If you’re looking for the best 120mm PC case fan, then you’ll have to wade through an enormous catalog of models from many manufacturers. However, if quality cooling and low noise are your priorities, whatever the cost, then we have one firm recommendation – the Noctua NF-A12x25.
It’s not cheap, but we recently decided to put this veteran of the PC case fan world through its paces on our new case fan test rig, in order to see how it fared against the likes of the fabulous new be quiet! Silent Wings 4 High Speed fan. If you’re potentially interested in purchasing some super-premium, high-performing fans for your PC’s case or radiators, then keep reading.
To start, the Noctua NF-A12x25 peak airflow was 2.25m/s and the Noctua NF-A12x25 peak noise level was 56dBA. That’s a very low noise level, but the airflow didn’t quite beat the be quiet! Silent Wings 4 High Speed, which managed 2.6m/s at a slightly higher noise level of 61dBA.
Still, it was enough to beat the be quiet! fan and every other 120mm fan we’ve recently tested in terms of the airflow-to-noise ratio, with a result of 21.58 compared to 24.89 for the Deepcool FC120, 26.03 for the Thermaltake Toughfan 12 and 26.41 for the be quiet! fan. That said, the latter did have a slightly more pleasant noise quality to the human ear, with the Noctua NF-A12x25 emitting a slight humming tone rather than just pure airflow noise.
Bringing down the speed to 1,000rpm saw these figures drop to 0.82m/s and 41dBA respectively. The Noctua NF-A12x25 noise level here was exceptionally low, beating the be quiet! Silent Wings 4 High Speed by 2dBA and offering slightly more airflow too.
Finally, at a noise-normalized speed where the fan emitted 50dBA, the Noctua managed an airflow speed of 1.49m/s and hit a massive 1,500rpm, which was the highest speed of any fan at this noise level. This translated into the highest airflow from a fan we’ve recently tested too, beating the second-place be quiet! Silent Wings 4 High Speed, which managed 1.2m/s.
Noctua NF-A12x25 price
The Noctua NF-A12x25 is expensive for a single 120mm case fan with no lighting, but it’s absolutely worth the extra money.
Price: Expect to pay $35 (£35).
Noctua NF-A12x25 specs
The Noctua NF-A12x25 specs list is:
120 x 120 x 25 mm
|Power connector||4-pin PWM|
|Cable length||20 cm|
|Maximum speed||2,000 rpm|
|Minimum speed||450 rpm|
|Stated max noise level||22.6dBA|
|Extras||30cm NA-EC1 extension cable|
The Noctua NF-A12x25 is still arguably the best all-round fan available in terms of noise and airflow, which we suspected would be the case. However, it’s also hugely expensive and not without competition. The new be quiet! Silent Wings 4 High Speed offers a higher peak airflow, is slightly cheaper with a touch better audio quality too. However, at low-to-medium speeds the NF-A12x25 is unbeatable.
If you’re looking for a case fan with more visual flair, then check out our review of the Thermaltake Toughfan 12 RGB. Plus, if you’re interested in other ways to use case fans, then take a look at our guide on how to fit PC case fans to your GPU cooler, as well as our guide on how to fit a PC case fan to your PSU cover.