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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  • 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.
  • sicofante - Sunday, October 28, 2012 - link

    I hope you can back that up with some sources. (And it's Panaflo, without the last 'w').
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 8, 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.
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 8, 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.
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 8, 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.
  • 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)?
  • 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.
  • Impulses - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Hmm, the Cluster I saw reviewed elsewhere was a PWM anyway, apparently not the one Newegg carries tho.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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