It’s no secret that computers and electronics tend to heat-up over time, especially when placed in environments that aren’t always ideal. Often times, placing a router, modem, printer, computer, AV receiver, game console or any other device within a cabinet or closed space can create a massive amount of stale, warm air with little to no air flow. As you may already know, stagnant air tends to warm up quickly over time and can create a more difficult environment that’s counteractive for any scenario.
If you’ve had enough with the heat and are trying to promote air-flow and cooler temperatures, it may be a wise decision to invest in an external USB-powered cooling fan. Rather than having to manually wire it and configure it on your own, they’re designed to simply plug into any available USB port for seamless operation. Because of this, they’re easy to install, easy to maintain and can run 24 hours a day without any mishaps.
There is however, one slight problem. How do you know which external USB-powered cooling fan is the best? We’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries lately from our readers, asking that very question. Today we’re going to go over a few excellent, high-quality options that won’t let you down. We’re selecting the “best of the best” in terms of airflow, quietness, functionality and overall performance.
Thermaltake Mobile Fan
Available in both 12 centimeter (120mm) and 8 centimeter (80mm) diameter sizes, the Thermaltake Mobile Fan is known as a convenient cooling solution for the mobile users. However, with a USB-powered connection, it can be used for virtually any application where a USB port is available. Producing a decibel from from 19 to 33.5 decibels, it’s incredibly quiet too.
One thing that we really love is the one-touch retractable USB power cable box that it comes included with. It’s a small addition that automatically coils up and contains the extended USB cable when it’s not in use, and also extends to the proper, ideal length every time you put it to use. This design keeps the cable flat, organized and tangle-free so that you can always quickly pull it out and use it without having to deal with a messy situation.
By taking one look at the Thermaltake Mobile Fan, you’ll notice that it has a minimalist, barebones design that looks like it was meant to be placed internally. However, there’s a small wire stand located on the bottom that makes it easy to tilt and maneuver it into an ideal position to direct airflow exactly where you need it the most. This design keeps it lightweight, functional and also surprisingly sturdy.
The functionality with the air movement is all there. The 8 centimeter version runs at 1500 to 2500 RPM and is capable of providing a maximum airflow or 32.4 CFM. The 12 centimeter version runs at 800 to 1500 RPM but it moves roughly twice as much air at 66.55 CFM.
Sold in either white, black or black/orange color schemes, there seems to be a few different styles for different tastes. Best of all, it’s backed by an impressive 2 year warranty period to assure long lasting quality that won’t disappoint as time goes on when put it to regular use. Although rated for 30,000 hours of use, which translates to 1250 days or well over 3 years, it’s nice to see that there’s a solid guarantee in place in case anything happens.
AC Infinity Multifan S3
Another great option that’s worth considering is the AC Infinity Multifan S3. Available in a variety of sizes, we’re going to go over the 12 centimeter (120mm) version since it’s the most commonly used size. Although it doesn’t have an adjustable stand like the Thermaltake Mobile Fan, it features a variety of silicone rubber feet on each corner so it can be placed flat and simultaneously avoid friction and vibrations that can cause unwanted grey noise and fit within tight spaces. With a maximum of 23 decibels, it’s naturally incredible quiet too.
Capable of producing up to 52 CFM of airflow on it’s highest setting, it does an excellent job keeping things cool. With the integrated multi-speed controller, you can select the proper airflow speed to control airflow and noise for the exact scenario at-hand. Additionally, it lets you power it off without the need to unplug it from the USB port. This lets you keep it physically connected so you don’t need to manually plug it in each time you want it to turn on.
One of our favorite features of the AC Infinity Multifan S3 is it’s ability to “piggy back” with additional Multifan S Fans so they’re all sharing the same USB port and daisy chaining off one another. This’ll automatically free-up other USB ports and make it so you can achieve a hefty amount of airflow through a single available USB port. It’s qite handy for those who need easy cooling but don’t want to tie up their connections or “hog up” space where other peripherals can plug into. Up to four fans can share the same USB source or up to six can share with an additional thermal controller that’s sold separately.
Although it’s not warrantied like some, the AC Infinity Multifan S3 boasts a dual-ball bearing design that gives it a rated lifespan of roughly 67,000 hours, or just over 7 and a half years of continuous use. It’s built with an incredible amount of quality, although it’s only solid in a single style – plain black. That’s OK in our opinion since black goes universally well with just about anything.
Coolerguys 120mm USB Fan
As one of the quietest and complete options available, the Coolerguys 120mm USB Fan comes as a total kit for installing and mounting it within a cabinet or enclosed space. Producing only 19.7 decibels and generating 44 CFM of movement, it’s not the absolute best in terms of airflow, but in terms of airflow related to noise, it may be the best.
Included with an acrylic bracket, metal bracket, mounting screws, zip ties, grill and every necessary component, it’s an ideal option for those needing a custom-like fit in a variety of environments. The instructions clearly go over certain recommendations as far as installation goes, but the entire mounting process is geared towards the handy enthusiast who wants to attach it within a cabinet, box, or other enclosed space.
One drawback is that the USB cord is only 16 inches long. While some may be totally content with this, others may find it to be a limitation since it’s quite short. It totally depends on your specific situation including how big of area you’re working with, the location of it, etc. We must say though that it’s nice to see a complete kit sold as one that allows you to configure and mount to your own liking.
Upgrading your home theater system, gaming cabinet, computer, router, or other electronic devices with an external, USB powered cooling fan is a quick and easy way to promote proper airflow where it’s needed most. They offer an inexpensive and simple upgrade that assures increased longevity and imporved performance for a variety of situations.
Although they’re not all created equally, we’ve gone over a few of the best, stand-out options that make great investments. Overall, we believe that each one does a great job providing ample airflow, easy use operation and plenty of quality to go around. They’re quiet, built to last and ready for countless hours of constant operation without any malfunction.