Conclusion: Who's King of the Hill?

Yes, undoubtedly I have omitted someone's favorite fan. The fact is that while these are fun tests to do, teasing out differences between fans is only really useful when you find an odd outlier that's either an exceptional performer and an exceptionally poor performer. I'm not of the impression that you can really get too much better than the ones at the tippy top of our lineup.

With all that said, with this many more data points, I feel much more comfortable making serious recommendations. For most users, at least of the Corsair H80, the stock fan is going to be mostly acceptable although I'd probably leave it on its "Low" setting. That stock fan is a surprisingly good inclusion and speaks well to Corsair's quality control. On the other hand, if you have a different 120mm radiator or if you want a notable difference in performance, there are some recommendations to make.

First, if you're on the cheap and need a good fan, your buck pretty much starts and stops at Rosewill's Hyperborea. Exactly like I suspected, there was a diamond floating around in Rosewill's rough, so bargain hunters or people who need to replace their stock fan for whatever reason are going to be extremely well served by the Hyperborea. At $6.99 apiece it's really kind of hard to go wrong here, and it may very well be an excellent replacement fan for even a garden variety tower heatsink.

Next, if you want performance at all costs then my recommendation from the last roundup holds true again here: Corsair's SP120 High Performance is basically it. This isn't a quiet fan by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not the noise machine that many of the other entrants are. You can nab a single for $17.99 which is admittedly a little pricey, but Corsair also makes available handy two-packs for just $23.99, and that's a totally reasonable deal.

Finally, if you want a proper balance of noise and performance, I'm mostly pleased to report that some of the common wisdom on forums is actually true: Noctua's NF-F12 and Enermax's Magma are both excellent fans. I think the Enermax Magma overall has to get my best in show award for producing performance that typically takes a much louder fan to achieve, and at $13.99 it's a pretty wicked deal. It's not perfect but it's mighty close.

Now, with that said, which one would I actually choose to put in my own system if money were no object? Honestly I'd probably go with the Noctua NF-F12. The NF-F12 is a more flexible fan with a pleasant noise character and excellent performance. That $29.99 sticker price is vicious, though. For most users, I'd strongly recommend sticking with the Enermax Magma for the best blend of performance and price.

Test Results
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  • landerf - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Look at enermax 120mm fans on newegg. Plenty of batwing fans and some pwm options. I'd look too at the non-batwing TB fans. Their noise-performance ratio seems even better. I replaced my gentle typhoons with them because I've decided I can't take the ball bearing noise.

    Speaking of still no GTs? Surprised you don't have them laying around. Seems like everybody has one by now.
    Reply
  • Udit - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Could you add the Gentle Typhoon 1850rpm to the test please? Reply
  • Naviblue - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    I second this, where is the REAL King of the hill at on the charts? At least let us make a comparison to these other fans... Everyone knows Gentle Typhoons are benchmark! Reply
  • Earthmonger - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    You two are kidding, right? That wouldn't be fair at all. This article is intended for tourists, not enthusiasts. Including an enthusiast fan like the GTs in this.. test.. would be plain silly. If you want real testing, this isn't the place for it. Hell, this test doesn't even mention bearing types. Reply
  • DarkStryke - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Yeah, don't include one of the best performers when you can hawk a load of mediocre overpriced junk instead!

    Good reasoning there bud.
    Reply
  • lbeyak - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    I must third this. From my research the Gentle Typhoons are basically the best 120 mm fans on the market. They are the ones I bought for my personal build. Reply
  • Sea Shadow - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Amateurs, the Gentle Typhoon is child's play. If you want to see a real enthusiast fan go look up Delta or Panaflo. 100-250CFM+ with pressures ranging from 10-30mm+. I use a set of 3 Delta AFB 1212VHE fans for my watercooling loop (which readily double the specs of the "best" gentle typhoon). At 5 volts they are livable and have no trouble forcing the air through the entirety of my case, heatercore and all! Ahh, makes me miss the old days of overclocking my opty 165....

    Anyways, I enjoyed the review. It is nice to see what the rest of the market is doing.
    Reply
  • iamkyle - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    This man speaks the truth.

    Panasonic and Delta Electronics have been putting fans in computers since all before most of you were born.

    If they're good enough for IBM XT's, YOU CAN BET they are good enough for a modern rig.
    Reply
  • Earthmonger - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    When I think of the "best balance between thermal performance and acoustics", neither Panasonic nor Delta come to mind. Those are fans with an exclusive focus on performance, and a blatant disregard for acoustics.

    This test may lack a lot of relevant data, but at least the GTs are in proper context here.
    Reply
  • lyeoh - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Whaaat? Sorry I can't hear you! Reply

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