If there’s one thing computer nerds such as myself really love, it’s showing off our gear. For some, it means spending thousands of dollars on high-end hardware. For others, it’s sticking as much liquid cooling on a CPU or GPU as is humanly possible. But, ladies and gentlemen, the third type is the one we’re going to focus on today, and that’s the kind that wants to have enough RGB lighting that they could easily sub for a lighthouse.
RGB lighting has become really big in the past 2-3 years, with everything from fans to awesome gaming RAM that comes with RGB lighting. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing gaming motherboards with RGB lighting (and as I say this, I’m sure a product just like that has gone on sale). Either way, you cut it though, RGB lighting can be cool if done correctly.
One thing to keep in mind before we get started though is that these are specifically case fans. That means they aren’t really great for use on a CPU, GPU, or radiator/cooler. Essentially, these offer an outward-facing aesthetic design while having enough performance to get them by.
So, what are the best RGB tower fans? 🎮 ✨
Best Choice: Rosewill RGB Case Fan
Pros & Cons
- Great price per fan
- Doesn’t get too noisy
- RPMs in the middle of the spectrum
- Fan Size: 120mm
- RPM: 1200 +/- 10% RPM
- Noise Level: 24.8 dBA
Rosewill RGB Case Fan Review
The first entry into this list is actually very pretty, although it won’t blow you away (pun intended).
First off, the translucent panel on either side of the fan is completely gorgeous and really adds a lot to the RGB effect of the fan. Speaking of RGB, the pack I’ve selected comes with remote control and allows you to set it to one of eight static colors, four different brightness levels and one of four different modes; Rainbow, Gradient, Blade, and Breath.
As you can see, you get a whoppingly large amount of choices in terms of how you want to control the RGB.
This pack also contains an 8-port RGB fan hub, and even though this pack comes with two of Rosewill’s fans, you can buy them individually and another 6 to max out the hub. I don’t know that too many PCs could fit 8 whole fans in them, but if you can, you might as well go for broke!
Unfortunately, that’s where the good bits end and the bad bits start. As you can see, the RPMs are relatively low at roughly 1200. Individually that provides 41.9 CFM which really isn’t much at all, especially if you’re using them with a radiator or if you run your gear really hard.
On the plus side, since they are on the lower end of the RPM and CFM scale, they don’t get that loud with a maximum of 23.2 dBA which is somewhere between rustling leaves and a whisper.
So, for all intents and purposes, these fans are made more for their RGB value than their cooling value. If you have the spare room or have a rig that doesn’t produce much heat, these are a really great option in terms of aesthetics.
Premium Pick: Corsair LL Series LL120 RGB
Pros & Cons
- Look really good
- Two independent LED loops
- Proprietary LED hub
- Fan Size: 120mm
- RPM: 600 – 1500 +/- 10% RPM
- Noise Level: 24.8 dBA
Corsair LL Series LL120 RGB Review
While the Corsair fans don’t have a translucent cover on them like Rosewills, they do have a much larger strip of LED. Actually, they have two rather large and independently operated strips one in the frame and one in the center of the fan, so you can really play around with it a lot. As such, the fan hub is actually much larger than what you’d expect on other fans.
Another thing which makes this a bit bigger than what you may expect is the pre-installed vibration dampening which juts out a little from the fan’s frame. This actually increases the overall thickness of the frame to 27.2mm, so you have to keep that in mind if you’re planning to buy them.
That being said, the pads do have a bit of giving but it’s still something you should be aware of.
In terms of performance, the truth is they aren’t much better than the Rosewills, giving 30.9 CFM at 1500 RPMs. Therefore you absolutely should not use either of these as radiator fans and you’re better off using them as general case fans (after all, that’s what this article is about!). On the upshot, they’re pretty quiet at 24.8dBA, just a hair louder than the Rosewills.
As for the hub that comes with the pack, it is, unfortunately, Corsair’s and proprietary, so don’t expect to use it with any other fans. Otherwise, if you have a bunch of these fans, you can connect up to 12 of them, and it has two RGB LED lighting channels for a bit of extra control.
You will need an internal USB header since it’s required for power, along with a SATA power connector for the Lightning Nod Pro. Finally, this pack doesn’t come with an included remote control, which is annoying. Similarly annoying is getting the drivers installed, which requires a reboot if you want to do any fan control.
Even though the Corsair LLs require you to jump through a few hoops, they’re actually really great RGB case fans. They have an absolute ton of lighting and control if you’re ok with going through Corsair’s hardware.
Best Value: Corsair Air Series AF120
Pros & Cons
- Really, really cheap
- Only red LEDs
- Fan Size: 120mm
- RPM: 1500
- Noise Level: 25.2 dBA
Corsair Air Series AF120 Review
The previous two fans were expensive with the Corsair Air Series. While these fans are dirt cheap, they actually have some impressive performance.
In that regard, they have a whopping CFM of 52.19, which is more than both previous fans and airflow that begins entering into the ‘good’ bracket. What’s impressive is that they manage to deliver that CFM with 25.2 dBA, which is only slightly higher than the Corsair LLs. That being said, these still aren’t really good for radiator use if you were planning for that.
Unfortunately, the cheap price and relatively good performance come with a pretty major downside: there are only red LEDs. I know, I know, this is an article for RGB and that would arguably include the GB parts as well.
Truth is, I included this because it’s cheap, the performance is reasonably good, and red is a pretty common color that people build around, so this will still have some value for some.
Also, one thing I should mention is that this pack doesn’t come with a fan hub, so if you’re planning to use more than two (or already have a few in your computer), you might need to buy yourself a hub. The reason for this is that these fans have motherboard connectors, rather than PSU connectors and most motherboards don’t have more than 2-3 fan slots.
Still, these are some great little fans, even though they are missing out on more color options.
Best Build: Thermaltake Pure Plus 12 RGB TT Premium Edition
Pros & Cons
- Slightly better CFM
- Pretty quiet
- Software can be a massive pain
- Fan Size: 120mm
- RPM: 500 – 1500
- Noise Level: 25.8 dBA
Thermaltake Pure Plus 12 RGB TT Premium Edition Review
It seems like we’re slowly going up the CGM scale as we progress down the article but I assure you that wasn’t planned at all (really!!)
Thankfully, these Thermaltakes are full RGB so you don’t have to worry about me pulling a fast one. You get a ton of control for the RGB here from several different lighting programs, four different color modes (RGB, single, off) and four different speeds.
Even more awesomely, you can control all of that through your phone and it even has a voice command feature so you can pretend you’re on the Enterprise giving out orders . . . to your computer’s RGB.
Speaking of the app, you can also control the fan speed which seems like a bit of overkill, but if your computer is in your bedroom and it’s a bit too loud when you want to sleep, it’s handy to have. On the other hand, there are some great low-profile CPU coolers if fan sound is an issue for you.
One thing that I also really appreciate about the Thermaltake Pure Plus is its compatibility with Razer Ornata Chroma. Now I don’t personally use any Razer products, but I love the idea that different brands are willing to work together to create a unified ecosystem, even if it’s just for RGB lighting.
As I mentioned at the start, the CFM of these fans comes in at 56.45. It’s not enough to work on a radiator though, which is fine since none of the fans in this article are meant for that. They also have a 25.8 dBA at max speed, so we’re still in the whisper-quiet area of the noise scale.
The final thing on the docket to look at is the controller/hub, which is actually built quite solidly. Unfortunately, it can only fit up to five fans, but the level of control provided makes up for that. Speaking of which, I should mention that the software for this app can be a bit finicky, and some have reported crashes and other issues.
All in all, I really like the Thermaltake for their surprisingly good performance as case fans. The phone app and Razer Chroma support are just the cherries on top.
Best Quiet: Asiahorse Solar ECLIPSEIII
Pros & Cons
- Reasonably priced
- Very quiet
- Fan hub isn’t great quality
- Fan Size: 120mm
- RPM: 1200
- Noise Level: 16.8dBA
Asiahorse Solar ECLIPSEIII Review
Now, I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not very familiar with this brand, but I picked it mostly for those who want a more muted RGB effect.
This is mostly due to the thing led strip that goes around the outer edge of the fan and doesn’t really offer a ton of brightness. That’s ok though, especially if you’re aiming for a more minimalist or muted aesthetic for your desktop, rather than enough RGB lighting to rival the sun. Aside from the reduced brightness/overall lighting, you actually get quite a bit out of these RGBs.
While it does have a variety of different modes, what they’re most proud of is their audio-sensing function that works with music and games. Basically, the lights alter as it detects different sounds, although the accuracy of that isn’t the best.
Another issue that I want to bring up is that these fans use their own proprietary hub, which is an incredibly weird decision for a brand that isn’t as well known. Similarly, in weird decisions, the RGBs are controlled by remote control, there’s no additional software on the computer to do anything. So I would definitely say that it’s not perfect.
As for airflow performance, you’re looking at 25.5 CFM, which isn’t the worst, but it isn’t the best either (and actually sits at half of the Thermaltake’s CFM). Of course, that means that the fans are really quiet at 16.8 dBA, which is a little over halfway between a pin dropping and rustling leaves.
Again, these fans aren’t made for radiators or heavy-duty cooling and mostly serve for their RGB aesthetics and a bit of case cooling. So, if you’re looking for RGBs that str a bit more minimalist and muted, these are the ones to go for.
RGB Case Fans: Buying Guide
Choosing a case fan, especially an RGB one, is a little bit different than any other fan. Most of these RGB case fans are made for their aesthetics rather than their cooling potential, so you have to be aware of when and how you’re going to be using them. I mean, if it’s only aesthetics, it’s better to look for a specific model of a case fan, than to change your newly-purchased PC gaming case which costs hundreds.
Computer fans come in several different sizes and it depends a lot on your own individual hardware. Fan openings and the screws needed to mount them, tend to change on a case by case basis. Not only that, but your internal hardware might also dictate what size of fan you can realistically use. While most of the fans listed in this article are 120mm, you can get them in different sizes as well.
If you’re planning to buy one of these bad boys, you should at least know the form factor of your motherboard/PC case. To do this, I recommend you look at the micro ATX vs. ATX vs. mini iTX comparison.
RPMs or Rotations Per Minute is exactly what it sounds like. Now, the thing with RPMs is that as the fan speed gets faster, the louder it gets. Most of the fans on this list (and case fans in general) tend to stay below 2k RPMs and as such, don’t really get much louder than a whisper. Unfortunately, this also means that they don’t have much airflow (more on that below) and so can’t really function well for radiators.
This relegates low RPM fans to case duty, so if you need something for radiators, please use something else so you don’t melt your hardware.
As I mentioned in the point above, noise level, which is measured in dBA, and airflow, which is measured in CFM, are very much tied to the RPMs of a fan.
I’m not going to go into deep technical specs, but suffice to say that airflow is probably the most important thing a fan can provide (after all, that’s what it’s made for). Unfortunately, case fans don’t hit high CFMs and certainly not enough to cool CPUs, GPUs or radiators. So, if you need to cool one of those, make sure to find something with a high CFM.
*side note: Just so that people don’t @ me, I know that a big part of cooling depends on the radiator/cooler as well and not just the fan. That being said, unless you’re going for a stealth/quiet build, a higher CFM will always be better, even if it’s just marginally.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Case Fan in a Computer?
A case fan is a fan that’s specifically made to mount to the sides of the case and not necessarily too cool anything else. They help with pulling in cooler air from the outside and exhausting the hotter air from the inside. Essentially, they work like any other fan, except they are targeted for uses on the case itself.
What Size Is My Case Fan?
This one is a little tricky since the measurements that are provided for fans is not for the fitting holes, so don’t just go measuring that and expect it to work out.
If you want to know what size of fan your case can take, you should check in the case’s manual that comes with it, or the online manual for your case if you’ve lost the physical one. Worst case scenario, you could buy a really cheap/essentially useless fan and compare it to the fittings on your case.
How Many Fans Should a Gaming Computer Have?
Well, now you’re really opening up a can of worms because the only real answer is “how many can your computer take?” In all seriousness though, you really want to have a minimum of 2-3 case fans, and several more if you can afford or fit them in.
Is It Better to Have More Intake or Exhaust Fans?
This is another argument that has plagued many a nerd as to whether intake or exhaust is better. While I won’t get into specific arguments and sides, the overall assessment is that you generally want to have an equal number of intakes and exhaust.
This may vary slightly depending on your setup, but unless you have a very unique or strangely designed case that works better with one or the other, then a balanced setup is best.
As you can see, these aren’t the greatest fans in terms of pure performance but they are very pretty. I will admit that I was conflicted about a lot of these fans due to their lack of performance, but the truth is that sometimes it’s about aesthetic value, rather than specs. Now that you’ve read about fans check our guides on the best full tower cases or the best mid-tower cases. You’ll need somewhere to place them.
Either way, I hope this article was informative and you got at least a modicum of knowledge to help you in your RGB journey. Ta ta for now!