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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Iketh - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

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

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

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

    But I digress...
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.)
  • zalbar - Thursday, July 23, 2015 - link

    That's all right - I'm a little disappointed in you, too.

    1. Fans are being tested, here, not CPU coolers. In this context, the radiator of the CPU cooler is merely acting as a heat source. In order to properly test the fan, it needs to get hot, and quickly. Testing a fan with an overperforming cooler would be like testing an HSF at idle temps - you're not going to see much difference between them.

    2. "Yes, undoubtedly I have omitted someone's favorite fan."

    3. Aside from point 2, the work is very high quality, and it was free for you to read. How about a little sugar?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now