Home > Home & Garden > Fans > Best Small Fan

Best Small Fan

By: Amy Livingston on April 24, 2018

In this report

Tower Fans Floor Fans Small Fans Window Fans Our Sources
Best Reviewed

Best small fan

Dyson Cool AM06

Tabletop fans are best for smaller spaces

According to our sources, the best fan in this category is the Dyson Cool AM06 (Est. $300). This is a revamped version of the controversial Dyson AM01, part of Dyson's Air Multiplier line, which first came out in 2010. The AM01's unique, futuristic design concealed the spinning motor in the base and sent air out through a ring-shaped opening. Owners loved the styling, and some were convinced that the "bladeless" design produced a noticeably smoother stream of air than a conventional fan – but professional testers were generally less impressed, saying the AM01 put out no more air, and no less noise, than a conventional fan costing one-tenth as much.

However, in 2014, Dyson redesigned its Air Multipliers to reduce their power use and noise level. Based on the reviews, it looks like the new AM06 actually does live up to the hype. In a detailed comparison test at Wirecutter, the AM06 puts out an average of 569.1 cfm of air in a makeshift wind tunnel – enough to compete with larger fans that are designed to cool a whole room. It also circulates air well, disturbing six out of eight ribbons placed around a large room. In a head-to-head test at Geek.com, the AM06 does even better, moving about 1150 cfm on its highest speed. That's close to the performance of the room-sized Vornado 630 Medium Air Circulator (Est. $65), our Best Reviewed floor fan, and it handily outperforms the cheaper Honeywell HT-900 (discussed below).

What really makes the Dyson Cool AM06 impressive, though, is how quietly it manages to move this much air. The Wirecutter test measures its noise level at only 41.4 dB on its lowest setting and 49.7 dB on high, making it the quietest fan in the test by a significant margin. Geek.com finds it somewhat louder, at 45 dB on low and 61 dB on high, but it's still much quieter than its competitors. Moreover, its power use clocks in at a paltry 20 watts on high speed – one-third the level of the Vornado, and half that of the less powerful HT-900. In terms of airflow per watt, it clearly delivers the most bang for the energy buck.

The Dyson has some other cool features, too. Its ten speed settings help it deliver the right amount of airflow for any space, and its oscillation feature helps it distribute air across a wider area. It also includes a nine-hour sleep timer and a tiny remote control that attaches magnetically to the fan housing. It's backed by a better-than-average two-year warranty.

Users are generally impressed with the Dyson Cool AM06. We found hundreds of reviews for it at Amazon, Best Buy, and Lowes, with overall ratings ranging from 4.3 to a perfect 5 stars out of 5. Owners say the fan is remarkably quiet, as well as easy to assemble and use. They also love its bladeless design, which not only looks great but is also very easy to clean. While some other issues surface on occasion, the main complaint we saw about the AM06 is that its airflow isn't on a par with some traditional fans that cost far less. However, most owners appear to think that whatever negatives the fan might have are overshadowed by its overall performance and other pluses.

However, not everyone can justify spending close to $250 for a desk fan. That's why the Wirecutter review, while praising the Dyson Cool AM06, doesn't award it the title of "Best Desk Fan." Instead, that honor goes to the Holmes HAOF87BLZ-NUC Lil' Blizzard (Est. $20), also sold as the Holmes Mini Blizzard. Reviewers Séamus Bellamy and Tyler Wells Lynch say this fan's 274 cfm of airflow is respectable for its size, and the steady breeze it produces feels "comfortable and natural," as compared to the choppy airflow from some fans in this class. They also like its oscillation feature, small footprint, and low price.

The Lil' Blizzard has some faults, however. The Wirecutter test measures its noise level at 70 decibels, which is unusually loud for such a small fan. Also, its flimsy plastic construction feels cheap. However, in close to 2,000 Amazon reviews, it doesn't have any more complaints about durability than most other fans its size, and Bellamy and Lynch say the grille is sturdy enough to keep out poking fingers. So, despite its shortcomings, they still consider it the best overall value in its size class.

The main complaint users at Amazon.com have about the Lil' Blizzard is that it's too loud. For those who want a quieter fan that's still inexpensive, user reviews point to the Honeywell HT-900 TurboForce Air Circulator Fan (Est. $15) as a good alternative. This fan, a smaller version of the Honeywell HT-908 Whole Room Air Circulator (Est. $25) that's covered in our section on the best floor fans, receives high overall ratings on every site where it's sold. Users say it delivers good airflow without a lot of noise, and they like its 90-degree tilting head, which allows them to redirect air throughout the room. There are some complaints about its durability, but no more than you'd expect for a fan in this price range.

Professional reviewers, however, are less impressed. In the test at Geek.com, the Honeywell fan is the weakest performer, putting out only 750 cfm of air on top speed. It's also nearly as loud as the more powerful Vornado fan. It uses less energy than the Vornado, but still roughly twice as much as the Dyson Cool AM06. In the Wirecutter test, the HT-900's airflow trumps the Lil' Blizzard's, but it's also bulkier, it can't oscillate, and its control knob is "annoyingly small." Worst of all, the pressure of a single finger is enough to bend the HT-900's safety grille, making this a poor choice for users with children.

Recently Updated
Fans buying guide

What every best Fans has:

  • Good cooling performance.
  • Easy-to-use controls.
  • A reasonable noise level.

Read More »

Learn More »