The smaller 120mm case fans happen to function better thanks to a higher RPM than the 140mm fans. However, you might also have to consider the airflow capacity to see how effective they’re cooling. Acquiring the best fan in 2023 is critical to ensuring a good home environment. This article will consider the 120mm vs 140mm fans, focusing more on the main differences between these case fans. By the end of this article, you’ll know which one is better.
Looking for a quick answer? The best 120mm case fan we recommend for use in 2023 is the NZXT AER RGB 2 Advanced Lighting Customizations. For the 140mm fans, we recommend that you select the Corsair AF120 low noise cooling fan.
120mm Vs 140mm Case Fans: Let’s Compare The Differences Between Them
CFM and RPM
You need to select a fan with a high airflow to get the best efficiency. The fan’s airflow is measured in Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM). It represents the amount of air that the fan delivers.
The higher the CFM, the more airflow the fan can keep and therefore the better its ability to keep the system cool.
The 120mm fans are designed with a low CFM rating. However, they still feature decent air circulation. Their low CFM affords them a better static pressure.
The 140mm fans have a higher CFM rating translating into a better airflow. These fans can keep any system cool, even under a heavy load.
Another comparison between the two fans relates to their spin speed. The spin speed is measured in Rotation Per Minute (RPM) and represents how fast the fan can spin to keep the system cool and dissipate heat.
There are notable differences when comparing the spin speed of the 140mm and 120mm fan.
The 120mm case fans have a spin speed of 1200 RPM. It means that they can spin very fast and dissipate high heat amounts. They can therefore operate heavy applications smoothly.
With a 120mm spin speed rating, your PC will deliver faster outputs and be highly responsive.
The high speed contributes to the 120mm fans developing positive pressure. It, therefore, enables keeping debris and dust particles away to some degree.
Then there are the 140mm case fans that have a spin speed of up to 1000 RPM. Even though it’s acceptable to have a fan spin speed as low as 800 RPM, you need to ensure that the fan operates as fast as possible.
When it comes to the spin speed in RPM, the 120mm fan is the clear winner.
Static pressure refers to the amount of airflow or CFM that reaches the overall PC case and heatsink. When it comes to the static pressure, both the 140mm and 120mm varies with the CFM.
Since the 140mm fans have a high CFM and airflow, they, therefore, present a higher static pressure.
If you’re interested in getting the best static pressure fan, we recommend that you check out here and select from any options.
A fan’s noise level is another key feature to consider while selecting the best option for your PC. It won’t be comfortable working in a quiet environment with a PC that sounds like a washing machine.
There is a clear winner when comparing the noise level between the 140mm and 120mm case fans.
Despite the 120mm case fans having a higher RPM rating, they are designed with a low dB rating. The fans don’t spin roughly, thus producing lesser sound pressure. They produce the same result under heavy workload or light.
The noise level in most 140mm case fans is a bit higher. However, you can still get quality 140mm fans with lower noise.
Here, the 120mm case fan is the clear winner. Their ultra-silent operation puts them ahead in the noise department.
You must think about the amount of pressure you’re going to exert on your case fan. Are you going to overclock regularly? If yes, we recommend that you go for a good-quality 140mm fan as long as it fits your case.
In most cases, overclocking gets extremely hot, thus affecting your performance. With a 140mm case fan, you’re able to push your PC system further than normal without worrying about blowing anything up.
The price is another critical difference between the 120mm and 140mm case fans. The 120mm fan happens to be reasonably priced and cheaper. It’s easier to get a durable and quality 120mm fan at a competitive price.
On the other hand, the 140mm case fans are quite expensive. However, the price is justified, given the longevity and massive airflow.
Their price difference is also not that big. The lower price of the 120mm fan can be attributed to it having a slightly lower output level.
Fitting In Your PC Build
Another thing to consider is your computer case’s dimensions and whether the fan will fit or not. There is no need to base your case on the fan size. Just get an ideal case and adjust the fan options from there.
For this reason, the 140mm case fans are larger, and the case may not accommodate it based on the other items in your build. When developing a rig, a 120mm fan will offer you more options and versatility.
You’ll also be forced to think about the bearing type to employ in your build. This adds size and weight to your overall case fan, based on how it’s mounted.
- Rifle bearing happens to be the cheapest and is available with standard 120mm fans and several 140mm fans.
- Ball bearings happen to be more expensive. However, they’re heavy-duty and aren’t available for all types of fans.
- Maglev bearings are viewed as the best bearing option for installations.
DC vs PWM
Another important consideration is DC vs PWM. If you’re still stuck between a 140mm and 120mm fan and want to make the final decision, you might have to look at the fan type.
A DC (direct current) fan is controlled by 3-pin headers that attach to the motherboard.
On the contrary, a PWM (pulse width modulation) fan comes with an additional pin allowing the final signal to other components easily.
There is no huge difference between these fan types, but a PWM happens to be more functional and quieter in the long run. If you have plans of future-proofing your build, then go for a PWM fan.
Case Fan 120mm Or 140mm FAQ
Are 140mm fans better than 120mm?
As we have seen, several things determine the quality of a fan. However, the quality of the fan is more important than its size.
The 140mm fam is larger and can spin slower for the same cooling outcome as a 120mm.
The 140mm fans offer superior airflow, better cooling, and better performance in most cases. However, the 120mm fan is less expensive. Select the best option depending on your PC needs.
Is there a big difference between 120mm and 140mmv fans?
The main difference between a 140mm and 120mm fan is the difference in their spin speed measured in RPM. It represents how fast the fan can spin to keep the system cool and dissipate heat.
The 120mm case fans have a spin speed of 1200 RPM. On the other hand, the 140mm case fans have a spin speed of up to 1000 RPM. The high speed for 120mm fans contributes to their positive pressure.
Are 140mm fans louder than 120mm?
As we have seen above, the noise level in most 140mm case fans is slightly higher than 120mm fans. However, you can still get quality 140mm fans with lower noise.
The 120mm fans are designed with a low dB rating despite having a higher RPM. These fans produce the same result under heavy workload or light.
120mm Vs 140mm Fans: And The Winner Is…
In a 120mm vs 140mm fans debate, we recommend the 120mm fan option. The 120mm fan is a standard fan in most PCs. It has impressive features, including low noise levels, low price, and high spin speed.
Even though there are several main differences between these case fans, which one is better for you depends on your PC needs.