Cooling "Slim" 120mm fan options and comparisons?


Caliper Novice
Dec 20, 2017

@Smallform Gaming did a pretty cool hack on their noctua cooler using a (flat) 92mm to 120mm fan adapter and I'm hoping to replicate that myself. You can see it in their thread here and the post describing their methodology is here.

The long story short on my situation is I'm trying to find a slim (~15mm max height) 120mm fan that will perform well on top of my Noctua NH-L9i heatsink. The stock fan is nice and it's been getting the job done, but my 4790K is out-of-spec and I have undervolted and underclocked it to maintain comfortable temperatures. Besides that, the beige-and-brown is not going to look good 'on display' in my S4 Mini when the time comes to install the system in there. Upgrading my aesthetics--even if that just means making them inoffensive--is about 50% of my motivation, next to maintaining or improving my thermals. The fan will be hooked up to a CPU PWM header.

I've been trying to look into slim 120mm fans, but most searching I have done doesn't seem to give much regard to the 'slim' term. Lots of info on 25mm fans come up but it isn't useful for me. Any place that has side-by-side comparisons of multiple candidate fans is of course preferable if only because it's likely their testing methodology is fairly similar across fans. I don't have a very good grasp on how useful numbers like RPM or CFM are, and I generally only compare them side-by-side and with a grain of salt.

I believe one of the favorites of this forum (and general SFF enthusiasts) is Scythe's line of slim fans and their aesthetic is pretty much the definition of inoffensive. From what I hear, their performance is great but I do believe I've heard some complaints about their noise at higher speeds. That's anecdotal recollection so that's not worth much.

So, I'd appreciate any suggestions you folks have. I'd also appreciate any insight on what exactly I should look for regarding fans to put on top of a CPU heatsink. My intuition tells me that higher static pressure is important, similar to a radiator fan. No idea whether push or pull is better.

Regarding aesthetics, my primary LED color is probably going to be orange, though I do intend on installing RGB strips and controlling those--my motherboard does not have any RGB headers and it's likely I won't be able to internally/software control any fan RGB headers. As far as component colors are concerned, most of them will end up being black/silver, but the case itself will likely end up being powder coated into an old-school off-white or light gray, with the side panel possibly being a medium gray. I imagine most black or gray fans will be inoffensive, and I think oranges, blues, or whites, might be able to pop interestingly with the overall theme I'm going for.

Dunno if my reply is still relevant; but i found that the cryorig fan on the cryorig c7 delivers a ridiculous 2.8mmH2O, while it's 15mm thick. The airflow is still decent, at ~40.5cfm. The fans are white, so I guess you could use some orange led strips or something :). Apparently, you can drill holes like this:

@ ~2.40min.

The whole package is around 30 dollars or euros. If you have the money, this might actually be the best option around by far. I'm actually building in a node 202, and this saves me from either modifying the mini itx gpu, or velcro-ing the fan on the radiator, since I plan on watercooling the cpu.

(If you're interested, these are the problems people are coping with in the node)