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Should You Pick a 120mm or 140mm Fan for Your Computer?

As an avid video gaming PC nerd, I love to write about new games I am playing and share my experience!

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120mm vs. 140mm Fans

Are you trying to decide whether you should get a 120 mm or 140 mm fan for your PC case? It’s a common question, and actually, the answer is pretty simple.

Essentially, the short answer is that, on average, the larger 140mm fan, providing that you can fit it into your PC case, is the way to go. This is because they can typically move more airflow at a lower RPM. This basically means that it can keep your machine cooler and at a quieter level. This is not to say that you won’t get a good experience from a 120 mm fan; it’s just that, in general, the best way to go is the 140 mm if you have the option.

Now that you know the general rule of thumb regarding which you should go for when it comes to 120 mm vs. 140 mm fans, there are a few other factors that you should take into consideration. Of course, as you know, especially in the gaming industry, one fan from one company is certainly not the same as another company, i.e., not all fans are built alike.

What to Look for in a 120mm and 140mm Fan

Brand Quality

Personally, I would always recommend going with a renowned brand when it comes to your cooling system rather than one you barely recognise the name of. I would have a lot more confidence that a fan from a company like Corsair Gaming will be able to do its job. Despite having to pay potentially a bit more, I know I will get the right product for the job. This is especially true if my PC case only caters to the smaller 120mm version.

Make sure to actually look across a range of different brands and see what they have to offer, especially if they are compatible. That said, I tend to get everything from the same company when doing PC builds and updating and upgrading my computer. This tends to work out nicely as you know everything will sort of match up, and there are plenty of references online to other people working through the same issues as you.

I also like to feel more assured that if there are any issues, a good brand has high-quality customer service in place as well as warranty coverage. This is entirely personal, though; it can be the case that without the "brand" aspect, you get a value model for your money.

Fan Performance

It’s also important to actually note the specifications and overall performance of the fans you are choosing between. For instance, take note of the RPM (the standard revolutions per minute); essentially, how many times can the fan spin around within 60 seconds?

You will find the smaller 120mm fans tend to have a higher RPM than the larger 140mm; however, you also need to note down airflow capacity to see how effectively they are actually cooling. Finally, you will see that some fans actually detail the decibels (dB) as well so you know how loud they are.

Reviews and Pricing

Then, finally, once you have narrowed down the top few fans that you are looking at, at this stage, it could well be a mixture of 120 mm and 140 mm fans. You will find that, especially from the leading gaming companies and specialists, it could be the case that their 120 mm outperform a lesser-known brand's 140 mm model, yet they are around the same price.

Now, at this stage, you should be taking a looking at the reviews, see what they say on forums, YouTube channels and even ask those in the know what they recommend and showcase the research you have done, and they will be happy to give you a good answer, likely based on experience as well. Then you can price up everything that you are looking at and get a good idea of what you are looking at in terms of value for money as well.

Sometimes, you can get a step further and see what issues other buyers have had when buying these fans and pre-empt for them. A great way to do this is to just literally scan through some of the poorer rating reviews on online sites as well as the "Answers and Questions" section that you get on Amazon listings. This has saved me a lot of time, such as needing a specific screw type or tool to fit a particular piece that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

How Do You Decide Whether to Choose the 120mm Fan or 140mm Fan?

When it comes to size, you might already be cast a certain direction based on the capacity of your PC case. If you can only fit in a 120mm fan, then that’s the way you’re going to go. If you haven’t got a PC case yet, you might want to consider one that can take a larger fan if you’re looking for optimum performance in terms of cooling efficiency relative to sound.

As stated above, though, it tends to be the case that if you are looking for the top end in every specification and performance, you’re going to be wanting to look at a higher quality brand and what they have to offer in the 140mm range. You will often find that these can come with additional features too, such as colour lighting (RGB) that is controllable.

Again, referencing Corsair Gaming (which I'm a particularly big "fan" of), you can see that you can get the fans to light up with a different array of LEDs via their Corsair ICUE lighting technology that can sync in with the rest of their gaming peripherals as well like the headsets, mice, and keyboards. Not for everyone, but it can make the gaming experience a lot more immersive.

Now please do go right ahead and reach out to me if you have any questions, and I'll be more than happy to help you further when trying to work out the difference between the 120mm and 140mm fans, and ultimately which you should actually go for. Plus, you can check out other comparison articles such as whether it is worth upgrading the Stream Deck vs. Mk.2? Likewise, if you want to share your own experience of PC fans and builds when it comes to choosing what type of brand to go for and what type of PC case, then I would love to hear from you too.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Carlyn Hayes

Comments

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 09, 2021:

Nice details. Thanks.

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