We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more

In praise of slim fans

We check out these neat, space-saving cooling options, great if you want to squeeze a fan into a tight spot that’s too small otherwise.

Assorted fans in boxes

In our last fan Labs test we included Noctua’s NF-A12x15, which was the first slim 120mm fan we’d tested at Custom PC. Despite measuring only 15mm thick vs the usual 25mm for a standard fan, it performed very closely to its fatter counterparts. If you want to squeeze a fan into a tight spot that’s too small to otherwise use a normal fan, you have a very good option in the NF-A12x15.

What’s more, using these fans with a super-slim radiator, such as those in the XSPC TX series, means you have a radiator with fans that measures just 35mm thick. This makes water cooling now possible in cases where it wasn’t before. That’s pretty exciting, especially if, like me, you love water-cooling small form factor systems.

I’m seeing increasing numbers of people using them, and not just for space-saving purposes. They actually look neater if they’re on show, and they’re popular with cases that have lower fan mounts, where you can point air at graphics cards for better cooling. You can even mod your graphics card to use these fans to blow air through the heatsink for better performance.

Amazingly, just a few years ago, there were just one or two slim fans available, including Noctua’s model, but during a recent Internet search I uncovered a total of nine models from different manufacturers. There’s a whole bunch of price points too, with some fans being much more affordable than the pricey Noctua one. That’s good news, as while the Noctua slim fans might be great, it’s still going to cost a fortune to kit out your case and several radiators with them