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  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I would have loved to have seen the Noctua NF-F12, Noctua are a high-quality (Albeit expensive) brand that allot of enthusiasts go for, myself included on the Corsair H100.
    I spent as much on the 4x Noctua fans as the Corsair H100 cost itself. :)
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I was going to say the same thing. The Noctua NF-F12 (not to be confused with the NF-P12) is the perfect fan for cooling a radiator with relatively low noise. Reply
  • kidsafe - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I own a lot of fans including the NF-F12s, Gentle Typhoon AP-14s, Kama Flow 2s, etc. The NF-F12 has above average static pressure, but it is not even remotely quiet. The plastic stators make the fan noisier than both other fans mentioned above at normalized temperatures. It also makes the fan louder than the S12 and P12. Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Quietness is relative. My guess is the the NF-F12 at 1500rpm would cool as well as the H80 Stock at medium, while being quieter than the H80.

    Also, the NF-F12 comes with a "low-noise adapter" that brings the speed down to 1200rpm. With the LNA, I guess the NF-F12 would perform as well as the NZXT Performance, while being quieter.
  • A1phabeta - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    Actually, the static pressure of the NF-F12 with the low-noise adaptor is still 1.61 mmH2O, which is amazing considering that the fan's running at just 1200 rpm. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I actually can't hear my Noctua's over the crappy Asus Sabertooth X79's chipset fan, so they can't be that noisy. Reply
  • sirizak - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Have a look at Noctuas specifications for static pressure on the NF-F12, its 2.61 mm/H2O. Not even in the ball park of the H80's 7.7 mm/H2O, my bet is the H80 is based on a tried and true Yate Loon D12SH-12, look them up. Reply
  • BlueReason - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    True enough, but the H80's fan is also running at 2600rpm as opposed to the Noc's 1500, so that really isn't an accomplishment. Try running the stock fan at 1500 and see what happens. I'll spoil the surprise: It will still be louder than the Noc, and won't cool as well. Also there's more to rad-cooling than SP. Reply
  • Sapiens - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Same here, disappointed that Noctua was left out of the list. Reply
  • This Guy - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I like NF-P12's. In push-pull on a heat sink they killed both an exhaust and an intake fan in an Antec Sonata III. In another case, one exhaust fan pulls more air in through the mesh front that the 120mm intake fan down the bottom. Great fans. Reply
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • sam1337 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

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

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

    Personally, I was surprised not to any Scythe fans. IMHO, they make the best fans of manufacturer. I've been buying Scythe exclusively for several years now with a focus on quiet computing, and IMHO, their dbA ratings are spot on whilst providing excellent cooling. Reply
  • DarkStryke - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Sorry, but this review was very lackluster, and is void of explaining the most important factor that affects fan performance on a radiator, the fin density (Fins Per Inch). That H80 unit uses a very dense FPI setup (roughly 20), which will greatly affect the performance of a fan, and thus render your results totally meaningless to users of less dense radiators.

    That's not even commenting on the omission of Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP-14/15's, which no thorough radiator review would be without, as they are considered one of the best rad fans available.

    I have to ask the Anand review editorsf, was this just a marketing filler review?
  • prophet001 - Wednesday, September 05, 2012 - link

    If you're concerned about a fan's performance when used in conjunction with a radiator or heat sync then you look at the fan's maximum static pressure.

    You don't review fans based on fin density.
  • Jibcutter - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Should have tested COUGAR CF-V12HP Vortex Hydro-Dynamic-Bearing (Fluid) 300,000 Hours 12CM Silent Cooling Fan with Pulse Width Modulation. I purchased these to run on the Corsair H100. The temperature differences and noise reduction over stock have been orders of magnitude different. Reply
  • Ti-Da - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    can't Agree more !!!
    I've bought 5 of these baby COUGAR CF-V12HP w/PWM for my H100 + 1 exhaust on White Corsair 600T - Doing push/pull and the temps/noise is really great.
  • **USA** - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Am using 5 as well...terrific performance! Very low temps and low noise! Using the USAdystopia method of mounting as seen on utube. Reply
  • fausto412 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I have seen comparative fan tests before done by SPR.
    I have none PWM fans and I can control their speed using Speedfan. You telling me the Corsair cooler doesn't allow that? a fixed speed fan sucks.

    I would like to see this test of fans repeated and including more fans. test for how much air the fans move at different RPM's(600, 1100, 1800, Max rpm) and at what point is the air/noise useless because the temp won't go any lower and the db tradeoff. Now that is something i have been wanting to see for some time. Also include a breakdown of fan components and whether they matter. diff types of bearings and suck plus why should people care to have pwm and why isn't every motherboard i run into has only 1 pwm header.
  • danjw - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    With most of Asus's Z77 motherboards having all PWM fan headers, that, I think, is the way the industry is going. I would like to see a similar shootout with PWM fans. Also, I would like some 140mm fans in there, as a lot of cases can mount 140mm fans these days.

    It is nice to see you do a fan review, though. I hope you will do some more!
  • Streetwind - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    The nice part about the ASUS 7x boards is that they can handle any type of fan.

    Connect a 4-pin PWM fan, and it will be PWM controlled. Connect a 3-pin classic fan, and it will be voltage controlled. You can mix and match however you like, too. They've really done a great job on the fan control, an area that other manufacturers have sadly chosen to ignore for many years. Hopefully that will change in the future.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    The 7x boards do this? Because my Z68-based ASUS board has a load of fan headers and they're all PWM, it's utterly pointless right now. PWM fans are rare as hen's teeth, most of the popular ones are three-pin right now. Reply
  • Streetwind - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, as far as I'm aware it's based on the Fan Xpert II software that's bundled with the Panther Point boards; it doesn't work directly from the UEFI.

    In fact, didn't Anand post a video earlier the year where an ASUS rep came over to you guys show off the fan control software in action?
  • maximumGPU - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Yes they do, i have 7x Asus board and their fan control software is superb. it'll work with both PWM and non-PWM fans as in my case.
    It provides a lot of useful information too such as min and max rpm for each fan.
    the only thing missing is the ability to create a fan profile that could be linked to temperature other than cpu temp, like motherboard for example.

    Their software is what pushed me to chose their mobo instead of competitors.
  • Iketh - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    oh come on, they are not rare at all Reply
  • danjw - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Yes, I believe that the Z7x's can also voltage control. But PWM usually have a better range then with standard fans, voltage controlled. Also, I believe the Corsair Link controller does voltage control as well. Reply
  • ckevin1 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I have an Asus P8Z68-V Gen3, and last night I went through the pain of figuring out how to voltage control a 3-pin fan on it. It *can* be done.

    The CPU and SYS fan headers are PWM only, as I found, but the 4-pin Chassis fan header (near the slots & I/O panel) does support voltage control. Plain old fan XPert that they provide on the download site for my board can control it, and it can also be set up from the BIOS.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    You say this, but I had an MSI board back in the Pentium III era that had completely independant fan control on all headers.

    I also had an Abit board with µguru that had completely independant fan header control, for Pentium 4.

    I also had an Abit board with µguru that had total control for Socket 775...

    Now I have an Asus P8Z68-V Pro, and before I had another 775 Asus board, I've never had worse fan control. The headers are shared, each are a certain type of control.. It's pathetic.

    In summary: abit had amazing fan control for many years, Asus is playing catch up, your comment is therefore amusing.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Oh, and I wish I could edit, but I can't forget that the ASUS boards also prevent you from dropping the speed below a certain amount, which is awful. I had to fit resistors to my Corsair A70 and THEN fan control it to make it a reasonable noise level. I'd prefer to have the full range of speed available to me. Reply
  • ypsylon - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    InstaFAIL. By far most potent fans on the market. They combine supreme performance (120mm - 138.4m3=82CFM @ 1500rpm/26dB) with low noise and great price for performance. Running exclusively only AC Sharks now. Tested many fans, survived only 1 type.

    For liquid cooling solutions (even for such poor AIO kits) there is easy way to improve cooling a bit. Put spacer (gutted old fan or buy brand new one in shops trading LC things) between radiator and fan(s) on the intake side. That way radiator will be cooled equally on the entire surface. With default setup: fan straight to radiator, center of radiator is warmer than edges, simply because air straight below fan bearing cannot cool and move quickly enough.
  • Stupido - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    The idea of the spacer is an excellent one!
    Thanks for that!
  • JerWA - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Any hopes of you guys snagging one of these to add to the test results?

    Gelid Wing 12 PL, P/N: FN-FW12BPL-18.

    I'm using 2 as the push in a push/pull H100 setup, and it'd be nice to know if there's a better option and just how they measure up in comparison.
  • 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.
  • 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...

    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:

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


    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.

  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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. =)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • sanityvoid - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I agree the Scythes AP-15's and Noctua F12's should have been included. I just spent 1 week going over different forums reading up on which worked best and which didn't. I'm also angling for low noise but even so the Noctua and Scythe still come up time and time again. Any google search on H80 best fans will return those two fans in the tops threads a real shame they were not included.

    Expensive and somewhat hard to find I agree but I just bought the F12's off Amazon last night.

    Disappointing that a Google search could bear more fruit than a article about this subject.
  • versesuvius - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    " eke every last ounce of performance (within reason) out of our systems."

    Shouldn't that be (without reason) ?
  • todlerix - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    another vote for noctua Reply
  • sirizak - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Great review, for the products tested and for the scope I thought it was a good article.

    I can understand some wishing for other fans to be tested but the amount of fans on the market today make this mostly impossible.

    If you would like to see a massively broad range of fans tested in a controlled environment I recommend this thread. Slightly different application, being a Megahalems air cooler, but the range of fans and thorough testing can't be faulted.

    Highly recommended if a little dated article, check out the Yate Loons.
  • Runamok81 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    As others have pointed out, this review is lacking some key contenders for the rad fan crown. This will not stand Dustin! I demand a recount! Please do either another rad fan article, or atleast an update to this article. I trust Anandtech, and I'm desperate for my favorite review site to put its... spin on the rad fan debates swirling across the internet forums. Rad cooling is indeed a hot topic.

    I'll admit, having purchased an H100 and fans yesterday, your article was perfectly timed but educationally lacking. I don't know how you can do a rad fan roundup without the enthusiast champ - Scythe AP15s, the ugly betty - Noctuas, or the newest darkhorse - Cougars peppering in a comparison. C'mon man, you are better than that! I want.. no .. I NEED Anandtech's opinion on these fans!
  • macmuchmore - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I definitely would have liked to see the Noctua fans included. However, this leads me to request a follow up article that includes a more comprehensive review which has additional fans from other manufacturers as well as a "quality of noise" rating. I know some people say that noctuas are not silent - and I don't disagree. I do believe that they are "nearly" silent and that the sound they make is the least annoying of any fan I have used. Thanks! Reply
  • will1220 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    why would you test such under-performing 120mm fans? At least include the highest rated 120mm fan on the market: Scythe Ultra Kaze Reply
  • iceveiled - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I'm a little confused how these fans will work with the H80 unit. The stock fans are rated at 3 different RPMs which the system designates as low/med/high, yet most of the fans here are rated at only a single RPM value.

    Does that mean that the fans will only spin up at their rated RPM regardless of how hot or cool the liquid in the H80 gets? So for example regardless if the H80 fan profile setting is set low, medium or high, the corsair quiet editions fans will only spin at 1450 RPM, or can the corsair unit actually make them spin faster or slower?

    Great article BTW..a little disappointed to see you only test in push configuration. The H80 is meant for push/pull and I'm sure the test results are completely different in push/pull. How many people get the H80 and only use one fan?
  • mantikos - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    If you haven't included a Sanyo Denki San Ace fan in your testing, your fan test is incomplete. These fans will blow your socks off. Reply
  • Runamok81 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I've heard the Sanyo Denki San Ace is one of the best performing fans on the market. If you have NO concern about the noise level.

    Video and sound of a Sanyo Denki Ace
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Sanyo Ace has wide range of fans, some of which are optimized for noise.
    w w w .
  • mantikos - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Sanyo Denki has fans that are damn near silent to leaf blowers...and in either category they are the best. Although a little hard to find.
    I have a Sanyo Denki hooked up to my radiator and I can tell you this thing is awesome!
  • Beenthere - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    ...this type of testing doesn't provide much useful data as the results are only applicable to the hardware tested, i.e. the exact PC case, CPU/cooler, and peripherals as installed in this particular PC case.

    The advertised airflow and static pressure mean absolutely NOTHING unless tested under the exact same industry standards by one source, on the same test equipment all at the same time. In addition how these fans actually perform in real use can be completely different than the advertised performance specs as the case/cooler/peripherals ALL influence the fans performance.

    The reality is the only way to determine how any fan will actual perform in your PC is to test it. Chances are you won't find much difference between the top 5-10 fans that operate at approx. the same speed and with similar airflow, so you might as well just pick the one that makes you happy and forget it unless you want to test for entertainment purposes.
  • prophet001 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Akasa Viper PWM fans is the best one I've used.

    Noctua is good but they don't have the ability to output high CFM when necessary.
  • Narg - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I love that case, other than it's only ITX. Does anyone know if there is something similar in a Micro ATX or any ATX for that matter? Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Go to Xtremesystems, liquid cooling sub-forum, then the testing sticky. Inside you'll find Martin210's test of over 50 fans tested on a Swiftech MCR-120 rad. Further testing on higher density finned rads are also there, conducted by Vapor.

    Sad this site tried to do with 8 fans what has been done with 50 fans, and counting.
  • SantaAna12 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Nice! I was ready for something straight ahead. I would like to see the Noctua included too. I own some, and found that them to be noisy. Coolermaster slapped down! Hardly a big surprise get what you pay for....mostly. I ended up using Nexus....but would like to see a better cfm flow option that is truly quiet. Good review! Reply
  • 996GT2 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Why was the Gentle Typhoon line (especially the AP-15) not tested?

    The AP-15 is one of the go-to fans for radiators. Not only does it have good static pressure, but it has a very acoustically pleasing noise characteristic.
  • maximumGPU - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    I got an GT-AP after after all the praise they got, and i was underwhelmed. They push a good amount of air but i certainly didn't find their noise "acoustically pleasing".
    I hoped for better.
    Of all the fans i tried, the best so far has been the TY-140 from thermalright.. But they're 140mm and look hideous.
  • 996GT2 - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    In my own testing the AP-15 @ about 1800 RPM sounded like my FDB bearing Scythe S-Flexes at about 14-1500 RPM. The AP-15 is inaudible to me at ~1000 RPM from a normal distance. Reply
  • Rocket321 - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I appreciated this review and would also like to see a round two, thanks Dustin! Reply
  • krumme - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    So people want 100 different coolers tested in 1000 different combinations, all with a spectrum analyzer plot.

    Sounds like tax payers demand for public service

    May i remind you about the conlusion.

    Stock cooler works fine

    Sorry to hurt upgrade feelings and the eternal upgrade identity :)

    Another excellent, spot on, work by Dustin.
  • ehume - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I've done my own share of fan-testing. One is available in the AT forums, but the fuller cite is on OCN - The Well-Dressed Megahalems. I did an update on last month with 60 fans. My R4 Sickleflow does not fail the way this one did. It never even got warm, and performed pretty well. So I think Dustin got a bum copy.

    Actually, I have 2 CM Sickleflow 2000's. They both run around 2000 rpm. Dustin, check your fan speed. If it is not running about 2K, it's not working properly.

    On Sickleflow specs: even CM has admitted that it only runs 19 dB if it is slowed down. Now, as to why they have not corrected their "typo" . . .

    Overall, this is a nice beginning. I would suggest noting someplace that your setup is stable at various ambient temps. If you can leave the block bolted to the cpu you can return to it later to test other fans.

    Over at OCN in the water cooling section Martinm210 did a bunch of fan-testing on rads, both 120mm and 140mm. Worth looking at. As for individual fans on a rad, I believe the Gentle Typhoon Ap-15 is the standard benchmark.
  • sirizak - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I remember signing upto OCN to thank you for that article ehume.

    Thank you again, that was how you a fan roundup!

    I posted a link to the original article earlier in the comments.

    Can we get a link to the article please?
  • szimm - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    I would have rather seen a review using the PWM version of the 120mm Bitfenix Spectre Pro, which is clearly built for radiator use - it has more than twice the static pressure of the non-PWM version. Reply
  • jabber - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    They appear to work a treat. No complaints.

    I just looked for the one listed with the highest CFM for a set dB limit.

    Not disappointed.
  • cyberguyz - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    this review totally overlooked all the 120x38mm fans out there.
    Forget the CFM numbers. When dealing with a radiator it is the ability of the fan to force air through tghe radiator - particularly double-core radiators that counts.

    CFM numbers are obtains from open-air movement with no restrictions. Many of the 25mm thick fans fall off really fast as soon as you restrict the output side of that airflow. A 38mm thick fan can use a steeper blade pitch to push that air harder through dense radiator fins.

    I run a pair of Panaflow 'Ultra fast' fans with 115 cfm + 0.313 in H2O, 7.95 mm H2O, (78.0 Pa) on an H100 radiator.

    While dang loud at full speed I can dial them back to 7v and keep my computer relatively sane-sounding. If things get a little warm I can speed them up as needed. Never had to take them to 100% (12v) though.
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    I liked this comparison, but curious to see Sanyo Denki in the mix because they are pretty awesome fans. I think they may be a little high on acoustics, but they are extremely durable and very effective. (in personal experience)

    Also, my enermax fan has been really amazing in my current rig, I think it has a great balance of cool/noise.

    I guess I think you need a wider test base. While it's great that your tests show that fans matter, there are just so many more options out there that there can't be a clear recommendation based on this article.
  • bigbluerobo - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    if this review was posted 2 months sooner i would have saved 18 bucks with the CM sickle flows :( Reply
  • orclordrh - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    The H80 has a fan speed feature, but for those of us with lesser rads (H-60 in my case) a PWM fan or fans are preferable for noise. I've been searching for two (push-pull) since replacing my CPU with a 3770k, and finding that it's a major meltdown waiting to happen. I tried a pair of Noctua F12s, nice design, shame about the airflow, now serving as case fans. I also tried a Coolermaster or two. I'm back with the stock Corsair on the outside, backed with a Coolermaster Excalibur, which is at least keeping the 3770 cool, but has little headroom for overclocking. At least it's quiet unless it's under load. Reply
  • Zap - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    IMO the most important revelation of this review/roundup is:


    All else being equal, that is a fundamental fact that cannot be avoided. Sure you can push results one way or another with smart fan choice, but the fact remains that higher airflow (with static pressure, when used with restrictive rads) makes for better cooling as well as higher noise.
  • BlueReason - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    "What may be most disappointing about this lineup, though, is the unfortunate fact that there may be no magic bullet radiator fan that's able to produce stellar thermals with low noise."

    With all due respect... You tested six fans. Six. The Corsairs count as one, Captain Fan Control. Worse yet, only one of the models was actually designed for heatsink application, in a market where there are numerous others.

    Oh yeah, the Silverstone's spiral grill is designed to PROJECT AIR ACROSS A DISTANCE. It's a case intake fan. C'mon.

    Love ya, Dustin. Really. Do some research, gather some appropriate fans designed for or at least with a strong reputation for hsf use, and ask around about modern test methodology. Fan reviewing is a pain, I know. There's no convenient benchmark program for it. Here's one tip: Get access to a LongWin machine. If Linus at NCIX can get to one ( so can the web's preeminent computing site (that's you guys, bro). If you want credible fan analysis, you need data from professional equipment meant for it, not "Grandma's Blog" style guesswork.

    Yes, fans matter, a lot; a fact that is being increasingly recognized. Thanks for getting on board. =)
  • vectorm12 - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    As many have already pointed out I would really have liked to see some of Noctua's fans in the roundup as well as a couple of the Be Quiet! fans which at least on paper look pretty good. From a price perspective they seem to be in the same league as Noctua. Reply
  • DustoMan - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Thank you for doing this roundup. When corsair came out with those fans, I through about swapping out the stock fans on my H80. Now I know to just save the time and money! Reply
  • MeanBruce - Friday, August 24, 2012 - link

    Anyone that is using the NF-F12s with the LNAs 12v drop down inline attenuators is completely missing the entire boat here.
    The NF-F12s are PWM fans, in PWM mode with a PWM fan controller either outboard or installed, will run a full range of 1200rpm way down to an inaudible to the human ear 300rpm or any other thermal/rpm profile the user wishes it to be.
    Do some homework, then trial and error before posting, and Anand not including these fans is outrageous. Why come here.
    1200rpm – 300 rpm. Mix it up and love your rig much more.
    Get them airbrushed RED and BLACK, to avoid the hidden brown ad nauseam.
    This just in from Noctua:
    “The best way to adjust the speed of your pwm fans will be to either connect them to a 4pin mainboard fan header or to use an external fan speed controller that supports 4pin pwm fans. Because while it is possible to reduce the fan speed by lowering the voltage, only using them in pwm mode will allow you to get the fan speed as low as 300rpm.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team

    “I'm sorry, but I can't recommend you a specific fan controller.
    However it might be possible to use multiple splitters (included with the fans) to connect your 3 fans to one channel/controller. Our NF-F12 fan is rated at 0,05A or 0,6W, which is quite low compared to other fans and therefore the fan controller should be able to handle 3 fans with in total 0,15A or 1,8W; but please check this with the fan controller specs or manual to be on the safe side.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team

    “At 300rpms for the NF-F12s, 6 to 8dB sounds about right, we didn't publish the values for minimum fan speed, because it gets difficult to make reliable measurements at such low noise levels. In real world terms the NF-F12 is inaudible when spinning at minimum fan speed.”

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Dyszewski
    Noctua support team
  • freespace303 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    These articles is why this site is on my favorites bar. Thank you! Reply
  • Capt Proton - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    I finf this review unworthy of the usually high standards Anandtech has represented to me. Not including such obvious choices as Gentle Typhoons and Noctua's is an extremely puzzling choice. If one follows threads on fans for either air or water cooling, it is obvious that the Gentle Typhoon's are certainly one of the most popular. Not to include them opens the possibility of a hidden agenda, though I am not sure what that may be. Reply
  • random2 - Saturday, August 25, 2012 - link

    It always amazes me when I see reviewers overlook very good and very popular products. Yes, I'm another damned Noctua fan. No pun intended. :-) Reply
  • n13L5 - Sunday, August 26, 2012 - link

    Its a very small selection of fans to start... fans are cheap, could have really gotten some more, including the Noctua, Alpenfoehn, Thermalright, Noiseblocker, Phanteks, Papst, BeQuiet, Xilence...

    And then, why oh why are you calling 30 dB your noise floor???

    In my room, which has some sound damping, but is still far from an anechoic chamber, I've measured down to ~10 dB.

    When people set up their systems with enough fans and well tuned automated fan control, they can get a gaming system that's below 15 dB during office work and still stays around 20 dB during gaming, given the right GPU choice, like Gigabyte's 3 fan OC Windforce series.
  • flowrush - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Would also liked to have seen my lovely Silent Eagle by Sharkoon. Dimples ftw! Reply
  • Ragesystem - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link


    Ignoring the questionable quality of the single pass radiator, or that of an all in one rad, I'm not sure where you pulled those results for the sickleflow, because it's well known that those fans are excellent for radiators. Something isnt right here.

    I would stay away from the noctua nf-p12 if youre going for a heavy oc, they are okay in dual or triple pass rads or in non-oc sitations, they just dont cut it.
  • Similicuir - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I found a (french unfortunatly) test here :

    of NF-F12 PWM, it seems they are also testing it on radiator...doesn't look so great compared to others, especially when you consider their price.
  • maxcellerate - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I loved the French article or rather the translation: much more fun not quite knowing what's meant.

    But numbers are the same in any language and the clear winner was the Cooler Master Excalibur; which left favourites like the Cougar Vortex, Arctic Cooling, Scythe and Noctua for dust. And yet it doesn't appear on anybody's list of 'best fans'. It's number 1 position is also borne out in this very pertinent review
    Which goes one step further than the French article, rather than just measuring air flow through a radiator (or not) measure the resultant temperature drop. Which after all is what it's all about (Yes, I go for performance over noise, within reason, I don't want to sit next to a hoover).
    But what's most interesting to me about the techreaction article is that ALL the fans are within a 3 Celsius of each other.
    Which tells me that there's really not much difference fans.
    OK, there's only 15 fans reviewed, and there's no 1.99 'fan-u-like' fan reviewed; but there is a 3.99 Yate Loon which holds it's end up admirably.

    So bottom line is: it's no disaster which fan you stick on your cpu cooler.

    But as we all know, a 3 degree cooler cpu is a happy cpu.

    Though yet again the 3.99 Yate Loon D12SM-12, has to be a no-brainer (if you can find someone who will sell you ONE).

    Then again the Cooler Master Excalibur is 1.8 degree cooler...
  • Daggarhawk - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    i agree with other commentators. this is a really interesting article, and helpful. dustin is on point again.

    would love to see the scythe, noctua and thermalright fans reviewed. particularly interested in thermalright since their silver arrow has led the pack in air cooling, and they are known for performance w quietness throughout their line.
  • jabelsk - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Specs given by fan manufacturers (just like specs on flat screen TV's) are COMPLETELY MADE UP. I'm glad this story was written so more people can learn the truth. Here's another source of information on the subject:

    Also another way they mislead the consumer is by perpetuating the idea that fans are built for CFM *OR* static pressure. Physics says as CFM goes down pressure goes up and vice versa. So a good fan will be good at *BOTH* CFM and pressure, not one or the other, just more misleading marketing.
  • jabelsk - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Fan specs given by manufacturers (just like specs on flat screen TV's) are COMPLETELY MADE UP. I'm glad this story was done so more people can learn the truth. Here is some more info on the subject:

    Also another way they mislead consumers is by perpetuating the idea that fans are only good at CFM *OR* static pressure. Physics tells us as CFM goes down pressure goes up and vice versa. A good fan will be good at *BOTH* CFM and pressure, not one or the other, just more misleading marketing.
  • jabelsk - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    sry double post. someone delete pls. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Sunday, September 09, 2012 - link

    Both Noctua and Scythe apparently didn't make the cut. People here have already commented about Noctua, so I'll talk about Scythe. What, no Gentle Typhoons? They aren't cheap, but they're darned fine fans. I use Scythe S-Flex (FDB) fans as well, but the Typhoons are probably better for radiator use. Seeing as both Noctua and Scythe are highly regarded in the enthusiast crowd, I'm disappointed to see them missing in action. Reply
  • cronos1013 - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link


    OK so by doing this article and ignoring the 2 fans widely recognized as the best radiator fans on the 120mm market, you are showing how little credibility you have in this area, and how you didn't really do ANY research before going about testing these.

    It's time to suck it up, buy 2 more fans and rerun these tests...because come on...nobody wants to know what the best of the under performing fans for radiators are.

  • JonnyDough - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    but what about fans that aren't mounted against one? Surely they will produce different noise than one pressed against a radiator. Reply
  • ikaboo154 - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    According to the graphs, the NZXT is as quiet as the Nexus.
    The NZXT also cools better than the Nexus.

    The conclusions says the Nexus is quieter than the NZXT, yet on the graph they both measure 30dB.

    Since, the NZXT is cheaper and cools better than the NEXUS, I'm going to buy the NZXT unless someone can reassure me that the Nexus is quieter.

    TLDR: Is the Nexus quieter than the NZXT? If so, is the graph just inaccurate?
  • Freezer64 - Saturday, February 22, 2014 - link

    So this was basically a ploy to market the H80, and boost sales @ Corsair. Maybe next time you run a test like this you'll use fans that people actually use instead of garbage you found @ Fry's. Terrible review, you should be fired! Reply
  • cerealkeller - Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - link

    I have been using the Cooler Master Sickle Flow 120mm Fans for years and have been very satisfied with their performance. They run quiet and move a relatively good amount of air for $10 a piece. Based on this review I bought a set of the Corsair SP120s to replace my Cooler Masters on my 240x60mm radiator. I don't know why the hell your Cooler Masters ran 30C higher than the Corsairs because I only saw 2C drop in load temps and 1C drop in idle temps switching to the Corsairs at max RPM. I'm not impressed. I'm glad my temps dropped, but I was hoping for at least 5C. I'm planning to try the Noctua NF-F12 next. It's crazy expensive for a fan, but I would like to see my temps hit below 40C under load, they're at 52C atm with the SP120s. That is with push only, not push pull. Reply

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