Best RGB Fans in 2021
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RGB lighting gets a lot of unwarranted abuse. Sure it’s not actually contributing towards frame rates or cooling; it’s just aestheticism, but what’s wrong with incorporating a bit of flair in gaming gear now and again? They can inspire a mood, change your perspective, and imbue your build with a semblance of personality.
One of the coolest ways to add a bit of color to the mix is to treat yourself to an RGB fan. The undulant color profiles mixed with the mesmerizing stroboscopic spin of the fan blades amount to some nifty futurism. What was a mundane computer case is now a lucid prismatic dream sequence, a Tokyo night in a box.
So, if you’re thinking of inviting the rainbow into your next build, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a brief guide on what to look for and reviewed five of the best RGB fans on the market right now.
How We Choose
We’re a diverse bunch here at HowToGame, but one thing we’ve all got in common is that we like to push PC gaming to its limits, and before any of us were able to do this, we needed to learn all there is to know about thermal solutions.
The truth is, colors and lighting always play second fiddle to overall fan performance. Primarily, we choose fans that run quietly, that function at the top of their particular category. We choose fans with innovative designs and fans that give you articulate control.
Once we narrow down our options in terms of core fundamentals, then we consider the color array, and finally, if we decide that it’s good enough to use in our personal rigs, then and only then do we determine whether it is worthy of slapping our stamp of approval onto it.
Best RGB Fans
Best RGB Fans
Thermaltake Riing Quad 120mm
One RGB fan kit that doesn’t sacrifice performance for focus on dreamy RGB illumination, is the 120mm Thermaltake Riing Quad. Coiled with four light loops threaded with a mammoth 54 software-enabled addressable LEDs, you’re free to let your imagination run wild, creating customized animations or syncing them up with Razer Chroma for some game-specific sequences. You can even hook them up to Alexa for some real-time voice controls. Running on a self-lubricating hydro-bearing system, these 9-blade fans run whisper-quiet, and to put the cherry on the cake, they’re 4-pin PWM designs, giving you comprehensive control over RPM.
Thermaltake has channeled their inner aurora borealis for their Riing Quads. Either that, or they literally found a way to bottle the Northern lights and spill a little bit of the magic into each fan’s four rings Each of these versicolored halos is imbued with their share of the illuminative power of 54 addressable LEDs. Compatible with most modern syncing software, you can hook RGB performance up to work in harmony with other RGB accessories and as we stated earlier, you can even introduce the Quads to Alexa and control them with voice commands.
The 4-pin PWM design is controlled via Thermaltake software. The software itself is a little dated visually, but once you’re accustomed to the format, it’s actually really quite intuitive to use.
Built on a hydraulic bearing system, these fans aren’t just a feast for the eyes, they run at 25dBA – quieter than a whispered conversation – they’re self-lubricating, and are an altogether brilliant static-pressure fan well suited to busy cases.
Best Customizable RGB Fans
Corsair LL Series LL120
The Corsair LL Series is a household name at this point…as long as there’s a PC gamer living there. Even if you’re somewhat of an RGB avoider, you won’t have evaded talk of these fantastic RGB fans that have become synonymous with excellence over the years. Featuring 2 rings of phenomenal addressable LED lighting, they spin up a neon light storm in your case that your eyes could get lost in for hours, and it’s all tweakable via the included Corsair Lighting Node Pro software. Not only do they dish up some pretty sugary eye candy, with PWM, silent spin, and maximum airflows of 43.25CfM, their thermal performance is nothing short of incredible too.
The high levels of customizability via their Lighting Node Pro software included with purchase really is fantastic. Even though they only contain 16 LEDs each, that’s still practically infinite potential for personalized sequences, and there are some awesome presets as well. Our favorites include the classic rainbow wave and the newer sequence known as pawn.
Forgetting the pretty lights for the time being, these fans are also highly capable thermal solutions. The 120mm, nine-blade design is capable of dishing out airflows up to 43.25CfM and has a maximum running level of 24.8dBA, roughly the same volume as the rustling of leaves in a light breeze.
Fan speed can be controlled via the Corsair software using PWM, allowing adjustment between 600-1500 RPM, and the hydraulic bearings keep them well lubricated, extending their service life exponentially.
Best 200mm RGB Fans
Thermaltake Riing Plus 20
We’re back to Thermaltake for our next pick with the Riing plus 20 RGB fan. If you love the concept of RGB lighting, but find it a little overbearing at times, with 12 independent LEDs spread across a single loop, the Riing 20 is the tasteful middle ground between neon dance party and total darkness. With 11 blades capable of an impressive 96CFM airflow, and self-lubricating hydraulic bearings at its core, This PWM-controlled fan may be easy on the eyes, but there’s no mistaking it’s a serious thermal solution.
With this somewhat modest LED-count, you can also consider the Riing Plus 20 a subtle answer to RGB’s often overstimulating color storm, perfect for those who’d like to experiment with some ambient lighting rather than put on a disco every time they play.
The Riing Plus is a high-static pressure fan with 11 blades capable of 96CfM air flows, making it the perfect thermal solution for cooling radiators, GPUs, CPUs, or drivers.
Running at 28dBA, it’s not quite as silent as our top two picks, but self-lubricating hydraulic bearings, anti-vibration mounting, and PWM control via either the TT software or the fan controller (purchased separately) still keep this thing impressively quiet.
Being a 200mm fan, it’s not going to be for everyone, especially those with smaller cases, but if you have the space to accommodate it and you need some serious airflow, you won’t find much better than the Riing Plus 20.
Best Value RGB Fans
NZXT AER RGB 2
The RGB 2 is a fairly minimal RGB option in that the single light loop containing 8 addressable LEDs doesn’t particularly illuminate the fan blades the way others do. Instead what you get is an eye-pleasing luminous cell of color. They can look a little lackluster individually, but incredible as a set. All in all, it’s a much more subdued, less violent display.
It’s clear that NZXT doesn’t only have a unique approach in terms of RGB facilities, but a thoughtfulness that spans the entire fan design process. Of particular interest is the performance engineered Chamfered intake/exhaust shaping that boosts airflow and air pressure. Then of course the winglet tip blade design that eliminates drag, improving longevity and general performance. Do bear in mind, though, you will need to buy the NZXT CAM to fully control fan PMW and RGB sequences.
When set to their maximum 1500 RPM speed, it’s not uncommon for them to reach 33dBA, so they’re a little louder than our other 120mm options, but not obnoxiously so. In fact, that’s only about 3 times the volume of your breathing.
Best Budget RGB Fans
upHere RGB Series
upHere have installed two light loops, one on the front and one on the back of these fans, so either way you set them up, you’ll still be able to appreciate their full effect.
The included remote is a godsend, enabling you to make nifty sequence alterations on the fly, but in some instances, the color buttons aren’t matched up with the right LED color, for instance, the green button might trigger red and vice versa.
Unfortunately, the hub included with these fans is fitted with Molex connectors, meaning they will only ever run at 1100 RPM, but thanks to their high-quality hydraulic bearings, they rarely break 20dBA, so running volume isn’t an issue. However, we’d recommend only using these as general airflow fans, as hardware fans really do need that variable-rate functionality.
Things To Consider
Type of Fan
While we are focusing on colors in this article, if a fan doesn’t do its job well, it’s just very pretty trash. What really matters is airflow. There are two types of fan, each providing a different kind of flow. These are static pressure fans and airflow fans.
Airflow fans are designed to blast out as much air as possible, and as long as their airflow is unimpeded, they’re a perfectly good option. If their flow is perturbed by an obstacle such as a case mesh or dust filter, it becomes restricted and underperforms.
Static pressure fans are an equal and opposite reaction to airflow fans. They’re not as powerful, but their blades are specifically designed to travel well through and over obstacles.There are two types of RGB LED. Some are known as Addressable LEDs. These are fully independent bulbs, each with the ability to be its own color. The other kind is known as non-addressable LEDs. They can change color, but they all change together.
Bearings are what keep fan blades spinning both efficiently and consistently. The two main bearing types for PC fans are sleeve bearings and ball bearings.
Sleeve bearings are the most common type in PC fans. They have to be mounted vertically for best performance, they’re inexpensive, and they’re incredibly quiet at first, but due to excessive contact between moving parts, they don’t last too long. Ball bearing fans are quieter at high speeds, last longer, and cost significantly more.
Single ball bearing fans are half ball bearing and half sleeve bearing designs, and hydro bearings are a modified sleeve bearing concept that works much better than standard sleeve or ball bearings
Lights & Color
The colors in an RGB fan are generated by a collection of LEDs threaded into light loops, and generally speaking, the more the merrier! Some fans may only have a few LEDs split between one or two rings. Other RGB fans will have beyond 50 independent LEDs split between four light loops situated on both the chassis and hub.
There are two types of RGB LED. Some are known as Addressable LEDs. These are fully independent bulbs, each with the ability to be its own color. The other kind is known as non-addressable LEDs. They can change color, but they all change together.
Thermaltake Riing Quad 120mm
There you have it, five of the best RGB fans for electrifying your build and bringing some vibrancy to your case. People say that RGB doesn’t affect the gaming experience, but we respectfully disagree. By altering your immediate environment, they help to blur the lines between the real and virtual, immersing you in the world established by your game.
In our opinion, the absolute best RGB fan available at the minute is the Riing Quad. It’s got four loops, LEDs coming out the wazoo, and it performs as well as any high-grade non-RGB fan. That said, amazing as they are, the quad and the Corsair LL can be a little overwhelming, so if you’re looking for something that’s not quite as intimidating, the Riing Plus 20 hits the spot, or for greater minimalism still, the Aer RGB 2 fans won’t disappoint. The upHere RGB fans are a quality option for the RGB addict on a budget, but ultimately, their cooling performance isn’t quite on the same level as our top picks, and that single speed may be a deal-breaker for some.