Small Form Factor or SFF PC builds are pretty difficult to assemble. They require precise measurements of components according to the clearance in the case. So to help you, people, out, we recommend the best slim case fans to get better airflow in your case.
Airflow is important for any system regardless of the fact that you might be using liquid cooling. That is because you cannot liquid cool all of the components in your computer. There are some that require air to cool them down and case fans pull in the air needed.
In small form factor PC builds, liquid cooling is a far-fetched dream. Unless you somehow install a custom water loop with a 120mm radiator and slim case fan. But even that is going to be a tough job, so for most people, air cooling is the best option.
Due to clearance limitations in these small form factor builds, you need to install slim case fans. These are really slim and small and can fit most small form factor computers.
Some companies like SilverStone have their cases fit with their proprietary slim fans. So if you are getting a case from them, chances are you already have the best slim fans for the job.
But for starters, let us understand what you need to know about case fans in general in a buyer’s guide.
Slim Case Fan Buyer’s Guide
We have said this before and we need to mention it again. Fan speed is not the deciding factor for how good a fan is. It is just one of the factors that determine how good a fan is.
Things like static pressure and airflow matter a lot when you are looking for case fans. A good ratio between these two will get you a good fan performance.
RPM and audible noise ratio is also something you would want to look at. You would not want your computer to sound like a jet engine while you are on discord.
The noise levels depend on the type of bearing as well. There are many bearings in the market, so always try to find a fan with a good bearing. A good bearing will also determine the lifespan of a case fan.
The Best Slim Case Fans for SFF Builds Reviewed
If you ever ask a tech enthusiast who makes the quietest yet amazing fans, you will hear Noctua. It is no surprise that they would end up on top of the list for every review on every tech site.
The Noctua A12x15 is a 15mm slim case fan that is famous for being extremely quiet and performing really well. It is a 4-pin PWM fan, you can adjust the RPM of the fan accordingly.
It can go up to 1850 RPM in speed with around 23.9dBA audible noise levels. Which is not a lot compared to how much noise other fans can make.
But if you are someone that disliked the constant whirring of a fan, there is a low noise adapter included. Install your fan in the low noise adapter to limit it to 1400 RPM that will significantly reduce the noise to almost inaudible.
Though the low noise adapter does mean that the performance of the fan does drop as well along with the RPMs. On max, you can get an airflow of around 55.4 CFM and on the low noise adapter, you get around 41.7 CFM.
The static pressure you get from this fan is around 1.53 mm H₂O at full speed. So the ratio of airflow, speed, and static pressure is pretty balanced. Thus the great performance.
This ARGB slim case fan from SilverStone has a max speed of 2000RPM, which is pretty fast. Though at full speed it does make very little noise, so if you do not like that, we would suggest you go for Noctua.
If you do dislike the low noise and opt for the Noctua instead, you will not have the amazing RGB experience this fan brings you. Though that does mean sacrificing performance for aesthetics.
The FW124-ARGB can be controlled to reduce the fan speed along with the fan noise. But then you will also face a decrease in airflow and static pressure.
The max airflow on this slim case fan is around 32.6CFM on 2000RPM and the static pressure is 1.52mmH2O. So despite the higher speed, it does not hold up against Noctua.
And most of all, it is a bit expensive as well, thus it ended up in our premium pick. You can find it around $45 on Newegg right now which is the lowest you can get this fan for.
This is as simple as it gets, the SilverStone FN124 is just a great fan and really quiet. Though the performance could be better, it is still better than most options out there.
The SilverStone FN124 is a really quiet and performance-capable slim case fan. It has a speed of 1500 RPM, the fan speed cannot be controlled though. But even at full throttle, it is not loud at all.
The airflow and static pressure ratio of the fan are good, but not great. You get around 25.06CFM airflow and 0.86mmH2O static pressure, which is not very high, but pretty decent.
For the price point of around $17, you can buy this slim case fan on Amazon. Though if you are getting an SFF case from SilverStone these fans might already be included.
It is not surprising that another fan by Noctua would end up on our list after all Noctua fans are just so great. The Noctua NF-A9x14 takes slim fans to another level by decreases 1mm to its 15mm slim fan.
This PWM fan uses a 4-pin 12-volt connection with the motherboard. Not to mention it has a really high max speed of 2200 RPM which will make sure to push or pull enough air into the system.
Of course, Noctua being famous for its low noise includes an LNA or Low Noise Adapter which will limit the fan to 1700 RPM max speed. you can control the fan speed from 300 to 2200 RPM without LNA and with LNA till 1700 giving you a pretty wide range.
But even at 1700 RPM, you will get an airflow of 22.4 CFM, while at 2200RPM you get 29.7 CFM. At max speed, you get 1.64 mm H2O static pressure in ratio with the airflow, making it quite a balanced fan.
Noctua uses its proprietary bearing for this fan as well, SSO2 bearing, which has helped Noctua bag so many awards. With award-winning technology and design, the Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM fan is perfect for the slimmest of cases.
The last recommendation on our list is from Scythe, the Slip Stream 1900RPM model slim case fan. We are mentioning the 1900RPM because there are other models of this case fan available in lower fan speeds.
At 1900 RPM the fan can get pretty loud, you get around 37.00 dBA noise level. It has an airflow of 45.47 CFM and static pressure of 1.35 mm H2O which is a great ratio, making this fan one of the best when it comes to pushing air.
Although it is a pretty loud fan and the speeds cannot be controlled, the static pressure, speed, and airflow of this fan make it a great choice for SFF PC builds.