The Best 120mm Case Fan of 2018

Updated December 8th, 2018 by Headshot Jacob Tuwiner

Case fans come in all different sizes, but 120mm case fans are easily the most popular variant.

If you’re looking for the best 120mm case fan, we’ve got you covered. After hours of testing more than ten 120mm case fans, I’ve concluded that the Arctic F12 PWM PST case fan is the best on the market.

Keep reading to find out why!

This 120mm case fans is designed to be ultra-quiet, and includes numerous features to further increase the fan’s already exemplary performance. The fan housing has two separate sections which are connected via rubber grommets in the four corners of the fan, which help to dampen vibrations and reduce noise.

The fan hangs from the top rather than being supported from the bottom like traditional 120mm case ans. It is suspended from the middle of the top section of the fan housing, acting as a guard.

It’s important to note that the fan is a bit thicker than traditional 120mm fans thanks to its unusual design. If you have a small case, this may be an issue. Most small ATX cases can accomodate the fan, but you might run into compatibility issues with Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX cases. Check your case’s fan compatibility just to be safe.

The fan has a 4-pin fan header, as it is a PWM fan. There is a secondary socket coming out of the fan header which allows you to connect multiple fans together via the fan’s PST feature (more on that below).

Packaging & Contents

The Arctic F12 ships in a simple cardboard box with a picture of the fan on the front.

arctic-f12-box

The Arctic F12 comes in a plain cardboard box, as shown above

Underneath the box, you’ll see more details about the fan’s features such as the fan’s fluid dynamic bearing, and the fan’s actual specifications. Although the box isn’t pretty, when it comes to protecting the fan from any damage during shipping, it surely gets the job done.

Once opened, you’ll find the fan’s manual, a small bag with four mounting screws, and the fan itself.

The PST Feature Explained

Graphics cards and processors generate a lot of heat, especially when overclocked – believe it or not, if it weren’t for the CPU cooler, you could fry an egg on top of your CPU!

Needless to say, running your CPU and GPU at full blast leads to high ambient case temperatures. Most people think using more case fans is the best way to cool their case. Unfortunately, using a bunch of case fans produces more noise and consumes more electricity.

Arctic’s new PWM fan alleviates this issue without the hassle, noise, and wasted electricity. Through the use of the motherboard’s BIOS, the fan’s automatically change their speed according to the system’s temperature. Moreover, Arctic’s PST function allows up to five fans (yes, including the CPU fan) to be daisy-chained together. All of the fans in the system will operate in unison, controlled by a single Arctic F12 case fan.

When the case’s internal temperature rises, the fans will speed up. Conversely, when your rig isn’t under heavy load and temperatures drop, your case fans’ speed will lower as well. In summary, the PST feature minimizes noise and electricity consumption while still ensuring your case maintains a stable temperature, regardless of your computer’s stress level.

Performance

The Arctic F12’s performance is outstanding. It performed well in all of our tests, both thermal and acoustic. I hooked it up to a CPU heatsink to truly test its cooling potential, and it did a great job of keeping the CPU’s temperature stable. Needless to say, it can definitely cool even the hottest cases.

After testing on an open test bench at full blast, the dBa meter did not register above the 30 dBa sensitivity minimum even under heavy load. In all honesty, the fan is virtually inaudible. Thanks to the fan’s PST feature, it only spins as fast as it needs to, which helps to keep noise to a minimum.

Conclusion: Worth The Money?

Arctic has invested a lot of time into the F12’s unique design. Its PWM PST feature is impressive to say the least. The fan’s build quality is great, and the fan feels sturdy in your hand despite being light.

This case fan is great for overclockers running their components at their maximum frequencies. Considering you can pick up five of these case fans on Amazon for $26, it’s a great bang for your buck. If you’re looking for the best ultra-quiet 120mm case fan, you can’t go wrong with the Arctic F12 PWM PST.

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