Testing Methodology

If you've been keeping up with our case reviews, our testing methodology for the fans here is going to seem relatively similar in some ways. Our test system may seem a bit unusual in more than a few ways, but stick with me and I'll explain why I put it together and tested it the way I did.

Fan and Radiator Testing Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.4V
Motherboard Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi
Graphics Intel HD 3000 IGP
Memory 2x4GB Corsair Value Select DDR3-1333
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
CPU Cooler Corsair H80
Power Supply Corsair CX500
Enclosure BitFenix Prodigy with 200mm BitFenix Spectre Pro intake @ 5V

The processor, with its healthy voltage boost and overclock, throws a pretty substantial amount of heat at our cooling system. Testing with an i7-2700K at stock speeds would defeat the purpose; Intel's own stock cooler can handle that, we want to "separate the men from the boys" so to speak.

So why use a closed enclosure, and a Mini-ITX one no doubt? As it turns out, my experience in testing Origin's Chronos LAN box suggested that this might actually be ideal. Removing the middle drive cage allows for a straight shot between the Prodigy's intake and the radiator fan, allowing us the opportunity to test how quietly and efficiently the fans can run in a closed system with no real acoustic baffling, while the 200mm Spectre Pro attenuated to 5V runs both quietly enough to not significantly impact results while providing enough airflow to ensure the radiator fans can do their job. Using a larger enclosure felt like it might complicate things with too many variables; the small and wonderfully efficient BitFenix Prodigy felt perfect for the job.

Since a dedicated GPU wasn't needed, one wasn't used. This prevents a graphics card from generating additional heat or noise or deflecting airflow.

Finally, for the closed-loop cooler we used Corsair's H80. Our own testing proved this was a solid performer and fairly representative of 120mm closed-loop units. The H80 includes a thick, beefy 120mm radiator as well as having dual fan headers built into the waterblock that run non-PWM fans at a constant 12V. I elected against testing in a push-pull configuration, though, to isolate individual fan performance; test results are in a push configuration only.

Thermal and acoustic test cycles were done the same way as our case reviews. First, the system is left powered and idle for fifteen minutes. At this point the sound level is tested, room ambient temperature is recorded, and idle temperatures are recorded. Then eight threads of small FFTs in Prime95 are run for fifteen minutes, and load temperatures are recorded; since the block runs the fans at a constant 12V, the only fan that changes speed (and thus noise) is the stock H80 fan, so the noise level for that fan is recorded again during the Prime95 run.

Thank You!

Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our roundup.

  • Thank you to iBuyPower for providing us with the Intel Core i7-2700K.
  • Thank you to Zotac for providing us with the Z77-ITX WiFi motherboard.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to Corsair for providing us with the H80, the SP120 fans, and CX500 power supply.
  • Thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the Air Penetrator AP121 120mm fan.
  • Thank you to BitFenix for providing us with the Prodigy enclosure and Spectre Pro 120mm fan.
Introduction The Fans We're Testing, Part 1
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  • Kougar - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    I have to second this. The P12's are known for their silence yet, amongst other things, are specifically stated to deliver higher pressure for radiator use.

    Comparing the F12 against the P12 would be even better though, of course.
    Reply
  • JPForums - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Great review.
    Leaves me wanting more.
    I vote for a follow up.

    I would have loved to have seen the Noctua NF-F12, ...


    I second this. Noctua's fans specify pretty reasonable noise, airflow, and static pressure. By what I've heard, they may live up to their specs.
    Also, like below, I'd be interested to see if Noiseblocker's excellent case fans make good radiator fans.
    While we are at it, throw Thermaltake's Hydrodynamic bearing fans on the list to see if they are really as good as thermaltake claims. The versions pair with Thermaltake coolers should be ideal.
    Finally, an old school Thermaltake Thunderblade would be a good point of comparison to see how far they've progressed.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Yeah, the very first thing I thought when I opened this article was "Wait, there's no Noctua fans in that picture, where are they?"

    A 120mm fan review without a Noctua fan in it is certainly incomplete.
    Reply
  • sam1337 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    i agree, wheres the nf-f12 and scythe GT :P Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/1...

    The SickleFlow comes nowhere near 69.69 CFM. Though even at 33 CFM it performs quite poorly here.
    Reply
  • jackstar7 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I'm using Noiseblocker fans and find that in normal conditions they perform very well and keep quiet. Mine are on an H60. I believe Idontcare might have some stats in the forums about their performance. Reply
  • Grooveriding - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Really surprised not to see Scythe GTs included. Reply
  • Mr. Pedantic - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I would have really liked to see how the Gentle Typhoons stack up as well. Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, after all often they are claimed to be -the- fan for radiators (and many other applications) Reply
  • sicofante - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Absolutely. It kind of discredits the whole review, when the GTs are considered the best for this task almost everywhere. Reply

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