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
POST A COMMENT

112 Comments

View All Comments

  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    That at least half of you have a fan you're upset wasn't included, and they're almost all completely different fans. There was no way I was going to be able to cover all of them (although the Yate Loon, Noctua, and Scythe are admittedly pretty big omissions, especially the Noctua), but I seem to have opened Pandora's Box with this one.

    This roundup is a little unusual for us (but then I'm the unusual review guy at this point), so if it does well I'll look into updating it with a second part in a month or two with a second set of fans. Noctua's reached out to me, so the possibility is there.
    Reply
  • NeXTguy2 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    If you do a second round you might want to consider the following fans, too. Looks like Austria (Noctua) and Germany (Noiseblocker, be quiet!) have a bit of a fan industry going...

    http://www.bequiet.com/en/casefans/270
    http://www.noiseblocker.de/en/BlackSilentPro120.ph...

    The people at Noiseblocker have also just released a new fan series based on research funded by the German ministry of technology. Basically, the blades are connected on the outside to a ring that rotates in the chassis. So far, they don't even seem to have a page in English about it:

    http://noiseblocker.de/eLoop120.php

    I'm using the low-speed ones as case fans, but that's beside the point I guess.
    Reply
  • maximumGPU - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    It was great seeing Anandtech reviewing fans, especially since the which "which fan is best " discussion is certainly fiercly debated by enthusiasts on forums.
    Great first step and definetly +1 for a second round up with more fans!!
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Personally I find Arctic Cooling fans to be a solid choice. Not sure how they're available in the US, though. Reply
  • sicofante - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Maybe research a little bit what makes a fan have good pressure, then proceed.

    Usually, many fins with little space in between say "high pressure"...
    Reply
  • sanityvoid - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Dustin,

    I posted another reply as I didn't see your reply right away. I appreciate the hell out of you trying this in the first place. I love reading Anandtech and come here most for builds, advice, or to browse the forums to see what everyone is doing with their rig's.

    I think you did indeed open Pandora's box, but having said that I think a different poster is correct in saying that this is a welcome addition to other articles here at Anandtech. Much needed and many people do prefer water over air. I, myself, just bought and installed a H80 with my recent upgrade to my rig.

    Keep up the good work and I certainly look forward to a part 2 of this.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • sanityvoid - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I would also mention based on the sheer numbers of comments there is a definite reason to do a part 2 as so many people seem passionate about this area. Least you could pitch that to your editor that way!!! Reply
  • nubnubbins - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I think the issue is that you have a random hodgepodge of fans included while passing over fans widely regarded as some of the best for radiators. As a baseline, you should have had a Yate Loon and Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP15. Yates are widely regarded as the best budget fan and AP15s the best lower noise rad fan. After that, the Cougar Vortex, Aerocool Shark, Gelid Wing, Noiseblockers, Noctua NF-P12 and NF-F12, and XSPC Xinrulian fans are all regarded as great radiator fans by the likes of MartinsLiquidLabs and those in the water cooling community.

    It's nice to see some fan reviews, I think people are just disappointed that the staple radiator fans were left out and you had a disproportionate number of Corsair fans instead.
    Reply
  • Streetwind - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Geez guys, calm down a bit! ;) Testing every fan on the market is more or less impossible. While I personally would have loved to see the Scythe/Nidec Servo GentleTyphoon make an appearance (especially since they're somewhat more obscure than they deserve), but the purpose of this article is not to crown "the best fan ever".

    It is supposed to showcase "a good fan" for the job. Clearly there will be other good fans. Some may even be a little better. But so long as you're giving a customer a recommendation that's in the top 20% of products on the market, backed up by hard data, that's already going to help that customer a whole lot than forum posts stating "I can guarantee you that fan XYZ is the best, I have been using it for years". Because all that a post like that states is "I have not compared my fan to others in years and actually have no idea how good the competition is".
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    There's nothing wrong with people mentioning fans. In fact, it can be helpful as it gives Anandtech an idea of what people would like to see. They can take the mentioned devices, review their stats (and maybe even existing reviews) and possibly create another line-up.

    Although, frothing rage is never appreciated, but I think people have been pretty civil. =)
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now