Silverstone makes a number of fans. They have done so for years and their designs are always interesting. Silverstone sent a number of fans for review – too many for one review, so we have split the reviews: 140 mm fans and 120 mm fans. Today we will look at the 140 mm fans. One is voltage controlled. The others are PWM, with great flexibility. How well do these three models do their jobs? Let’s see.
Silverstone was founded in 2003, and now has its own factories (read about them here) where they make cases and other things for themselves and their customers. In other words, they just don’t buy things and put their name on it.
Features of the AP141
The first fan we will feature is the AP141. This is a swirl fan. Instead of struts supporting the hub, it has a plane of vanes set in a swirl pattern which helps direct the air flow. This is what Silverstone calls an Air Penetrator fan. See the 120 mm version in action here:
The design of the AP series of fans focuses a relatively tight stream of air. Silverstone says:
The design goal for Air Penetrator is to focus airflow into a column that can be channeled through various obstacles inside the modern computer case for more efficient cooling performance. Compared with traditional fans, where airflow spreads outward and further loses focus with resistance added (e.g. filters, fan guards, etc…), Air Penetrator fan’s unique blade and grille designs can create enough pressure to push air as far as 1 meter away with minimal fan speed and noise.
- Industry leading air channeling fan.
- Integrated air channeling grille double as fan guard to reduce overall size.
- Low power consumption.
- Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) for high reliability.
- Mounting holes designed for 140mm and 139mm fan slots.
The AP141 comes with a voltage adapter that provides 5v, 7v and 12v to the fan.
Features of the FQ141
Silverstone’s FQ141 looks at first glance to be an ordinary 1000 RPM case fan. After all, Silverstone makes cases at their factory, so they should make case fans. Right? I know, retailers call all of their computer fans “case” fans. But fans actually made to cool cases tend to have fixed speeds at 12 volts. We did a review of 140 mm case fans here. On the other hand, this is a PWM controlled fan which makes it unusual for an actual case fan, maybe unique. Further, it comes with a 7v resistor wire that allows you to read the RPM as well as allowing PWM control of the fan’s speed. This is unusual for a speed-reducing adapter. Most speed-reducing cables do not come with either feature. Silverstone says:
- PWM design allows 500~1000rpm fan speed control by motherboard
- Optimum airflow, pressure and extremely silent performance
- Innovative blade design focuses airflow with maximum efficiency
- Air-inlet with optimized aerodynamic design reduces noisy air turbulence
- Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening
Features of the FW141
The FW141 by Silverstone is a 140 x 150 mm PWM fan with its corners clipped. It thus has a nice octagonal frame that fits in a heatsink made for 140 mm fans – and it is only 13 mm thick! As Silverstone says:
- 140mm fan with super slim 13mm thickness
- Designed for 120mm fan mounts
- PWM design allows 800 ~ 1300rpm fan speed control by motherboard
Because this fan comes with 120 mm screw-holes it will not be tested with the other fans. Instead it will be tested against other 140 mm fans that have 120 mm screw-holes.
Specifications of the Silverstone 140 mm fans
Transparent blue UV fan blades, black frame
Blue blade, white frame
White fan blades, blue frame
Fluid dynamic bearing*
Long life sleeve
0.2A, 0.22A (Max.)
0.03 ~ 0.11A
0.06 ~ 0.25A
2.4W, 2.64W (Max.)
0.36W ~ 1.32W
0.36 ~ 2.7W
1000 [email protected]
1500 [email protected]
500 ~ 1000 rpm
800 ~ 1300 rpm
28.26 CFM (5V)
41.09 CFM (7V)
64.34 CFM (12V)
31.4 ~ 62.0 CFM (12V)
42.8 CFM (7V)
32.5 ~ 74.6 CFM
Effective Airflow Range
0.39 mmH2O (5V)
0.73 mmH2O (7V)
1.55 mmH2O (12V)
0.28 ~ 1.21 mmH2O (12V)
0.65 mmH2O (7V)
0.327 ~ 1.252 mmH2O
14.7 ~ 20.7 dBA
15.1 [email protected]
19.1 ~ 34.2 dBA
139mm (L) x 139mm (W) x 25mm (H)
140mm (L) x 140mm (W) x 25mm (H)
140mm (L) x 150mm (W) x 13mm (H)
Compatible with 140mm x 140mm fans
Compatible with 140mm x 140mm fans
Fan mounting holes = 120mm x 120mm
Includes two speed reduction cables
Includes speed reduction cable (@630 RPM)
Includes vibration isolators, rubber washers, PSU adapter
An FDB, or fluid dynamic bearing is a patented design. According to Gabriel Torres
[T]his particular design is patented by Matsushita (Panasonic) and, therefore, only fans with bearings manufactured by companies that paid licensing fees to Matsushita will have this design. Because of that, bearings based on this design are more expensive, increasing the price of final products.
Exploring the Silverstone AP141
The Silverstone Air Penetrator fans have been around for some time now. They are still selling – that has to tell you something. Today we will look at the AP141, the 140 mm version of this fan. Like the 120 mm AP121, the AP141 comes in a black cardboard box with line art showing the fan and how Air Penetrator fans work. There is also a table of specifications. It is all very professional and informative without being too cluttered.
Inside the cardboard box is a plastic slide that holds the AP141 and its accessories. You can see the translucent blue IV sensitive impeller, with its seven blades. Underneath you can see the swirl vanes that hold the column of expelled air tightly.
This shot shows an AP141 intake facing an AP141 exhaust. Two more different sides of a fan you will hardly see.
The next shot shows the accessories that come with the AP141. On the left, we have the power splitter that gives you differing voltages from the PSU. The black and red wires go to ground and 5 volts, respectively. That gets you 5v power to the fan. On the bottom left we have black and yellow wires, going to ground and 12 volts. That gets 12v power to the fan. In the middle left we have red and yellow wires running to the 5v and 12v supplies. Together they sum to 7 volts. Further to the right we have double-ended vibration isolators and standard fan screws.
Preliminary testing of the Silverstone AP141
Well, Silverstone advertises this as an air penetrating fan, so let’s test this. My anemometer has a remote head that measures airflow (see below). It can measure velocity if I tell it to do so. With it, I measured feet per minute (FPM) by taking the average of two fans, ten readings each from the approximate center of the AP141’s airflow at 1 meter, 2 meters and 3 meters from the fan. Here’s what I got:
FPM at 1m
FPM at 2m
FPM at 3m
287 (1.5 m/s)
170 (0.9 m/s)
92 (0.5 m/s)
173 (0.9 m/s)
75 (0.4 m/s)
98 (0.5 m/s)
I’ll bet that your computer case is around a half meter deep, so this fan will blow some air into it.
Exploring the Silverstone FQ141
Being a more modern Silverstone fan, the FQ141 comes in plastic clamshell packaging. It is taped at the top, but once you cut the tape the halves split wide open. Inside on cardboard, you can read all the features and marketing. It has Silverstone’s obligatory table of specifications on the back.
This fan has interesting accessories. OK, we see the double-ended vibration isolators and the fan screws, but the FQ141 comes with a 12v power tap from the PSU (this is often called a “Molex adapter”). The fan includes a 7 volt resistor wire that reduces its top speed. At the same time, this speed reducer reports the RPM and allows the FQ141 to respond to PWM signals. That is a nice touch.
Here we have a family picture of the FQ 141 showing its intake side and then showing its exhaust side. If you count the blades, you will see there are eleven of them.
Preliminary Testing of the Silverstone FQ141
I tested this fan among the other 140 mm case fans, as you will see later. But what makes the FQ141 unusual, perhaps unique, is the PWM feature. PWM on a fan this slow? Really? Really. Let’s look at a pair of them:
With more and more motherboards adding a PWM feature to every fan header, more and more of them can take advantage of the PWM functionality of the FQ141. You get only as much fan as you need, keeping it quiet when you want to. This is forward thinking on the part of Silverstone.
Exploring the Silverstone FW141
Now the Silverstone FW141 is an octagonal fan, 140 mm by 150 mm. That’s not so unusual. We have octagonal fans (I’ve tested two with a heatsink). We have had 140x150mm fans (look here). But we’ve not tested one that is 13mm thick like the FW141. In the first picture you can see that the exhaust side is oriented to be taller than the intake side – the first picture below shows a graphic example of the 10 mm difference between the width and the height.
Why would you want a 140 mm x 150 mm x 13 mm fan? The second picture shows you why – in the picture the FW141 can slide in behind tall RAM. A slim fan can also fit in other places where a standard fan can’t go — like between a case and a radiator. The FQ141’s 120 mm fan holes mean that it can fit where a 120 mm fan would fit, but provide more airflow while doing it.
Being a modern Silverstone fan, the FW141 comes in a clamshell. The top is taped, and when you cut the tape you can open the plastic pack like a clamshell, with the marketing copy on the inside, along with the specification table.
Again, the Silverstone accessories are interesting. With the FW141 we have four screws, but also long vibration isolators and rubber washers. You can pick one way or another to dampen vibrations. We also have a 12v tap to get power directly from the PSU.
Preliminary Testing of the Silverstone FW141
Since the FW141 will be most at home on a heatsink, it should speed up and slow down with PWM signaling from the motherboard. So I averaged two fans to see their RPM in response to PWM signals:
Yup. It’s a PWM fan. Perfect for heatsinks.
The 140 mm Silverstone fans were tested several different ways. The AP141 was, as we saw, tested for distance. Then it was tested in a field of case fans, voltage-controlled fans designed to cool cases. At the 12 volt setting I compared the voltage-controlled AP141 to PWM 140 mm radiator fans.
The FQ141 I tested against other 140 mm case fans, to see where it fits in. Finally, I compared the FW141 HSF to several other heatsink fans.
First the fans were placed in a test stand, where their free air RPM was observed. Then the fans’ noise was assessed. The standard proxy for what you can hear is the Sound Pressure Level (SPL), measured in decibels and given a type A weighting (dBA). A silent room is about 30 dBA.
The ambient noise for the current testing was 30 dBA. To measure noise levels that were softer than that, the sound pressure level was measured 10 cm from each fan. The sound pressure level was adjusted to 1 meter by subtracting 20 dB. The sound pressure meter was a Tenma 72-942. This fan tester has a microphone that is not accurate under 30 dBA. That means an adjusted measurement of 10 – 15 dBA is not accurate; the fan could easily be quieter than that. But this is the limit of all but the most expensive SPL meters.
Next, the airflow was assessed using a standard measure, cubic feet per minute, or CFM. The air entered a sealed 8 x 8 x 8 box (200 mm on a side) where it was allowed to mix. It would leave the box through an exhaust port, where it was measured with the vane head of an Extech AN100 anemometer, which averaged 10 readings per fan setting. Depending on the test, the fan might draw air through a standard metal mesh dust filter. Or it might push air through a 16 fin per inch (FPI) radiator, to simulate a heatsink. The rad used was a Black Ice Nemesis 140GTS Black Carbon U-Flow Low Profile Radiator. Finally, to test fans for work on rads themselves, we used a 30 FPI Koolance Radiator, 1x140mm Copper (High Flow).
In the picture we have an FW141 mounted on a 16 FPI rad. Because it — and fans like it – has 120mm fan holes, it is mounted to the 140 mm rad with adapters. Next you see the vane head of the AN100. It is normally affixed to the back of the testing box. Last, we have the body of the anemometer.
Testing the Silverstone AP141 and the Silverstone FQ141
The voltage-controlled AP141 was tested at all three voltages. The PWM-controlled FQ141 was tested at both of its supplied voltages. That makes five yellow stripes in the chart below.
Testing the Silverstone FW141
The Silverstone FW141 holds its own. Notice that between the FW141 and the next three fans, there is only a difference of 3 CFM. There is a group of four closely matched heatsink fans there, and the FW141 is 13 mm – half the thickness of the others!
The FW141 sounds quieter than it measures. This is admittedly a subjective experience, and cannot be measured and plotted on a chart.
Testing the Silverstone AP141 as a rad fan
I saved the best for last and this is a test I almost forgot to do. I first matched the AP141 where it fits in unobstructed outflow – near the bottom, as you can see. But its performance on the rad said firmly that it did not belong there. It fit in the number four slot in pushing air through a restrictive radiator. And it made a lot less noise doing so. So I put it up there, too. Two chart lines for one pair of fans. Check it out:
The AP141 technically pushes the same amount of air through a 30 FPI radiator as it pulls through a metal mesh dust filter. That was likely due to measurement variation, but those were averages of ten readings made by two fans. The finding was consistent. It makes the point that the airflow through the filter and through the rad were close for this fan.
The AP141 is a fan that grows on you. Compared to its overall output, it pushes a lot more air through the restrictive rad than you would expect. When you look at the AP141, it makes sense. With its network of swirl vanes, it comes with something like a radiator already, so the fan normally has to push against resistance. So adding a rad does little to impede the AP141’s already considerable pushing power. That suggests the AP141 would benefit from PWM control. Better: the fan inside the AP141 might do well as a PWM radiator fan without its network of swirl vanes. It’s a powerful fan, and quiet. The FDB helps considerably with that.
Oh yes: the tight output. The network of swirl vanes really does work, and you can feel the effects out beyond 3 meters. Quite an effect, that. The penetrating function, its quietness and its ability to push air through a restrictive rad make this a very good and very versatile fan.
The FQ141 is a relatively quiet fan that pulls air through a dust filter with astonishing ease. And with PWM control, the FQ141 can adapt to demand, a highly unusual feature among 140 mm case fans. Since the future of fans is most likely PWM, Silverstone is way ahead of the game in this regard.
The FW141 is an interesting fan for an interesting niche. This is a 13 mm PWM fan sized for heatsinks. Given the fact that it is half as thick as its peers, the fact that it keeps up is pure gravy.
Although the FW141 has not been widely available in the US, the MSRP is $9.99.
Silverstone 140 mm Fan Pros
- The AP141 exceeds its specified air penetration specs
- The AP141 is very quiet
- The AP141 is phenomenally good as a rad fan
- The AP141 comes with the ability to use 3 different voltages
- The FQ141 has PWM control, so it is almost silent most of the time
- The FQ141 comes with a speed reducer
- The FQ141’s speed reducer also allows PWM control
- The FW141 is only 13mm thick
- The FW141 keeps up with fans twice its thickness
Silverstone 140 mm Fan Cons
- The AP141 could really use PWM control. Then it would be awesome.
Ed Hume (ehume)