Fan Testing Round 11

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Fans
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Welcome to my round 11 fan testing.  This is a fairly small round of fans from the kits I previously tested.  Rather than do my normal written form, I’m trying to do this more video based.

Before I do that, I would first like to thank my parts sponsors, without their support this test wouldn’t have happened:



Kit Fans Intro

This video does some physical comparisons of the fans and gives you a good close up look of the fan, sleeving, build quality, etc compared with my previous best performing fan the Gentle Typhoon.

Fan Test Rig Description

This video is just a quick overview of the flow bench and meters used in the fan testing to follow.

Individual Fan Tests

The following videos are of the actual test run on each fan recorded with audio and stepping through 50FPM air flow results.  You can now easily adjust two or more fan videos to like air flow numbers and pause them both, then switch back and fort for a direct apples to apples air flow comparison.

Larkooler Kit Fan

Corsair H100i SP120 Kit Fan

Swiftech H220 Kit Fan

XSPC 750 Kit Fan

Servo Nidec Gentle Typhoon AP-15

Extracted Results

These were pulled from the video, by isolating a looped region where air flow was close to the 50FPM increment.  This provides the resulting detail read on the meters and a calculated RPM.  On the right are some subjective noise quality comments I added as I reviewed and extracted the results.


Summary Radiator Noise Level vs Radiator Air Flow

This is the “Meat & Potatoes” result.  While I wish I could measure noise quality in a good quantitative way, that’s really not possible.  The next best thing is to compare noise levels when mounted to a radiator at like air flows through that radiator.  It takes into account the fans pressure capabilities and puts it in a more real world condition.  It’s not perfect, but the best thing I’ve been able to come up with to simplify radiator noise performance.  Fans that extend further right are capable of higher air flow maximum results at 12V.  Fans with lines lower on the Y axis are producing more air flow per noise level.


No real surprise, but the kit fans all tested relatively the same (most within 3dbA or less differences which fall within the “barely perceptible” level).  The Helix fan did for some reason have a bit higher than expected harmonics on the radiator bench which didn’t seem to be as noticeable when actually testing in a case, but it is something I heard a little when trying push only.  In push+pull I noticed most of that helix harmonic disappeared.

I would consider the kit results to be relatively similar, they are like most fans and all perform roughly the same.  The Gentle Typhoon however does seem to retain that unique ability on a radiator and tested upwards to 8-9dBA lower in noise level at 12V than other fans producing the same flow.  The H100i fans and their 2700RPM capability did produce the highest maximum air flow, but it comes at the prices of having a fairly gritty noise quality.  Noise quality isn’t captured well in the graph and really only something you can listen for in the videos.

The other aspect I’m now noticing that is missing from this single fan test bench is harmonics between the two same fans.  In the thermal testing using the kits and earlier noise testing, I had significant RPM harmonics issues with the H100i fans, but a single fans test scenario completely misses that.  This is something I seriously want to consider in fan flow bench future upgrades.  I think it is important to capture the “paired fan” harmonics effects as it can be fairly significant.  The helix H220 fans did really well paired together in the kit testing, but you just can’t see that in a single fan test.

Also as noted some of the pressure harmonics issues can also be mitigated for by going push + pull.  The helix fans don’t show real well in this single push test, but I found when testing four fans in push/pull on a radiator the fans worked very well together.  They are not up to Gentle Typhoon silence or build quality standards, but in use I would say they fair better than what the above chart or single fan test result demonstrates.

I also think the Larkooler fan subjectively sounds quieter than the produced dBA.  I’m not sure how to describe it, but the sound type is more lower in frequency and seem to contain less motor noise and gritty noise that is more prevalent in the other fans.  It has a noise quality that reminds me of the noise blocker series which I’ve always liked.  Noise level doesn’t measure anything special, but I think this fan does have pretty good noise quality particularly at slower speeds.  This is another one where my own ear and the meters don’t really agree all that well..:)

This at least gives you one more perspective on the sound.  I would suggest listening to the fans at like air flow levels and make a decision not based on noise level, but what you perceive as being less irritating.  That is likely a combination of frequency, noise quality, and noise level.  Don’t put too much weight on the noise level, it is important, but it’s not the entire picture and each person and each setup will be slightly different.

So there is another round and the Gentle Typhoon retains it’s low noise/rad air flow ratio crown.  Nothing comes close…

  1. riley williams says:

    You should show some graphs of fourier transforms of the fan noise to help us get a better idea of the sound quality. A log scale vertical axis would also help us see some of the more subtle frequencies.

  2. gimme says:

    What about a test rig that shows the actual cooling performance of the fans? You could pick a radiator as your standard or a couple for comparison and then see how well the fans actually perform at their intended purpose

    • Martinm210 says:

      Time prohibitive. It takes at least one hour per data point plus one hour warm up. To capture the same thing thermally that I get in a 5 minute anemometer based test would take an entire weekend or more. Also requires a test chamber to do right which would botch the sound testing so you would have to do yet another round of testing to correlate noise to dT using RPM as the constant. Sounds good and would be nice to capture other little thermal affects such as hub dead spot etc but the anemometer is the way to go for efficiency and video/audio all in one caputuring.

      • Nathan David says:

        Can I contact you by email? I have some question about the watercooling I’m currently doing. Thank you.

  3. Dusty says:

    HOLY SMOKES MARTIN IS BACK?!? I absolutely loved your old site, and was so upset when you left and skinee took over (still loved his work though). Now you are back? Do you take donations via Bitcoin? I would like to give some payment your way for all your hard work.

    • Martinm210 says:

      Well, I was back. Then I decided to move and sort of on an extended vacation again. Not sure if I’ll be doing anything more, been putting in a lot of hours at work and my son continues to hog my PC. No need for donation but I appreciate the thought. Happy holidays!

  4. Anthony says:

    Hi Martin,

    Since you have thoroughly tested the h220 and now the corsair sp120 high performance fans (I have the pwm HP version on the swiftech splitter, pump in ch1 in both cases); both at 50% speed in push through the h220 radiator; which do you think would perform better? It almost “feels” they are about the same flow but would think the corsair would push more. If anything it seems the corsair is flowing less but could be because its absolutely inaudible to my ear when the helix made a slight noise.

    Thanks and I really look forward to seeing you test the h220x 🙂

  5. […] leonaheidern wrote: oh ya forgot to mention they are for use in a coolermaster elite 130 casing and i have a watercooling antec khuler 620 so the 120 mm fan is to push and pull for that cpu cooler. now not sure about the 80mm fan. Would be good if someone can advise me if i can somehow use a 120mm fan on that 80mm fan slot as i have alot of 120mm fans in the house. GT AP15…no fight Corsair i feel a bit too commercialized….their fans are okay nia. See the review and hear the noise quality. Fan Testing Round 11 | […]

  6. Thomas says:

    I just recently purchased some GT AP-15s. They are great. They have the perfect mix of performance and silence. Unfortunately they have been discontinued and are pretty expensive. What 120mm fan would you recommend in place of the AP-15?

    • Martinm210 says:

      Nothing quite matches the GT on noise level, but there are many good ones. Noiseblockers such as the eloops and a few others they make have excellent noise quality and good looks, just not as quiet on noise level. Arctic cooling F12s and yate loons are also good low cost fans. Delta makes some of the better high speed fans and there are many others.

      • Nathan David says:

        What do you think of the new Aerocool Dead Silence Fan, because in term of silence they are amazing, but on a radiator?

        • Martinm210 says:

          They look cool and I haven’t seen the multi material in the blade tried before. I also like the dense blades and more forward sweeping. Unfortunately only 1000rpm max, which isn’t very hard to be silent at. 1000 and under most fans are pretty darn close in noise level.

          • Nathan707 says:


            I would like to know if it’s possible to contact you because I really need help to be sure that my watercooling is good. Thank you for your time

  7. Hal9000 says:

    Hello Martin,
    first I greatly appreciate your work and I read your articles with great interest.
    My question is that I would like to change the stock fans on a Swiftech H320 with better performing but less noisy fans.
    Ap-15 seem the best out there and I like their noise but are being discontinued as per Scythe website so they are harder to find around here and I rather not give up PWM.
    Which one of these options would you consider? :

    a. Gentle Typhoons at 500-800 rpm all the time (AP-11 and AP-12 if I ever find them cause discontinued) connected to the H320 fan/power adapter.
    b. What do you think about the new Scythe GlideStream 120 (PWM)?
    c. AP-15 with separate fan controller?
    d. other type of pwm fan or suggestions?

    Thank you and again great work!

    • Hal9000 says:

      Sorry I was actually referring to the Grand Flex PWM and not the GlideStream (wrong paste).

    • Martinm210 says:

      Good question, wish there was a really strong PWM alternative to the GTs. Nothing really comes close but there are many good ones. NB eloops, arctic cooling F12s, etc may be something to consider, but the helix is not a bad fan either at slower speeds.

  8. Max says:

    Hi Martin, one question, what is the maximum static pressure of air that supports a radiator? example: Delta 252.8 CFM / 35.88 mmH2O, DELTA BFB1212EH-TP34 54.85 CFM / 88.51 mmH2O, the pressure would harm the radiator?

    • Martinm210 says:

      Doubt it, maybe you ears but I have never heard of air damage. A water pressure washer capable of 1000psi can start bending radiator fins, but pressure and density of air is 1000’s times less energy.