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.
  • Thank you to CoolerMaster for providing us with the Excalibur and Turbine Master 120mm fans.
  • Thank you to Noctua for providing us with the NF-F12 120mm fan.
  • Thank you to be quiet! for providing us with the Silent Wings 2 120mm fan.
Introduction The Fans We're Testing, Part 3
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  • Sea Shadow - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    While I concede Delta's are loud (they can scream like a banshee), Panaflow and Papst still beat the GT any day of the week in all regards. Reply
  • sicofante - Sunday, October 28, 2012 - link

    I hope you can back that up with some sources. (And it's Panaflo, without the last 'w'). Reply
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 08, 2013 - link

    Absolutely wrong, all the community tests say otherwise, all the major cooling enthusiast forums can't be wrong, whilst you're right.
    Noise to perf ratio GT is better than the Panaflow or Pabst, I cant recall even one of their models being near the top in fact.
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 08, 2013 - link

    The only amateur here is you, nidec-servo (the OEM of the gentle typhoons, not Scythe) is most certainly not an OEM for children...
    If you'd spent any time doing some "real" research, you'd see that the GT's have been without Qn the dominant rad fan for at least 3yr now, that's only started to wane in recent mths, & even that's still up for debate.
    Read all the major threads, in all the major cooling enthusiast communities, where very detailed comparos have occurred, & you'll quickly find that it's constantly at the top, alongside a small handful of others.
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 08, 2013 - link

    Correction, it's Nidec & Nidec-Servo, I can't recall the difference between the two groups OTTOMH, I've done business with them in the past for industrial applications. Reply
  • Synomenon - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Aside from the color, is the Enermax Magma the same fan as the Enermax Cluster (white with white LEDs)? Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    The Cluster is a PWM, Magma's fixed 1500.

    You should test some Noiseblockers sometime, not the flashiest (pretty plain fin design) but they've consistently been some of the best performers on Xbit's fan roundups.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Hmm, the Cluster I saw reviewed elsewhere was a PWM anyway, apparently not the one Newegg carries tho. Reply
  • pdjblum - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Though I was very pleased with my magma's for a time, four of the five I bought within the past year has had to be replaced.

    Recently picked up some cougars. I had my eye on them for quite some time. When yet another of my magma's started to make a disturbing noise, I bought some of these. So far, they are fantastic in at least two ways: noise, air movement. So far i like them better than the noctua's I recently purchased.
    Reply
  • garadante - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Though this is a reply to an absolutely ancient (in tech forum terms) post, I just wanted to share my experience with my 3 Magmas. I've had 3 running nearly 24/7 at full speed for almost 2 years with zero issues. The fans are very quiet too, nearly inaudible inside my Corsair 750D. The only noise that bothers me is some rattling that I haven't yet found the cause for, that goes away when I tap the case hard enough. Reply

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