Which RGB fan is the best of 2019?
The best RGB fan for PC builds in 2019 so far is the Corsair LL Series RGB fans. From the material quality of the RGB fans themselves, to the functionality of the RGB software, and sheer color shown, there is nothing that can beat them. Let’s take a look at these and some of the other options we’ve seen from this past year and see why.
Things to consider when shopping RGB fans
When you’re putting together a plan for a PC build, cooling and airflow can make the difference between a “great looker, poor performer” and a “beast PC”. You need to consider fan placement, case compatibility, fan function, then you choose between aesthetic options that fit the prior.
Negative pressure is often the enemy when it comes to planning fan placement. Not sure what negative or positive pressure is? When you have more air exhausting from your case than pushing into the intake, this is known as negative pressure. In the reverse order you can have more intake flow than is being exhausted which would cause positive airflow.
The “right” way to do this is really at your discretion, but there are a few main differences. In a positive pressure configuration, your dust intake is going to be limited to where the intake itself is. The benefit is you can filter the intake with a dust filter, and limit the amount of dust particles that get into your build. This will keep your components cleaner, and keep your PC running cooler and more efficiently.
If you wanted to configure your fans in the negative pressure configuration you have to keep in mind air will find the shortest path. Often times, this means air will be sneaking in through other seams in the case. This will allow dust to get in the case past the intake dust filters. The positive side to this is that you will have less spaces in the case of stagnant air. This could allow for better cooling if components are kept clean.
When you’ve decided which configuration you’d rather go with, the next step is to make sure you have more flow in either your intake/exhaust, or matched flow if you’d like to try reach a static airflow. Keep in mind there is also some adjustments that can be made after the fact to fan speeds for manipulation of flow.
Dependent on the size of your build, you will be shopping for a case to match. Many things will come into play for this, which I will not be touch on in this entry. Once you’ve gotten the main requirements knocked out you will need to confirm how many 120mm/140mm fans your case supports.
You’re able to mix and match as many of each size as you’d like. Keep in mind, you can calculate the pressure direction by adding up the CFM of each fan in the exhaust, and intake locations.
Most fans in the RGB category have the same function, creating airflow. There are a couple of caveats to that statement. If you have plans to add an all-in-one cooler (AIO) for example, you would want to add static pressure fans to the list, which are fans designed to push air through a radiator.
On the aesthetic side of things you may also want to consider directional lighting. Some fans may have a directional LED ring, or strip which only illuminated in one direction. If this is something you are worried about you will want that to weigh in on your decision as well.
Finally, you will want to consider the application used to configure or manage the RGB fans. If you have several different brands of peripherals, each requiring their own application, keep in mind this will take a toll on the final product. Sometimes uniformity is key visually and functionally.
RGB Fan Breakdown
#5 Corsair HD Series Fans
Size Options: 120mm and 140mm
Coming in 5th on our list are the Corsair HD fans. These were probably the first competitor the NZXT when their RGB line-up hit the market. These fans provided bright RGB colors, in a clear housing and include a frosted fan fin design. For lighting, the HD series is equipped with individual LED’s to provide a bright off-glow
Pro’s – These HD series has three compatible controller options. The fans come with a hardware switch that allows switching between colors, and function. The second option is the Corsair Lighting Node Pro, which is a software controlled RGB controller which can be used with Corsair’s Link software. The third option is to pick up the Corsair Commander Pro, which is an all-in-one USB hub, RGB controller, and fan controller.
Cons – The clear housing makes the fans feel somewhat cheap even though their quality in person is excellent. The RGB’s don’t seem to have as deep or rich of a color as some of the other offerings available.
Although these fans can definitely move some air, and have a premium feel, they will really only be the right fan for specific builds.
#4 In Win Polaris Fans
Size Options: 120mm
Next on the list we have the Polaris Fans. These fans came out later into the RGB phase, but like many In Win product we designed very well. These come in three color variants. There is a regular LED version, and RGB version, and finally a silver RGB version. The difference between the last two is a clear housing and frosted fan fin followed by a black and silver housing and silver fan fin.
Pro’s – The biggest advantage of the In Win Polaris fans as well as their sister model, the Aurora fans is as follows. These fans were designed with one set of wires that fits between each of the fans, and between the first fan and the controller. This is a huge benefit being that these are the only RGB fans with this design. Other fans typically transmit fan control over one set of wires and RGB functionality over the other.
Con’s – The Polaris fans don’t seem to have a ton of light protruding from them. This may not necessarily be a con for some of you, but other’s may want their RGB so bright they need sunglasses to view. One other less noticeable flaw are the blue hue that gets displayed when the RGB’s are set to white.
These fans as stated above are of great quality like many products from In Win. They have a very minimalist design and will add a subtle flair to any build they are being used in. Just don’t expect their light output to be overpowering.
#3 Thermaltake Riing Plus Fans
Size Options: 120mm, 140mm, 200mm
The Thermaltake Riing Plus fans have definitely made a name for themselves. They are the second variation of the fans from Thermaltake, and have been improved for a better user experience.
Pro’s – The Thermaltake Riing Plus fans require a controller that comes included with any of their kits. A huge benefit is the controller, which can easily be daisy chained allowing to users to add many controllers together rather than individually to your system. This is a big deal because many other controllers require a USB header on the motherboard for each controller. If you’re planning to add an AIO, and maybe connect some front I/O headers you may find yourself short on connections. In addition to this, the way the fans are designed allows the RGB colors to really pop without too much light leak into the case. Another perk to note is Thermaltake is the first company to provide a fully controllable RGB 200mm fan.
Con’s – The RGB controller requires three connections back to the motherboard. One USB connection allows for software control. Additionally there is one molex connection for powering the controller, and one PWM connection for providing power to the fans. This someone annoying to deal with when it comes to cable management, and more frustrating when additional controllers come into play.
The Thermaltake Riing Plus RGB fans are definitely one of the more premium feeling fans. They provide focus on the RGB aesthetic, while still delivering in the functionality department. These would be a great add to any build.
#2 NZXT AER Fans
Size Options: 120mm, 140mm
NZXT was the first here to put out a quality RGB product that was mass adopted by the community. Like everything NZXT does, they not only designed something functional, but something that looked amazing on the first try.
Pro’s – The NZXT AER RGB fans provide one of the most complete solutions. At the core of this system is NZXT’s CAM software. The software provides a solution for not only RGB control, but fan control, overclocking toggles, and much more. The interface is very user friendly, and even allows customization of theme and colors. The HUE+ controller that is used to connect the AER fans to CAM is also a nice addition to any build. It has a slick integrated LED on the top for a bit of added flair.
Speaking of the LED’s, the AER fans are equipped with a strip of LEDs on the front side which can illuminate various lighting modes and colors. One of those modes is customized for certain games like CS-GO. These modes will reflect things that are happening in the game such as flash bangs causing bright white illumination, and health can be reflected in a green to red spectrum of illumination.
Con’s – Unfortunately, NZXT’s biggest pro is also it’s Achilles heel. The CAM software has gone through many revisions since it’s first launch and has nothing but improved. That being said, initial configuration, and driver install always seems to be a topic that comes up. The software often times can have issues connecting to the hardware
NZXT has done a great job with these AER RGB fans. After release of these RGB version, they even went back and redesigned their other case fans and static pressure fans to match this design. These are a great choice, just be prepared to spend a little time with configuration.
(After publishing, this AER RGB FAN has been replaced with the AER RGB 2 from NZXT’s new HUE 2 Line-up.)
#1 Corsair LL Series Fans
Size Options – 120mm, 140mm
Finally, we have reached the main event. First on the list of top 5 RGB fans as of publishing is the Corsair LL Series Fans. Corsair seems to have taken a page out of NZXT’s book with it came to fine-tuning their previously released HD series fans. LL in the name stands for Light Loop, which is the core design of the fans. These fans have a full review here, but they include dual light loops, one in the outer edge of the fan blades, and one in the hub of the fan blades.
Pro’s – The LL fans by far have some of the best color illumination out of any of the fans we’ve looked at yet. This was really the topping on the cake though. The Corsair Link software which is used to manage Corsair devices also provides full customization of colors, and most like all others. The software also has a lot of functionality similar to the CAM application we saw from NZXT without the initial configuration flaws. Somewhat unrelated, but Corsair has even provided a nifty tool which allows you to add a picture of your case, and map out fans accordingly. This will help you to map out your flows, and run a more efficient system.
Con’s – The biggest flaw with these fans is that the connections are hardwired, not removable. There are two leads coming off of each fan which are pretty lengthy. Longer unused cables can create issues with cable management when fans are installed in-line. When if comes to quality you often get what you pay for. This is definitely the case with the LL series. They are for sure the most expensive of the RGB options available.
Corsairs new LL series fan appear to have the most visually please aesthetics, while also being of great quality. One of the best things Corsair did after launching this product was to also release a static pressure variant. This also provides a similar theme for those adding radiators to their build.
What should you do?
The reason we have provided this list is not to say what you should and shouldn’t buy. The main focus was to really provide a list of some of the best RGB Fan’s available, and tell you why. If you’d like to see full reviews, take a look at some of our other articles. Questions are welcome in the comments section. Finally, as always let us know…which will you be using in your next build?