Today we have a guest article from Martin (from XS
) who tested 30 different 120mm fans when mounted on a water-cooling radiator. He measured generated noise, cubic feet per minute of air moved with each fan, allowing for some impressive comparative result charts. If you’re looking for a 120mm fan upgrade, this article is a must read!
These tests were made possible by www.petratechshop.com
and XS member HondaCity.Test Setup and Gear
I'm purposely measuring noise point blank range at the fan to maximize resolution on the measurement. I wouldn't worry about the numbers as much as the relative differences, my meter may be in need of calibration too, but it's what I have so it's what I'm using.
I don't understand noise well enough yet either, so I'm just measuring at the hip. It's obviously interesting how a 30-40dB spec fan can produce over 70 at close distances. Also my ambient noise level hovers around 47-50db. I'm leaving my regular PC running in the background so that all the measurements I run have about the same ambient noise level. I think this may be more important than trying to measure in total silence which in itself is near impossible to do (on a budget).Tools
The radiator is an XSPC RS120. The fan is mounted without any sort of gasket (Finger Tight M4 Screws/nuts), I only place a piece of tape on the noise side to prevent air from causing problems with the noise measurement. I adjust voltage with my Mastech HY3005D lab power supply. Voltage is measured at the plug to the fan to eliminate vdroop in the wiring. Amperage is measured on the power supply display. RPM is taken from my crystalfontz CFA-633.
- Mount fan to radiator with M4 screws until nuts are a hard finger tight on all four corners.
- Set sound level meter to edge of fan/radiator just far enough to prevent touching.
- Run fan for 5 minutes to warm up fan and anemometer.
- Reduce voltage to zero to record ambient noise level.
- Increase voltage to 5V.
- Record amperage from mastech PSU, dB from sound meter, RPM from PC Crystalfontz CFA-633, CFM from Anemometer (if >9cfm)
- Increase to 6V repeat recording as noted above.
- Repeat measurements on even volts including 5V, 6V, 7V, 8V, 9V, 10V, 11V, 12V. Voltage held to .03v and measured at fan 3 wire plug.
120mm Fans Tested
Servo Nidec Gentle Typhoon DC1225C12B5AP-15
Panaflo (NMB MAT)FBA12G12U
Sanyo Denki San Ace 109R1212H1011
Scythe Kama-Flex S1225FDB12M
Scythe Kama-Flex S1225FDB12H
Scythe S-Flex SFF21E
Scythe S-Flex SFF21F
Scythe S-Flex SFF21G
Scythe Slip Stream SY1225LS 12SH
Scythe Ultra Kaze 1000 DFS123812H-1000
Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000 DFS123812H-3000
Nanoxia FX12 2000
Noise Blocker XL-1
Noise Blocker XL-2
Noise Blocker XLP
Noise Blocker M12 S2
Noise Blocker M12 S3 HS
Silver Stone (Everflow) R121225BU
Thermaltake TT-1225 (Thunderblade)
Yate Loon D12SL12 Curved Blade
Yate Loon D12SL12 Straight Blade
Yate Loon D12SL12 LED version with Straight Blades
Yate Loon D12SH12 Curved Blade
To help with the problem that noise level doesn't necessarily fit with noise quality, I'm including some video recordings to capture the fan's particular noise quality traits. I'm testing on the same platform and recording the CFM and voltage in the video for reference. The only difference is I'm not adding a piece of tape to seal (Between Fan/Rad) since I'm not measuring noise level. This may result in slightly lower CFM numbers than the charts, but they are all tested equally the same, so the CFM numbers on the videos are good relative numbers. Anyhow, pay particular attention to the sound tone and motor ticks when undervolting. These are important traits I don't think you can capture in a number and I feel are much more important the the dB number I've included in the charts. You can also get two videos going side by side and listen to specific voltages. One strategy would be to compare the video sounds where the CFM numbers match, this would give you a means to compare noise quality/tone per CFM produced through a radiator. Note that the anemometer isn't very accurate until about 10cfm, number below that are not to be trusted, you'll see what I mean when you watch the video.
On the following pages you'll find detailed results of each fan, as well as a noise recording at different voltages.