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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  • Iketh - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

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

    still didn't include a fan with winglets and nanoflux bearings like the one above... this fan is a real gem...
    Reply
  • prophet001 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    "Yes, undoubtedly I have omitted someone's favorite fan." Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    yea i guess when people say things like this that everyone should shutup and never give recommendations... brainiac

    what are you? a sheep?
    Reply
  • landerf - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    No it's not. I was crazy about gelid fans for a brief time but I was just being an idiot. Don't let the price fool you, they under perform and make too much noise. Look at any fan roundup with them in it and you'll see how mediocre they are. Move along and your wallet will thank you. Reply
  • Naoe Shigen - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Let me start off by saying that I'm a long-time reader of Anandtech and that I absolutely love the site (even when some of Anand's articles go over my head =P). This will be my first comment ever.

    I have to say that this is a really disappointing review for at least two reasons:
    1) Why test with a Corsair H80? It's a horrid little all-in-one solution whose radiator -- regardless of the fan used -- can't even match the top-ten air coolers.
    2) How do you take the time to test a bunch of fans in order to determine which is the best for use with a radiator and *not* test at least one or two Gentle Typhoon variants? Or even some of the GELID offerings? If the article was done in a week and based upon the stock at a local Fry's or Microcenter, then fine. But when the article was written in two parts and across several months? No.

    In general I have noticed that this is where Anandtech tends to let me down with the quality of its articles. I can only assume that Anandtech lacks contributors who have a serious interest in specific enthusiast genres like water-cooling. I would love to see the level of expertise and attention to detail that I have come to take for granted with SSD/CPU/Mobo articles applied to water-cooling, overclocking, and case reviews. Especially now that things like water-cooling and overclocking are easier and more mainstream than ever. But hey, maybe I'm crazy and I'm the only one that feels this way. It wouldn't be the first time... =D
    Reply
  • Naoe Shigen - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    To put this in perspective, this is the caliber of review I would expect from 3dgameman.com. And he's one of the least informed owners of a hardware review website that I can think of. Second only to motherboards.org, which makes me wonder why anyone would take computer component advice from someone that looks and sounds like an ex-wrestler.

    But I digress...
    Reply
  • FaaR - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    You're missing the point of the review by complaining about the performance of the H80; it's not the performance of the cooler that is being reviewed, it's how fans used on a radiator perform that is of the matter here.

    That certain air coolers perform better than the H80 really doesn't factor into it, as these air coolers aren't radiators.

    CPU temperatures, while (maybe) higher than other cooling solutions, are merely supplied as an indicator of fan performance.

    Also, in defense of the Corsair H80, it's probably one of the more common all-in-one radiator coolers out there, so people owning one can use this review as an easy indicator of what fan will work well with it. By the way, I am not one of them. I have a Noctua aircooler in my rig.
    Reply
  • Gasaraki88 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Really? You people want him to test every single fan on Newegg or something? Are you going to buy all those fans for him? If vendors don't give some to him to test or he doesn't have them on hand he's not testing them. Are you paying him to sit there for 2 months taking 100s of fans off and on the cooler just so you're happy that your brand of fan was in the article? Reply
  • sicofante - Sunday, October 28, 2012 - link

    No, but not including the most commonly praised radiator fans (the Gently Typhoons) doesn't seem reasonable at all. Either the writer doesn't know about them (which would be bad) or the review is biased for some obscure reason (which would be worse).

    (To the one complaining about the chosen radiator: the H80 fares typically in the range of the top air coolers and it offers a much more safe mounting than those. If you ever want to ship a computer, don't even think of those top air coolers, unless you want to risk breaking your motherboard. And never forget to ship the fans separately or face finding them bouncing around your case throughout the trip... Ever wondered why factory overclocked systems use Asetek all-in-one watercoolers? Now you know.)
    Reply
  • soloburrito - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    So yeah, there are a lot of fans you guys will obviously miss out on, but if given the opportunity, I wouldn't mind burning $10 or $15 to send a fan for you all to test straight from a distributor.

    That's the easy part. Whether you have enough time to put dozens more fans through their proper paces is another issue entirely.

    Just a thought.
    Reply

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