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FRONTPAGE 15 Case Fans Tested: Ultimate 140 mm Roundup

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Overclockers.com

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 1998
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.


Click here to view the article.
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Interesting and through review. I only use my 140s for radiator usage so of little benefit to me, but glad someone took the time to go out of the box and do a proper review on the 140s!
 

t1nm4n

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2005
Location
Texas
have you ever tried pulling through a rad, or is there not much difference? A question about eh Noctua 3k rpm fans, you tested 24v version, is that model only 24v? I've only seen them listed as 12v 3k rpm fans, was curios how those would line up, or are they only 24v and retailers have them mislabeled?
 

ssjwizard

Has slightly less legible writing than Thideras
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
The 24V fans will operate at either voltage. There should be a spec sheet somewhere that shows what the different speeds are at each voltage.
 

magellan

Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2002
It would've been nice to have seen some 140mm x 38mm fans thrown into the mix. I have one 140mm x 38mm (an expensive SanAce 109P1412M101). I ended up using it as an exhaust fan, although I always wanted to use it on a heatsink.
 

t1nm4n

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2005
Location
Texas
This roundup mentions those details, as well as his review. :)

I guess I just skimmed more than I thought I did.

So the only question I have is, will (or think) you have the chance to test the NF-A12 12 3k fan and NF-A14 12v 3k fan, those would be some interesting numbers to see, especially the noise, which I'm sure at 3k is gonna be an earful.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
You guys got this right!

The data posted showed that the Noctua NF-A14 FLX was quieter and moved more air than a 140 mm Noctua iPPC PWM at 1550 RPM when used as a case fan (i.e. pulling against a filter).

I bought 2 NF-A14 FLX based on the data...and much much quieter...and cooler temps.

:thup:
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
I was looking at the 140's as case fans. I threw in the 140mm rad when I realized it was 16FPI. They made the rad for 800rpm quiet rad fans. I was mainly looking at how well these fans will pull against a dust filter. The sparse rad simulates a heatsink.

If I ever get a real 30FPI 140mm rad, you can bet I'll test those Noctuas. But pushing on a rad is much easier to test than pulling. You can permanently attach the rad to your mixing box and swap fans. This is easy. Pulling through a rad requires you to fasten the fan directly to the mixing box, then attach the rad to the fan -- think fan sandwich here. Doable, but a pain. And you probably end up with a destroyed box.

I suppose you could use the current rig but reverse the airflow -- just measure the air you pull into the box. For some reason, I'm a little leery about that. But i'll think about it if I ever get a "real" 140mm rad.

I've seen that San Ace. I've lusted after that San Ace. But the cheapest I could find it was $59 US -- a little steep for a fan I would test but never use.

If I can ever get some more 140mm case fans together -- think Corsair, Deepcool, Phanteks, Thermaltake, etc. -- I'd certainly do another roundup. Now that I have a testing system together, I'm curious.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
I have 4 of the 140 mm Prolimatech Vortex (red) setup in push/pull in my Corsair H110i GTX radiator. The radiator has a very high FPI (21 I believe), so I need 4 to get the airflow.

If Noctua had a flashy looking red fan like the Vortex, I replace these in a heartbeat with the NF-A14 FLX because they are so quiet...even though the Vortex are pretty quiet! (Nobody believed me on my "I think I'm in love" thread in this section...hehe!

I was using the Noctua iPPC-2000 PWM fans as intake case fans. I just had to get them 1550+ RPM to get enough air flowing through the case...and they are loud at that RPM.

The NF-A14 FLX are running at 1200 RPM as case intake fans...and pretty quiet...moving more air than the iPPC-2000 PWM fans at 1550 RPM.

Everybody thought I was crazy...but your data shows the same as mine!

:thup:

Thanks again...my home office no longer sounds like a server room! :D
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
If I'm reading the charts correctly, you only have the SPL listed for free air. Do you have the SPL as well for the other two setups?

I had once purchased a bunch of fans based on a number of reviews about how quiet and how much air they pushed, which they indeed live up to the reviews claims. But when placed behind or in front of any grilled opening, their noise level (profile?) at anything but it's lowest speed is just horrible. Not one reviewer ever tried it with grills, and it was a huge waste of money as I had purchased enough to replace all my case fans.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
Look carefully...he posted airflow and SPL for free air, through a rad, and through a filter.

SPL can be a misleading number, as is gives you aggregate across the entire audible spectrum. Say you have 2 fans...one with broad spectrum noise, and one with a resonant peak. Lets's also say that the fan with the resonant peaks has a lower SPL. This fan will probably be more annoying to listen to as it would have a "whining" sound.

Sound profiles in order of least to greatest annoyance for humans:

1. Pink noise
2. White noise (i.e. static)
3. Resonant noise (i.e. a whine)

Most people know 2 and 3. The closest approximation to 1 is "the noise of nature".

He did a great review. The only thing that could make it better would be to post the spectral shape of the fan noise...or at least note if there is an audible hum.


 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Yup. Noctua, for example, spends a whole lot of money working to reduce the perceived noise in their sound profile. While Noctua probably spends the most, you will also note toothlike trailing edges in Nidec Gentle Typhoons. Those are designed to shepherd their SPL into more pleasant tones.

This is all you can do. You can't fight physics.

Measuring the SPL of fans on rads, behind filters and open but on a box runs into the problem of mixing box resonance. When I measure the RPM and SPL of a fan in open air, I do it using one of three foam-lined stands that do not contribute any noise from vibration. I am not capable of precision woodwork, so all of my mixing boxes are cardboard, and not suitable for SPL measurement. Also, my methodology has changed as I have come to understand better the workings of the anemometer. Cardboard allowed me to make changes quickly.

The RPM's of the fans differ, depending on what they're mounted on. I have been recording this but not posting the data because there wasn't room on the charts. But with my editors telling me that the main chart is too dense, I'm figuring that I can now make charts which show the RPM of each state -- free air (master chart), pushing on a rad, pulling on a filter, and on the box, not formally obstructed (I'm not convinced a mixing box is not obstructing in some way). I'll do that next time. Some fans show increased RPM with resistance, some fans lower RPM. Fascinating for a fan geek.

Perhaps now I have arrived at a sort of climax design, so that making a sound box out of wood instead of cardboard would make sense. A fan would still resonate, contributing to the SPL unless there is a vibration-attenuating way to mount the fans. I'm open to suggestions on that -- because fans indeed sound different when they are behind a filter or mounted on a rad. Your thoughts will not go unnoticed.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
You did a great job.

A simple short term might be to post a audio recording for each fan. The reader can click on it and listen to determine if they like or not.

Noctua does a good job with reducing resonant peaks...so does Prolimatech. However, as you said, you can't fight physics!


 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Look carefully...he posted airflow and SPL for free air, through a rad, and through a filter.

SPL can be a misleading number, as is gives you aggregate across the entire audible spectrum. Say you have 2 fans...one with broad spectrum noise, and one with a resonant peak. Lets's also say that the fan with the resonant peaks has a lower SPL. This fan will probably be more annoying to listen to as it would have a "whining" sound.

Sound profiles in order of least to greatest annoyance for humans:

1. Pink noise
2. White noise (i.e. static)
3. Resonant noise (i.e. a whine)

Most people know 2 and 3. The closest approximation to 1 is "the noise of nature".

He did a great review. The only thing that could make it better would be to post the spectral shape of the fan noise...or at least note if there is an audible hum.

I see it now. I was reading the charts incorrectly. I've been looking to get my case as quiet as possible while still moving as much air as possible, and this will help with some possible future fans for the case, as I want to go PWM with them all. I do have some Gentle Typhoons, but I cannot find a 4-wire PWM circuit to 3 wire converter to drive them off the motherboard sensors.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
In most cases, you can plug the 3 pin fans directly in a 4 pin header...and control them with voltage.

If you are looking for quiet fans that move a lot of air, check out the fans in my dig. The Noctuas I have listed there are MUCH quieter than the Noctua iPPPC PWM are...these get noisy at 1500+ rpm


 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
dig = sig...dang auto correct!

I run all 6 of those fans full speed and they are pretty quiet.


 

Evil-Mobo

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Location
MD
In most cases, you can plug the 3 pin fans directly in a 4 pin header...and control them with voltage.

If you are looking for quiet fans that move a lot of air, check out the fans in my dig. The Noctuas I have listed there are MUCH quieter than the Noctua iPPPC PWM are...these get noisy at 1500+ rpm

These will work well on rads too correct?