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Corsair LL120/LL140 RGB Fans: Enter the Light Loop

By Christopher Coke on April 28, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Corsair LL120/LL140 RGB Fans: Enter the Light Loop

It’s all about the bling. Okay, PC building isn’t all about looks, but if the rise of tempered glass and RGB have shown us anything, it’s that looks matter.  These innovations have also made it easier than ever to build a great looking system, so that’s exactly what we set out to do when we built our editing rig. Today, we’re looking at the latest round of Corsair RGB fans with the LL120 and LL140 kits. Are they worth up to $39.99 a piece? It’s time we find out.

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Specifications

  • MSRP: $34.99 - $39.99 (also available in multi-packs)
  • Size: 120mm x 25mm, 140mm x 25mm
  • Airflow: 43.25 CFM
  • Speed: 600 - 1500 RPM
  • Sound Level: 24.8 dBA
  • Static Pressure: 1.61 mmH2O
  • Bearing Type: Hydraulic
  • PWM Control: Yes
  • LED Color: RGB
  • Operating Voltage: 7V - 13.2V
  • Power Draw: 0.3 A
  • Corsair Link Compatibility: Yes
  • Fan Warranty: Two years

For the purposes of this review, Corsair sent us the three-fan LL120 set pictured above. To complete our setup, we purchased a second two-fan 140mm set, as well as a standalone 140mm to outfit all of our visible fan mounts. On their own, these fans cost $34.99 or $39.99 depending on the size - 120mm or 140mm - or in kits of two and three for $99 and $199, including the Lighting Node Pro and LED hub to sync them together.

The big selling point of these fans is the intricate lighting effects they can display. A loop of twelve LEDs line the outer ring with four more along the inner ring.  Corsair has also used a frosted white plastic throughout the fan, essentially making it one big diffuser for the lighting effects. It looks fantastic. Have a look at Corsair’s demo video here:

While it’s possible to run individual fans into the motherboard and to use addressable headers, frankly, you’d be wasting your money. These are expensive, high performance fans designed to link together to create stunning visuals on a showcase gaming PC. Trying to save money by purchasing fans individually won’t work out either as the Lighting Node Pro and LED hub are required to sync your effects together. Right now, you can’t purchase one outside of a kit, so you’re looking at a minimum $59.99 to pick them up if you don’t purchase at least one LL fan kit.

This is the fan hub. It’s capable of syncing up to six fans and is powered through a SATA connection. Lighting effects will play out in the order fans are plugged in, so it needs to be positioned so that each fan can comfortably be plugged into this and your standard fan header. I mounted the fans in a Fractal Define R6, which includes a 9-fan hub, and the wiring on each fan is reasonably long, so this shouldn’t be much of an issue for all but very large cases.

And here is the Lighting Node Pro. This device can support two LED hubs for a total of twelve fans and requires both a SATA connection, as well as a USB connection (direct to motherboard). This allows Corsair’s Link or iCUE software to control each of the fans.

If that seems like a lot, well, it is. Lacing together all of the connections made me grateful the case was easy to cable manage in, but it still required a handful of extra cable ties.

Once it’s all connected, though, the light show begins all on its own, looping a rainbow through each of the connected fans. I started off with three:

This is perfect for smaller cases but was clearly not enough for an RGB lover like me, so I went on Newegg and ordered another three LL140s that very night. The goal? Two big 140mm fans on the front, three 120mms exhausting from the top, and another 140mm blowing out the rear (plus a non-RGB 140mm intake tucked out of sight below the PSU shroud. The end result, without any tweaking in the software looked something like this:

It’s enough to make a man wish he’d gone with an AIO and seriously consider switching over now. The lighting looks great and will be even better once I get that honkin’ but amazin’ Noctua out of there - or swap in a couple more RGB fans! All of that comes at a cost, however. To buy that set of fans at retail will set you back $259. If the looks didn’t make it clear enough, the price sure does: showcase fans for a showcase PC.

They’re no slouch when it comes to performance either. These fans are fairly quiet, even when blowing their hardest. I last used a set of four Corsair SP120 fans, paired a two 140mms from Nanoxia. Their total CFM, or airflow, is higher but became loud to achieve it even in a Nanoxia Deep Silence case that’s very similar to the Fractal I’m using now. These fans rarely blow above 1250RPM and keep my system an average of 4-6 degrees cooler. There are other factors at play (I also upgraded to an 8700K over the 7700K), but I’m still very pleased at their quiet effectiveness.

At the moment, Corsair’s has two software packages you can use to control your fans and the lighting effects being displayed: Corsair Link and iCUE. CUE, you might recall, is the suite used to power Corsair’s line of peripherals and iCUE is the next generation, intended to bring all of their products under one programmable roof. For my testing, I went exclusively with iCUE, wanting to experience the “wave of the future,” as it were, and encountered no issues whatsoever.

Inside the software, you’re free to control the lighting. You can control each fan independently, even assigning colors to each of the 16 LEDs, if your choose. This could be tedious but really isn’t bad as Corsair wisely lets you drag or ctrl select multiple lights at a time. You can also assign many presets and simply tweak their colors and timings.

You’ll find your rainbow waves and breathes, of course, but also a number of really neat options you can get creative with. How about monitoring your system temperature with color shifts? Easily done. The Arc effect sends loops of color in alternating directions on each fan (very neat when seen first hand). Sequential fills each loop up one LED at a time before handing off to the next fan in the chain to do the same. Visor looks a little bit like something from Tron, which you’ll be familiar with if you have a Corsair keyboard. TechPowerUp has a great set of videos showing a number of them here, but by far, I like the rainbow wave the best. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not a big fan of using rainbow lights on my keyboard, but it just looks great here.

Final Thoughts

Corsair’s Light Loop fans aren’t for everybody. They’re about the very definition of a luxury item when it comes to PC building, but if you have the cash, they’ll make your system look great. I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet they were and how much air they were able to move, keeping my system substantially cooler than my last set of Corsair SP120s and Nanoxias. If you have a showpiece PC and want the most from your lighting customization, these fans are an excellent way to go.

Pros

  • 16 addressable RGB LEDs
  • Look fantastic
  • Kits include LED HUB and Lighting Node Pro
  • Run quiet and move a lot of air

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other case fans
  • Buying a kit is pretty much required

The product discussed in this article was provided by Corsair for the purposes of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.