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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  • Hummingbird - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I don´t think that this fan roundup really helps to decide which fan is the best out there as long as the Corsair H80´s radiator is far away in terms of it´s dimensions (depth and fin gaps/distance) from the standard radiators which are normally used for H2O setups. Reply
  • eric appla - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Thank you for efforts with the review Dustin. When I seen Anandtech doing fan review I was very excited that I'll see very detailed and scientific approach as I'm used to from AT articles. Unfortunately this review was not fully what I expected

    What I'd find useful in the Fan reviewes is also some CFM mesurements and noise measurements.

    Noise measurements are very tricky as even A weighted dBA noise level is not telling full story. I would suggest to provide noise spectral picture as it can show at what frequencies are the dominant components of the noise. Some fans do hum, some squeek.

    On the CFM and static pressure front it will be interesting to measure them in few scenarios.
    1) open air (case fan scenario)
    2) dust filter (case fan scenario)
    3) low restriction radiator for example XSPC RX series
    4) medium restriction radiator for example XSPC RS series
    5) high restriction radiator for example XSPC EX series

    Pretty much every radiator manufacturer makes few different radiators optimized for different fans based on the static pressure and airflow they can deliver.

    Full review like this will show people that there is no single best fan in the world, there are just best fans for particular usage scenarios.

    Challange is on :)

    For Fan reviews to use with radiators I usually go to websites specialized on this narrow subject such as martinsliquidlab or skineelab as they have the required test equipment. Have a look at what these guys do, I think you'll find it exciting and inspirational and as I know you based on your approach to reviewes you'll surely find a ways to improve their methodologies even further.

    Thanks again for all the efforts
    Reply
  • krumme - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    A spectral plot wont bring us any closer, as there is dynamics involved to, and the charateristics of that dynamics. Besides that its expensive to do.

    Just add a colum with subjective impression/valuation and notes, fx. clicking, high picth tone..., even distributed...

    Its the subjective that matters in the end.
    Reply
  • Robalov - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Nice article and get's right to the point, however I'd like to see 20+ fans tested.

    They're are so many touting that their 'special' design knocks the socks off the others.

    Fans don't seem to get the air time (ba dum tiss) of other components are are left entirely up to personal recommendations on the forums, as the specs are just massaged or even outright lies.

    As an aside, CoolerMaster really are a horrible brand.
    Reply
  • BlueReason - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    First off, it's nice to see Anandtech making an effort to evaluate fans, a component sorely under-prioritized in rig setups (not to mention extremely difficult to review).

    However, as stated by others, the NF-F12 really should have been tested. I don't even like any of Noctua's other fans, but the F12 is possibly the most specialized, single-purpose consumer grade fan on the market, engineered ground-up for heatsink performance. Whether it delivers on that performance is debatable (in my experience, it does), but its exclusion from the comparison is rather odd.

    Are any of the reviewed fans even PWM?

    On a side note: some F12 units seem to have acoustic issues, hence the occasional "loud" comments. My first F12 suffered from this and was replaced by Noctua, to good effect.
    Reply
  • khanov - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    No no no. You can't say that those Corsair fans win, since they only manage to equal the performance of Noctua's "old gentleman" NF-P12. That is not a win from Corsair as those Noctua's have been available for 6+ years now (but still it is a good first effort from Corsair).

    None of the fans you tested can actually best the performance of a Noiseblocker M-12P at the same or lower sound pressure level on a low profile, high-fin-count rad. (and that is what these high pressure fans are for, right?). So the real winner is Noiseblocker, but you decided to exclude them along with Noctua. Shenanigans, Dustin.

    Noctua's NF-P12 are a good second best for many peeps into water cooling and are usually available at a reasonable price. If you are planning to push/pull a 3x120 or 4x120 rad for example, then the cost of 6x or 8x your chosen fan adds up very quickly. So to be reasonable about it the Noctua's should realistically win simply because the Corsairs are WAY overpriced right now (flavour of the month?).

    Noiseblocker's M-12P's are still the real performance winner (cooling vs perceptible noise) but may cost you several arms and legs to import depending where you live.

    I like that you have a WC setup and are now testing fans vs. rads. I look forward to future fan/rad. tests but just do it properly please. Excluding the real players is like saying the new Ford Fiesta is the fastest car on the Nürburgring because you deliberately excluded any real competition!
    Reply
  • kg4icg - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Nice review. I'm using the H100 instead of the H80 and yes I am using the stock fans. The thing is, I also have the Corsair Link hooked up inside my system which is controlling fan and pump speed instead of 1 button on the cpu block. Ironically I have more power hookup's for fans than I have room for fans in my case. Reply
  • Iketh - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Can't believe this fan was not included.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    It has winglets designed specifically for static pressure. The bearing it uses is also 100% silent. At max RPM, the fan will get loud though because of the winglets, but completely silent mid-low.
    Reply
  • Onus - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    So, once again, Crappermaster is caught lying about their products. Amazing. Reply
  • thralloforcus - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I would have loved to see some Noctua, Noiseblocker, and Cougar fans tested. These seems to be pretty popular for radiators. I'm using the stock H100 fans right now in my H100, with two Noiseblocker M12-P fans for pull.

    Of course I'm always looking for better performance! I was using two Panaflo FBA12G12H1BX fans with the stock fans, but it seemed that the voltages given out by the H100 were too low, and the fans kept shutting off.
    Reply

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