 53,00
56 Alseye X12 700 54,10
Name Drehzahl RPM Temperaturdelta

*remains below the 31 dB(A) even at maximum power.

Analysis of performance at a uniform volume

This test should be the most interesting, as quieter fans can step on the gas here. In contrast, louder fans are slowed down. This now shows which fans perform best at the low volume.

Basically, the Noctua NF-A12x25 is now at the top, which was further down at uniform speeds. However, due to the low volume, it pulls ahead. The situation is similar for the Cooler Master Mobius 120 – both in the dark and the RGB version. Other very quiet fans also pull ahead, such as the be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 120mm and the MSI MEG Silent Gale P12. But there are also some RGB fans in the solid range, such as the ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB and the DeepCool FC120. The Noctua NF-S12A PWM still performs very solidly and is surrounded by other quiet fans, such as the Arctic P12 in the regular and Max versions, as well as the Lian Li Uni Fan AL120 V2. The latter may not fit on all air coolers due to its increased thickness of 28 mm.

Ein brauner Noctua-Lüfter vor zwei RGB-Lüftern
The Noctua NF-A12x25 offers the highest performance at the low noise level ahead of the Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB and the ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB.

The bottom of the list is taken by the Alseye X12, the Corsair QL120 and the NZXT F120 RGB. A bit sad considering NZXT mounts this one directly on top of a air cooler, for example. Also sitting far below is the be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm PWM. But that’s simply due to its silent design, as even at maximum power it’s quieter than any other fan in this test run.

So the best fan in this test is the Noctua NF-A12x25. The best RGB fans are the Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB and ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB, which are tied in the measurement tolerance range. The Cooler Master Mobius 120 in the non-illuminated variant is significantly cheaper than the Noctua NF-A12x25 and still offers not much weaker performance. The strongest real budget fans, however, are the Arctic P12 in various designs.

Tested at maximum performance

If volume is irrelevant and you just want as much performance as possible, you should take a look at this section in the air cooler fan test.

wdt_ID Name RPM dB(A) Temperaturdelta
7 Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM 2.930 56,40 45,80
19 DeepCool FC120 2.200 44,10 46,70
20 be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 120mm 2.800 46,00 46,70
21 Arctic P12 Max 3.170 47,70 46,90
22 Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite 2.100 44,00 47,10
23 Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM 2.045 39,60 47,20
24 Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB 2.325 41,00 47,20
25 ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB 1.920 39,20 47,30
26 DeepCool FK120 1.870 39,20 47,30
27 Lian Li Uni Fan AL120 V2 2.000 40,70 47,30
28 Seasonic MagFlow 1.955 42,40 47,30
29 Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM 1.650 40,80 47,50
30 DeepCool MF120GT 1.730 43,20 47,70
31 Cooler Master Mobius 120 1.920 36,70 47,80
32 Corsair AF120 Elite 1.835 39,50 48,00
33 Alphacool Aurora Rise 2.770 51,70 48,00
34 Thermaltake SWAFAN EX12 RGB 2.030 41,90 48,10
35 MSI Silent Gale P12 1.890 36,60 48,20
36 Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM 1.710 41,80 48,20
37 Noctua NF-F12 PWM 1.570 39,60 48,30
38 Corsair iCue SP120 RGB Elite 1.435 36,20 48,50
39 DeepCool CF120 RGB 1.510 38,00 48,50
40 Xilence XPF120.ARGB 1.645 39,40 48,60
41 Arctic P12 PWM PST ARGB 1.870 35,10 48,70
42 Arctic F12 PWM PST 1.430 35,70 48,70
43 Corsair SP120 Elite 1.360 35,30 48,80
44 Arctic P12 PWM 1.840 35,50 48,80
45 Noctua NF-S12A PWM 1.300 34,20 48,90
46 Noiseblocker NB-eLoop X NB-12-PS 1.500 35,10 49,10
47 Sharkoon SilentStorm BW120 PWM 1.490 36,90 49,30
48 be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM 1.585 36,70 49,50
49 be quiet! Light Wings 120mm PWM 1.620 34,10 49,60
50 Noctua NF-P12 1.375 36,00 49,60
51 NZXT F120 RGB 2.060 44,90 49,60
52 Sharkoon SilentStorm RGB PWM 1.415 35,30 49,70
53 Inter-Tech Argus RS-06 1.250 32,00 50,50
54 Corsair iCue QL120 RGB 1.715 38,20 51,00
55 Alseye X12 1.200 39,30 52,20
56 Fractal Design Aspect 12 RGB 1.145 31,00 52,40
57 be quiet! Shadow Wings 2 120mm PWM 1.160 30,00 52,70
Name RPM dB(A) Temperaturdelta

Analysis of the high performance test

Leaving the fans to their own devices, the extremely fast and very loud Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM comes out on top. Besides the Alphacool Aurora Rise, which performed much worse, it is the only one to crack the 50 dB(A) mark – and that by a significant margin.

As is to be expected, other high-speed fans are also in the top spots, such as the be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4, the Arctic P12 Max and the Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB. But other fans that spin noticeably slower can also be found at the top, such as the still quite speedy DeepCool FC120, the Noctua NF-A12x25 and the Corsair iCue AF120 RGB Elite, which puts itself well ahead of the non-RGB version due to its high speed.

Three black computer fans
The Noctua NF-F123 industralPPC-3000, the be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 and the Arctic P12 Max are extremely fast spinning high-performance fans.

However, the Alphacool Aurora Rise, which not only gets very loud with 2700 revolutions, but doesn’t even reach the top 15, proves that a high number of revolutions isn’t completely decisive. A similar thing can be observed with the NZXT F120 RGB, which sits far down the list despite around 2000 RPM, and at almost 45 dB(A) is completely in the field of fans that otherwise end up below 40 dB(A).

The overall winners of the test

If you look across all the tests, you will always find the DeepCool FC120 very far ahead. This one is strong, quite quiet, and offers RGB lighting. At most, one downside to this daisy-chain capable fan is the fact that it comes in a 3-pack and doesn’t have a standard connector, which ultimately makes it harder to recommend. Both quiet and powerful is the Noctua NF-A12x25, which scores very solidly. The be quiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 is very universal, offering very good performance across the board and also high maximum power.

Deri fan with 120mm from front
The winners of the test are very different: brown, RGB-lit and jet black.

Not quite at the top of the test, but always neatly placed, I would also like to mention the Noctua NF-S12A PWM and the Cooler Master Mobius 120, which are noticeably priced below the overall winners. And beyond that, the Arctic P12 and P12 Max, which are available extremely cheaply and also do very well.

Noctua NF-S12A, Arctic P12 Max and Cooler Master Mobius 120 from the front
Consistently delivering solid performance are the Noctua NF-S12A, the Cooler Master Mobius 120 and the Arctic P12 Max

Last but not least, the two RGB fans ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB and Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB are very strong mid-range RGB fans that offer impressive performance and are thoroughly recommended.

Two non-glowing RGB fans from the front.
Both the ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB and Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB perform very well

Conclusion

The overall winner of the test in my opinion is the Noctua NF-A12x25, which performs the best in terms of low noise, but also delivers high maximum performance while being noticeably quieter than all the more powerful fans.

For practical reasons, the ENDORFY Fluctus 120 PWM ARGB and the Cooler Master Mobius 120P ARGB, which perform very similarly, move onto the winner’s podium as the best RGB fans. The DeepCool FC120 also deserves a very positive mention.

The price-performance winners are the Arctic P12. These are not only extremely cheap in the simple version, so they cost less in a 5-pack than a single Noctua NF-A12x25. No, they are also very quiet and offer decent performance. Those looking for higher maximum performance will find the slightly more expensive Max model, which is still cheap but a bit harder to keep under control and is only recommended to users who can handle custom fan curves.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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DeepCool is a Chinese brand for computer components and has brought some cool fans and coolers to the market in recent years. In 2022, the DeepCool AK400 was released in black and white as the little brother of the AK620 and promises high performance and a pretty classy design at a low price. To what … (Weiterlesen...)

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