The 15 Best Monitor Brands in 2021 (Gaming, Work & More)

Monitor Brands

The 15 Best Monitor Brands in 2021

Kaelum Ross

I

Mar 18, 2020

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Are Dell monitors good?

Is HP overpriced?

When searching for your next display, it can be overwhelming when you’re met with so many options, one of your many questions is likely which PC monitor brands you should consider.

Well, today, we will be helping you answer just that!

This feature will take you through everything from the best gaming monitor brands, to the best manufacturers for work displays. We’ll also include where each brand shines the most.

The Top 7
  • Best Overall Monitor Brand: Dell / Alienware
  • Best Gaming Monitor Brand: ASUS
  • Runner-Up Best Monitor Brand: Samsung
  • Runner-Up Best Gaming Monitor Brand: Acer
  • Solid All-Round PC Monitor Brand: HP / Omen
  • Great Brand for High-End Monitors: LG
  • Fantastic Gaming Monitor Brand: BenQ

Worth Considering

  • Best Budget Gaming Monitor Brand: AOC
  • Second Best Budget Monitor Brand: Spectre
  • Great Gaming Monitor Brand: MSI
  • Great Brand for Video Editing / General Use: Philips
  • Great Monitor Brand for Work Display: Lenovo
  • Cheapest Monitor Brand: Viewsonic
  • Cheapest High-Spec Monitor Brand: Viotek
  • Good Gaming Monitor Brand: Gigabyte

Honorable Mentions

  • Good But Limited: Razer
  • Cheapest PC Monitor Brand Alternative: Pixio
  • Cheapest High-Spec Monitor Brand Alternative: Nixeus
  • Limited Cheap Monitor Brand: Monoprice

The Top 7

We’ve ranked this list into 3 parts; “The Top 7” & “Worth Considering” for the best 15 brands, and a few more “Honorable Mentions” for certain companies who we don’t rank as the best, but shouldn’t be completely written off.

Our 7 front-runners are the best monitor manufacturers at balancing great screen specs, gorgeous design/build quality, reputation, and price.

Bear in mind that these manufacturers have 100s of different monitors and who is best will often depend on your needs (resolution, framerate, budget, etc.).

This is why we’ve included the best picks for each brand to guide you while we go.

Best Overall Monitor Brand: Dell / Alienware

At the top of our list is the behemoth manufacturer in all things technology.

Texas-founded Dell has always been a frontrunner in providing a great mixture of budget desktops with everything a simple general/work users would want, and then higher-end displays with great color gamuts, contrast ratios and build qualities.

At this point, however, what makes us consider Dell the best manufacturer overall is their ownership of the Alienware brand.

With this combination, Dell now has something for everybody:

  • Cheap IPS panels that offer great budget use
  • Mid-range monitors for gaming, video/photo work, or a premium office setup
  • With Alienware; high-end monitors that represent the best display technology on offer today with incredible options for premium gamers.

A huge majority of their options also come at a very competitive price-point (you don’t feel like you’re paying an unfair amount for the reputation/service of a well-known brand with many of Dell’s screens).

Our main highlighted monitor today is the SE2719h. This display is one of the best balances between specs and price for your standard user.

With a 27 inch screen, IPS panel, fantastic picture quality for the price, and all hosted in a gorgeous build quality/design, there’s a reason why this is one of the most popular monitors on the market (and with its thin bezels, would be perfect for a dual-screen setup).

For gamers, the Alienware AW2721D is one of the best monitors for gaming today and tops our list of 1440p 240hz screens (a very hard category with a lot of competition). This is a premium monitor of course, and we have more budget-friendly options highlighted by other manufacturers below.

With something for everybody, and often with specs/prices rivaling other frontrunners, we think Dell is on the top of their game today and well deserving of the best PC monitor brand accolade.

Best Gaming Monitor Brand: ASUS

While Dell is very capable in the gaming sector (especially at the premium range with Alienware), ASUS gives them a run for their money in this category and is equally worth your consideration.

With a huge range of monitors, Taiwanese-based ASUS has its fingers in all of the gaming pies; with some very innovative monitors in the high and low-end price points.

Where we think they shine most, however, is in the mid-range offerings.

Few (if any) monitor companies have more compelling balances between specs for the average gamer, build quality, and price.

Taking our best ASUS monitor pick, the VG27VH1B, as an example: offering 165/144hz options, very fast 1ms MPRT response time, a decent 1500R immersive curvature, AMD Freesync & Nvidia G-sync compatibility, a fantastic 120% sRGB color gamut great technology for sharp blacks all hosted in a full HD 27″ offering with perfect, close-to-frameless build quality.

For all of this to come in its relatively cheap price tag is a fantastic offering and demonstrates just how capable ASUS are of providing some of the best value monitors for gaming.

Don’t count them out if you’re after a more expensive offering too; we constantly feature ASUS across our articles touting more premium specs like the highest Hz, 1440p 240hz, 4k 144hz & 1440p 144hz ultrawide monitors.

While there are a few great contenders on this list for gaming, ASUS offers the best balance of specs and value in today’s market and is our pick for the best gaming monitor manufacturer.

Runner-Up Best Monitor Brand: Samsung

Our next display manufacturer is one that needs no introduction…

One of the biggest players in the TV space, Samsung has extended its reach to providing its efficient screen supply chains to create high-quality monitors and very competitive offerings in some of the main PC display categories.

Samsung positions many of its offerings as business monitors, with lightweight, cheap yet deceptively decent LED screens leading their budget range, their monitors are a compelling choice if you want a great picture quality for general use/media without breaking the bank.

Our best Samsung monitor pick is a shining example of that; the S24R356FHN is a gorgeous full HD display hosted in a fantastic shell and is a very close competitor to our top Dell pick if you’re after something simple but capable of a beautiful picture for the price (we’d go for whichever is cheaper at the time of viewing if this describes you).

For gaming; we wouldn’t recommend Samsung in most cases for budget/mid-range offerings, but they do have some mouth-watering expensive gaming displays. Our favorite of which is the Odyssey G9, with its QHD, 1000R Curve, 240hz setup in a super-ultrawide aspect ratio (essentially, 2 16:9 screens in one) and dual DisplayPort output, this is arguably the best gaming monitor on the market for those after next-level immersion.

While not our #1 pick due to its gaps in non-premium gaming, Samsung is a behemoth for a reason.

With the company’s huge capability in producing high-quality LED panels, they are easily one of the best monitor brands for work setups (and gaming if your budget is very high!). 

Runner-Up Best Gaming Monitor Brand: Acer

Although we rank ASUS as the best brand for gaming monitors, it was a close race, and just behind them is another Taiwanese powerhouse.

While far from exclusively focussed on gaming, this area is where Acer really shines. With some very compelling options in budget, mid-range, and premium, we often feature Acer for their innovative products, leading the pack for 1440p 144hz ultrawide screens.

We appreciate Acer is also good at balancing offerings with TN, VA, and IPS panels, allowing them to cater to a wide range of user requirements and budgets.

Our best Acer monitor pick is one to rival the ASUS offering above if your budget is just a little tighter.

With a smaller screen size but still boasting a gorgeous quality full HD screen, 1ms response time, and 144hz, the XFA240 bmjdpr contains all the necessities of a gaming monitor (including DisplayPort/HDMI, G-Sync, and more) if you don’t need a 27-inch display at a price that feels like a steal to still get such a quality product from a very reputable brand.

All in all, Acer is one of the best gaming monitor manufacturers in the field today and is easily one of the companies you should focus your searches on when looking for your next immersive setup, whatever the price range.

Solid All-Round PC Monitor Brand: HP / Omen

Don’t be deceived by us not ranking HP as the top/runner-up overall pick, we’ve called these brands the top 7 for a reason!

Californian-based Hewlett-Packard doesn’t have quite the same level of offerings in the mid/high-range, but they have some really fantastic products for a budget office/general use monitor.

Leading that charge is one of the best budget options on the list; the 1D0J9AA.

With the fantastic, sleek build quality you expect from HP hosting a full HD screen with respectable specs; you’re, of course, not going to get the best picture quality at this price range.

But for the budget users? We’re quite floored by how HP has packed such a beautiful offering in this price-tag. Especially considering many larger brands often opt to add what feels like a “tax” to purchase from a reputable manufacturer with decent customer service.

This would be a great option for an office setup (even purchasing multiple units to run a productive multi-screen environment).

On the gaming front, HP’s sub-brand, Omen, doesn’t rule the roost as much as ASUS, Alienware, and Acer, but in certain categories, has some of the best value options.

Our favorite example is in the 1440p 240hz category; whereby the Omen X is one of the cheapest screens in the category, capable of offering a high-end gaming experience at a deceptive low premium price.

While there are some gaps in the mid-range, if you’re looking for a budget monitor that still has a great reputable company behind it, or like the look of some of the high-end value offerings from Omen, know that HP is still without a doubt one of the top PC monitor manufacturers today.

Great Brand for High-End Monitors: LG

If you’re in the market for a premium display, either for top-quality video/photo editing, gaming, or other professional usages, LG is one of the best choices for you.

With a rich experience in the display market, this South-Korean company seems to really understand the demands of users on the premium end, creating some fantastic screen innovations to match these demands like 4k, top-end color gamuts, and contrast ratios, while still boasting compelling price tags.

Our favorite example of this is the 34WN80C-B. With its stunning WQHD setup (in other words, 1440p ultrawide resolution) hosting an HDR10 compatible IPS panel with a superb color gamut, this screen would be a productivity dream for pretty much any kind of work user. We also cover a cheaper 1080p alternative here.

For gaming, LG has a host of other premium innovations on the market and we consistently feature them in many of our gaming monitor posts.

The most impressive amongst them is the incredibly feature-reach 27GN950-B, which is the highest Hz 4k monitor available today, and easily one of the best in any high-res/refresh rate combo category when considering its other specs, build quality, and price. Despite being aimed at gaming, this would also be a dream for 4k video editing work.

While other PC monitor companies seem to come out on top when considering the best picks for a basic office display or a budget gaming monitor, LG is among the best for really cutting-edge screens.

If you’re after the best money can buy (while still retaining impressive value at higher price-tags) LG is one of the top monitor brands for you.

Fantastic Gaming Monitor Brand: BenQ

Last but most definitely not least is a company that has stormed the market in the last decade or so to match many of the largest gaming display manufacturers.

While we give Acer and ASUS the top accolades for gamer monitor brands, we can comfortably say BenQ is on the same level as them and is particularly impressive for those after an esports monitor or someone focusing on fast, reflex-based gameplay (note: Acer/ASUS monitors are great at this too, we’re just talking about in general, for those with a focus on latency above all else).

While the company has plenty of offerings for more immersive titles and even non-gaming, their best capability is when they’re focussed on designing screens for the competitive gaming scene at modest price-points, this will include the highest frame rates, lowest latencies, and lots of quality-of-life features an esports enthusiast will demand to take the edge.

Our pick for the best BenQ monitor is the perfect personification of all of these great traits; the BenQ ZOWIE XL2546 is arguably the best esports monitor at its price range.

At a mid-range budget, the screen manages to pack in a 240hz refresh rate and a visual setup specifically designed to better highlight environmental details (e.g. help the player notice enemy movement ASAP).

On top of that, it boasts great adjustability, a quick-settings change remote, and customizable sideways sliders to avoid distractions in your peripheral; all examples of the great mini-features you often see in BenQ innovations.

For good old-fashioned immersive gaming, this stuff might be overkill.

But for esports players? Having the extra edge in the competition can be what really makes a monitor stand out, which is why we still consider BenQ one of the best gamer monitor brands today.

Worth Considering

The next section contains some monitor manufacturers who we may not think of as the same level as the top 7, but are still great and will often have offerings to compete with the above brands in certain specific specs/price-ranges.

Best Budget Gaming Monitor Brand: AOC

AOC is a fantastic gaming display company often capable of producing options that offer comparable value to the top 7 or sometimes offer worthy budget options by sacrificing an optional spec (e.g. a cheap panel type, fast but slightly slower latency).

The AOC C24G1 is a fantastic budget gaming monitor offering 144hz, 1ms, and a 1500R curve all in one affordable package.

Second Best Budget Monitor Brand: Spectre

Spectre has really impressed us as of late, with their commitment to often undercutting larger brands with very comparable specs.

Yes, you won’t always have the same exact specs or a large reputable brand behind manufacturing, but if you want a premium experience on a budget, we think this is a great option.

Take the 305W-2560UN as an example, which is an absurdly cheap gaming ultrawide monitor – we would not expect to see one geared for gaming at this price, but they managed it!

Great Gaming Monitor Brand: MSI

A lot of people might be surprised to not see MSI in the top 7.

As great as the company is, we think that their monitor offerings that compete with other brands are limited (and have some history of less impressive customer service).

There is one huge exception though, the Optix MAG27CQ is one of the best gaming monitors on the market, balancing a QHD, curved, 144hz setup in fantastic build quality and price, this single monitor is so good it pretty much puts the company into this category alone!

Great Brand for Video Editing / General Use: Philips

Philips is a great TV brand that needs no introduction.

While we don’t rate them as high in some monitor categories (not competing with the budget office picks or expensive gamer options), they are a really nice player when it comes to high-quality picture specs for production-focused setups or someone after a nice media/general use screen hybrid.

The 346E2CUAE is a superb example, with a gorgeous 1440p ultrawide screen made better by its excellent contrast and color gamut, it represents what Philips is great at: focussing on picture quality above all else.

Great Monitor Brand for Work Display: Lenovo

Lenovo is a company we love for its domination in the laptop market.

But they are also a decent manufacturer of some aesthetically pleasing, well-specced monitor setups for work (no surprise, as work has always been a leading focus of this brand).

Standing at the top of their offerings is the fantastic Lenovo Q24h-10. With QHD, a great picture quality, and one of the most beautiful thin designs we’ve seen in any monitor, this display exemplifies Lenovo as a great choice for someone looking to build a premium work environment.

Cheapest Monitor Brand: Viewsonic

Viewsonic isn’t a powerhouse brand like many of the ones we’ve mentioned today.

But as far as the companies that focus on the absolute cheapest possible? We think they’re arguably the best for the lower-range choices.

Take the VA2446MH for example, yes it has an included VGA cable instead of HDMI, sure the speakers will be the bare minimum.

But for a full HD monitor with a decent picture quality at this price? If you can’t afford anything more, they’re a respectable option.

Cheapest High-Spec Monitor Brand: Viotek

What if you want to fork out on hardware that is impressive say, in resolution, framerate, and/or latency, but have a very limited budget?

This is Viotek’s specialty, often sacrificing some spec to sell a relatively comparable monitor to its competitors at 10-20% less of the price.

The GNV34DBE is their best offering, which is 15% cheaper than the average curved 1440p 144hz ultrawide gaming monitor and has likely achieved this through its slightly slower 4ms latency.

For some gamers (like those focusing on single-player titles like Cyberpunk 2077/Red Dead Redemption 2), the difference between 1ms and 4ms will be insignificant, so we appreciate Biotek, despite not being a huge brand, still has carved a respectable space for a certain type of user.

Good Gaming Monitor Brand: Gigabyte

Gigabyte, a huge reputable brand in motherboards, GPUs, and laptops, has a few great options in the monitor space (we just don’t rank this company higher due to only having a few options and being a tad more expensive for what you’re getting).

The FI27Q-P is one of the best 1440p monitors for gaming if you have the budget; with up to 165hz, gorgeous colors/contrast, and perhaps the most beautiful monitor design we’ve seen at the price point (with tons of adjustability options).

Honorable Mentions

While we don’t consider these brands part of the top 15, we wanted to include them as there may still be a situation or two where you might be rightly inclined to pick them for your next PC monitor.

Good But Limited: Razer

Everybody knows Razer; a gaming company geared for selling high-spec, beautiful products at a premium.

They only have 1 monitor offering right now, the Razer Raptor, which is why we wouldn’t give them any large accolade.

But the Raptor is a great choice in itself! With stunning picture quality and a beautiful design. You are paying more for the brand and aesthetic, but if it speaks to you, it’s a strong option for a gaming setup.

Cheapest PC Monitor Brand Alternative: Pixio

Pixio is another choice if you’re very tight on cash and none of our competitors seem to have something for you.

We do think Viewsonic is usually the better choice for ultra-cheap displays, however.

Cheapest High-Spec Monitor Brand Alternative: Nixeus

Nixeus is a little like Viotek; a brand trying to compete with many of the premium offerings on the market.

Our issue is, they tend to be at a similar price to the Top 7 or where not, lacking in stability across their products (e.g. complaints of G-Sync not fixing ghosting in games).

They’re not a bad manufacturer, but we can’t help but ask “why go for Nixeus if Dell, ASUS, Acer, etc. offer something similar?”.

Limited Cheap Monitor Brand: Monoprice

Monoprice is a respectable monitor brand in a few very limited scenarios, usually not competing with other value options.

Perhaps the biggest exception is the Monoprice 35in Zero-G, which offers a very impressive value for a UWQHD 35 inch setup.

Final Word

And there you have it! The above are our top choices for the best monitor manufacturers available and we expect in most cases, the monitor you’re looking at should be amongst these companies.

We’ll re-iterate one last time; most of our top picks have tons of choices, this list is about summarising the best average performance of a brand.

For example; even though we cite ASUS as the best gaming display brand, don’t assume that they are the best in every gaming category, it will depend on your individual needs.

So with that said, focus on our top product picks for each brand, or check out our other monitor features here (or below) to find the perfect screen for you!

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120mm vs 140mm Fans – The Complete Guide

120mm vs 140mm fans

120mm vs 140mm Fans: The Complete Guide

Kaelum Ross

I

Mar 13, 2021

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Ah, cooling, it’s easy to spend hours obsessing over what the best setup is to reduce your PC temperatures just that little bit more.

One of the most important aspects is what arrangement of 120mm & 140mm case fans you install.

But which kind of setup is better? 

Today’s feature is here to explain everything you want (and need) to know for 120mm vs 140mm PC fans; comparing noise, performance, size, and price.

We’ll also go over the best case fans for your next build, too!

Table of Contents

Differences Between 120mm & 140mm Fans – Short Answer

We’ll discuss each of the main comparison areas in depth below.

But if you’re after the TLDR; on average, builds based on 140mm fans are superior to 120mm fans.

They tend to perform more quietly in comparable operations, offer slightly better cooling & are cheaper when considering you need to buy less of them to perform.

But, and it’s a big but, it hugely depends on the quality of the fans in question.

A good 120mm fan will be better than a mediocre 140mm fan, etc.

It also depends on the PC case you’re using and what it allows; we wouldn’t say that 140mm fans are so superior that you shouldn’t get a certain type of case if it has more allotment for 120mm cooling. 

Unless you’re very focussed on min-maxing cooling, we’d instead advise you to focus more on which PC case you want; which is why we’ve included the best 140mm and 120mm fans throughout this feature.

Overall Best 140mm Fan: Noctua NF-P14

This flagship fan from one of the best brands in the PC cooling business has been through countless iterations.

While we recommend other options below for RGB, premium, silence-focussed, or budget users, the NF-P14 strikes the best sweet spot between decent airflow and a wonderfully low price.

Overall Best 120mm Fan: Noctua NF-P12

Thankfully, as with most of our top picks on the list, if a brand has made a great 140mm fan, they’ve nearly always come through with a 120mm version that is of the same quality (relatively).

The P12 is no exception; with excellent CFM for the price, it’s a perfect mid-range option.

120mm vs 140mm Fan Cooling

There are a few miscellaneous factors like bearing type that determine the finer aspects of a fan’s performance, but by far the two most impactful specs (and the ones you should focus on) are RPM and CFM.

CFM, or cubic feet per minute, is the amount of air a fan can move per minute and the most important spec when establishing cooling capability.

Most benchmarks and tests show that the average 140mm fan, with its longer blades, tends to boast a significantly higher CFM rating and can produce better airflow in a case per-fan compared to 120mm offerings.

Things other than mm size can affect the CFM, like blade design, material quality, and most notably RPM.

RPM, or rounds per minute, is how many times a fan can spin per minute.

So for example, if you had two fans identical in every way other than their RPM, the higher RPM fan would be able to produce better CFM.

Generally speaking, 120mm fans often (but not always) have slightly higher RPMs if we’re comparing the same 120mm/140mm models.

This is to ensure they don’t fall too far behind the high airflow/CFMs of 140mm offerings, which can run at lower rounds and achieve the same as a 120mm fan working harder.

So with all that said, we still rate the performance of 140mm fans as the best in most situations, but 120mm can still be a great ally if your desired case focuses on them.

As always, quality matters most.

We’ve seen other resources say 120mm/140mm fans go up to ~1,500 RPM, and this is very far from the truth.

The range is huge; for mainstream choices, fans in either size tend to vary from around 600rpm to 3000rpm, but for some crazier offerings they can go as high as 10,000 (not that you need this, they’d sound like a jet engine too!).

Conclusion: 140mm fans are usually the better choice for airflow if your build allows it. But if not, don’t fret; you can still get great cooling done with 120mm offerings, what’s most important is picking high-quality fans in either size and a chassis that facilitates good airflow.

120mm vs 140mm case fans 3

Static Pressure

While CFM/RPM is where the main difference occurs between 120mm/140mm head-to-heads, we wanted to touch on a spec that is very important for certain placements.

Static pressure is the rating a fan gets which, in simple terms, dictates how much of the airflow/CFM produced will penetrate heatsinks or mesh enclosures.

Providing air through mesh-like barriers is a very different goal to airflow in a clean environment, so different fan types specialize in this area.

There isn’t a clear winner in 120mm vs 140mm for static pressure, so it will really come down to whatever your setup allows you to install (we recommend 140mm if possible due to its CFM advantage, but either is fine).

So if you want decent static pressure fans to cool your CPU heatsink (or a value bundle for mesh casing setups also), the Arctic P12 for 120mm, or P14 for 140mm are the ideal picks at a mid-range budget.

But if you’re interested in our other fan picks below, don’t fret; the choices on this guide all have decent static pressure ratings in comparison to many similar options, and this spec is not as important if you’re not dealing with heatsink/mesh coverage.

Best High-End 140mm Fan: Noctua NF-A14 iPPC-3000

If you’re after the best fan cooling possible, the NF-A14s are one of the best offerings to fit the bill.

With incredible high-quality material/blade designs and up to 3000 RPM mean the A14 have one of the best CFMs on the market.

It’s worth noting these things can get loud at the highest RPM (which you’ll only hear during intensive operation), but if you’re after the best airflow, they’re fit for the job.

The NF-A14s (and F-12s) also have excellent static pressure, and are a perfect choice if you’re looking for heatsink/mesh cooling.

Best High-End 120mm Fan: Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000

The smaller brother of the NF-A14 is a fantastic choice for setting up 120mm fan cooling.

Achieving similar top-range CFM and RPMs with their superb materials (relative to other 120mm fans) these products are one of the best PC case fans for gaming, overclocking, and other high-end usages.

120mm vs 140mm Fan Noise

Although the differences on the cooling/airflow front are notable, we think the real reason to prefer 140mm fans (if possible) is their quieter operation.

We’ll repeat the same disclaimer; this is on average. A low noise-focussed 120mm fan will be quieter than a standard 140mm offering (and would still be a decent solution for a quiet build).

But if we’re talking about how to achieve the quietest fan setup, we definitely prefer 140mm-focussed setups.

The reason is relatively straightforward; as per our airflow section, 120mm fans have to spin at slightly faster RPMs to achieve similar cooling to 140mm fans.

Now while other factors do matter in decibel production, if you put two similar fans head-to-head, the RPM they work at will be the largest indicator of which makes more noise.

You may think the blade fan size must matter too, but have you ever thought about how a ceiling fan in a house can be nearly inaudible, but a tiny desk fan can get loud very quickly? It’s primarily to do with the ceiling fan having to spin way less to cool its environment.

In other words; because 140mm fans have to spin less fast to achieve suitable thermal control, they produce notably less noise on average than 120mm fans.

This has been demonstrated in numerous benchmarks and tests.

If you’re looking at a quiet PC but only have 120mm fan availability in certain parts, don’t worry; the recommended quiet 120mm fan pick below still achieves very low DB(a) cooling.

120mm vs 140mm case fans 4

PWM vs DC Fans

While not strictly related to the 120mm/140mm battle, if you’re interested in noise, it’s worth briefly touching on this spec as you’re bound to see it in comparing quiet fans.

DC (direct current) fans are controlled by 3-pin headers on your motherboard, while PWM (pulse width modulation) adds an additional pin that allows the motor and voltage requirements of the fan to signal each other more effectively than DC units.

Both types of fans require a minimum RPM to operate (too low and they begin to stall, act erratically, etc.) and due to the PWM’s improved signaling, fans with this functionality can achieve lower RPMs (either by the user’s control or automatically during less-intense operation).

So for something focussed on quiet operation, it’s a good little bonus to have a PWM fan (if your motherboard has 4-pin headers, which many modern ones do).

(Don’t fret too much about this though, you can connect a 3-pin fan to a 4-pin header and vice versa, you just won’t get PWM functionality from a 3-pin header or fan).

Though to be clear; a good DC fan still goes to fairly low RPMs that we expect will satisfy even those users focused on a silent build (providing they’re using a decent enough case).

Go for PWM fans if you have 4-pin headers by all means, but only consider this a nice-to-have, and not a super important factor of a quiet machine.

 

Best Quiet 140mm Fan: Be Quiet! BL040

Be Quiet!, as you might expect from the name, is one of the leading brands in silent PC cases, and their work in fans is just as impressive.

The BL040 is fantastic at keeping its great CFM/airflow to a very low-decibel standard; if used with a decent quiet computer case, you’ll have the best chance at a nearly silent PC setup.

Best Quiet 120mm Fan: Be Quiet! BL039

The BL40’s smaller brother is a fantastic product for 120mm fan builds too.

It outputs a slightly higher decibel rating per fan than the 140mm version, but this is a difference of only 0.4 Db(a) at maximum speed. The BL039 is still very quiet when compared to nearly every other 120mm fan on the market.

120mm vs 140mm Size / Compatability

Sometimes, comparing the differences between 120mm and 140mm PC fans is apples and oranges, because it really depends on the computer case’s compatibility.

The average 120mm fan dimensions are 120mm x 120mm x 25mm

The average 140mm fan dimensions are 140mm x 140mm x 25mm 

In other words, although these can vary in thickness, 140mm are always notably larger, and most PC cases can accommodate fewer 140mm fans than 120mm ones.

We’ll reiterate one of our main points through the feature: it’s better to focus on getting a high-quality PC case for your needs. That could be anything from the best all-round, the largest, the cheapest, or the quietest, whether it accommodates 120mm setups or 140mm setups better is a secondary point.

But if you have the luxury of choosing between them, you will often be comparing larger amounts of 120mm fans and how they can perform versus less 140mm fans. The most common battle is 3 120mm vs 2 140mm.

3 120mm Fans vs 2 140mm Fans

For cooling, 3 120mm fans tend to have slightly better CFM /air output than 2 140mm fan builds.

But this isn’t the whole picture for a majority of cases.

3 120mm vs 2 140mm fans

Look at this picture of a relatively standard PC case boasting 3 120mm fans on its front.

The front is the most common place where you are choosing 3 120mm vs 2 140mm, notice how the lowest 120mm fan is mostly level with the PSU/HDD shroud.

Having a fan that is almost directly providing airflow to your PSU is not really very helpful.

Now take the red squares as an example of how the placements would look if you were instead using 2  x 140mm fans, and the arrows as the highest and lowest points the air is directed at.

Yes, the CFM might technically be slightly lower, but the airflow you are getting from the 140mm fans is better directed at your hardware that needs it (i.e. GPU & CPU).

Therefore if you have a chassis with a PSU shroud at the bottom of the case, the 2 x 140mm fan setup is better for cooling.

If you have a PC case with no shroud like the Lian-Li PC-011 Dynamic, then it’s very close to 50-50, but we would say 120mm fans come out on top for their slightly superior CFM (2 high-quality 140mm fans would still serve you well).

For noise reduction, 140mm fans still tend to come out as the best choice, with their narrow second-best CFM coming largely from lower RPMs.  If silence is your focus, stick to the quiet 140mm fan picks above.

120mm vs 140mm Price / Value

It’s all good saying which fan size is quieter, better at cooling, etc. 

But what is the best bang for your buck? Is the average improvement of 140mm worth a price difference?

Generally speaking, 140mm fans are slightly more expensive than their 120mm counterparts.

This isn’t a big increase though; the average price difference is less than 10%, and as far as we’re concerned, the superior CFM and noise reduction is well worth the modest price increase.

Also, as alluded to in the last section, you usually need to buy fewer 140mm fans to perform a comparable job to high-quantity 120mm setups.

Remember that you get what you pay for with either fan type; the budget fans below can serve most build well, but if you’re after the highest performance, see our premium picks directly after.

Conclusion: 140mm may be slightly more expensive, but it’s a modest increase for better performance/lower noise, and you usually need to buy less to achieve the same cooling which will mean many 140mm fan builds will work out cheaper!

Best Budget 140mm Fan: uphere BK143-3 pack

At an incredibly low price point, the uphere triple packs still manage to provide decent cooling for a budget build.

We would prefer users after the best PC fans for gaming or overclocking to go for our other picks on the list, but if you can’t stretch your budget very far, the BK143 are without a doubt the most impressive ultra-cheap fan options on the market.

Best Budget 120mm Fan: uphere 12BK3-3 pack

The 120mm version of the BK143 fans are even cheaper, it’s worth noting you won’t get the same level of cooling as the 140mm fans (with their longer blades resulting in better CFM).

But if your case is equipped for 120mm fans and you’re on a budget, the 12BK3 are unmatched in the cheapest 120mm fan category.

RGB Lover?

While there is no notable difference between 120mm and 140mm fans in the RGB category, we appreciate all of our picks so far are geared towards non-lit fans.

We love some RGB lighting too! So couldn’t end this list without some of our top recommendations.

Best 140mm RGB Fan: Cooler Master MF140

Cooler Master’s flagship RGB fan was the 120mm -sized MF120 for many years, and one of the most popular fans on the market.

But we’re pleased to see that they’ve created a 140mm offering that is just as beautiful, with its ARGB lighting illuminating the outer halo and inner fans, the MF140 doesn’t just look stunning in motion, but also boasts great performance/CFM for a powerful build.

Best 120mm RGB Fan: Cooler Master MF120

The MF120 is the classic option in Cooler Master’s RGB series and a long-standing perfect choice for those after the best ARGB fans on the market; balancing a great customizable aesthetic with impressive CFM, we recommend either the MF120 or the MF140 for anyone with the available RGB headers on their motherboard.

Top Picks Summary

120mm vs 140mm PC Fans Verdict

Let’s break everything down one last time.

Performance: 140mm usually offers superior airflow/CFM, with the exception of more 120mm fans in open cases with no PSU shrouds (still a very close race).

Noise: 140mm is the clear winner, having to spin lower to achieve the same performance as a 120mm counterpart.

Value: 140mm fans are slightly more expensive but their performance is worth the increase. You usually have to buy less of them to perform the same job, which means overall, you will likely save on a 140mm fan build.

Conclusion: In a majority of cases, we give the edge to 140mm fan setups.

However, with that said, we’ll wrap up the piece by saying our main point one last time; the quality of the fan is more important than the size, whether 120mm or 140mm, stick to our to picks above or other high-quality offerings, and you’ll be well set for a well-cooled build whatever the size!

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