120mm vs 140mm Fans – Which Should You Choose

Getting the right fans set up in your PC aids in more comfortable cooling and heat management. Several components in your PC need constant cooling to avoid overheating and subsequent damage.

When undecided among cooling options, most PC builders opt for fans. And with 120mm vs. 140m fans coming in as preferred by DIY PC enthusiasts, they’re great options to consider.

If you’re keen on getting enhanced support against excessive heating, passive cooling is an essential addition to your CPU.

In this post, we’ll be taking a close look at 120mm and 140mm coolers.

Everything from what these fans have to offer to their differences is in this piece. With essential details from this post, it becomes easier to max out heat management for your CPU without hassle!

What to Consider When Selecting Passive Cooling Fans

Exhaust or Intake Fans?

Your PC case usually has two or more compartments – one in front and at the rear. During installation, you need to select intake fans before anything else.

With fans dragging more air into your PC, more excellent aeration and circulation potential can be easily achieved. When enhanced airflow is comfortable, more significant compartment cooling is possible.

But this by no means is an indication that exhaust fans are useless. On the contrary, you need both cooling units for your PC to manage heat better.

Exhaust fans help blow out hot air generated from compartments that work at a consistent rate. So, to maximize heat management, consider getting one intake and exhaust fan at the very least.

Airflow rating

The airflow rating of your chosen fans is integral to get improved aeration through your PC. With an increased amount of air moving across your fan, better displacement across your system results in increased heat management.

Consider selecting a fan with higher cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating. With an improved CFM rating comes enhanced support for faster cooling during challenging gaming and computing tasks.

Positive and negative pressure rating

When between choices for a PC cooling fan, two factors are indispensable – negative and positive pressure.

Positive airflow translates to a situation where your PC fans have more intake than exhaust potential. Even with air intake ideal for smooth PC operation, it could pose some long-term risks when not complemented right.

Too much intake could bring dust particles from the environment into your PC. And with sustained dust intake comes a higher chance of PC compartments developing faults.

The only way to prevent excessive dust intake from cooling fans is to select options with filters. Dust filters keep unwanted particles out while maintaining better airflow to your PC.

It would be best if you considered your fan’s negative pressure rating too.

Negative pressure refers to a situation where more air is blown out of your case than its intake. Such an event could lead to drops in temperature among components if your cooling fans have starkly different aeration ratings.

Consider picking fans that have similar specs and improved support against extreme positive and negative pressure.

That way, it becomes more comfortable to max out aeration for your components and achieves better compartment longevity.


Your chosen casing has a lot to do with how much airflow you can assure for PC compartments. While many generic cases come with two built-in fan compartments, advanced options are available.

Some high-end PC casings come with three compartments to enhance airflow through your PC. Consider picking a three-compartment option, mainly if you’ve got challenging tasks to handle.

3 X 120mm or 2 X 140mm fans

When selecting fans, some buyers are usually torn between two options – three 120mm or two 140mm coolers.

Three 120mm fans in your PC will draw more air through your computer’s compartments but at a slightly higher rate. Using three 120mm fans may also be too loud compared to two 140mm coolers.

Two 140mm fans will push decent air through your PC, but at a lower rate than three 120mm coolers. The lower aeration rating is its only shortcoming, though. Two 140mm fans consume lesser power, cost less, and are much quieter than three 120mm coolers

Static pressure rating

When you’re selecting a CPU cooler, consider taking a close look at its static pressure potential.

If you need to force bursts of air into tricky spots around your PC, select a high static pressure option. With a high static pressure CPU cooler, you can conveniently get air from your fans into closed spaces.

Areas like your hard drive, CPU heat sink, and other spots could benefit from this selection.

RPM rating

If you’re looking for a higher rotation per minute (RPM) rating, consider selecting an option with improved oscillations.

But when selecting such a high fan speed, expect more noise during operation. And if a noiseless operation is your focus, take a closer look at the next section for a better option.

Sound rating

The decibel rating of your chosen fan determines how noisy or quiet your chosen cooler will be. Consider selecting a fan with a decibel rating that won’t exceed 30dB. Anything closer to 40dB may become obvious, particularly when you’re in a quiet environment.

Thermal design power

The thermal design power of your chosen cooler determines how much heat your fan generates during operation. That’s why you need to check out selecting a cool air fan with enhanced TDP ratings.

Anything higher than 380W may be too tasking to achieve increased cooling support.


A better return on investment is easier to manage when you select cooler fans with a higher warranty. Some cooler fans usually come with three-year warranties. But you can get some higher warranties of up to six years from the date of purchase.

Socket support

There are lots of CPU sockets out there, making the right fan controller selection very essential. Check out your motherboards’ compatibility with your preferred CPU fan to avoid placing wrong orders.

Major differences between 120mm and 140mm case fans

Decibel rating (noise level)

A 120mm fan usually comes with a higher decibel rating than 140mm coolers.

The noise level of your chosen 120mm fan may be due to higher RPM ratings. 140mm coolers move at a lesser speed than 120mm coolers, meaning they give off minimal noise.

120mm coolers could have decibel ratings around 30dBA, while 140mm may drop a bit lower.

CFM rating

The cubic feet per minute rating of a 120mm fan is usually higher than that of a 140mm fan. The noise level of 120mm fans is due to a higher CFM rating. So, if you’re keen on achieving lesser noise, consider picking a 140mm CPU cooler instead.


Some 120mm fan compartments provide a universal fit, even for 140mm options. But when it comes to switching among fan cases.

120mm fans come in 120 X 120 X 25 (mm) dimensions and are much easier to install. The design of these fans also makes them compatible in a broader range of cases.

140mm fans, on the other hand, may have the right depth with 120mm coolers. (25mm). But the length and width of these coolers may result in their incompatibility with small-sized compartments.

Final Words

When you’re in-between choices, keep in mind that both 120mm vs. 140mm fans offer significant cooling support.

Tailor your choices based on the heat management you need your motherboard and its components to have. Also, consider checking out external factors likely to determine your choice for a fan.

With all this in your fan selection decision, you can be sure of better cooling for your PC. Challenging computing tasks won’t cause your PC to overheat, and you can get better heat management without hassle!


[su_note note_color=”#d7d7d7″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”7″]As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. [/su_note]