mCubed is company responsible for the ingenious T-Balancer
fan controller; their 120mm fan is build especially to be used by their fan controller as this fan excels with PWM speed control. Of course the X12 also works with normal voltage control, and comes with 3-pin and 4-pin power connectors.
Functionality over looks, this fan remains visually sober, has 7 blades and most of your soft rubber mountings won’t work with this frame as you’ll need to cut them open. Rated close to 1800rpm at 12v this fan won’t offer a good performance/noise ratio until you start to undervolt. At 7v the fan scores on average with the competition and has only minor motor noise, at 5v it does much better and scores amongst the best of them out there.Nexus D12SL-12
This fan from Nexus
has been a favorite among many enthusiasts, despite carrying the same name, there are 2 different version of this fan, a black/white which we tested earlier, and this Orange colored one. Both have very similar specifications, but the Orange has tends to have a slightly lower RPM overall.
Right out of the box this fan runs at 1000rpm and is acceptably quiet for most purposes, undervolting is required to increase the performance/noise ratio though. At 7v our sample performed slightly below average. At 5v the fan refused to start when placed vertically, when placed horizontally it would start but spin too slowly to give us any useable data.Noctua NF-P12
launched their first product line-up they used another company’s fans to match with their CPU coolers ; it wasn’t too long though that they released their own 120mm fan series; the NF-S12 which we’ll talk about below has been accepted by silence freaks
all over the world. They had one large deficit though: pressure. When used as a casefan the NF-S12 fans did their job excellent, but when there was an obstruction of the air path (or used as a CPU fan) the performance suffered noticeably. The NF-P12 was designed to find a better balance between noise and performance in these situations. Inside the retail package you’ll find rubber anti-vibration mounts, a 3to4-pin power adapter, and also low-voltage power adapters, so you don’t need a fan controller to lower the speed of this fan, just use of the included adapters! The same goodies you also got the NF-S12 series, it’s good to see they continued the tradition.
The fan uses the same colors as the other Noctua series, but the fan blades are very different, you could pick out the NF-P12 easily, each blade is designed with extra cut-outs in an effort to increase pressure.
The NF-P12 has been specifically developed for applications such as CPU coolers that demand superior pressure and airflow performance. Thanks to psychoacoustic optimizations like the Vortex-Control Notches, the new SCD drive system and Noctua's premium-grade SSO-Bearing, the NF-P12 achieves exceptional quietness and long-term stability.
Rated at 1300rpm it’s slightly faster than the SF-S12-1200, so how does it compare? At 12v we see an above average performance/noise ratio, it’s actually slightly better than the lower rpm rated SF-S12-1200. At 7v the efficiency goes up noticeably, scoring above average. At 5v the fan is very silent with minimal to no motor noise, performance/noise ratio is quite good too.Noctua NF-S12-1200
As mentioned above, the NF-S12 series offers excellent performance/noise ratios in open air, the blade design is especially focused on this; very different from the P12 as you’ll see:
Rated at 1200rpm as you might have guessed by now, the fan offers an ok efficiency at 12v which is above average. At 7v however the lack of air pressure lowers its cooling efficiency and thus is worse off than the P12 in our test. At 5v efficiency goes up again as the fan becomes very quiet with little to no motor noise.Noctua NF-S12-800
If you want to have a fan to just plug and play in a case, this Noctua 800rpm has been a favorite of many; same blade design as the 1200rpm model with the same advantages and disadvantages.
At 12v this fan offers its best performance/noise ratio, which is saying much. It scores in the top at this voltage level and has very little motor noise. Undervolting is possible but we saw efficiency decrease and the S12-800 remained below average at 5 and 7v, so it’s not advised.Noiseblocker M12-PNoiseblocker
is a new comer at the site, we received four 120mm fans from them for this test, all from the enthusiast line up. They all come with build-in anti-vibration mounting and have transparent fan blades. First up list is this PWM M12-P model which has a 4-pin power connector as you might have guessed.
Noiseblocker gave them quite a unique design and look, the black custom frame with rubber anti-vibration corners (which can be removed), the semi transparent fan blades, the look and feel is definitely high end. But as we all know, looks aren’t everything so how does it perform?
The M12-P is rated at 2000rpm at 12v and offers low efficiency at this voltage, worthy of note is that actual motor noise at this speed is close to zero, so you do only hear the air moving, no bearing noise whatsoever. These fans love undervolting, at 7v efficiency of this model is the best out of all participants in the roundup. Do note that this PWM, when undervolted, had a slightly noticeable motor noise, something not present in the other Noiseblocker products (without PWM). At 5v efficiency shoots through the roof, it has a very high performance/noise ratio.Noiseblocker M12-S1
The M12-S1 has the same design and looks as the M12-P, but lacks PWM and comes with a much lower RPM.
At 750rpm running at 12v with this fan is advised, efficiency is very high out of the box, undervolting is possible, at 7v efficiency remains above average; motor noise at 12/7v is absent. At 5v the fan refused to start, acceptable seeing as the starting RPM is this low.Noiseblocker M12-S2
A small step up from the M12-S1, this fan is rated at 1250rpm at 12v
At 12v performance/noise balance is well above average, not as good as the M12-S1 but still very respectable. At 7v the fan scores the best, with efficiency good for a top spot. At 5v the fan starts up and runs normally, with a performance/noise ratio on par with average. As with the M12-S1, there is no motor noise to speak of.Noiseblocker M12-S3 HS
peed is another step up, rated at 1800rpm not as fast as the PWM version, but getting there.
A higher starting RPM means lower efficiency at 12v, this one scores slightly below average. At 7v the fan is on par with the average performance/noise ratio of all fans tested. At 5v it excels with efficiency well above average, lower than the M12-P, but no motor noise to speak of.Papst 4412 F/2GLL
This fan is almost a « Golden Oldie » in terms of PC years; it was one of the first commercially available fans in Europe which catered to the silence enthusiast out there. It could only be bought in specialized electronics stores; later on it found its way into most online enthusiast web shops.
This is an industrial grade product, the first ones were even sold without proper 3-pin connector, just the loose wires. No fancy design or colors here. Rated at ~1300rpm it has ceramic sleeve bearing which helps to keep it running year after year without much loss in efficiency. Result then, at 12v performance/noise ratio is above average, and thus better than most fans tested in this roundup. The sweet spot is at 7v though, maximum efficiency is reached here, scoring in the middle of the pack overall. At 5v efficiency drops below average. Upside is though that after all these years motor noise is still as good as absent.Revoltec Air Guard 120MMRevoltec
is the enthusiast branch of the mother company Listan
which is also known for creating Be Quiet! products.
The first Revoltec 120mm is a run of the mill case fan without much frills or thrills, build for low cost, without sacrificing quality.
At 12v it’s rated at 1200rpm offers a performance/noise ratio on par with the Paspt fan we just mentioned above, so that’s far from bad. Unfortunately motor noise is slightly higher, not disturbing yet, but noticeable. Undervolting pays off, at 7v the Air Guard’s efficiency is above average. At 5v performance/noise ratio drops again and it’s slightly below average here.Revoltec Dark Grey
This is the enthusiast 120mm product in Revoltec’s line-up, the Dark Grey is a LED fan, the color you can already guess:
This fan is also rated at 1200rpm, but uses a different bearing, Sleeve bearing vs Hysint Slide on the Air Guard. At 12v efficiency is quite good, scoring well above average. Undervolted at 7v performance/noise ratio is very good, at 5v it drops again but remains above average. Motor noise is present but not irritating or disturbing.