Silverstone 120mm fans

Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fans Review

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We have arrived at the second part of the Silverstone fan review (part 1 was the review of 140 mm Silverstone fans). Typically 120 mm fans are used as case fans, heatsink fans, and radiator fans. These are all PWM fans so they can be used in all three applications. Because they can be used in all three, we test them in the three kinds of situations. If it sounds like a lot of testing, it was, but now we know where these Silverstone fans fit into the 120 mm universe. So let’s get out our telescopes and start looking.

Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Introduction to Silverstone

From 2003, Silverstone has made and sold a variety of devices. They say this about themselves:

SilverStone’s OEM/ODM competitive advantages:

  • ISO 9001 certified company.

SilverStone’s competitive product lines span from PC (Personal Computer) to IPC (Industrial PC applications) fields:

  • Extensive experience in mass-production technology for aluminum, metallic alloy, and other metal-related products.
  • Comprehensive understanding of sheet metal, tooling mold, plastic injection, printing, coating, and painting methods.

SilverStone also supplies other product such as cooling devices with TEC (Thermoelectric), LCS (Liquid Cooling Systems), fan (air), and enclosures for hard drives.

Whew! Aren’t you glad we’re only reviewing Silverstone’s fans today?

Specifications of the Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Model No.

SST-FQ121

SST-FQ122

SST-FW121

Color

Blue blade, white frame

Blue blade, white frame

White blades, blue frame

Bearing

P.C.F. bearing (Powder Copper Fluid Bearing)

P.C.F. bearing (Powder Copper Fluid Bearing)

Long life sleeve

Connectors

4pin PWM

4pin PWM

4pin PWM

Rated Voltage

12V

12V DC

12V DC

Start Voltage

≤7V

5V DC

5V DC

Rated Current

0.23A (max.)

0.04 ~ 0.22A

0.02 ~ 0.09A

Rated Power

n.a.

0.48W ~ 2.64W

0.24 ~ 1.08W

Speed

1,000 ~ 1,800rpm

800 ~ 1500rpm

800 ~ 2000 rpm

Airflow

67.5CFM (max.)

37.8 ~ 63.8CFM

13.1 ~ 32.6CFM

Static Pressure

0.54 ~ 1.82mmH2O

0.41~1.5mmH2O

0.31 ~ 1.52mmH2O

Noise Level

16.4 ~ 24 dBA

14.5 ~ 24.9dBA , 15.9dBA@7V

14.7 ~ 24.6dBA

Life Time

150,000 hours

150,000 hours

40,000 hr

Dimension

120mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 25mm (D)

120mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 25mm (H)

120mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 15mm (H)

Weight

143 ± 5g

133g

109g

Extra

Includes Molex adapter

Includes speed reduction cable (@800 RPM)

This is only a sampling. We are reviewing three types of 120 mm fan. Silverstone lists 14 types of 120 mm fan.

Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans: the FQ121

Silverstone lists the FQ121 features as:

  • PWM design allows 1000~1800rpm fan speed control by motherboard
  • Optimum airflow, pressure and extremely silent performance
  • Innovative blade design focuses airflow with maximum efficiency
  • Air-inlet with optimized aerodynamic design reduces noisy air turbulence

The Silverstone FQ121 fan comes in a transparent clamshell secured by two pieces of tape. Through the case you can read all the print, including a table of specifications. They even give you the email address for customer support. How cool is that?

The FQ121 accessories include a PWM-style Molex adapter. Through this, the fan can get 12 volts directly from the PSU. Also included are four standard fans screws.

FQ121 Packaging, Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ121 Packaging

FQ121 Accessories - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ121 Accessories

Here we can see the FQ121 intake and exhaust faces side by side. The blade of the FQ121 are highly curved with trailing edge notches to change the nature of the sound which inevitably emerges from fast moving blades.

Intake and Exhaust FQ121 - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ121: Intake and Exhaust

Preliminary Results from the Silverstone FQ121

As you can see the fan speed ranges from about 1000 RPM to 1800 RPM for the Silverstone FQ121 120 mm fan:

FQ121 Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans: the FQ122

Silverstone lists the FQ122 features as:

  • PWM design allows 800~1500rpm fan speed control by motherboard
  • Optimum airflow, pressure and extremely silent performance
  • Innovative blade design focuses airflow with maximum efficiency
  • Air-inlet with optimized aerodynamic design reduces noisy air turbulence
  • Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening

The Silverstone FQ122 fan also comes in a transparent clamshell secured by two pieces of tape. You get to read all about the fan, including its specifications. Just like the other FQ fan, you get Silverstone’s support email address.

Silverstone’s FQ122 comes with a few more accessories. For one thing, you get a Speed Reducing (SR) cable. Each fan comes with a quartet of double ended fan fasteners and vibration isolators. There are also four standard fan screws. You get a PWM-style Molex adapter and at the bottom you get a four-way pad that can further dampen vibrations.

FQ122 Packaging, Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ122 Packaging

FQ122 Accessories, Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ122 Accessories

This picture leads off with the exhaust face of the FQ121. On the intake side we have the plug sticking through the fan blades, showing us it is indeed a PWM fan.

FQ122 Exhaust and Intake - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ122 Exhaust and Intake

Preliminary Results from the Silverstone FQ122

The FQ122’s speed runs from about 800 RPM to about 1550 RPM. When you attach an SR cable to the it, the speed drops to a little more than half of the 12v RPM. The fan runs about half from 400 RPM to not quite 900 RPM. It may be a slower fan, but it still responds to PWM control. Very interesting.

PWM-FQ122, Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans: the FW121

Silverstone lists the FW121 features as:

  • Slim 15mm thick design for superb compatibility with smaller case designs
  • Optimized fan blades for balanced air pressure and airflow
  • PWM enabled for silent or high performance applications

The FW121, being a recent Silverstone fan, comes in a clear plastic clamshell sealed with tape. Through the plastic you can read the features. On the back we find a table of specifications. Inside, you will find the fan and its accessories. It has four double ended vibration isolators as well as four fan screws. The Molex adapter is set up here so you can see the PWM-style socket and its two electrical leads.

FW121 Packaging, Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FW121 Packaging

FW121 Accessories - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FW121 Accessories

For this pic we have the intake and exhaust sides facing each other. You can see that these are thin fans. There is a downstream ring that holds the blades together on the impeller. The ring corresponds to a ring on the exhaust side of the frame. The struts are curved to improve airflow.

FW121 Intake and Exhaust - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FW121 Intake and Exhaust

Preliminary Results from the Silverstone FW121

The Silverstone FW121 has the widest speed range, from about 800 RPM to around 1900 RPM.

PWM-FW121 - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Testing Setup for Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fans

120 mm fans can be used in three main scenarios. First, they can be used to cool cases. Generally such fans have had fixed speeds and run at 12 volts. The Silverstone fans have been tested that way; but do remember they are PWM fans, which gives them additional flexibility. Second, 120 mm fans can be used in heatsinks. Fans used this way usually have PWM speed control, so the Silverstone 120 mm fans will be tested against a similar backdrop of other 120 mm PWM fans on a 16 fin per inch (FPI) radiator that seeks to emulate the conditions found on a heatsink. Finally, fans may be used to cool radiators. Back when PWM circuitry was more expensive, enthusiasts often used fixed speed fans and controlled their RPM’s with varying voltage coming from fan controllers. With the cost of PWM coming down, it is more likely you will use PWM fans on your radiators or AIO’s. For that reason these Silverstone fans will be tested against a field of 120 mm PWM fans on a 30 FPI radiator. This emulates nothing except a very tough rad environment.

First the fans were placed in a test stand where their free air RPM was observed. Then the fans’ noise was assessed. The standard proxy for what you can hear is the Sound Pressure Level (SPL), measured in decibels and given a type A weighting (dBA). A silent room is about 30 dBA.

The ambient noise for the current testing was 30 dBA. To measure noise levels that were softer than that, the SPL was measured 10 cm from each fan. It was adjusted to 1 meter by subtracting 20 dB. The sound pressure meter is a Tenma 72-942. It has a microphone that is not accurate under 30 dBA. That means an adjusted measurement of 10 – 15 dBA is not accurate; the fan could easily be quieter than that. But this is the limit of all but the most expensive SPL meters.

Next, the airflow was assessed using a standard measure, cubic feet per minute, or CFM. The air entered a sealed 8 x 8 x 8 box (200 mm on a side) where it was allowed to mix. It would leave the box through an exhaust port, where it was measured with the vane head of an Extech AN100 anemometer, which averaged 10 readings per fan setting. The outflow was measured with and without a dust filter. A standard metal mesh dust filter was used, as can be seen below. The picture shows a Silverstone FQ122 mounted on the testing box, the metal mesh dust filter drawn to the side, the anemometer vane head at the back of the box, and the body of the anemometer.

FQ122 as Case Fan Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Silverstone FQ122 as Case Fan

Next, we show how a 120 mm fan might push air through a 16 FPI radiator, to simulate a heatsink. The first picture shows a Silverstone FW121 mounted on a 16FPI Black Ice Nemesis 140GTS Black Carbon U-Flow Low Profile Radiator. Note the 4 adapters scrounged from a 140 mm fan with 120 mm screw-holes. The anemometer vane head is attached to the rear of the box. You can see it on the right, showing through the rad.

The second picture shows a Silverstone FQ121 mounted on a heatsink. This is where you’ll find some of these 120 mm PWM fans.

FW121 on 16 FPI Rad - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FW121 on 16 FPI Rad

FQ121 as HSF - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ121 as HSF

Finally, to test 120 mm fans for work on rads themselves, we used a 30 FPI Black Ice GT Stealth 120 XFlow. The picture shows a Silverstone FQ121 mounted on the rad. The vane head is mounted on the rear of the box.

FQ121 on 30 FPI Rad - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

FQ121 on 30 FPI Rad

Results of Testing the Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fans

First, we show the Silverstone 120 mm fans against other 120 mm fans. But they are fixed speed fans. This is really a test of how well these fans pull air through a dust filter – of prime concern when you are cooling your case. Remember that SR stands for a “Speed Reduction” cable.

Case fans, Silverstone 120mm PWM fans

Next we show the Silverstone 120 mm fans, among other PWM fans, as if they are blowing air through a heatsink. You might also refer to this as air-cooling the CPU.

HSF - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Finally we look at the Silverstone 120 mm fans among other PWM fans doing work on a radiator. This is rad work, water-cooling your CPU.

Rad - Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Conclusions on the Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fans

The Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans show a variety of design types. Correspondingly, there will be situations where they fit best. In all settings, though, PWM is a remarkable addition to these Silverstone 120 mm fans, allowing for a flexibility you might find scarce elsewhere.

The Silverstone 120 mm PWM FQ121 seems to be really good as a case fan. It blows more air more quietly than comparable fans. The FQ122 SR is also pretty good in this setting. If you need a quiet fan, this might be what you want, especially if you can set it with PWM. The fan will go quite quiet on idle. You can’t hear a 400 RPM fan.

The Silverstone FQ122 seems to come into its own as a heatsink fan. While putting out a moderate amount of air, it refrains from making much noise while doing it.

When it comes to radiators, the Silverstone FQ121 and FQ122 are about average when compared with their peers on the numbers. Heard directly, they are a bit quieter than you might expect. But really, these fans are better used for heatsink and case fan settings.

Thin fans are hard to find. Slim fans with good performance without serious loudness are harder to find. In the FW121 Silverstone seems to have made a fan that does both.

Availability of Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

The FQ121 is available at Amazon for about $20.

The FQ122 is available at Newegg for $23. The FQ122 is available at Amazon for $23.

The FW121 is available at Amazon for $9-10, depending on color.

Silverstone 120 mm PWM fans

Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fan Pros

  • All are PWM
  • The fans are relatively quiet
  • The FQ122 comes with a variety of accessories
  • The FW122 is 15mm thick

Silverstone 120 mm PWM Fan Cons

  • The FQ121 and FQ122 are a bit pricey

Ed Hume (ehume)

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