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Fan reviews are ****!

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Uber Folding Senior
Jul 17, 2003
I have a 140mm fan that doesn't like to spin. It will if you make it but... it's wore out. So off to find reviews of silent fans that move a lot of cfm.
Most reviews have titles like top 5 fans. Top 7 fans. etc.
These reviews will state that they are loud or quiet but have no data.
These reviews will state that they move a little or a lot of air but no data.
They will talk about price, led colors, fan colors and other non-sense but little by way of data.
...and lets talk about the top x number of fans. It only rates at the top for me if it meets the criteria that I'm looking for. Maybe noise is no issue? I just want raw power maybe. Maybe I need silence more than anything and cfm is secondary. A delta fan may be fine if it lives in another state but if it's in my office or livingroom... no thank you.

I did find a nice chart with data but it is unfortunately out of date. 2016 but it also doesn't make claims to the top x number of fans. A nice round-up which is AWESOME.

Finding something like this today is difficult and a niche that seems to have been vacated.
It takes equipment to test the sound level and air pressure. I get it. So reviewers who do not have this equipment are only giving opinions on what they can sense which is not very helpful. Frustrating.

I want graphs. I want charts. I want raw data to help me pick a fan that fits my environment. None of this... "It comes in a three pack so buy it now" crap that I'm seeing. That tells me nothing. /rant
A delta fan may be fine if it lives in another state but if it's in my office or livingroom... no thank you.
As the owner (not currently a user) of a couple Delta 120mm fans that comment gave me a good laugh.

I agree it is hard to find fan tests rather than subjective opinions.
I don't give a hang if it's loud
I used to think like that after using 120x38s for many years. I moved on to iPPC 3K from Noctua.. those are some loud fans, but they move a ton of air if you let them spin. I have 3x 140s and a 120.

Right now I am using the 2 stock Fractal fans that came with my case, and the rest are Thermalright fans. Ahhh.. much quieter, still performs well to. That's just me getting old :)
I did find a nice chart with data but it is unfortunately out of date. 2016 but it also doesn't make claims to the top x number of fans. A nice round-up which is AWESOME.
Unfortunately, ehume stopped reviewing. We've yet to be able to set up a resource to write up via a similar set of tests, that is financially feasible. We still have this in the back of our minds though, to hopefully get back to this one day.

With that said, personally, it's hard to beat Noctua iPPC PWM 2000RPM fans.
For price to performance I've always found Arctic fans to be great. You can use P fans if you want static pressure (for a rad or restrictive case). Otherwise you'll find knockoffs or spinoffs of the fabled Nidec Gentle Typhoon from almost every manufacturer. If you want quiet chose Noctua or Be Quiet, if you want RGB, Corsair will perform well but you have to use their controller and software, Lian Li has some super fancy RGB fans that connect to each other with pins and only require you to run one wire per bank of fans. Other companies like Phanteks are doing the same.

I wish we had good objective reviews, and I'm hoping gamers nexus or linus tech tips will get into this (both have discussed it, not that I think the video format is the best but these guys seem to have the resources, and sponsorship, and at least GN writes up a lot of their more significant work). I'm sure it would shed some light on some things, but I'm also guessing a lot of fans would perform pretty close the same. If you notice almost everyone's static pressure/radiator fans look similar to the gentle typhoon. They are either improving on or copying the design.

TLDR: Good value: Arctic; Performance over cost and appearance: Noctua; if you value appearance and RGB, pick what looks best from a well known manufacturer. Most importantly is to make sure you purchase a fan designed for your intended application. A static pressure fan will probably perform acceptably as a case fan (especially if your case is a bit restrictive), but an airflow (low static pressure) fan will falter on a heatsink or radiator. If you value silence, make sure the fan has PWM and you can control it.
Unfortunately, ehume stopped reviewing. We've yet to be able to set up a resource to write up via a similar set of tests, that is financially feasible. We still have this in the back of our minds though, to hopefully get back to this one day.

With that said, personally, it's hard to beat Noctua iPPC PWM 2000RPM fans.

It's a niche that could be exploited. I mean, it looks like a cash grab by most reviewers as they say, "Here are the top 5 and you can buy them through my affiliate links." No data, no empirical reason why one is "good" or "bad" just "I like these over all others". If it helps, you guys could try affiliate links to Amazon too without a "This is better than that". More like a "For all out air flow this is at the top" or "for complete silence this is what you want". Not a good, better, best just a chart with the test results.

I get it though. Setting up testing environments and getting equipment takes time and money so I don't think you could just pivot in a few days. Just a thought to help generate cash flow while maintaining journalistic integrity. Your competition is already selling out so the bar is set low.

@WhitehawkEQ I don't hear my sad song playing! No one told you to stop! :rofl:
Post magically merged:

When I say that I understand you can't pivot in a few days, I also mean a few weeks or even months. I do understand that something of this nature is not easy which must be why I don't see many good reviews on this topic.
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i like these Phanteks radiator fans:

Model NO :PH-F140XP_BK
UPC Code :886523000402
Fan Dimensions
140 x 140 x 25mm​
Speed (RPM)
600-1200 ± 250 rpm​
Max Airflow
40.9 - 85.19 CFM​
Acoustical Noise
15.22 - 19 dB (A)​
Static Pressure
0.39-1.52mm H2O​

PS: Noctua fans are great performance wise, but i won't use the black ones because they're different fans: they're a lot louder; and i will only use noctua bacon colored fans if i can't see them, ie, they're in a non-windowed case. Nevermore uses Noctua fans (can't see them), while Forgotten Legend uses those Phanteks fans i linked.
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I didn't read all posts, but I can only say that:
1. Most reviewers are not professionals, so they are enthusiasts who simply love specific hardware and sacrifice their time or try to cover their costs by selling review samples (usually quantity over quality). Read it as fan reviews are waste of time for most people.
2. Most reviewers have no idea how to test hardware right, even on larger, most popular websites are many of those.
3. Most reviews nowadays are made under the pressure of marketing = no matter what people post, vendors expect good scores/awards, and they don't care how professional are the tests. You publish bad reviews too many times = no more samples for you.
4. Reviews are more often in the form of videos with mediocre comments - "look how well it's spinning". Some brands are even happy with "unboxing" videos, and it's enough for them to send review samples. Youtube is flooded by this $^$&$@!.
5. Testing fans is a lot of work and requires professional equipment. If not, then you get results like "the fan is quiet or loud" or "it works well" without any details. To test most fans, you need a non-echo cabin, and this is surprising for me as some websites post sub-30dB results made at their home/office. I get no idea how, as I can't go below 34-35dB during the day. When I was testing computers for CE certifications some years ago, then the local University had a non-echo cabin and couldn't register noise below 19-20dB. How do people post results like 14-16dB for some fans? I have no idea.
6. Fans, except for some specific high-end brands with only a few products, are changing really often, so when you want to buy anything then reviews (no matter if good or bad) are almost always outdated.
7. Most brands care more about the RGB than good airflow. As long as the fan looks good, it will sell.

In short, if you want to buy good fans, then you have to read users' reviews nowadays. Maybe it's not detailed, but when you see a lot of bad comments or comments that repeat the same issues, then you know that something is wrong. Usually, more than one series from the same manufacturer has the same issues.
You can't trust cheap brands. Cheap fans are barely ever good. The only exception can be Arctic.

Personally, I trust only Noctua as this is the only brand that always has good fans and well-tested products in general. They also provide all details, CFM, noise, and other things, which are very accurate.
@TerranBrackiatt Noctua makes exactly the same sterrox series fans in black and brownish. I tested pretty much the whole line of coolers and fans, and everything from the new fans is great. All fans are quiet (of course, up to some RPM), and have good air pressure ... but all new fans are expensive.

Some things I have on my mind:
- Noctua - all is great but expensive
- Scythe - all is pretty good, less expensive but also not as high quality as Noctua, there are some single exceptions
- Arctic - all fans are pretty good, I have never had problems with them, but I was testing only smaller models
- Enermax - good performance but they are not really reliable, some of them fail, I had many of their fans as I used to review their products, and maybe 10% was failing after a 6-12 months
- Cooler Master - all are pretty bad, or low air pressure or are failing, or are buzzing at low speed
- Phanteks - no idea in general, their fans in PC cases were fine but not so amazing to convince me to buy anything
- Alphacool - good performance even at low speed, low price but noisy, the latest series of 140mm fans that I used for the open-frame build needed to be set at 600-700 RPM to be quiet, 1000 RPM was significantly louder than some other brands that I tested, 120x15mm fans are fine
- Raijintek and some other cheaper PC case brands (many take fans from the same OEMs) - generally just fine, cheap and RGB looks good, but that's all
- Corsair - some fans are good, some are average, most are not really quiet and are expensive

Good luck finding anything good on the current, flooded by average products, market. But hey, no problems to get fans with RGB ;)
not trying to split hairs.... @Woomack , just trying to explain my Post Script above about Noctua's black fans being different than the brown ones... (i had to look up Sterrox to realize it's the material they make the fans out of of since a few years ago)

Based on the below link; Noctua's fans come in basically 4 series: standard: brown; Redux: Grey (same as standard fans, but different color), and Industrial; Black. (i'm leaving out the Chromax black because they're the old circle fan design and not available in 19dbA version) The industrial fans are higher RPM: 2000-3000 (and therefore higher CFM and louder 30-40+ dbA) the only 140mm fans i consider are below 20 dbA, which only leaves the brown and grey 1200RPM fans, which move 67.86 CFM. (still very good)

[EDIT: (thought i typed this, but apparently not) @ Woomack so am i missing something?]

the OP specifically stated wanting silent fans that move a lot of air... which in my opinion, rules out the industrial black noctua fans, and pretty much everything over 20dbA (see my story below)

in my experience, my old socket 939 build used a U2-UFO case, and 6 120mm fans rated at 25dbA... turning it on sounded like a jet engine, and i very quickly replaced all those fans with 38mm thick 120s that were listed at 14-19dbA. made an enormous difference, which is why "silent" to me means <20dbA

as for reliability, the Noctua fans in Nevermore ran perfect for 8+ years. the Phanteks fans i use in Forgotten Legend are only a year old, but no problems so far.

i also have to agree with your list of how crappy most fan reviews are. the OP complained about how difficult it is to find good fan reviews, and is the reason for this thread. the one thing i'd add to your list though would be:

8. look up the specs for fans you're considering on the actual manufacturers' websites, keeping in mind

a) that m^3/ hr =/= CFM, and that you will need to convert. 100 m^3 / hr = 58.85 CFM... 89 CFM = 151.2 m^3 / hr

b) that recommendations and ads on Neweeg / Amazon / other websites probably won't list the specs you are concerned about.

c) if the manufacturere doesn't list the specs, then *waves hand* "these are not the fans you're looking for."

9. if you want RGB AND silence... you're best off buying silent fans and then separate RGB rings (such as Phanteks Drgb Halo Lux) because as Woomack said above, most manufacturers rgb fans are very poor performance (very loud and move very little air)
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Didn't Steve with GN go out and buy that tens of thousands of dollars machine specifically used for testing fans? I thought he was planning to use it to debunk manufacturer specs, but I haven't seen anything useful come from that, yet....
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There are generally 2 types of fans - for heatsinks/radiators and for overall airflow like mounted on the PC case directly. The difference is in the noise and air pressure. You may say that these standard fans are worse, but they make less noise.
You can literally tell the difference in performance by looking at fan's blades. Specifications say some more but only the way how blades look and fans RPM say most you need to know.

Redux series is now mixed. When I was checking them on radiators, then high air pressure models were very quiet, still high quality and not much worse than their Sterrox fans, but cheaper. They don't have rubber pads which is weird way of saving.

- https://noctua.at/en/nf-s12b-redux-1200-pwm - "Designed for efficient case ventilation"
- https://noctua.at/en/nf-p12-redux-1300-pwm - "Specifically developed for high-impedance applications such as CPU coolers, water-cooling radiators or cases with tight fan grills"

I'm only not sure why Noctua has a limited options for 140mm fans. I wish to have 140mm Sterrox fans while they're available only as 120mm and optional 120 to 140mm bracket. Overall performance is not much worse than that of most 140mm fans but it just looks weird to use a bracket when you can use an actual 140mm fan.
From 140mm Noctual fans, I would pick industrial series or Redux like this - https://noctua.at/en/nf-p14s-redux-1500-pwm

I don't care much about anything above 1500 RPM. For 24/7 use I'm setting 600-1000 RPM on nearly everything and usually just a curve for 500-800 RPM range. Everything 1200 RPM+ is just loud. A single fan is still fine, multiple fans are adding the noise and then it's annoying.

The problem which I see with cheap fans is that they make quiet noises at low RPM. Like clicking, rattling, rubbing ... whatever, it's just annoying. At high speed you can't hear that because fans are loud in general. When you set good 120/140mm fans at 400-600 RPM then you can't hear them from <1m or when the PC stands on the desk. So my experience is that about 1 per 3-4 fans from cheap series make these noises and some fans are starting to do that in 1-3 months. I had a set of Cooler Master fans, all of them were doing that, the same their AIO fans. This brand is just a big "no" for me as all their products are average or below the average.

Now I'm thinking about new fans for my daily PC. I have there reused Enermax fans as they perform well. RGB is failing on one of them, but I don't really want RGB anyway. I guess I will just wait until they die. I recently threw away maybe 25 fans that I had from PC cases or older builds. All were bad performers or were causing these weird noises at low speed. I'm storing all hardware thinking I will use it one day, and I barely ever do. With my limited space it's a problem. Now I have to get rid of Lian-Li O11 and 2 other cases. Weird to throw it away, hard to sell and send somewhere.
When you set good 120/140mm fans at 400-600 RPM then you can't hear them from <1m or when the PC stands on the desk.
I can wholeheartedly agree with this. My iPPC fans, on low speed, are dead silent compared to anything else running in my office.
Yeah, I've stopped playing reindeer games over the past few years with my fans and fan curves. Simply setting everything to low/static speeds, allows for near silence no matter what condition. Sure, I can save a few degrees if I ramp them up, but I ask......... to what end? Chances are we'll be upgrading parts before a couple of degrees C melts them prematurely, you know? So for years now, it's just been set fans to low and forget it.... and that has been an awesome experience all around.
Didn't Steve with GN go out and buy that tens of thousands of dollars machine specifically used for testing fans?

Steve spends weeks figuring out whats wrong with the 12VHPWR connector but can't spend a few days testing fans. I think he goes for what gets views right now. I don't blame him, but I wish he would put that machine to use.