Corsair H80 Stock Fan

When I met with Corsair, I asked them specifically which fans they would recommend using with the H80 since they had just released their new SP120 line. Surprisingly, they suggested that unless you're going for extreme silence, the stock fans that come with the H80 would provide the most balanced performance. Part of the reason for this is that the H80 has a built-in three speed fan controller that can change settings just by pressing a button on the waterblock; you can read more about it in our review of the H80 itself here.

Airflow (in CFM) Static Pressure (in mm/H2O) RPM Rated dBA
46-92 1.6-7.7 up to 1300 (Low), 2000 (Medium), 2500 (High) 22-39

Our own testing with the H80 on its own revealed a decent range of performance, with the Medium setting seeming to be the ideal one, but we'll be able to compare them to a broader range of fans this time to see if the H80's stock fan continues to be the best choice.

Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition and High Performance Edition

The "SP" in "SP120" stands for "Static Pressure"; Corsair recently released a series of fans geared for radiator and case use, with the SP line targeting radiators. The designs are fairly slick, with removable colored trim and rubber mounting posts to mitigate vibration noise. The Quiet Edition has its fan speed capped and is designed, as its nomenclature suggests, for quiet operation. Meanwhile, the High Performance Edition runs at a higher speed and produces more noise as a result.

Fan Airflow (in CFM) Static Pressure (in mm/H2O) RPM Rated dBA
SP120 Quiet

37.85

1.29 1450 23
SP120 High Performance 62.74 3.1 2350 35

The rated performance of these fans is interesting, especially taking into account the SP120 Quiet's specifications actually being lower than the lowest setting of the H80's stock fan.

SilverStone Air Penetrator AP121

It's interesting to note that this fan has been the subject of a lot of debate on forums as to how fit it is for use as a radiator fan. SilverStone advertises a high static pressure for the AP121 and its grill is designed to direct air, suggesting that it would be a potentially ideal radiator fan. At the same time, its grill also potentially obstructs a decent amount of airflow.

Airflow (in CFM) Static Pressure (in mm/H2O) RPM Rated dBA
35.36 1.71 1500 22.4

The AP121 isn't much for airflow, bested even by the quiet SP120, but it sure fires that air with a decent amount of force. This is going to be one to watch; it should be a strong performer due to its solid static pressure, but we'll see.

Testing Methodology The Fans We're Testing, Part 2
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  • Zap - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    IMO the most important revelation of this review/roundup is:

    LOUDER = BETTER COOLING

    All else being equal, that is a fundamental fact that cannot be avoided. Sure you can push results one way or another with smart fan choice, but the fact remains that higher airflow (with static pressure, when used with restrictive rads) makes for better cooling as well as higher noise.
    Reply
  • BlueReason - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    "What may be most disappointing about this lineup, though, is the unfortunate fact that there may be no magic bullet radiator fan that's able to produce stellar thermals with low noise."

    With all due respect... You tested six fans. Six. The Corsairs count as one, Captain Fan Control. Worse yet, only one of the models was actually designed for heatsink application, in a market where there are numerous others.

    Oh yeah, the Silverstone's spiral grill is designed to PROJECT AIR ACROSS A DISTANCE. It's a case intake fan. C'mon.

    Love ya, Dustin. Really. Do some research, gather some appropriate fans designed for or at least with a strong reputation for hsf use, and ask around about modern test methodology. Fan reviewing is a pain, I know. There's no convenient benchmark program for it. Here's one tip: Get access to a LongWin machine. If Linus at NCIX can get to one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uUXt7mE6Qg&fea... so can the web's preeminent computing site (that's you guys, bro). If you want credible fan analysis, you need data from professional equipment meant for it, not "Grandma's Blog" style guesswork.

    Yes, fans matter, a lot; a fact that is being increasingly recognized. Thanks for getting on board. =)
    Reply
  • vectorm12 - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    As many have already pointed out I would really have liked to see some of Noctua's fans in the roundup as well as a couple of the Be Quiet! fans which at least on paper look pretty good. From a price perspective they seem to be in the same league as Noctua. Reply
  • DustoMan - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Thank you for doing this roundup. When corsair came out with those fans, I through about swapping out the stock fans on my H80. Now I know to just save the time and money! Reply
  • MeanBruce - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Anyone that is using the NF-F12s with the LNAs 12v drop down inline attenuators is completely missing the entire boat here.
    The NF-F12s are PWM fans, in PWM mode with a PWM fan controller either outboard or installed, will run a full range of 1200rpm way down to an inaudible to the human ear 300rpm or any other thermal/rpm profile the user wishes it to be.
    Do some homework, then trial and error before posting, and Anand not including these fans is outrageous. Why come here.
    1200rpm – 300 rpm. Mix it up and love your rig much more.
    Get them airbrushed RED and BLACK, to avoid the hidden brown ad nauseam.
    This just in from Noctua:
    “The best way to adjust the speed of your pwm fans will be to either connect them to a 4pin mainboard fan header or to use an external fan speed controller that supports 4pin pwm fans. Because while it is possible to reduce the fan speed by lowering the voltage, only using them in pwm mode will allow you to get the fan speed as low as 300rpm.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team

    “I'm sorry, but I can't recommend you a specific fan controller.
    However it might be possible to use multiple splitters (included with the fans) to connect your 3 fans to one channel/controller. Our NF-F12 fan is rated at 0,05A or 0,6W, which is quite low compared to other fans and therefore the fan controller should be able to handle 3 fans with in total 0,15A or 1,8W; but please check this with the fan controller specs or manual to be on the safe side.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team

    “At 300rpms for the NF-F12s, 6 to 8dB sounds about right, we didn't publish the values for minimum fan speed, because it gets difficult to make reliable measurements at such low noise levels. In real world terms the NF-F12 is inaudible when spinning at minimum fan speed.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team
    Reply
  • freespace303 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    These articles is why this site is on my favorites bar. Thank you! Reply
  • Capt Proton - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I finf this review unworthy of the usually high standards Anandtech has represented to me. Not including such obvious choices as Gentle Typhoons and Noctua's is an extremely puzzling choice. If one follows threads on fans for either air or water cooling, it is obvious that the Gentle Typhoon's are certainly one of the most popular. Not to include them opens the possibility of a hidden agenda, though I am not sure what that may be. Reply
  • random2 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    It always amazes me when I see reviewers overlook very good and very popular products. Yes, I'm another damned Noctua fan. No pun intended. :-) Reply
  • n13L5 - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Its a very small selection of fans to start... fans are cheap, could have really gotten some more, including the Noctua, Alpenfoehn, Thermalright, Noiseblocker, Phanteks, Papst, BeQuiet, Xilence...

    And then, why oh why are you calling 30 dB your noise floor???

    In my room, which has some sound damping, but is still far from an anechoic chamber, I've measured down to ~10 dB.

    When people set up their systems with enough fans and well tuned automated fan control, they can get a gaming system that's below 15 dB during office work and still stays around 20 dB during gaming, given the right GPU choice, like Gigabyte's 3 fan OC Windforce series.
    Reply
  • flowrush - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Would also liked to have seen my lovely Silent Eagle by Sharkoon. Dimples ftw! Reply

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