Four 120mm Fans Compared

Cooling/VGA & Other Cooling by jmke @ 2006-11-20

We test four 120mm fans which aim to provide lots of airflow at low noise levels. In this roundup 2 models from Noctua and 2 from Sharkoon are compared to one of the best from our previous 17-fan roundup.

  • next

Intro, Specs & Test Setup


Earlier this year I tested 17 different 120mm fans (linkie), different fan bearings, blade design, price and accessories weeded out the excellent deals from the pack. One of those, the GlobalWin NCB, offered an excellent performance/noise ratio and this at an attractive price.

Today I compare 4 newcomers from 2 different companies to see how they stack up to the rest. Noctua sends their NF-12 series which has a very thin blade design and uses oil-pressure based bearings to deliver long life at low noise. Sharkoon expands their Silent Eagle line-up with two 120mm products, both using metal sleeve bearing and a golf-ball like pattern on the fan blades.

As usual I’ll keep things comprehensive and to the points, below you can find the official specifications and details on how the fans were tested. On the next page there is detailed info on the each of the fans; on the 3rd page are the performance results and overall conclusion. But first things first:

Madshrimps (c)


These are the official specifications of the different fans, clicking on the fan name will take you to the product’s webpage.

Airflow (CFM) Noise (dBA) Input (A) Power (W) Bearing Height (mm) RPM @ 12V Mounting Holes
GlobalWin 1202512L 41.70 19.00 ? ? Nanometer Ceramic 25 1300 Rib
Noctua NF-S12-800 34.7 8 0.05 0.60 SSO-Bearing 25 800 Flange
Noctua NF-S12-1200 47.7 17 0.12 1.44 SSO-Bearing 25 1200 Flange
Silent Eagle 1000 36.8 19 ? 2.16 Metal Sleeve 25 1000 Flange
Silent Eagle 2000 76.4 36.1 ? 2.16 Metal Sleeve 25 2000 Flange

No ball bearing fans used in any of the samples tested today, the metal sleeve bearing of Sharkoon comes closest, the GlobalWin uses a Nanometer Ceramic bearing which should last longer than normal metal bearings; Noctua is using a self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing which promises low noise levels and long life.

The difference between Flange Type and Rib Type can be seen here:

Madshrimps (c)
Image from eminebea

Test Setups and Methodology

JMke's Test Setup
CPU A64 3200+ @ 2200Mhz 1.5v
Cooling Scythe Infinity
Mainboard DFI NF3 Lanparty
Memory 1 * 256Mb PC3700 OCZ
  • Antec Sonata II (rear fan unplugged)
  • ATI R9000 Passive Cooling
  • Silverstone EFN-300 300W Passive Cooled PSU
  • Maxtor 120GB IDE HDD

  • The dBA meter was placed very close to the Infinity heatsink in order to pick up the fan noise when they were running under-volted.

    Madshrimps (c)

  • in-take temperature was measured at 20°C for all tests, but temp fluctuations, and user error can account up to 1-3°C of inaccuracy in the obtained results. Please keep this in mind when looking at the results. Each fan was tested repeatedly; if I got questionable results the test was restarted.
  • Noise level of each HSF combo was recorded with SmartSensor SL4001A, the sensor was placed ~5cm away from the fan. The lowest dBA reading in the test room was 37.8dBA without fan running in the system.
  • System was stressed by running K7 CPU Burn for 30min ; this application pushes the temperature higher then any other application or game we’ve yet encountered. Speedfan was used to log maximum obtained temperatures.
  • Each fan was tested at 12v, 7v and 5v

    • next
    Comment from Rutar @ 2006/12/07
    hmmm, Sharkons golfball design seems to KICK ***

    now if they would team up with Papst and use a better bearing, the amount of ownage they could put on the market is frightening

    I wonder how the people at SPCR reacted on those result, seing their Globalwin being pwned.