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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  • Conficio - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    First thanks for the informative review!

    I second that, Google chart tools - - offers an easy way to present some good graphs.
  • 7amood - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    finally, a simplified fan roundup review... THANK YOU!
  • Maxal - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    How about putting results in chart, with Temp and Noise on X/Y axis?
  • arthur449 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the Die Hard 2: Die Harder reference. It brought a smile to my face.
  • toyotabedzrock - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    I have had horrible luck with fans. They all go bad in a year.
    Even expensive ones.
  • Finally - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Try Enermax T.B. Silence.
    Excellent price, very quiet and even IF they should fail after only 1 year, you have just "lost" 6€.

    Here a link to put my recommendation in perspective:
  • Udit - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    It's just a request ... please add scythe gt-1850 & glidestream 120 ... I have 4 gt-1850 on my h100 & really wanna change them
  • scmikes - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    We all realize that it is impossible to review all rad fans. I would like to add a vote for the 109R1212H1011 120mm X 38mm from Sans Ace. They have worked great in my setups.

    Take care, and keep up the good work
  • Runamok81 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Dustin, you'll never make everyone happy, but I'm glad Anandtech is making the effort. Props to Dustin for listening to the comment-ers and revisiting this fan round up! Bravo
  • Purpose - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Four years ago I bought 12 Enermax Magma UC-MA12's.

    Within a year of 24/7 use all but four were broken.

    My #1 cautionary recommendation for Magma fans is DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, try to pop the blades off for cleaning. Of the 8 broken fans, half of them broke because when attempting to remove the blades, the entire motor assembly separated from the PCB, or the PCB came up with the fan blades.

    They do provide good performance at good noise levels...

    I'm wondering why the all-star radiator fan is being omitted. It's a really huge failure to not include the Gentle Typhoon AP-15 so that we can get an apples to apples performance comparison against your data.

    You talk about finding the 'outlier' but the one fan that's actually KNOWN to be *THE* outlier isn't present in your testing...

    Especially since I switched to GT's and know from experience that the difference between them and the magma is NIGHT AND DAY. Top that off with the fact that you can get them for ~15 a pop... That's only 2 bucks more for the *BEST* performing fan out there.

    Swing and a miss.

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