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FRONTPAGE PWM Fan Roundup: Twenty-Four 120 mm Case Fans Tested

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Overclockers.com

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 1998
PWM fans are used for lots of things now. A PWM fan can be used as a case fan, as a heatsink fan, or as a rad fan. AIO coolers simply expand the playing field for PWM fans. So I have collected twenty-four fans here for review in our 2016 case fan roundup.

Click here to view the article.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
ehume - nice write up as always!

You have two test conditions (rad and open air), so you give a general idea for the PQ curve of each fan.

SPL does not tell the whole story though. You should think about adding in a measurement of the audio spectrum that the fan puts out. For example, I know that the Noctua iPPC-2000, iPPC-3000, and Jetflo 120 all have a definite "tonal" quality when run at full speed. Some fans do not have the tonal quality. While two fans might have the same SPL, a fan with no tonal quality will sound more like a pleasant white noise (moving air) versus the hum of a tonal fan.

Keep up the good work! :thup:
 

Dlaw

Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Location
New York, USA
I would have liked to have seen how my NoiseBlocker eLoops fare against the pack. I'm sure it's no surprise that all eight of mine are pretty loud at full bore, but how does that compare to the rest of the tested fans, specifically in terms of amount of air moved and static pressure?

Well done, though, and I'll be referring back to this article when I'm asked about fans in the future.
 

Culbrelai

Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2012
So to be clear, PWM fans are the ones with 4 pins, not 3? Every fan I have ever bought seem to have been 3 pin, and they control via mobo and fan controller just fine... erm. What is the appeal of PWM fans?
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
The corsair ML120 is included in these tests.

Doh! Totally my mistake. I didn't recognize them flat on and just scrolled right by them.

Question, was there any SPL testing done with the rad, or am I looking at the charts incorrectly again? I've had fans which were extremely quiet in free air, yet when placed anywhere near a radiator or grilled opening were very noisy.
 
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ATMINSIDE

Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
So to be clear, PWM fans are the ones with 4 pins, not 3? Every fan I have ever bought seem to have been 3 pin, and they control via mobo and fan controller just fine... erm. What is the appeal of PWM fans?

Better control. Your 3-pin fans are voltage controlled. These 4-pin fans receive 12V all the time, but have an extra signal line coming in to tell them how fast to spin.
You can go WAY lower on speed, consistently, with PWM than voltage.
 

Helgaiden

Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
Why not test the Deepcool TF120? They replaced the GF120s on the Captain AIO coolers (the ones that are EX have TF120s on them).
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Answers to comments: SPL I can measure and put numbers to. The "tone" of a fan is highly subjective. Ask Noctua and Nidec.

I would love to review Noiseblocker eloops. Maybe we can get an editor to reach out to them. Same with Deepcool's TF fans. For a comprehensive review of 120mm and 140mm Corsair ML fans, you will have to look at my review on another website.

SPL testing on a rad might be misleading because fans -- even when mounted on a rad -- can use the CFM box as a sounding board. I have thought about building a testing chamber out of something large and stiff, but I would have no place to put it . . . and there would still be no assurance that fans did not use it to make a sounding board. Think guitar or violin to get a notion.

PWM fans can be used with PWM splitters, where they all get their power directly from the PSU while tghey get speed control from the motherboard.

I thought I would never do it again, but soon I expect to see non-PWM voltage-controlled 120mm fans for review. It seems that OEM's still make them.Well, I got my Noctua NF-S12A fans tested, with their various resistor wires. Next come the Scythe Slip Stream 120DB's, the San Ace 9S fans, and a variety of oldies but goodies. I really didn't know I had so many!
 

Mpegger

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Answers to comments: SPL I can measure and put numbers to. The "tone" of a fan is highly subjective. Ask Noctua and Nidec.

SPL testing on a rad might be misleading because fans -- even when mounted on a rad -- can use the CFM box as a sounding board. I have thought about building a testing chamber out of something large and stiff, but I would have no place to put it . . . and there would still be no assurance that fans did not use it to make a sounding board. Think guitar or violin to get a notion.

Eliminate the box? As it is, the rad would redirect the flowing air in one direction, much like the box would. High density and very thick MDF could also be used to build a box if you really need a box. It's what I'm using and have used for a couple boxes that needed silencing of fans and air flow.
 

JaY_III

Senior of BX
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Every time on of my old faithful Yate Loons starts clicking, I really think about swapping them out. Then a quick case slap seems to quite the fan down and I quickly put off my upgrade.

But at the same time, That Sanyo Sun Ace is looking nice
Newark is a min order of 30 at a time, Mouser sells in singles. However EBay has the best price.
 

Brando

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
i've been through lots of fans but of course haven't tried them all. after changing over to 100% noctua redux and ppc pwm I finally want for nothing. they spin down nice and low during idle with no weird clicks or hums whatsoever and should last forever if noctua is honest.
 

ITAngel

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2012
Location
Wyoming
I don't find the Nidec Gentle Typhoon 2150rpm PWM hard to find but they are pricey. I run six on my case and thinking of picking up another two more since they do great even for a air cool case like the Thermaltake Core X9 case. Plus they are very quite as well unless you max their speed up then you can hear them. I also love the build quality and I feel I don't have to replace these fans any time soon as they should last me a very long time.
 

FTC

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2002
Location
Barcelona, Spain
Hi, nice article. Would have liked however also to see in the test the noiseblocker offering (http://www.blacknoise.com/site/de/startseite.php) I am currently using two 80mm multiframes and one 120mm nb-eLoop and they certainly are very quiet fans, with a more than decent flow. By the way, I just ditched a 120mm jetflo because of the high pitched noise at high RPMs, and this article just confirms that they are noisy.
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Hi, nice article. Would have liked however also to see in the test the noiseblocker offering (http://www.blacknoise.com/site/de/startseite.php) I am currently using two 80mm multiframes and one 120mm nb-eLoop and they certainly are very quiet fans, with a more than decent flow. By the way, I just ditched a 120mm jetflo because of the high pitched noise at high RPMs, and this article just confirms that they are noisy.

Thanks. Since my wife's edict ("You will buy no more fans!") I can only review what the OEMs send me to review.

Jetflo's are screamers, but they do move air. In my fixed-speed fan review I covered those fans with their fixed-speed quiet adapters. Quiter. And still moving air.
 

oobymach

New Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2016
I would recommend SilverStone FHP141's if you have room and don't mind a bit of noise, they're 38mm thick by 140mm with 120mm mounting holes and have 171cfm @ less than 40db. With 5 of them in my case at 1700ish rpm the noise is less than my air purifier on medium and everything is cooled far better than any previous fan setups including a case full of CM Jetflo's (though the jetflos were a bit quieter).
 

ehume

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
I would recommend SilverStone FHP141's if you have room and don't mind a bit of noise, they're 38mm thick by 140mm with 120mm mounting holes and have 171cfm @ less than 40db. With 5 of them in my case at 1700ish rpm the noise is less than my air purifier on medium and everything is cooled far better than any previous fan setups including a case full of CM Jetflo's (though the jetflos were a bit quieter).

How long have you had the FHP141's? How well have they held out? Have the RPM switches continued to work?
 

oobymach

New Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2016
One is brand new, bought it to replace the xigmatek regular thickness exhaust fan in my case (thermaltake core v71 windowed).

I think I've had 2 for at least a year with no issues, and another 2 bought in the last year. At certain rpm's my heatsink would make these tinny noises but a couple cardboard shims between the fan and the heatsink cured that, it's not too loud but it is audible because it moves alot of air, I think I have 19 fans including 3 on each vid card in use right now in my case but it's room temp idle, nothing is hot except cpu and nb. The 5 silverstone are all mounted vertical with horizontal airflow.

The custom cardboard tube is a prototype, I haven't had a chance to pick up any new material to craft a better one but it works, keeps air going straight through, going to mod properly maybe at some point in the future.

101_1949_zpsuxloh1uu.jpg
 

GTXJackBauer

Water Cooling Senior Member, #TEAMH20HNO
Joined
May 22, 2011
Location
USA
Great read! :salute: Thanks for taking the time and putting up a roundup like this since I feel its been a while since one was done. Once again, this validates the king of the hill is still, the king of the hill! :clap:

I know there's tons of fans out there but wished the Swfitech Helix 120s were included in the testing because I was possibly thinking of changing all my 9 budgeted Helix 120 fans for those PWM AP-15s. I've gotten mixed messages by a few that told me there was really not much of a difference from owning both so I've been on the fence about that.

Thanks again!