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Need to choose a bunch of 140mm case fans for silence (+120 CPU)

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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro — websitemanual (page 6 for exploded view)

Fan slots:
Front: 1 x 200mm / 2 x 140mm / 2 x 120mm (through dust filter and dense metal mesh)
Rear: 1 x 140mm / 1 x 120mm (no filter, sparse mesh)
Top: 1 x 200mm / 3 x 140mm / 3 x 120mm (filter, dense mesh)
Bottom: 1 x 200mm / 3 x 140mm / 3 x 120mm (filter, dense mesh)

Fans included:

PH-F200SP (200mm front intake)
Speed (rpm) 850 ±250 rpm
Max Airflow 110.1 CFM
Static Pressure 1.04mm H2O
Acoustical Noise 25dB

PH-F140SP (140mm rear exhaust)
Speed (rpm) 1200 ± 250 rpm
Max Airflow 82.1 CFM
Static Pressure 1.33mm H2O
Acoustical Noise 19 dB

Here's what I'd take:

Front intake — 2 x 140 mm — BeQuiet Silent Wings 3 140mm (2x) for front intake due to high static pressure, but NF-A14 FLX could be a better puller-through-filter
Rear exhaust — 1 x 140 mm — Fractal Design Venturi HF-14 (FD-FAN-VENT-HF14 -BK) — I've heard from a guy who claims he got better exhaust from these than from SW3, while SW3 were better for intake, so he seems fair/reasonable — will consider NoiseBlocker eLoop and Prolimatech Blue Vortex, and my current Phanteks F140SP could in fact be one of the best choices
Top — 1 x 200 mm — current Phanteks F200SP, just need some rubber with it; otherwise I'll be waiting for a good promo to get 3x140 (won't really matter if their performance isn't top-notch, as long as they sit quietly and do some work)
Bottom — 1 x 140 mm — current Phanteks F140SP if replaced as rear exhaust, otherwise probably SW3

CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra 120 — I'm not even sure this needs two fans, especially given how the exit fan would end like 10 cm before rear exhaust. How about 120mm SW3 entry (alternatively Nidec Gentle Typhoon (strong), San Ace Silent M PWM (strong), Arctic F12 (quiet)) and… what for exit? Arctic F12, or Scythe SlipStream 120, Prolimatech Blue Vortex, or is there something new better? OR just two NF-A12 / two SW3 / two Pure Wings 2?

I'm also looking at Noctua NF-A14 FLX as an allegedly great all-rounded and its ULN version as something that delivers average performance with complete silence.

These are all expensive fans. I can live with it, though of course I would prefer to avoid overinvesting in diminished returns. The no. 1 priority here is to avoid vibration, bearing sounds, whine, electric noise etc. at all costs, even if this means paying like $40 per fan or even picking fixed rpm to avoid PWM. However, I'd rather not overinvest in diminished returns. As long as the fan avoids vibrations, bearing whine, electric noise etc. and has decent performance just below the audible threshold, I don't necessarily want to pay 100% extra for a small performance gain. But I'd rather pay to be sure than skimp and take risks.

I can Google manufacturers' sites, of course, and tests and reviews, but I can't always wrap my mind around the numbers and lack practical experience with Noiseblocker, Noctua and most other modern brands and makes. I don't know useful tidbits like comparing PWM to non-PWM versions for noise at comparable rpm values, or the nature of the blade and bearing sound, or how well the advertised vibration protection or customized bearing works in real life, or how each manufacturer measures the dbA output (making comparisons of rated specs worthless, as the measurements are probably over different distances and ambients).


======
REFERENCE — MANUFACTURER LINKS:

Noctua — full lineup: https://noctua.at/en/products/fan

Noiseblocker:

Eloop 120mm: https://www.blacknoise.com/site/en/...fans/nb-eloop-series/120x120x25mm.php?lang=EN
Eloop 140mm: https://www.blacknoise.com/site/en/products/noiseblocker-it-fans/nb-eloop-series/140x140x29mm.php
SilentPro 120mm: https://www.blacknoise.com/site/en/...ns/nb-blacksilent-pro-series/120x120x25mm.php
SilentPro 140mm: https://www.blacknoise.com/site/en/...ns/nb-blacksilent-pro-series/140x140x25mm.php
Multiframe 120mm: https://www.blacknoise.com/site/en/...it-fans/nb-multiframe-series/120x120x25mm.php

(eLoop seems to have strange noise issues when pulling)

BeQuiet:

Silent Wings 3
Pure Wings 2
Shadow Wings

I strongly suspect that Silent Wings have all the plus sides of Pure Wings and Shadow Wings but simply cost more, making them a 'pay and forget' option, which would be fine by me. The superior quality build makes them look particularly promising. On the other hand, Pure Wings seem to be almost just as good at half the price, and well liked by their users.

Cooltek CT-Silent Fan, BitFenix Spectre Pro, Cougar Vortex, Arctic Arctic F14 PWM PST CO Lüfter — look good on paper, seem popular

Finally, Phanteks's 140HP and ST lines are supposed to be good. But I'd try something else.

Tests:

https://www.overclockers.com/pwm-fan-roundup-twenty-four-120-mm-case-fans-tested/
https://www.overclockers.com/15-case-fans-tested-ultimate-140-mm-roundup/
 
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maxfly

Member
Joined
May 7, 2005
i prefer noctuas nf-a14 and nf-f12 industrial 2000s or 3000s for my 140s. i enjoy silence as much as the next ocer but i like to know that i have an extra 1000rpm and top notch h20 ratings for benching, ocing etc hehe. i was very impressed with how quiet both versions are at 800-1000rpms. i can barely hear them. as for quality they come with the longest warranty im aware of at 6yrs. i trust mine to last. im also a big fan of the bequiet silent wing 3 140 highs(pwm version). they have most of the attributes i value in a higher rpm fan. nearly silent at anything less than 1000rpm but have the added headroom for keeping my loop cool while ocing and benching. the h20 rating isnt in the same ballpark as the nf-a14s but they are almost silent through all rpm ranges. the warranty isnt as good as noctuas but its still better than most at 3yrs.
altho i have no personal experience with the thermalright 120 ultra extreme, my first choice for an aircooled solution would be a thermalright hsf. i would likely go with a 140mm hsf like the macho rev. b or the true spirit 140 power. ive read a ton of thermalright hsf reviews and almost all have been favorable(not talking newegg or amazon reviews). they are among the best price to performance solutions out there. ive also heard that the stock thermalright fans are very good performers. it may be worth it to wait until you get yours and have time to test the fan before pulling the trigger on a new fan.
if your going for flat out silence i would suggest slipping in as many 200-230mm fans as you can. i ran 3x200mm coolermaster fans in my haf-x and they played a big part in keeping that rig quiet. the drawback is most 200/230mm fans have no headroom at all(700rpm max). mine were virtually silent but there was no cranking them up to aid in cooling. they were set it and forget it fans.
your right on track with using overclockers.com as the start of your search. you can trust that the ratings they give you are based in science rather than having to rely on manufacturer specs. from there find 4-5 fans that you like. my favorite three catagories. price, performance and warranty and read as many trustworthy reviews as possible.
goodluck!

sry i didnt realize i wrote a book.
 

Dermen

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2001
Location
Florida
I think we need some more info. What is your goal here? What CPU and video card are you running?

You are talking about possibly spending $200-400 on fans but you are running an older heatsink.

The reason you run a ton of fans is so you can run them at under 600rpm where they won't be heard, but still get good cooling. However, your heatsink will not be able to handle full load with a couple of fans at 500rpm (most likely, unless you are running stock speeds and undervolted). You will have to have them ramp up to ~1000rpm under load, at that point they will easily be heard. You would be better off running 3-4 case fans and have them speed up under load as well.

This is not the most popular opinion, but any fan approaching $20 is overpriced. Phanteks MP fans are great, run down to 500rpm, and can be found around $15. Arctic PWM fans are a good, but the 140mm ones have a min RPM of 600 which may be audible if you are looking for extreme quiet, they are very reasonably priced at under $10.

I'm not sold on rubber fan mounts. I had six fans in a case and replaced all my fan screws with rubber mounts and noticed no difference. Maybe if you are running fans at 2-3000rpm, but when you are running fans at low RPMs there isn't a lot of vibration.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
i prefer noctuas nf-a14 and nf-f12 industrial 2000s or 3000s for my 140s. i enjoy silence as much as the next ocer but i like to know that i have an extra 1000rpm and top notch h20 ratings for benching, ocing etc hehe. i was very impressed with how quiet both versions are at 800-1000rpms. i can barely hear them. as for quality they come with the longest warranty im aware of at 6yrs. i trust mine to last. im also a big fan of the bequiet silent wing 3 140 highs(pwm version). they have most of the attributes i value in a higher rpm fan. nearly silent at anything less than 1000rpm but have the added headroom for keeping my loop cool while ocing and benching. the h20 rating isnt in the same ballpark as the nf-a14s but they are almost silent through all rpm ranges. the warranty isnt as good as noctuas but its still better than most at 3yrs.

I have similar feelings about the industrial Noctuas. According to Noctua the 2K rpm versions top out at 29.7 dbA, which is about as much as the quietest GPUs under load. It would make sense to have something on your CPU that — with some dynamic downvolting through mobo — could stay just under the GPU noise and the in-game soundtrack and ambient. And their static pressure is massive, which is good for a CPU fan. The 3000 rpm ones top out at 43.5 dbA, and most GPUS will get there too anyway. Plus, I think their improved bearings provide even more vibration resistance, and that too is great for a CPU fan. Since my Thermalright Ultra is pretty massive, I suppose combining it with a fan like that could give me a good reason to go get a proper K processor…

On the other hand, people do claim SW3's are superior, and they actually have that special bearing which is normally reserved for industrial fans. In your experience, are Noctuas much louder than SW3s when providing the same cooling performance? (If I understand right, they do seem to be louder rpm for rpm.)

The reason I focus so much on silence, vibration etc. is I have both neurological problems and excellent-rated hearing. When something uncivilized is spinning, it literally screws with my head; inside, more like. And not just inside my skull, more like inside the goop. And I'm no musician, but I'm going to hear things more clearly than most people. And I often work in a low-abient setting, at night sometimes. I sometimes play games with sound off, for various reasons (strategies especially). So I get pretty OCD about this. To cut down on thinking time I've decided to skip bang-for-buck cals and just go for the best, whatever that is, for all fans except the CPU fan, as they're going to stay for a couple of years (if I go water eventually, they'll still be useful and still operational).

altho i have no personal experience with the thermalright 120 ultra extreme, my first choice for an aircooled solution would be a thermalright hsf. i would likely go with a 140mm hsf like the macho rev. b or the true spirit 140 power. ive read a ton of thermalright hsf reviews and almost all have been favorable(not talking newegg or amazon reviews). they are among the best price to performance solutions out there. ive also heard that the stock thermalright fans are very good performers. it may be worth it to wait until you get yours and have time to test the fan before pulling the trigger on a new fan.

You've got a point about that. But I'm also upgrading my GPU and won't be getting that K processor any time soon, plus the existing 12cm fan needs replacing, so I'll grab a $12 used Noctua or something, for the time being. I can buy a Chromax, a redux, or an industrial one for that price. An SW3 would be more expensive. An SW2 would not. Pure Wings would be even cheaper. But I guess you can't get Industrial Noctua's sweet h20 pwnage.

if your going for flat out silence i would suggest slipping in as many 200-230mm fans as you can.

Seems better for the flow too, from what I've seen. 140mms often end up quite underwhelming as a suppoosed upgrade from 120mm, but those 200's seem to be able to pull in like 100 CFM. My only worry is about the GPU section, though. I'll probably end up buying a window wing for my case and drilling a 200mm fan hole in it, but not yet right now. So I'll need to make sure the front intakes are sufficient to deal with a 300W GPU.

i ran 3x200mm coolermaster fans in my haf-x and they played a big part in keeping that rig quiet. the drawback is most 200/230mm fans have no headroom at all(700rpm max). mine were virtually silent but there was no cranking them up to aid in cooling. they were set it and forget it fans.

That's ideal for me as far as work is concerned, but for gaming on loudspeakers I think I could use some headroom.

So, if I go for a 200mm front intake, I'll need a strong puller-through-filter (luckily, there are some tests for that). What about top ehxaust, though? Do I need pressure there (also filter and mesh or at least thick mesh), or do I focus on flow?

your right on track with using overclockers.com as the start of your search. you can trust that the ratings they give you are based in science rather than having to rely on manufacturer specs.

Yeah, it's frustrating when you read x dbAs, y dbAs, z dbAs, and you want to ask 'where from?', 'what ambient?' 'or is that delta?' etc.

from there find 4-5 fans that you like. my favorite three catagories. price, performance and warranty and read as many trustworthy reviews as possible.
goodluck!

I think I'm mostly ready to pick between some version of Noctua and some version of Silent Wings 3, unless I go by stats and buy used at like $5 on an auction. But ideally I'd just pick either way and be done with it.

sry i didnt realize i wrote a book.

The OP was massive, though. I can only thank you for taking the time and sharing a lot of insight.

I think we need some more info. What is your goal here? What CPU and video card are you running?

i5-6600 (non-K), DRR4 (2 sticks OC-ed), 280X and M.2 SSD right under it, and that's it. I'll get a K processor at some point or switch over to Ryzen at some point. The GPU will probably be around 300W-ish, whatever I buy.

You are talking about possibly spending $200-400 on fans but you are running an older heatsink.

The non-K i5 has a low TDP (65 or so), and the heatsink is still rated for 1151. For CPU, I just want an inaudible and totally vibration free to provide as much flow/pressure as it can give while remaining inaudible.

The reason you run a ton of fans is so you can run them at under 600rpm where they won't be heard, but still get good cooling. However, your heatsink will not be able to handle full load with a couple of fans at 500rpm (most likely, unless you are running stock speeds and undervolted). You will have to have them ramp up to ~1000rpm under load, at that point they will easily be heard. You would be better off running 3-4 case fans and have them speed up under load as well.

Still figuring that out, yeah. I'm much tempted to pull off a 'set & forget' to avoid spending time getting the fan profile right.

This is not the most popular opinion, but any fan approaching $20 is overpriced. Phanteks MP fans are great, run down to 500rpm, and can be found around $15. Arctic PWM fans are a good, but the 140mm ones have a min RPM of 600 which may be audible if you are looking for extreme quiet, they are very reasonably priced at under $10.

Thanks. I'll know to skip them. Anyway, what's better for silence and, more importantly, vibration avoidance? Noctua or BeQuiet (Silent Wings 3 only/mostly, though SW2 are twice cheaper).

I'm not sold on rubber fan mounts. I had six fans in a case and replaced all my fan screws with rubber mounts and noticed no difference.

In one of my old right, it actually was worse. I went back to screws, not sure about washers even. I think I loosened them just a little while keeping them tight, just not absolutely tight. Worked like charm. Wouldn't with my current case.

Maybe if you are running fans at 2-3000rpm, but when you are running fans at low RPMs there isn't a lot of vibration.

I know to prioritize low rpm, but in some cases the dbA/sone outputs don't seem to go hand-in-hand with rpm, and the bearings and fancy corners seem to matter, so I keep thinking.

***

So, what do you guys think? Some high-pressure 200mm Noctua puller for front intake? And the Phanteks for top exhaust? Leave the Phanteks 140mm as exhaust, get one 140mm for bottom intake… and that it's then. Unless you know of a 140mm that would be much better for exhaust than my Phanteks, in which case I'd take the recommendation gladly because sys exhaust is a bit of a choke point in my case (and there's wall right behind).

From what I've read it takes a special fan to a good vertical puller, as floor intake would have to be. Any recommendations? And which 200mm do I get for front intake? The front of my case is quite vibration-prone, and the Phanteks 200mm is already a problem at 350-ish rpm. So I'll need to go all-out vibration-free.

EDIT: Found this: https://www.overclock.net/forum/246-air-cooling/1625734-thoughts-quiet-silent-wings-3-case-fans.html

It kind of looks like in many applications SW3's won't be the absolute best (case exhaust notably) but you can't go wrong with them.

Noctua, on the other hand, seems to be more efficient at low rpms, which is where I'd keep them for vibration avoidance, and Noctua does seem to at least talk about vibration avoidance more than BeQuiet does.

EDIT2: I think I'd be able to mount a 140mm on my CPU heatsink. It's a clip mount, and the clip is pretty flexible. It will suffice. I may have more difficulty making sure it can snug the heatsink well. But if not, then there are ways, always. But it seems SW3 120mm's have more static pressure, so that one would be better, especially if it fits right in with no monkey business.
 
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Dermen

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2001
Location
Florida
With a non K cpu I would undervolt it. In the past I've been able to lower voltage a surprising amount. This will lower your load temps allowing you to lower your fan speeds.

What motherboard are you running? Some have better fan control than others, but almost all of them have some fan control software. I would use that and set them all really low, then turn them up slowly one at a time and see when you can start to hear them. This will give you an idea of how low you want your fans to run.

Your GPU is going to be the main noise source. I saw you had a post in the GPU forum. I would look for one that has a closed loop water cooler. I have an H55 on my GPU and I can run the fan at 700RPM and have lower temps than the stock MSI Twin Frozer cooler with a lot less noise.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

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Nov 14, 2006
Location
Warsaw/Poland
With a non K cpu I would undervolt it. In the past I've been able to lower voltage a surprising amount. This will lower your load temps allowing you to lower your fan speeds.

Thanks! Didn't think about that.

What motherboard are you running? Some have better fan control than others, but almost all of them have some fan control software. I would use that and set them all really low, then turn them up slowly one at a time and see when you can start to hear them. This will give you an idea of how low you want your fans to run.

Asrock Fatality K6 Z170. It has plenty of options. The fan control is buggy, it has like 1 profile that fails to load automatically, but there is fan control from desktop that I play around with. For normal work I can keep the computer almost passive. Will be even easier after downvolting.

Your GPU is going to be the main noise source. I saw you had a post in the GPU forum. I would look for one that has a closed loop water cooler. I have an H55 on my GPU and I can run the fan at 700RPM and have lower temps than the stock MSI Twin Frozer cooler with a lot less noise.

I could buy a reference 1080. It costs less than most 1070ti's. There aren't many used ones with water cooling already installed, but a while ago dude had a 980ti with a Kraken. Wait, he still has it. He wants $250, and the card comes with Kraken G10 and Corsair H75, plus two Enermax Twisted Pressure fans, plus hacked BIOS for downvolting, lower temp target and higher clocks, claimed stable. Given that stock-to-stock 980ti and 1070 are about par, this guy's little friend probably works like a 1070ti. For the same price I can also get a normal 1070. Do you think I should grab the card?

I could also grab the reference 1080, put Morpheus II on it, get two high-SP 120mm fans (possibly those Noctua 150mms with 120mm screw holes) to put on and send 140 CFM up through the heatsink onto PCB.
 
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Dermen

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2001
Location
Florida
Thanks! Didn't think about that.



Asrock Fatality K6 Z170. It has plenty of options. The fan control is buggy, it has like 1 profile that fails to load automatically, but there is fan control from desktop that I play around with. For normal work I can keep the computer almost passive. Will be even easier after downvolting.



I could buy a reference 1080. It costs less than most 1070ti's. There aren't many used ones with water cooling already installed, but a while ago dude had a 980ti with a Kraken. Wait, he still has it. He wants $250, and the card comes with Kraken G10 and Corsair H75, plus two Enermax Twisted Pressure fans, plus hacked BIOS for downvolting, lower temp target and higher clocks, claimed stable. Given that stock-to-stock 980ti and 1070 are about par, this guy's little friend probably works like a 1070ti. For the same price I can also get a normal 1070. Do you think I should grab the card?

I could also grab the reference 1080, put Morpheus II on it, get two high-SP 120mm fans (possibly those Noctua 150mms with 120mm screw holes) to put on and send 140 CFM up through the heatsink onto PCB.

I have a Kraken G10 and Corsair H55 on my 980ti. There are a few annoyances with it.

The early Corsair AIO coolers (including mine and the H75 you mentioned) Corsair says to run the pump at 100% and not undervolt it. The H55 is the only thing I hear when my PC is idle. Newer AIOs are usually PWM controlled or plug into a USB header and can be controlled with their software to be silent.

The second thing is controlling fan speeds. You have a pump and two fans to plug in. Your motherboard can only control them based on CPU temp, not GPU temp. There is software available that will let you set up a custom curve based on GPU temps but it is not free. This will also take up some headers on your MB. I did try plugging the fans into my GPUs fan header, but while the fans ran they were not running correctly, the speed was all over the place. I've seen other people do this and get it working, I'm guessing it depends on the card.

The easier solution would be a card that came with an AIO cooler to begin with. Or EVGA sells it's hybrid kit separately, and it works with all reference design 1000 series cards. The pump/fans plug into the cards own header and the speeds are controlled by the GPU temps. The downside of an OEM solution is they are all 120mm radiators. Aftermarket solutions you can choose your cooler, the larger the radiator the slower you can run your fans and the less noise you will get.

One option that I still haven't looked into is the Fractal Celsius AIO coolers with the Kraken bracket. They have an Auto mode that controls the pump and fan speed based on water temps. They don't publish the temp curve so I'm not sure how loud it would get. (I actually have Celsius 24 on my CPU and have been meaning to test it).
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

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Location
Warsaw/Poland
Thanks.

Well, so far I'll just get a GPU with a nice air cooler ex factory, e.g. Strix or GamingX or some nice EVGA, and if I ultimately decide against a big investment — it seems I'm going to be a very busy person these coming weeks — I'll probably grab a cool, quiet 1060 to wait out the busy period, have a quiet PC for work and some 30–50% more fps in whatever gaming sessions I may have the time to have. If I get buried up to my neck in work, I might even just grab some used 12cm pressure fans at a bargain, plug them into molex and peel off the annoying Dual-X fanlets to just silence the 280X, keep temps low and prevent throttling.

But someday, someday… I'll really need to man up and get water.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

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Warsaw/Poland
Meanwhile I got myself a brand spanking almost new Corsair RM750 PSU. I chose it over 750x, 750i etc., or even Platinum PSUs around the same price, because of its wonderful default fan profile (it has C-link, but I don't have the cable). That and a bunch of felt tape did a wonderful job. My PC is now almost inaudible. If I concentrate, I can still hear something, but that's more like air + echo. The CPU fan, though, really needs replacement. I think its long service is simply coming to an end — I was not the first owner, and it served me for years on an Accelero GPU heatsink before, after I bought it for pennies. So no complaints, simply time for retirement. It's the last thing that vibrates or produces bearing noise in the case. Otherwise it's silence, lovely silence. Working at night has never been so pleasant before, hehe.

EDIT: Chose the CPU fan too. NF-F12 PWM chromax.black.swap ~ $11. Static pressure through the roof for this class, but also just about the cheapest used Noctua I could find, bar a redux 900.
 
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Brando

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
noctua industrial 2000rpm and noctua redux 1500rm are really good. mine are idling at between 380-430rmp. these are some of the few fans I never had issues with. no weird motor noises, clicks, or whines. 10/10.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

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Location
Warsaw/Poland
noctua industrial 2000rpm and noctua redux 1500rm are really good. mine are idling at between 380-430rmp. these are some of the few fans I never had issues with. no weird motor noises, clicks, or whines. 10/10.

Thanks. That's one more powerful voice for the industrial family. If I can't hear the Chromax under full load, I'll think about relegating it to some sort of supporting position (bottom intake or secondary top exhaust) and getting a 2000 rpm or 3000 rpm industrial for CPU. Or if not now, then certainly when I get a K CPU.
 
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NewbieOneKenobi

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Also ordered 20mm dampening mat for the other side of my desk, same as they use for car engines, plus anti-vibration mat (10mm + 2mm rubber) for the floor under the computer, same as used for washing machines, gym equipment, etc.