Fan Roundup 2009
Cases and Cooling
Article Publish Date:
From the mid 90s when i first started working on PC systems professionally until now about 14 years later there is one single hardware part which has remained the same. This part is the fan which although has passed through quite a few design changes the way it works and the reason of its existence remain the same. However in comparison with the old days when we only had 80mm fans now we can find fans starting from sizes down to 60mm and up to 250mm, others with weird looking blades, LED lighting, waterproof housings, see through blades, removable blades and many more. The mechanism inside some fans is different from the mechanism found in many but this is something we will discuss later on.
Since this is a shootout i can't speak for each company so under each page i will list the fans from a single company and place all the info and thoughts there. When i first started gathering fans for this shootout i was unaware that almost all of them had sub 20dBA sound pressure levels and so one can only imagine my surprise when my Extech decibel meter could hardly detect their noise levels. Only a few dBA meters can perform reliable measurements with noise levels bellow 20dBA and they cost quite a lot ( industrial dBA meters ) so i was not able to acquire one in time for this test and i am not about to lie to you and provide false readings. Instead i placed each of the fans with a molex connector to ensure that they would work in the highest possible speed and. After that i took all them and also tried to bend the blades of each fan in order to see the quality of materials used in each fan. I was about to buy a CFM air flow meter but i could only find portable models which are not accurate so i skipped that part. In any case all of the fans in this test produce from 9 to 31dBA levels so they are hardly audible from a distance of one meter or so. However i will be listening from about 10-20cm to make it easier for me to hear which one is noisy and which silent. Like always this will be done in my noise insulated room with just a mainboard, CPU with the Scythe Orochi without a fan, memories and a power supply hooked with the fan since the molex connection needs nothing more and that way other components will not cloud the noise coming each of the fans.
So today we are going to test fans made by Noctua, Scythe, NoiseBlocker, Cooler Master, Xigmatek, Akasa, Coolink, Nanoxia, Nexus, Gelid, X-thermal and Englide in 80mm/92mm/120mm/140mm sizes. Of course some companies did not have all the requested sizes so they send me everything they had. As for models a few companies where able to provide me with many different models while others only with a single one. One thing is for sure, this roundup took me almost 3 months to complete since i did not have all the samples at the same time so i had to wait for them all to gather in order to finish it. Some may wonder why i did not include SilenX and Delta in the roundup, the answer is that i did email them but SilenX for some weird reason with the courier service was unable to deliver their fans to me and delta did not reply. Still with 46 fans from 12 different companies this review will take a total of 14 pages and should keep you all occupied. I have uploaded ultra high resolution photographs in this review ( which you can open by clicking on the small photographs ) so you can get the best look on the fans and their packages. Also the specifications for each fan exist in the photographs taken so i will not be mentioning them separately. Last but not least the fans will be ranked with a number system ( 1 lowest / 10 highest ) and in the end i will also list the retail price for each model.