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


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


View All Comments

  • 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

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