PC fans come in all shapes and sizes (well, maybe not shapes but you know what we mean!).
From dinky 40mm fans like you find tucked away sometimes, but more often on things like 3D printers or even hidden away in your old games consoles all the way up to 200mm behemoths colling monster builds and water-cooled radiators.
Here though we are looking at the recent darling of the PC building fraternity – the fans that hit a sweet spot between the power and airflow of the 200mm and the relatively quiet 120mm that have been the staple for many years – yes, it’s the turn of the glamorous 140mm fan to take to the stage.
It is, in fact, a bit of a misconception that large fans make more noise. In general, in good quality fans at least, larger blades don’t have to spin as fast to move more air around your case, so should, in theory, be quieter.
There’s nothing worse than that helicopter noise roaring out from under your desk when you are trying to work, play games or worse still, watch a movie.
140mm fans can spin more slowly, cool things more effectively, and generally hit the spot on all points.
Before you take the leap to a quieter life, it’s worth checking whether your existing case actually has the option to mount 140mm fans. Not all do. If you are not careful, it could turn out to be a more expensive upgrade than you were hoping.
Another thing you need to check is the connections. Some fans come with three-pin connectors, others with four. Some come with RGB and their own fan controllers. Others don’t. It helps to know what motherboard you will be hoping to connect them to.
One final thing to take note is that fans come with a variety of different bearings – basically the bits that make it spin smoothly. Fans with the cheapest bearings will a) be more economical, durr, and b) not last as long.
Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t taking failing withing weeks, but a more expensive fluid-bearing fan will probably outlast most parts in your whole PC.
Here are the type you will see mentioned
- Sleeve bearings: affordable, quiet, can only be mounted vertically
- Ball bearings: can be mounted vertically or horizontally, relatively silent, with moderate longevity
- Rifle bearings: very similar to ball bearings
- Fluid bearings (FDB and HDB) are high-end options. Offering reduced friction and up to 300,000 hours spinning action.
- Mag Lev bearings – the new kid on the block and the most expensive. The fan spins on magnets pushing away from each other, like those futuristic trains in Japan.
Most recent cases from respective manufacturers should cater for the 140mm though, so it just comes down to which ones to buy, and that is why we are here.
So let’s look at some recommendations to make your life easier.
Corsair MK140 Pro RGB
- Great airflow
- Adjustable RPM
- Mag-Lev bearing for that sci-fi nerd in all of us
- At full RPM they aren’t exactly quiet
We are starting off with a top model from Corsair. We love Corsair, we love their peripherals, we love their RGB solutions, heck we even love iCue, and now we love their fans equally.
The ML in the model number stands for; you may have guessed it, Magnetic Levitations as these bad boys have MagLev bearings which takes them to the top of the pile in terms of current technology.
You can pick them up in a variety of packs, from single to dual packs to packs that include Corsair’s Lighting Node fan controller, which you will need (or a Commander Pro) to control the RGB aspect of these.
Why do we like them so much - well beyond the fact they look amazing and dramatically alter the aesthetics of your PC instantly it’’s their ability to push around 97 CFM airflow with ease with the help of their adjustable RPM - all centrally controlled through the iCue software on your desktop.
As you can see for the image above, the dual pack comes with a whole host of gadgets and cables to connect everything up. Fan screws and even cable ties are included, and it is this level of detail takes often takes Corsair to the front of the pack. Knowing you get everything you need is a hugely underestimated boost.
Price would be the only downside if paying for top-end things can be considered a disadvantage. The fans themselves are expensive at around $25, but to get a kit costs more because it comes with the necessary controllers also.
Still, you will only do it once, and these will make your PC look and perform like a true champion.
- Super quiet
- Great airflow
- Vibrates when horizontal
- Colour will not suit all builds
Everybody needs a bright orange fan in their lives, said nobody elver, fortunately, this little cracker from Cougar is not only inexpensive, but it’s virtually silent as well.
The Cougar’s nine dual-layer rigid blades are the reason for this fan’s quiet demeanor. It can spin up to 1200 RPM, but even then, the loudest it will get to is a whisper-quiet 18 dB(A).
It has fluid bearings (HDB), so it is up there at the top end and should have a long and happy life in your build.
If RGB is your thing, then, unfortunately, the Cougar isn’t for you. It does have four rim-mounted LEDs, so it does provide some illumination.
Tests show it is better when mounted vertically. It displayed more vibration when horizontal, but if you can get past the garish color scheme and the lack of RGB, what you are going to have here is an excellent fan for any build that can support a 140mm.
Thermaltake Riing 14 High Static Pressure Fan
- Hydraulic bearings
- Unique blades
- Great price
- No RGB
This offering from Thermaltake is another great option with a hydraulic bearing, meaning it should last the distance while remaining quiet to boot.
As with all hydraulic bearings, they are more suited to vertical mounting rather than horizontally. This is down to fundamental physics. If you face it down, then there is going to be an unavoidable movement of the fluid downwards. That’s gravity for you. Live with it. This causes a bulge in the hydraulics, which affects, ever so slightly, the bearing’s capability to do its job. So mount it vertically folks!
A top RPM of 1400 makes this an excellent little spinner, but even with those numbers, it remains quiet as a mouse. In fact, pound for pound this is probably up there with the very best 140mm fan on offer, but like the Cougar, it lacks a little in bling, but you just need to decide whether that should actually be a factor in your building decision.
Thermaltake has its own compression blade design, which pushes the inner air outwards, which allows the outer section to pressurize and compress having the effect of reducing the noise further. It’s all very clever. They don’t just throw these things together you know. Scientists have their uses!
Overall then at around $15 a pop, this is a truly great 140mm fan that will be at home in your build. There are LEDs on board, but they aren’t anything to write home about and almost seem there to appease PC builders rather than show off to them.
ARCTIC F14 Silent
- Energy efficiency is great
- As silent as PC fans get
- Great cooling
- No lighting
- Low RPM not suited to all case uses
I have been putting Artic fans in my builds for years. They are my go-to fans when putting together media center boxes for friends and family, and the reason is simple. You just don’t hear them, and sometimes that’s the most significant factor in a buying decision. Arctic has been building and tweaking and honing their technology for a very long time, and just when you think they have nailed it, they come out with yet more improvements.
As a brand, they eschew bling. You won’t find any RGB here. You won’t even find any lights. Arctic fans are designed for one thing only - to cool your PC as quietly as possible.
The F14 Silent never goes past 800rpm and slows down when your PC is idling - you won’t hear that, but when asked to its cooling prowess is second to none.
Every company has its own blade design, and Arctic has tweaked theirs to perfection. These fans last the test of time. They just don’t light up, but you don’t buy a lamp to cool you down either.
It’s the lowest RPM unit in this round-up, so for overclockers it’s not for you, but if you are building a rig you would rather be seen and not heard, this should be your go-to.
Antec Prizm 140 ARGB
- RGB comes with controller
- aRGB connection
- High RPM of 1700
- aRGB not compatible with all mobos
We will finish our roundup where we started, with a gloriously colorful RGB model - this time from case manufacturer Antec.
The product choice we have made here is the dual-pack with controller that still comes considerably cheaper than the Corsair pack.
Rather than utilizing a software application like iCue, if you have a motherboard with an aRGB connection, then you can sync these up with that for a colorful light show that will be sure to impress your friends and family.
It’s 3 pin header fits onto compatible mobos from Gigabyte, MSI, and ASUS.
With a max RPM of 1700 these can get pretty noisy at full pelt, but their hydraulic bearings shifting 65CFM mean they can certainly keep your overclocked rig below melting point.
RGB fans are a personal choice - do you buy into something like the Corsair ecosystem and it’s increased price barrier when you can get something similar like this and spend your extra cash elsewhere. That’s a personal choice, but these are good fans and should definitely be taken into consideration.
This really is a tough one. Every fan listed here will ultimately fulfill the brief. It’s tempting to go for the Arctic just because they are so damn good, but if you are a performance-head who likes to overclock, then these aren’t for you, so for that reason alone, we can’t. Also, if you are a serious overclocker, you probably love your RGB, so it’s going to cost you more to get around their lack of lighting too.
In short, get them if they are for a media center build or something similar.
On this occasion, we are going to recommend the Magh Lev Corsairs. Yes, they are the most expensive, but they are the only magnetic bearing fans in the round-up and they are just great. Nice and quiet, great lighting options and come complete with all the bits you need as well as the controller.
iCue is a dream to use and you can sync them up to your Corsair case, keyboard, mousepad, headphone stand, and Corsair Kitchen Sink, so it all just looks lovely.
Things to consider
As we mentioned right at the beginning of this round-up, the main thing you need to consider – once you get past whether you can actually mount a 140mm fan in your case is mainly the connections to your motherboard. Options such as the Corsair circumvent this to an extent by using their own controller, but it is something you will have to investigate for yourself.
Beyond that, we’d say consider your usage. If you are building a new PC you likely have an idea what it’s going to be used for the majority of the time. Silent fans can be a real boon in a media center – or even just a PC you intend to leave on a lot in your home office.
If you need a bit more punch, or maybe you are adding them to a radiator to cool down an overclocked CPU, then you might have a sacrifice a little bit of that PC and quiet in order to get the performance you crave.