2 140MM vs 3 120MM: How Many Cooling Fans Do You Need for PC Build?


Using 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans in your computer build can be a tricky question, and for novices in the noble art of building PCs, it can be a crucial one. You can have the most powerful PC in the world, but a subpar cooling arrangement will be its downfall.

2 140MM vs 3 120MM Cooling FansIn this comparative article, we’ll be going through the pros and cons of using either 2 140mm fans or 3 120mm ones, as well as looking at the cooling and airflow that you’ll get in each case.

If you want to find out which combination would be the best fit for you, make sure to read until the end!

2 140mm vs 3 120mm Comparison Table

Factor 2 140mm 3 120mm
Noise Lower Higher
Airflow More Less
Quality Depends on manufacturer Depends on manufacturer
Price Costs less Costs more

What Are the Differences Between 2 140mm vs 3 120mm?

The main difference between 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans is that 3 120mm fans provide more cooling but cost more and also create more noise. The 2 140mm combo, on the other hand, provides decent airflow without costing as much and making less noise. In case of heavy usage, the 3 120mm is better.

– Overall

Generally speaking, if you have put heavy loads on your computer, then using a 3 120mm fan combo is better for you. However, if that’s not the case and you use your PC for leisure, you can easily make do with 2 140mm fans. There are a lot of factors involved in declaring one fan size to be superior to the other, but generally, 3 120mm fans are preferred to be used.

– Noise

The noise produced by 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans is one of the foremost points that should be considered when looking for a PC cooling fan. Unlike the case of motorbike and car enthusiasts, most PC enthusiasts dislike high levels of noise emanating from their computers.

When we talk about the noise produced by the running of 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans, the size of the fans is a key factor in estimating the amount of noise the fans will produce (4 120mm vs 3 140mm are more silent and efficient too).

The number of revolutions from the silent wings of a fan increases as the fan size decreases. As a result, the 140mm fan would be substantially quieter than the 120mm fan.

The type of noise that the combination of three 120mm fans will make it easy to imagine. In this case, the amount of noise produced by 3 120mm fans will be more than that produced by 2 140mm fans. So if you’re choosing a fan type just on the basis of the noise it’ll make, the 140mm fan would be your choice (2 120mm vs 1 140mm fan).

3 120mm Fan Combo Specifications– Airflow

When we compare 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans, the latter will likely move more air via the system’s ventilator. There is a significant likelihood that the processors are producing a lot of heat if you play a ton of 4K quality games or edit videos frequently (utilizing both CPU and GPU).

Therefore, your fan arrangement should be capable of directing a lot of air into and out of the system to cool the internal components.

If you’re someone who plays a lot of video games or does a lot of video editing etc., having 3 120mm fans will allow you to void the heat better when we compare 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans.

Therefore, we can conclude that advanced users should use three 120mm fans for optimum air circulation, whereas typical users just need one or two 140mm fans. When taking into account 2 140mm intake 3 120mm exhaust, you get similar results.

– Quality

In terms of selecting the best fan, quality is definitely the most crucial factor. An arrangement of high-quality fans, whether 2 140mm vs 3 120mm, would always triumph over fans of lesser quality.

There are many top-quality brands in the market that provide both 140mm and 120mm fans manufactured with high quality, so you can choose any of these that you wish to.

– Price

The price point of your fan combination also plays a role when determining the best option out of 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fans. Due to the size difference, a 140mm fan’s price is obviously more than a 120mm fan’s price. But if you want to install more than one fan, in this instance, 3 120mm fans would cost you more than 2 140mm fans.

Regardless of size, the price is also influenced by the fan’s quality. So you’ll need to keep these factors in mind when deciding on what fan combination you want in your PC.

What Are 2 140mm Best For?

Using 2 140mm fans is best for those who are looking for good airflow with much less noise as compared to the 120mm fans. However, your case choice for your PC also plays a factor here.

2 140mm Fan Combo Characteristics– Cases

The 140mm fan size is a bit under-appreciated when compared to the 120mm fans, but to be honest, they do tend to cost a little more and aren’t as compatible as 120 mm casing fans.

If you want to create an SFF (Small Form Factor) PC, 140 mm case fans may not always work because of the popularity of Mini ITX, HTPC, and even a few Micro ATX cases. With most Micro ATX and ATX systems, a 140 mm fan placed in the same location as a 120 mm fan can produce superior results, which is one of the advantages of a bigger fan size that you can utilize.

– Air Movement

Believe it or not, this is a really common question asked by PC builders. Basically, what happens is that the 140mm fans move at a slower rate, which allows more air to be flown during the rotations. So 140mm do move more air than the 120mm cooling fans.

What Are 3 120mm Best For?

The 120mm fan size is the best for those who are looking for a powerful cooling effect for their PCs. This model fits with most popular case fan sizes available in the market, and as a bonus, it also happens to be the one that works with the most builds.

– Cases

Out of the 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fan combinations, the 3 120mm fan combination is one that is supported in even the bigger PC cases that have ample space for fans of greater sizes.

The 3 120mm fan combination is great for you if you happen to be a serious gamer or just happen to put strenuous loads on your PC. With the higher fan speeds and 3 fan combo, you can easily achieve good cooling in your PC even if you don’t use a liquid cooler.

This is one of the reasons many customers decide to purchase a 120 mm size case fan as a default option, even if their case may really handle a larger fan size. This isn’t necessarily only a matter of comfort, either, as the cost of 120 mm case fans tends to be less than that of their more specialized 140 mm or bigger equivalents.

– Noise

The smaller the fan size, the faster they rotate. Since 120mm fans are smaller in size than the 150mm fans, they move faster and make more noise compared to the 140mm ones. One-on-one, there isn’t a big difference in the noise level, but when we put 3 120mm fans in a combo, they make more noise than a 2 140mm fan combo.

2 140mm vs 3 120mm Noise Performance


To conclude the discussion of 2 140mm vs 3 120mm fan combos and which of these is better, you can rest assured that using a 3 120mm combo will be far better for you than using a 2 140mm combo. Even if you happen to be short on funds, you should try to get 3 120mm PC fans.

The reason behind that is that 2 140mm fans might work with your current setup if you don’t put a lot of load on your computer, but in case of future upgrades, you’ll need to replace the fans and fan brackets as well.

So in our opinion, it’s better to have a 3 120mm combo and not need it than to need it and not have it. Having a 3 120mm combo will allow you to pretty much be safe from overheating when you push your computer to the maximum.


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