When building your dream rig, it’s easy to get caught up in the cool and shiny parts of it. The GPUs, the CPUs… those are the things that we all focus on the most. No wonder! They are the deciding parts of your PC and as such, they affect its performance a whole lot.
With that said, a PC is only as good as its weakest part, and you really don’t want that part to be the cooling. In fact, a good case fan is always a worthy — and necessary — investment. The rule of thumb is that the more powerful your PC is, the more you need strong cooling.
Keeping your computer nice and chilly is really important, whether you’re into gaming, 3D modeling, or even office work and browsing the internet. The reason is simple: when your computer performs at a high level, all of its parts begin to heat up. Without case fans to aid them, they will eventually overheat. Overheating may be the cause of low FPS in games, computer shutdowns, or worse, complete breakdowns.
Obviously, you’re here because you want to pick the best 80mm fan for your computer. Fantastic choice! Your PC will thank you. But how do you pick the strongest option from amongst a flood of choices? Don’t worry — this is where we come in!
At WePC, testing components and full builds is a long-lasting passion for us. We’ve done all the research and after hours of debating, we were able to choose the five fans that we love the most.
Save yourself the time and stress — pick something that has already been proven to be great! Read on to check out our comprehensive guide on 80mm case fans.
Our Top Picks
Best 80mm Fan: First Look
Noctua is a brand known for making top-notch fans, and this NF-A8 PWM model does not disappoint. It offers some of the best cooling we’ve ever seen.
This is a premium fan that has become one of the absolute favorites on the market. It’s strong enough to cool down even the most powerful rig.
Remarkably silent and efficient, this is a case fan that works well both at lower and higher fan speeds and is suited both for gamers and casual users.
For those that want to make a worthy investment, we recommend Cooler Master’s Sleeve Bearing 80mm Silent Fan. It performs very well without hurting your savings.
We picked this model because it does a surprisingly good job of combining sheer cooling power with quiet performance. This fan will not interrupt your gaming with background noise.
Arctic’s AFACO-080PW-GBA01 F8 PWM has a ridiculous name but is the perfect solution for those that want their machine to be as quiet as possible. Even at high fan speeds, this fan produces very little noise.
Nearly noiseless performance combined with a very reasonable price are the stapes of be quiet!’s Pure Wings 2.
Top-notch performance without breaking a sweat (or making noise) — that’s what we wanted, and that’s exactly what we got when testing this model. It makes for a great addition to a mid-range build.
Modern builds aren’t all about performance – the looks matter too. If you want to have the best-looking build ever, look into this RGB case fan set.
Stunning RGB lighting joins top performance in this set of 80mm case fans by Anidees. They come with a remote that lets you change the coloring according to your preference.
Choosing the right hardware can be a difficult task to complete. For those with less interest in PC building, the technical terms can be overwhelming, but they’re not the only ones to struggle. Even if you’re tech-savvy, it’s easy to be swayed one way or the other by clever advertisements. That’s why we’re here to help!
Our coveted “best of” spots are only given to the products we truly do believe to be the best — we often use them ourselves in our own builds. All of the case fans we recommend have been thoroughly researched prior to writing this guide.
Our process involves product research, benchmarking, and reviewing the feedback left by people that have already gotten their hands on one of these fans. We usually then test the products to make sure that they’re exactly what it says on the label.
We love PC building and we love to help — that’s why we’re here with yet another comprehensive guide on the best case fans. We want to assist you in making a choice you’ll be happy with, so please keep on reading to pick your future 80mm fan!
Testing is a crucial part of our recommendation process. Hours of research is one thing, but putting the product through a stress test often shows results that are not included in all benchmarks.
When it comes to case fans, their performance under pressure is even more important than their overall results. When you’re just browsing the internet or watching a movie, your fans don’t require much effort to keep the case cool. However, when you boot up your favorite AAA title, it’s a whole different story.
The above is precisely why we put our recommended products through stress testing. We check to make sure that they can handle even high temperatures, and that they do so quietly. We tend to push every component to the limit and then some, and if it does a great job, it earns its spot on our list.
Besides stress testing, we also look into build quality, efficiency, and the cost-to-performance ratio. Every aspect is reviewed meticulously. This helps us ensure that when we recommend something to you, we can do so with full confidence that you’ll like it!
Before you jump right to it and pick out your favorite option when it comes to PC case fans, there are a couple of factors you need to be aware of. Not every fan will fit every case, and then you also have other components to consider. Fans also come in different types that will suit different needs.
Fan Types Based On Connectors
As said above, case fans come in many shapes and sizes, but also in different types. We’re going to cover the most common things to look at when picking out your fan. The first thing to consider is the type of fan you want, and one way to determine this is to check the connector type.
Basic fans – These usually have a fixed RPM (revolutions per minute). This means that you cannot control their spinning speed and they will usually spin at the same rate. They can, however, be controlled by an external fan controller which adjusts the voltage and thus, the fan speed.
This has some upsides — they’re easy to use and don’t require any customization. However, if you’d like a smart fan that adapts to your needs, you’ll want to look into PWM fans.
How can you tell if the fan in question is a basic fan or a PWM fan? It’s simple: look at the connectors. Basic fans usually have a 4-pin Molex connector or a 3-pin motherboard connector. The Molex connects directly to the power supply, while the 3-pin goes into the motherboard.
PWM fans – PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation. These fans are usually more advanced and are controlled electronically. They alter both their speed and airflow based on your computer’s temperature. This means that they provide low cooling when you’re not doing much, and top-notch cooling when your computer is under a lot of pressure.
To use a PWM fan, you will need a motherboard that has a PWM header. Luckily, for most modern builds, you’ll have motherboards that have at least one, but sometimes up to six.
These fans come with a 4-pin PWM connector with two pins for power, one for PWM, and one for RPM.
Fan Types: Airflow Or Static Pressure?
Other than choosing between basic and PWM fans, an important factor to take into consideration is picking between an airflow fan and a static pressure fan. These fans differ by fan blades and thus, are quite easy to spot even without having a lot of tech knowledge.
To tell them apart, simply look at the face of the fan and check out the distance between its blades. If the gaps are small, it’s a static pressure fan. If they’re large enough to fit a finger, it’s an airflow fan.
What Exactly Is Airflow And Static Pressure?
Airflow stands for the amount of air that your fan is capable of removing at its highest RPM when it has no restrictions blocking it. When the fan is completely free to move the air in and out, nothing but atmospheric pressure interferes with it, granting the best performance.
Airflow fans have small blades, a sizeable gap between the body and the fan, and more curved blades than their static pressure counterparts.
These fans work best when placed in cases with a lot of open space. This is due to the construction of their blades — they move more air around when they’re given ample room to do so.
Static pressure fans, on the other hand, are suitable for both roomy cases and those that are tight on space. They are made to push the air harder through small spaces and thus do not need much room on either side of the fan.
They have large blades with few flat blades and a small gap between the body and the fan.
Which Type to Choose?
There is no better or worse when it comes to the question of airflow fans vs static pressure fans. Both of these perform equally well and are equally common. The only question is, which fan to use where?
Pick an airflow fan if:
- You want to place it in a part of your case where the air is not obstructed
- Your case has a lot of open space
Some of the most common places for airflow fans are the top and front case intakes & the back case outtake.
Pick a static pressure fan if:
- You want to cool a busy part of your PC
- You have a small case filled with components
- There is not much room for the air to travel within your case
Before picking out the most powerful 80mm fan you set your eyes on, remember to make sure that it will fit inside your case and mesh well with your other components. Fans are often picked only once every other PC part is already determined. This is done to ensure full compatibility.
Some Factors To Keep In Mind Are:
- Fan size — we’re discussing 80mm fans here, which are commonly used in smaller cases that don’t have a lot of space. Make sure that this type of fan is suited to your particular case.
- Connector type – different motherboards come with different types of connectors, as said above. Check your motherboard and buy a fan that will fit it.
- Noise – some PC lovers are bothered by noisy fans, while others don’t really mind it. Every fan has a noise level assigned to it. Of course, you’ll want one with the least amount of noise.
One more thing for you to consider, that we want to talk about at length, is bearing type. The bearing is a stationary cylinder that is located inside and rotated by the shaft of the fan. Fans are manufactured in such a way as to reduce the friction between the shaft and the bearing. Different bearings have different key aspects and perform in varying ways.
Bearings that are used in most case fans are:
- Sleeve bearings
- Double ball bearings
- Fluid dynamic bearings (FDB) and hydrodynamic bearings (HDB)
Sleeve Bearing Fans
This bearing is the option with the shortest lifespan of all. However, don’t fret — they still have around 30,000-45,000 hours of usage in them if used at around 60°C (140°F). We recommend that you mount them vertically, as they’re severely affected if mounted horizontally.
They deliver fairly low noise output levels, especially if they’re not operating at high speed. They’re usually very affordable and often used in low-to-mid-range builds. However, if you’re looking for longevity and reliability, they may not be your favorite choice.
Ball Bearing Fans
This type of bearing is often found in higher-end fans. Fans that use ball bearings can be mounted in any orientation without any adverse effects on their lifespan.
Speaking of lifespan, these fans have been known to give over 50,000 hours of output — even at very high temperatures. They’re reliable and perform well in most stress tests. However, as the ball bearings wear out, they begin to produce an increasing amount of noise. This is what usually prompts users to buy a replacement even though the fan continues to work.
Fluid Dynamic and Hydrodynamic Bearing Fans
The most long-lasting of all, fluid dynamic (FDB) and hydrodynamic (HDB) fans are somewhat of highly modified versions of sleeve bearing fans. They essentially take all the good parts of sleeve-bearing fans and improve on them, prolonging their usage.
FDB and HDB fans often have lifespans that far exceed 50,000 hours, with the most high-end models going as far as 300,000 hours with good performance. They can also be fitted in any position.
These are used in high-end machines and are a little more pricey, but they carry their weight so well that they’re a worthy investment.
How Much Money Do I Need For An 80mm Case Fan?
No matter whether you’re building a monster PC fit for the latest AAA titles or an office computer, the budget always plays a part in your decision. As it should! Even when you’ve got enough money to spend, it’s important to get the best deal possible.
When it comes to case fans, they’re usually rather inexpensive on their own, but the price may vary by a lot based on the type, manufacturer, and of course, performance. Most people also use more than one fan within their case, with some high-end builds featuring upwards of four or six. This means that the cost multiplies by the number of fans you end up purchasing.
To make your budgeting a little easier, we’ve decided to put together a small price guide for you to keep in mind. These prices are per a single fan.
- Low-end 80mm case fan – $5-$10
- Mid-end 80mm case fan – $8-13
- High-end 80mm case fan – $15-$30
As you can see, the prices can vary quite a lot, but cooling is crucial. Consider your new 80mm fan a worthy investment rather than a necessary expense.
The Best 80mm Fans Of 2020 & 2021
Manual control with a broad speed range
Their aesthetic is not very modern
We knew, even before beginning to work on this guide, that Noctua would have at least one contender that would make it onto our list of best fans. The reason for that is quite simple: Noctua is one of the most prolific fan manufacturers in the industry. They’re known to deliver some of the highest quality products on the market, and they rarely disappoint. The same can be said about their NF-A8 model.
Suited for compact PC cases, this static pressure fan features a few of Noctua’s best solutions that they promise will make it last for years while maintaining superb performance.
It features an advanced acoustic optimization system (AAO) that comes with a set of anti-vibration pads. Thanks to that, as well as Noctua’s Stepped Inlet Design and Inner Surface Microstructures, the performance versus noise efficiency of this fan is very high.
Noctua NF-A8 runs at up to 2200 RPM and has a 4-pin connector that allows for manual control. It also comes with a Low-Noise-Adaptor that reduces the maximum speed during PWM control down to 1750 RPM.
This model’s flow acceleration channels further contribute to its efficiency and low-noise. They speed up the airflow at the — very important — outer blade regions. This helps them reduce suction side flow separation.
The bearing type is SSO2 (self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing version 2) which allows for greater precision when adjusting temperatures. You can expect to reach an accuracy of 10%, giving you quite a lot of control over how much air the fan is currently pushing.
The combination of tan and brown coloring is a trademark aesthetic of Noctua’s. This design may suit some builds, but it does stand out from the currently trendy LED lighting aesthetic. However, for a minimalistic build design, you can’t go wrong with a Noctua fan.
If you’re after the best of the best cooling available and you want to have control over your fan speeds, we think you’d be happy with Noctua NF-A8.
The 11-blade design offers increased cooling at low speeds
Higher airflow of 24.2 CFM
Very good cost to performance ratio
May make soft clicking noises at high speeds
Cooler Master, like Noctua, is a brand that most of us know and respect for its high-quality fans. Known to combine efficiency with great value, they have delivered on both accounts with this sleeve bearing fan.
As far as design goes, this is a classic black fan that will suit any case type. It doesn’t feature any LED lighting, which, while pretty, does tend to have an effect on the pricing. In the case of aesthetic, Cooler Master decided to direct their funds towards making this fan more efficient instead of stylish — and it truly paid off.
This is a sleeve bearing fan and that comes with a specific kind of expected lifespan. The manufacturer promises around 35,000 hours of fan life expectancy while maintaining its 24.2 CFM high airflow that enhances cooling performance.
The RPM in this model measures at a respectable 2000 (but can hit up to 2300) and cannot be controlled. However, we’ve found that it’s not necessary — this fan does a good job keeping your PC nice and chilly even during high loads.
As the measurements of this fan are quite small, it can fit in most cases and will do well with both gaming setups and office computers. It also comes with a 3-pin to Molex converter that lets you make alternative power arrangements if needed.
As far as noise goes, it’s virtually noiseless most of the time, but it may make a quiet, soft clicking sound when under pressure.
Within this price range, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pick more solid than this Cooler Master fan. During our testing, we found it to strike a great balance between price and performance.
Innovative design that facilitates super-efficient ventilation
Dynamic bearing ensures long lifespan
High airflow required
This PWM fan is one of Arctic’s current flagship fans. It manages to be near-noiseless while providing excellent cooling fit enough for the most demanding gaming build.
We found this fan to be rather aesthetically pleasing if a bit minimalist. The classic, always-loved combo of black and white will suit any build. At first glance, you can tell that this fan was made from high-quality material, and it is reflected in its performance.
While the lack of noise and the cooling capabilities are all fantastic and worth a mention, let us first talk about the bearing type.
This Arctic model features a fluid dynamic bearing. It comes with an oil capsule that avoids lubricant leakages. As you know, fluid dynamic bearings combine the qualities of sleeve bearings (silent performance) with a significantly increased fan life expectancy.
As this is a PWM fan, the speed is regulated automatically by the motherboard. This ensures that it cools at exactly the right speed based on your current activity. It also helps minimize the noise level to the minimum and doesn’t use extra power when it is not needed.
The fan blades are innovatively designed and promote lower noise at no cost to performance. In most cases, this fan is virtually silent with the occasional low hum when you’re running a demanding program or game.
You’re able to install this model in two ways: you can either have it blow warm air out of the case or draw cool air inside the case. It’s known to work best in cases that allow for freer airflow, but it does its job in tight spaces too.
If you want a fan that will keep it cool without making a lot of noise, why not take a look at Arctic’s AFACO-080P2-GBA01?
Promised fan life expectancy of up to 80,000 hours
The screws on the fan are a bit difficult to tighten
As per the brand name, be quiet! is known to make products for those of us that hate the sound of a noisy fan. The noise levels in this model are ultra-low, measuring at 18.2dB(A), which is comparable to the sound of a whisper!
Starting with the aesthetic, much like Cooler Master, be quiet! has gone with a minimalistic approach. While there are no cool lighting effects included in this model, it does mean that every bit of the cost has contributed to achieving supreme performance over fun looks.
It’s true that this fan has the lowest RPM of all on our list, but don’t be fooled — it still packs a good punch with 1900 RPM while maintaining the aforementioned low noise level. The cooling is very effective thanks to this fan’s blades, which are optimized for quiet but efficient performance. The blades allow for enhanced airflow and minimize noise-generating turbulences while increasing air pressure.
Pure Wings 2 features a rifle bearing that promises an operating lifetime of around 80,000 hours. This is an incredible step-up from the usual expectancy of many other fans, such as sleeve bearing fans.
This model makes for a fantastic alternative for less-demanding users. It delivers great performance at a relatively low cost. If you’re not building an absolute beast of a gaming rig, you’re certain to be satisfied with be quiet!’s Pure Wings 2.
Pack of three case fans
Beautiful RGB lighting
The fan hub is controlled via remote control
Does not work with motherboard software
It’s impossible not to talk about the design here first, so let’s talk. This is a set of three RGB fans that can be placed within your case in any way you like, allowing for some truly gorgeous setups.
The LED mode is controlled entirely, allowing you to switch from the default rainbow mode to one of the other eight color-changing modes. As such, you can make your case shine brightly with a taste of the rainbow or give it an electric feel by going with a deep, vibrant blue.
Of course, looks aren’t everything, and we wouldn’t recommend a product based on the aesthetic alone. They offer stable performance and a great expected lifespan thanks to the rifle bearing used in these fans.
While the RPM measures at around 1600 and is not super-impressive, the fact that you get three fans makes up for it. They, as a set, bring a lot of airflow to the inside of your case, giving your components the low temps they require to function.
AI Aureola, aside from giving you full control over the RGB lighting, also comes with software that adjusts fan speed without opening the case. This makes these fans very easy to operate for both advanced and new users. The downside is that, reportedly, they do not work with your motherboard’s built-in software and the remote control program is required to make changes.
If you care about aesthetics and want to have a strong set of fans that will make your friends gasp when they see your build, we recommend looking into Anidees.
We’ve reached the end of our comprehensive buying guide on 80mm fans. Cooling is a crucial part of any PC build, so you’re doing the right thing by researching it. A strong case fan will go a long way to keep your PC performing well for years.
Our absolute favorite is the Noctua NF-A8 PWM Fan. It delivers on nearly every level, from top-notch cooling to silent performance, and it’s made by a reputable brand that rarely disappoints.
Leave us a comment if you think there are other good 80mm fans to consider, as we are always looking to test out new options!