Your desktop fan can be a constant workday companion, or provide you with white noise and a comfortable breeze as you fall asleep. But whether you want a desk fan for your home or your office, finding the perfect one can be tough.
We brought a range of top fans into our labs for testing, and found that the Vornado Pivot Personal Air Circulator(available at Amazon for $19.99) is the best overall desk fan, offering the perfect mixture of wind speed, quiet operation, variable settings, and aesthetics. While it is our favorite overall, there are a lot of great picks on this list you may like even better.
These are the best desk fans we tested ranked, in order:
Vornado Pivot Personal Air Circulator
Iris USA Woozoo SC15 Globe Fan
TTKTK Desk Fan
EasyAcc Desk Fan
Lasko Platinum Desktop Wind Tower Fan
Holmes Mini High Velocity Fan
Honeywell QuietSet Mini Tower Table Fan
Vornado Pivot Personal Air Circulator
Dimensions: 5.1”D x 5.8”W x 6”H Speeds: 3
It should come as no surprise that Vornado’s small desk fan blows away its competition, since the company also topped our review of full-size fans.
This time around, the Pivot Personal Air Circulator manages to check all the boxes of what makes a personal fan great. This fan is powerful—its top setting creates the strongest breeze of the bunch, and when you need to keep noise to a minimum, its two lower settings are each appropriate for an open-office environment.
At around $20, the Pivot offers a lot of power for its price. The Pivot also comes with Vornado’s five-year warranty—a process that online reviewers claim is straightforward and easy to complete.
The Iris USA Woozoo SC15 globe fan isn’t the quietest fan on this list, but it does offer a great range of functionality. In addition to its five different speed settings, timed mode, and oscillation, it also has a breeze mode, which attempts to mimic a natural pattern of wind by smoothly cycling through different speed settings. Whether this mode is serenely calming or distracting is up to the user, but we like its inclusion as an option regardless.
Unlike many other desk fans, this one comes with a remote control. The remote has a nice layout with clear labeling and responsive buttons for all of the fan’s functions.
This is a less portable fan than the battery-operated options on this list, as it requires a power outlet. Still, its small footprint and high power make it an excellent addition to any desk.
This one surprised us. Looking at its wood-patterned plastic exterior, a mix of cheap and decent-looking components, and a dial with six positions yet only three different speeds, we thought this would be a dud.
Despite all this, the TTKTK Desk Fan surprised us with its impressive wind speed. Its impressive throughput does create a lot of noise, but its lower speeds offer a better breeze-to-noise ratio for office settings. We also like its vertical adjustability, which allows you to angle it appropriately wherever you set it.
Dimensions: 5.6”D x 8”W x 1.7”H (foldable) Speeds: Controlled by dimmer switch
We were surprised at the wind speed we measured from this incredibly lightweight, USB-powered fan. At its highest speed, it competed with our top performers, while its lowest settings provided decent wind without much noise.
Aside from its flat form factor and battery-powered portability, the EasyAcc Desk Fan is notable for being the most customizable—its dial operates like a dimmer switch, allowing you to finely adjust its speed.
Like other USB-powered options on this list, the EasyAcc needs a separate adaptor if you want to plug it into the wall.
The Lasko Platinum is a small tower fan with an interesting design, full of curves and asymmetry. You can twist the top and bottom halves independently to help share the breeze with a friend, and it can oscillate to cover an even wider area.
It has fewer settings than some other fans on this list, but it covers its bases well enough, providing everything from a decently high wind speed to a moderate, quiet breeze. Still, this fan is on the louder side on most settings—it definitely favors power over quiet operation.
This tiny fan doesn’t offer much more than an on/off switch, an adjustable tilt head, and 10 mph winds. We like its design, which looks like a miniature version of an industrial floor fan. It's also quite small—it’s impressive how much wind you get out of its relatively quiet, 4-inch fan blade.
The one downside is that it creates some minor vibrations, possibly enough to rattle a coffee mug full of pens. Otherwise, this is a small, simple, inexpensive desk fan that will likely meet most people’s needs.
Right out of the box, we were confused about this fan. It features a tower design with a single, small fan centered vertically inside. There’s quite a lot of space between the controls, the fan, and the top, leaving us wondering why it’s so tall.
This fan didn’t put up a particularly impressive performance. It seems to be aimed at consumers who want a quiet desk fan with plenty of options, but neither its wind speed nor its quietness impressed us. It does have some features we don’t see on all other models, like a timer mode, but they don’t make up for its lack of performance. There are better fans.
Hello! I'm Mark Brezinski, and I've been testing and reviewing consumer tech for over a decade. At Reviewed, I’ve developed testing for dozens of different categories, from smart phones to headphones and more.
To test fans, we set up a closed-off testing area to isolate our measurements from any external airflow. Once the fan was up to speed, we took measurements at seven different points in the room: three directly in front of the fan, and four to the sides.
We measured average wind speed at each of these points during a 30-second window and calculated the volume of air being moved, measuring air flow in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. We performed the same tests again with oscillation on (if applicable), and recorded the average air movement at each measurement point for five full oscillation cycles. On average, we recorded desk fan wind speeds between 3 and 21 mph.
While a fan’s ability to move air is its primary function, we also tested other aspects of the fans’ performances as well. We measured how much energy the fan required to run at full capacity, both with and without oscillation. We also utilized our headphone testing lab to isolate exactly how much noise the fan makes at each of its speeds, and we also tested how easy and intuitive each fan’s controls felt to use.
What You Should Know Before Buying A Desk Fan
How Do You Clean A Desk Fan?
While desk fans can have all kinds of different designs, you can clean most of them in the same way. Start by unplugging it, then remove the grating covering the blades. From there you can use a vacuum to get rid of the majority of dust clinging to the blades, then use a damp paper towel to clean up the rest.
Do You Need A Fan With Oscillation?
In short, no. Oscillation is where the fan swivels from side to side on its base to help spread a breeze around. If you’re trying to disperse smoke or provide air coverage for a wide area, oscillation might make sense for a full-size fan.
On the other hand, desk fans’ small size mean that they rarely have the power necessary for oscillation to be particularly meaningful. Our measurements showed almost all wind movement had dispersed after a few feet. You lose a lot more than you gain by oscillation.
While oscillation did allow some desk fans to distribute airflow across a wider area, the amount of cooling breeze felt by a single, stationary person will be greatly reduced. Almost across the board, we recorded speeds of less than 2 mph at our closest side measurement points (spots D and F in the diagram). At the two points flanking the 6-foot mark (spots E and G in the diagram), the breeze was barely perceptible and didn't even register on our anemometer.
Desk fans use even less—about 1% of the energy of a full-size fan. We find this is true across the board, so energy efficiency isn’t a meaningful differentiator between the fans we tested.
When Should You Use An Air Conditioner Instead Of A Fan?
Given how energy-efficient fans are, in almost every instance you should use one instead of a traditional air conditioner. The only exception to that rule is when temperatures are above 90°F, because at that point or hotter they actually worsen the effects of heat stress.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.