Corsair AF120 Elite: Beware, this fan is a force to be reckoned with

Corsair AF120 Elite in detail

You know, the less you expect from something, the bigger the surprise can be in the end. Not that we approach Corsair’s elite fan with any preconceived notions, but for an absolutely top-notch fan, its design seems a bit simple. And that’s the magic of the AF120 Elite fan. Someone who knows what they’re doing was behind its design, because they did a hell of a job.

Like everyone, Corsair is ditching traditional rotors and going the route of more blades with a more pronounced curvature with the the latest AF120 Elite fans. This is for greater concentration of air currents in the desired (more straightforward) direction. This design also brings with it some pitfalls and manufacturers have to tackle in particular with the blades not being too flexible.

At these proportions with less width and more length, they often are and there are often a number of negative side-effects. From lower static pressure, to the generation of resonant frequencies, to the transmission of vibrations to the frame that contribute to secondary noise (e.g. by vibrating the case). However, Corsair is well aware of how important compressive strength and low thermal expansivity of the material used is for this type of rotor. The rotor is made of an unspecified material, which, however, is characterised by its very high strength. Its elasticity is low even when force is applied to the blade tip, where the elasticity is naturally greatest. It may not be quite as good as the “sterrox” LCP from Noctua, but the difference in strength is relatively small.

The bigger difference (compared to sterrox) is in the durability of the material, which Corsair has significantly lower. AF120 Elite blades break at a relatively small bend. In practice, of course, it doesn’t matter that much, because there are no forces that would damage the fan in any way. That is, unless an unattached cable or some other object gets caught between the blades. This is something to watch out for.

The blades have a relatively large surface area. The motor housing is slightly smaller than most competing fans with similar rotor types, and the perpendicular gaps between the blades are also relatively smaller. They are not as tight as in theBeQuiet! Silent (Pro) Wings 4, but here the leading edges are almost in the axis of the trailing edge of the previous blade as well. The surface of the blades is simple, without cut-outs, protrusions or any articulation. But it is at least lightly roughened by “sandblasting”, so the air streams don’t tend to slide down the length of the blades as they do on mirror-smooth surfaces, which is good.


The frame has the same, slightly grained surface. The rubber pads at the corners are particularly striking. They are narrower than usual (but that’s fine and enough), but most importantly they are soft (around 35 Shore) and with 4 mm they are also quite thick and ultimately effective. At airflow as high as the AF120 Elite’s, we have measured zero vibration only with a single other fan, the Akasa OTTO SC12. But this one focuses on anti-vibration in a relatively sophisticated way, and damping vibrations from the moving parts of the fan is one of its key strengths.

The design of the stator struts is also quite unusual. Unlike the vast majority of competing fans, they are turned to the rotor with the narrow edge. This means that they put significantly less resistance to the air and thus both reduce the airflow less and increase the noise less. In addition, these stator struts are shaped in such a way that they change the airflow trajectory in order to achieve the highest possible air pressure.

In other words, the streamlines are twisted so that, especially at the cooler heatsinks, they do not leak inefficiently down the sides. Although in this case this should already be addressed at the level of the shape of the rotor itself. The Noctua NF-F12 PWM, for example, has a similar set of stator struts, where they make more sense with respect to a rotor with a significantly wider sweep than the AF120 Elite.


The fan has up to nine of these stator struts, which is more than usual (four). But this is also important because they reliably hold the motor and rotor. The surface area of the struts connecting the individual parts is relatively small and the material used is, as mentioned above, more prone to breakage in the event of impacts.

* When reading performance values, a certain amount of tolerance must always be taken into account. For maximum speeds, ±10 % is usually quoted, minimum speeds can vary considerably more from piece to piece, sometimes manufacturers will overlap by as much as ±50 %. This must then also be adequately taken into account for air flow, static pressure and noise levels. If only one value is given in a table entry, this means that it always refers to the situation at maximum speed, which is achieved at 12 V or 100 % PWM intensity. The manufacturer does not disclose the lower limit of the performance specifications in its materials in that case. The price in the last column is always approximate.

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Comments (3) Add comment

  1. Hi, After your test I decide to buy it to replace the fan on an ArcticCooling Liquid Freezer 280 mm (so I take the AF140 Elite). The aio will be on the right side of a Lian O11 Dynamic mini and in this order from the right to the left : box panel, radiator, fan in aspiration. And I’ll will mesure if a push pull is possible to it too.

    TPu make the review thr same fan, but their conclusion is not good as yours on radiator. What did you think about teir test ?

    Thanks for your help

    1. Thank you for your comment, very good decision. As far as cooling performance is concerned you will not get significantly better results, but you will definitely avoid resonant frequencies and secondary noise from higher vibration of Arctic fans. The torque undulation is considerably smaller in the Corsair AF1x0 rotors due to the choice of a stronger material.

      Please don’t take offense, but I won’t comment on the TPU tests (just, let’s say we have some reservations about their procedures…). You know our conclusions.

      1. Hi,

        Thank you for your reply. I’m conforted in my choice. No soucy for TPU.
        As always, felicitation for your amazing work.

        Have a great day 😉

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