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Corsair QL120 RGB Fan Kit Review: The Premiere RGB Fans

By Christopher Coke on November 14, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Corsair QL120 RGB Fan Kit Review: The Premiere RGB Fans

Love it or hate it, RGB is here to stay. Today, we’re looking at what is easily the most impressive RGB fan on the market with the Corsair QL120. Available in 120mm and 140mm variants, these fans build on the company’s popular Light Loop design with RGB LEDs on both the inner and outer ring to deliver outstanding lighting effects. The QLs take things a step further by adding LEDs to the rear, making them gorgeous from any angle. Should you buy a set for your PC? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications

  • Current Price:
    • QL120 RGB: Single: $44.99, Triple Kit: $139.99
    • QL140 RGB: Single: $49.99, Dual Kit: $119.99

As a PC builder, there is really no beating Corsair’s fan selection when you’re looking for customizable RGB. It’s remote free, so you’re not limited to simple presets or colors, and the software is rich. With iCUE, you can program in intricate effects that sync across all of your fans, RGB strips, and Corsair peripherals. In short, Corsair has one of the most in-depth RGB systems on the market today and their fans are one of the most important parts of that ecosystem.

Until now, Corsair’s LL120/140 fans were my go-to choice for RGB lighting. By breaking up each fans 16 LEDs between the outer and inner rings and pairing it with translucent fan blades, the fan blades were able to completely illuminate and flow in a way other fans just didn’t. Colors could bounce and run between both rings and trade off to each fan in sequence to create truly dazzling and vibrant effects. In truth, they just about replaced RGB strips for me. Just as importantly, however, making them look fantastic was easy thanks to an extremely generous and creative amount of preset lighting effects. It didn’t take long for other companies to copy this design but, having used some of those alternatives and seen more, Corsair’s Light Loop fans were easily the best around.

The only downside is that they really only looked their best from the front where the LEDs were mounted. Viewed from the back, the lighting was diminished. It didn’t look back but it didn’t look as good either.

Enter the QL120 RGB fans - Light Loops on steroids. The QLs are the next generation of Corsair’s Light Loop design but vastly improved with more than double the number of LEDs, now providing even illumination from the front and the back, each independently programmable from the other. They’re marketing these with the tagline “spectacular lighting from any angle” and this is unequivocally true. These are hands-down, unquestionably, inarguably the best RGB fans money can buy. The competition came in with their own inner/outer LED fans and Corsair said hold my beer. That is where we’re at here.

Also, they now have an aluminum tag on both sides of the inner ring, which looks very slick and quite premium.

That extra lighting does come with some extra considerations, however. Namely, running that many LEDs pushes their lighting controller, the Lighting Node CORE (included in the multi-kits or available separately) to the limit. As a result, each CORE is only able to run a total of six QL fans. That’s 216 addressable LEDs, which makes sense when you consider the power draw and computational requirements.

Like the original Light Loop fans, having the best in RGB illumination comes at a steep price but the increase from the original is fairly modest. The 120mm variant is $5 more for a single fan and $10 more for a triple pack, coming in at $44.99 and $129.99 respectively. The 140mm variant is a bit more at $10 extra each, or $49.99, and $20 more for a dual pack at $119. Given the additional LEDs and the possibilities this adds to your lighting setup, the increase isn’t that drastic but these are clearly very expensive fans.

Interesting, this version also loses some cooling potential.

  • LL120: 600 - 1500 RPM, 43.25 CFM
  • QL120: 525 - 1599 RPM, 41.8 CFM
  • LL140:  600 - 1300 RPM, 51.5 CFM
  • QL140: 550 - 1250 RPM, 50.2 CFM

Along with that, they’re slightly louder by about 1dB each. Practically speaking, neither of these makes a noticeable difference to their thermal performance, but I would have loved to see some improvement here. With the price increase, having a performance decrease, however slight, definitely raises an eyebrow.

Final Thoughts

Slight noise and CFM differences aside, if you’re considering these fans and are willing to pay extra for them, it’s going to be for their incredible look. Put simply, these are the best of the best for RGB fans right now. They’re easy to program and can make your setup look stunning within only the barest amount of time in iCUE. Because of their incredible customization potential, these fans will allow your PC to change and evolve with you for years to come.

Pros

  • It’s true, they really do look spectacular from any angle
  • Bright - they wash your case in light better than ever before
  • Still fairly quiet, especially running on low
  • Supremely customizable - my current case mimics a lightning storm

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Slightly decreased airflow and increased noise (though neither is noticeable)

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight