• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

Fans: Which manufaturer's claims to silence are actually reliable (IYO)?

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.

NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
I'm finding myself doubting the reliability of manufacturer ratings (for strength and silence), both on the basis of practical experience running them and on the basis of seeing fans cost 2–4 times less or more than some other manufacturer's fans with the same rated parameters. And I'm not sure even price is a reliable guide here. I've even seen expensive fans with relatively poor manufacturer-rated parameters, so perhaps 'modest' ratings are more real than ambitious claims?

Akasa (Apache, Ultra, Viper), Noctua, BeQuiet! (Silent Wings), Thermaltake, Xilence? Arctic? AAB? Alpenfohn? BitFenix (Spectre)? Prolimatech (Vortex)? Xigmatek (Crystal)? Can any of them be trusted more than the others?

So far: not bad experience with Xilence and Thermaltake, unimpressed by Scythe (never again), Fander and Phanteks. AAB has great params on paper but less impressive performance in practice, notable loud fans that are supposed to be at 13 db (I've had inaudible fans rated higher than that). Cooler Master green fans are good but may be too weak for my needs, and it's been like 15 years ago.

I need three strong, silent, ********, 12 or 14 cm each, vibration free. Not something you've read about or heard from a friend, but something you've experienced first-hand, actually installed and used in a case under a desk and can say it really is as silent and still blows as hard as it's supposed to.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.
 

Mjolnir

Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2009
Location
Sydney, Australia
Considering silence is subjective, I personally feel my Scythe Gentle Typhoons are fantastic. Also my Noctua 92mm fans on my Noctua D9L/in my mini case are awesome. Naturally they get louder as they spin higher as they're smaller fans but I've otherwise had no issues.

Noctua NF-F12s have also been good to me and Noiseblocker E-loops but I run everything at a low RPM in general/on low noise adapters or get low RPM versions. The new Corsair Maglev units look promising in help eliminating vibration but i've not yet used any of these.

Earlier cooler master fans very much were listed with 'x' dba but were, in fact, louder than any other fan I owned when I was trying to get my 'silent rig' going. my Gentle Typhoon GT AP-13s are very quiet but remembering they're static pressure fans not airflow ones, so whilst they push a 'reasonable' amount of air if it's just for case airflow I personally wouldn't use them for that.
 

inVain

Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2011
this fan!
26844229815_6642ccd433_c.jpg

(watch closely at the model number, though... sorry can tell what it's exactly, I have it running inside my case ATM)
as long as you can keep it under 1300rpm, the noise is better than a NF-S12B running at >800 rpm inside the case.
 

Dlaw

Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Location
New York, USA
I run 8 Noiseblocker eLoops, with 1 running at ~850RPMs while the other 7 run at ~900RPMs, and I can't hear any of them over my pump. The sound of water falling into the reservior is the only other audible thing. The 7 that run at ~900RPMs are on radiators, also, if that's something you're interested in.

Once the fans ramp up, they do get loud, though. I got the 800-2000RPM model because the only eLoop in the system that isn't on a radiator is the rear exhaust, so I was pretty sure I would need more than 1500RPMs when I started working the rig hard. They do have a 400-1500RPM model, though.
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
This is why I do comparative reviews. I use the same methodology for all the fans, and use the same equipment to compare them. That means when something dies, I have to start all over. Here is a comparison of 140mm fans. In the results section, the first chart shows how well case fans do in free air and through dust filters. The second chart shows how 140mm PWM fans do on a 16FPI rad, simulating a heatsink. The third chart shows those same fans on a 30FPI rad, showing how well they will do in water-cooling situations.

As for 120mm fans, in this review I compared 120mm case fans, showing how well they did in free air and pulling air through a dust filter. In this review I showed PWM fans on a 30FPI rad. In an upcoming review I will show those results, as well as how well the PWM fans did on the 16FPI rad, simulating a heatsink.

I can't test all the fans in the universe, but I can test some. Other reviewers compare fans, and you should find them and read them before you go buying fans. As for Scythe, I think they heard you. Their Slip Streams are ball bearing fans now.

Bottom line on all this: make Overclockers a regular stop on your browsing path.
 
OP
N

NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
This is why I do comparative reviews. I use the same methodology for all the fans, and use the same equipment to compare them. That means when something dies, I have to start all over. Here is a comparison of 140mm fans. In the results section, the first chart shows how well case fans do in free air and through dust filters. The second chart shows how 140mm PWM fans do on a 16FPI rad, simulating a heatsink. The third chart shows those same fans on a 30FPI rad, showing how well they will do in water-cooling situations.

As for 120mm fans, in this review I compared 120mm case fans, showing how well they did in free air and pulling air through a dust filter. In this review I showed PWM fans on a 30FPI rad. In an upcoming review I will show those results, as well as how well the PWM fans did on the 16FPI rad, simulating a heatsink.

I can't test all the fans in the universe, but I can test some. Other reviewers compare fans, and you should find them and read them before you go buying fans. As for Scythe, I think they heard you. Their Slip Streams are ball bearing fans now.

Bottom line on all this: make Overclockers a regular stop on your browsing path.

Thank you, ehume. I know you'll probably cringe at least a little at this question, since it's so subjective, but I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on the 23 (22.5) dbA point and the 20 dbA (19) point respectively.

Next, PWM control. How does it relate to vibration?

In my specific case it seems vibration and perhaps echo is more of a problem than direct noise. It's entirely possible to achieve a loud combination of silent fans. Not just wing whoosh but bearing whine.

Also, looks like the Prolimatech Blue Vortex is a decent one. I've found a bargain on those.
 

EarthDog

Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Location
Buckeyes!
Next, PWM control. How does it relate to vibration?
It doesn't. At least not directly. Its just a method to control fan speed, like voltage. Neither cause or remove vibrations in and of itself (now the speeds changing does, but again, voltage or PWM, it would be the same).
Why not buy some vibration dampeners for the fans?
 
OP
N

NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
It doesn't. At least not directly. Its just a method to control fan speed, like voltage. Neither cause or remove vibrations in and of itself (now the speeds changing does, but again, voltage or PWM, it would be the same).
Why not buy some vibration dampeners for the fans?

Rubber pads are already on my shopping list, just being extra careful. Some fans are stubborn ********.
 

notarat

Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2010
I am partial to Noctua fans and have also had good results with Cougar fans.
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
. . . I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on the 23 (22.5) dbA point and the 20 dbA (19) point respectively.

Technically one is twice as loud as the other. IRL it is less.

Next, PWM control. How does it relate to vibration?

In older fans, PWM caused clicking -- vibration. Getting silent PWM circuits took some effort. This is why Noctua was late bringing out PWM fans. Of course, once they did it, all the other OEM's followed suit.

In my specific case it seems vibration and perhaps echo is more of a problem than direct noise. It's entirely possible to achieve a loud combination of silent fans. Not just wing whoosh but bearing whine.

very true. You must look at your whole air path. Personally, I use Nexus silicon rubber vibration isolators. Of all, they're the best. I also cut out the back "grill" of my steel cases. Air then leaves a case silently -- no exhaust fan needed. Here is my first modded case.

Also, looks like the Prolimatech Blue Vortex is a decent one. I've found a bargain on those.
They're better than one would expect, especially when mated with a Prolimatech heatsink. If you find a bargain, go for it.
 
OP
N

NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Technically one is twice as loud as the other.

Sigh. Me and physics… This is the problem of arts folks trying to play techie.

IRL it is less.

From experience I'd associate 23 dbA with a discernible sound with identifiable source but not annoying.

In older fans, PWM caused clicking -- vibration.

Hmm… So either that or I just react badly to speed changes.

Getting silent PWM circuits took some effort. This is why Noctua was late bringing out PWM fans. Of course, once they did it, all the other OEM's followed suit.

Right. Most of my fan experience is older than a decade.

very true. You must look at your whole air path.

Standard Phanteks Enthoo Pro config. 20cm front intake (audible above 450 rpm) that bangs the lower half of the stream on the PSU. 14 cm rear exhaust (audible above 650 rpm) picking straight from CPU heatsink (single old 12cm unit blowing through, inaudible from below the desk at 1300rpm). 2x14cm holes above.

CPU will usually manage, as it doesn't get to 50C in games under 100% load, though for a 65 TDP processor cooled by Ultra 120 this is hardly impressive (idle gets as low as 18C with high speeds). In short, the heatsink and the two fans would do it even without any intake fans. GPU has a tendency to get cooked. By cooked I mean no more than 60C normally and never 70C, which is well within the card's rated spec (doesn't even cause GPU fans to work at 100%) but it's already artifacting.

I'm thinking about using one of my many old high-quality 92mm fans (which is all that fits) as exhaust between PSU and GPU, basically blowing through PCI slot holes. This should help direct the stream from front intake. Or intakes, rather, after I replace that big 20cm thing with two smaller fans that each deliver the same performance as the big one at far less noise and vibration (even before including rubber pads).

Then there's also the floor intake + top exhaust route available, but I'm kinda skeptical about positioning a floor intake right opposite of the GPU's exhaust fans at little more than 20cm distance. Roof exhaust would probably be too far removed from the GPU section to make a difference anyway, except indirectly by lowering CPU load temps.

I guess I could keep the GPU heatsink but replace the 80cm dual whelps on a plastic shield with something more serious.

I also cut out the back "grill" of my steel cases.

It's never happened, but I've been tempted more than once.

Here is my first modded case.

Reminds me of my old project that still works but is no longer silent because of coil whine. It was an old chassis with wings, bay covers, slot covers and everything else removed, operated solely by a rubberized 14cm PSU fan and 92mm CPU fan (CoolerMaster Green Series, strong and completely inaudible, that thing was a champ) in an orb position, also mounted on rubber. Well, and GPU fan obviously. There was also a separate exhaust sysfan, but it didn't make any difference in temps.

Later, I did something similar with a Chieftec case. Couldn't really get good temps, but it was magnificent at getting decent temps inaudibly.

They're better than one would expect, especially when mated with a Prolimatech heatsink. If you find a bargain, go for it.

Thanks. They're twice cheaper than the cheapest Noctuas. I was also looking at some Akasa fans in that shop, but I've zero experience with that brand, and they're probably on par with Noctua price-wise.