15 Case Fans Tested: Ultimate 140 mm Roundup

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One question which frequently turns up on forums, “What’s the best fan?”, but even that question is too broad. Let’s tighten our focus to 140 mm case fans. They can move air through your case and stay reasonably quiet while they are doing that. So let’s look at a bunch.

140mm Collection

CPU heatsinks tend to come with their own fans. Even when a manufacturer like Prolimatech sells CPU heatsinks, it sells its own fan that coincidentally produces great results on its heatsinks. Among 120 mm fans, many are built for heatsinks, some are built for radiators, some are built for cases, and some are built for newbies. And there are a zillion kinds out there. So we will not try to review 120 mm fans here. That would take forever – and all the OEM’s would have to cooperate in the endeavor.

Cases tend to come with not enough fans. Or they come with barely enough fans, but you would like more. So there is a need for case fans. Also, many cases are made for 140 mm fans these days. Although there are some rads made for 140 mm fans, there are not many. So, without further ado, let’s introduce a 140 mm collection.

Specifications

We will introduce the fans and provide their specifications in one fell swoop:

Case Fan

Blade

No.

Bearing Type

Speed

RPM

Current

Amps

SP

mmH2O

Aerocool Shark 14

15

FDB

1500

0.36

1.1

Aerocool Shark 14 @7v

15

FDB

800

0.15

0.3

Antec True Quiet 140 H

9

na

800

na

na

Antec True Quiet 140 L

9

na

500

na

na

be quiet! Silent Wings 2

9

Rifle

1000

0.09

0.8

Enermax T.B.Silence

7

Twister

750

0.15

0.8

Evercool Red Scorpion

11

Long Life

1200

0.28

0.0

fractal design

Dynamic GP-14

7

Hydraulic

1000

0.2

0.7

Lian Li

LI121425BE-B4-A

11

na

na

0.14

na

Nanoxia

Deep Cool 140 mm

9

na

1100

0.14

1.1

Nanoxia Deep Cool

140 mm @7V

9

na

800

na

Noctua NF-A14 FLX

7

SSO2

1200

0.08

1.5

Noctua NF-A14 FLX

+NA-RC10 (LNA)

7

SSO2

1050

0.08

1.2

Noctua NF-A14 FLX

+NA-RC11 (ULNA)

7

SSO2

900

0.08

0.9

Noctua NF-A14

iPPC-24V-2000 IP67

7

SSO2

2000

0.1

4.2

Noctua NF-A14

iPPC-24V-2000@12 Volts

7

SSO2

1100

n.a.

1.2

Noctua NF-A14

iPPC-24V-3000 IP67

7

SSO2

3000

0.33

10.5

Noctua NF-A14

iPPC-24V-3000@12 Volts

7

SSO2

1800

n.a.

3.0

Noctua NF-A14 PWM

7

SSO2

1500

0.13

2.1

NF-A14 PWM + NA-RC7

7

SSO2

1200

0.13

1.5

Noctua NF-A14 ULN

7

SSO2

800

0.04

0.7

NF-A14 ULN + NA-RC11

7

SSO2

650

0.04

0.4

Noctua NF-P14s redux-900

9

SSO

900

0.07

0.8

Noctua NF-P14s redux-1200

9

SSO

1200

0.08

1.3

Prolimatech Blue Vortex 14

9

Sleeve

1000

0.2

0.8

Rosewill Hyperborea

140mm (PWM)

9

HDB

1300

0.21

2.8

Thermalright X-Silent

11

Liquid

900

0.14

na

XSPC Xinruilian RDM1425S

7

Sleeve

1350

0.23

1.2

Yate Loon D14SL-12

7

Sleeve

1000

na

na

 

140 mm Case Fans

Aerocool Shark 14 (Model #: A1425H12)

First up is the Aerocool Shark 14, a 15-bladed fan with a hydro-dynamic bearing. The Shark 12 and 14 have teeth on their fins, which may do something when the fan is moving slowly but only seem to make extra noise when the fan spins rapidly. The fan comes with a Molex-to-3pin power tap, along with a resistor line that provides 7 volts to the fan. The Results chart will show performance at 12 and 7 volts. I used this particular fan on its 7 volt adapter for years as an intake fan in the 5.25” bay of my first case. I have a photo-essay of installing it here, if you are interested.

Antec True Quiet 140

Antec doesn’t seem to be featuring these on their website any more. However, you can still find them in a number of shops, since Antec did sell these at retail. Their main claim to fame is that they are cushiony and quiet. There is a little switch on a wire that sticks out from the fan. You can switch between high and low speed operation. Antec provided the fan for review.

Aerocool Shark 14

Aerocool Shark 14

Antec True Quiet 140

Antec True Quiet 140

be quiet! Silent Wings 2 (Model #: Q PUW2-14025-LS-10)

Next up is the be quiet! Silent Wings 2. This is the case fan that be quiet! use for their Silent Base cases, the 600 and the 800 (the links are to the reviews), so be quiet! indirectly provided the fans for review. Those corrugated blades are designed to enhance airflow. The cushions at the screw-holes are pretty nicely designed to reduce vibration transmitted by the fan to the case.

Enermax T.B. Silence UCTB14 (Model #: EA142512W-OAB)

This fan was advertised as having the same bat wing blade shape as the Cluster, the Everest, the Magma, and the 120mm T.B. Silence. But apparently at the slow speeds where this fan operates, the current blade shape was preferred at the time.

be quiet! Silent Wings 2

be quiet! Silent Wings 2

Enermax T.B. Silence

Enermax T.B. Silence

Evercool Red Scorpion EC-RSF-14 (Model #: EC14025L12EA)

This fan came in a blister pack and was bundled with a 140 mm to 120 mm reducer. Unlike some other OEM’s, Evercool actually makes fans.

fractal design Dynamic GP-14

These fans were pulled from the fractal design R5 that I reviewed last year. Thus they too were indirectly provided by the manufacturer. These fans did something I’d swear was impossible: they blew more air when they drew through the dust filter than they did when they were facing open air. For that reason, their results will be shown separately.

Evercool Red Scorpion

Evercool Red Scorpion

fractal design Dynamic GP-14

fractal design Dynamic GP-14

Lian Li LI (Model #: 121425BE-B4-A)

This anonymous fan is one I pulled from a case I bought for my daughter years ago. The reason we pulled it is because it shakes as it runs. It is the vibrating-est fan I have. But it lights up with pretty blue LED’s when it runs, and it does move air.

Nanoxia Deep Cool (Model #: DF14025SEDN)

The particular fans I tested were from the Nanoxia Deep Silence 5 I reviewed. But it wouldn’t have made any difference which case they came from, since Nanoxia uses the same model of fan in all their cases. They are attractive.

Lian Li 140 mm case fan

Lian Li 140 mm case fan

Nanoxia Deep Silence

Nanoxia Deep Silence

Noctua NF-A14

I have reviewed a number of Noctua fans, both as part of their heatsinks and by themselves (the most recent review is here). So all the fans tested in this review were sent directly by Noctua for review. The NF-A14 comes in a variety of speeds, both voltage-controlled and PWM. When the NF-A14 comes as an industrial PPC fan (hereafter abbreviated as iPPC), its frame is black.

There are also 24 volt versions of these fans. What stands out about this is that these fans were designed not only to run at 24 Volts, but to run at 12 volts as well.

For the NF-A14 FLX, the LNA is the NA-RC10, the ULNA is the NA-RC11.

For the NF-A14 ULN, the ULNA is the NA-RC11.

For the NF-A14 PWM, the LNA is the NA-RC7.

Although Noctua gives their airflow in metric, we will convert those specs to CFM.

Noctua NF-A14 in various forms

Noctua NF-A14 in various forms

Noctua NF-A14 iPPC

Noctua NF-A14 iPPC

Noctua NF-P14s redux

When Noctua brought out the “A” series of fans, they did not retire their older fans. Instead, they changed their colors and packaging. Noctua calls this their redux line. What makes this development doubly interesting is that they transformed the NF-P14 from a round frame to a square one. They still make round P14’s, but we will look at the square framed NF-P14’s. Again, these samples were provided by Noctua.

Prolimatech Blue Vortex

This is a sleeve bearing fan with a fixed speed that Prolimatech made for their heatsinks. Yet 1000 RPM should make this is an ideal case fan, and we will be testing it that way. Prolimatech provided one of the two fans that will be tested.

Noctua NF-P14s redux

Noctua NF-P14s redux

Prolimatech Blue Vortex

Prolimatech Blue Vortex

Rosewill Hyperborea 140mm (PWM) (Model #: ROCF-11003)

Rosewill is the house brand for Newegg. Generally, they have been a pretty good house brand. I bought the two we will be testing for a heatsink, since these are PWM fans. We will be looking at them as case fans.

Thermalright X-Silent

Thermalright is an old name among heatsink manufacturers, but this is their entry into case fans. It’s an old entry, but it continues in the market. I included this in a review I did here.

Rosewill Hyperborea

Rosewill Hyperborea

Thermalright X-Silent 140

Thermalright X-Silent 140

XSPC Xinruilian (Model #: RDM1425S)

This fan is made for XSPC for their 140 mm radiators. It was provided for review not by the OEM but by Koolertek. Although it is a sleeve bearing fan, it is a sleeve-bearing fixed-speed fan, it is sold for rads. We will be testing it as a case fan.

Yate Loon (Model #: D14SL-124B)

Yate Loon is famous for building inexpensive fans that beat out its higher-price competitors. Remember that shaky fan I pulled out of the Lian Li case years ago? We replaced it with one of these. Like that one, this fan has four cheery blue LED’s to brighten up the scene. Running five years without a glitch, it has not worn out yet, and I have barely heard it. Pretty good for a sleeve bearing fan.

XSPC 140 mm Rad Fan

XSPC 140 mm Rad Fan

Yate Loon 140 mm Low Speed

Yate Loon 140 mm Low Speed

Setup for Testing

We have at least two of a number of the fans here. We can use this fact to demonstrate that specifications cannot be exact for any human-made object. We will look at the speed of these fans in RPM and the SPL in decibels. Then we will look at their output directly. So let’s get busy.

First up, the free air RPM and SPL. This was measured at 10 cm, and extrapolated to 1 meter by subtracting 20 dBA from the result. This makes quiet fans measure louder than they really are, but the alternative is trying to measure the noise they make when that noise is less than the 30 dBA bottom limit of the Sound Level Pressure meter, which in this case was a Tenma 72-942. The RPM was measured by the motherboard’s utility.

Next, the direct output. Measurement of a fan’s output is a matter of some discussion. You can find some mighty fancy gear designed to measure a fan’s output, but little of that is devoted to measuring computer fans. So, I thought about it and I looked at the tool I had to measure airflow. It is an Extech AN100, which has a 72 mm measurement head which contains a small fan that is driven by the airflow you are measuring. It actually measures velocity, but multiplies that by the area of the duct you are measuring. While the anemometer was built to measure the wind in big ducts, it will measure airflow in small ones too. It then averages ten readings and outputs in CFM.

Each fan was first mounted on top of a 140 mm rad, which fed into the mixing box. At 16 FPI, this rad is probably a good stand-in for most heatsinks, so you can get some idea of how these case fans will do in that situation. Each fan was then mounted directly to the mixing box, and covered by a metal mesh dust filter. You all use filters, right? Finally, each fan was allowed to blow unobstructed into the mixing box, an eight-inch cube. The anemometer head was put at the exhaust end, measuring the amount of air coming out. The box was sized to allow the fan output between the hub and the rim to mix before being measured. The profile of each fan will give you an idea of how much static pressure the fan has. With the 16 FPI rad and the dust filter along with the noise that it makes, you should be able to get an idea of which fan you want to use for what purpose.

NF-P14s redux on Rad

NF-P14s redux on Rad

Blue Vortex Anemometer Setup

Blue Vortex Anemometer Setup

The results will be portrayed on a rather complex graph. You can either ignore the complexities and focus on the noise (in purple) and the unobstructed airflow (in red). But I think the other measures (through the rad, through the dust filter) may tell you things you want to know about each fan.

Results of Testing

These fans are arranged alphabetically by OEM. First we will look at them with all of their measurements on one chart. This will allow you to see the fans’ pressure profiles. Admittedly, this chart is a wee bit busy, so after this this we will break out the results, one at a time.

140mm - 7

140mm - 8a

140mm - 9a

All but fan one beat their specs. Only the Antec True Quiet had a lower SPL than specified. The Noctua fans all matched or beat their CFM specs. The Noctua fans were adjusted so that their SPL profile does not match our hearing profile. In that, I judge they were successful: they have roughly the same SPL as comparable fans with similar airflow, but my observation was that the tone of the Noctua fans are more pleasing to listen to and easier on the ears and did not sound as loud as you would expect from their SPL’s.

Arriving at the tail end of the alphabet, the last three fans were the most interesting. All three beat their CFM specs as well as being as quiet or quieter than advertised. Then there is the odd result – four Yate Loon fans averaged 57.9 CFM when pulling air through the dust filter. They averaged only 59.3 CFM when there were no obstructions. One of them measured 0.2 CFM more with the filter than unobstructed, which ratifies the result from the fractal design fans.

140mm - 10aFinally, we have those fractal design fans. When I obtained these results, I checked my equipment over very carefully. I retested. They stood: the fans drew more air when they had a filter in front of them than when they were obstructed by the filter. Maybe you can provide an explanation in the comments.

140mm - 4a

Conclusions

First of all, there ain’t no free. The faster a fan spins and the more air it moves, the louder it gets. Some fans manage to make their noise less obtrusive. Some fans just plain make more noise. Then there is the price you pay for fans.

The purpose of a collection like this is to present you with data. It doesn’t matter what the absolute value of the measurements are, although these are reasonably accurate. What matters is that these measurements were all done on the same equipment. This allows you to compare them.

There is no one fan that is the champion of all the fans. There are only fans that have various properties, fans that fit your purposes and needs.

In the end, all of these are good fans.

Ed Hume (ehume)

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Discussion
  1. ehume
    Your motherboard is using voltage control, which is fine. Just be aware that many fans click when they run at significantly below 12 volts.


    I've never noticed but good info to know. I usually buy the high speed but run them at low to med speeds, probably 7-10v. Maybe that's why mine have lasted so long. I generally only turn them to full speed when trying to max or bench for a short time.

    Blaylock my prior comments have been based on the yate loons used in the article.
    Spot on as always Ed. This thread is obviously a case fan round up so the high speed Yate's need not apply. Just an FYI for anyone interested. I did a make 7v adapter plug to calm them down for non-benching activities and it slowed them down comparably to their medium speed fans. There is no clicking present in my small sample size of 5 but naturally YMMV.
    Your motherboard is using voltage control, which is fine. Just be aware that many fans click when they run at significantly below 12 volts.
    ehume
    I was still listing fans alphabetically then. Here is my most recent review. The fans are arrayed in order of the center CFM -- through a rad or through a filter. The Yate Loons are loud at highspeed, not so loud at lowspeed. They are so cheap that I bought those four to serve as replacements for my daughter's rig. So far, the original is still going strong. If you buy Yate Loon fans, get two: one may click and they sleeve bearing fan won't last forever. In fact, at six years, my daughter's fan is getting long in the tooth for a YL fan. You would not normally expect one to last this long. I don't recommend M or H but L is 1000rpm -- about right for a case fan.

    Now, PWM fans are what you will use on rads. Too bad YL doesn't make those.


    Wouldn't most motherboards do the same thing? My Asus controls my 3 pin yate loons just fine. Not too sound too cheap but pwm seems a waste of money when using a good motherboard.
    I was still listing fans alphabetically then. Here is my most recent review. The fans are arrayed in order of the center CFM -- through a rad or through a filter. The Yate Loons are loud at highspeed, not so loud at lowspeed. They are so cheap that I bought those four to serve as replacements for my daughter's rig. So far, the original is still going strong. If you buy Yate Loon fans, get two: one may click and those sleeve bearing fans won't last forever. In fact, at six years, my daughter's fan is getting long in the tooth for a YL fan. You would not normally expect one to last this long. I don't recommend M or H but L is 1000rpm -- about right for a case fan.

    Now, PWM fans are what you will use on rads. Too bad YL doesn't make those.
    Your post piqued my interest so I had to look at the review again. He's testing the low speed. I have the high speed version for my radiators. Major difference in sound.
    The sound seems comparable in the charts though. Maybe a little higher but not enough to notice I would think, especially for the price. $4 compared to $20 for a couple levels lower seems excessive.
    Forgive me if this question seems stupid because I'm not sure I'm reading the charts right but it seems the yate loons compare pretty closely with most of the more expensive fans at a fraction of the cost. Am I reading it right? What would be the benefit of spending so much more for the other fans except for a couple cfm if so?
    xumix
    For anyone interested I've created the chart with data from the article. The lower is the dot - the better is the fan

    https://1drv.ms/x/s!AhIwJHZ40ocwoqFn_wPGlWkbgwt9RA

    Btw it would be great if articles included some kind of raw data used in them


    Post previously deleted due to reference to an unknown URL. Thank you xumix for posting the picture and clarifying your site.
    Ok, my previous post has been deleted, so, I've made a chart with the article data normalized as SPL divided on CFM.

    The lower the bar - the quiter and more performat is a fan

    And added total inverted CFM, so the lower the bar - the better
    For anyone interested I've created the chart with data from the article. The lower is the dot - the better is the fan

    https://1drv.ms/x/s!AhIwJHZ40ocwoqFn_wPGlWkbgwt9RA

    Btw it would be great if articles included some kind of raw data used in them
    Lochekey
    . . . I can always slow them down to help make them quieter.


    I wouldn't be too sure of that. More likely you'd have 18 fans you can't use. You'd be better off saving your money.

    For $5 each you can get 2500 rpm San Aces @40 dB. Much more tolerable.
    JrClocker
    WHAT????

    CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!

    DID YOU SAY SOMETHING???


    I figure it will be a good excuse for when I don't hear my wife:clap:.

    I also figured it would be fun to mount 18 of them on a radiator just for giggles. And at a cost of only $5 a piece it is a hard price point to beat. I can always slow them down to help make them quieter.