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. […] 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 […] […]

  2. Mark Varley says:

    A couple of quick questions about configuration,

    How does the noise/airflow look (sound) with two fans in push&pull compared to one fan trying to achieve the same airflow?

    How does push compare to pull with noise and airflow?

    I expect you may see higher measured airflow in either of these cases which might not directly relate to ‘cooling’ airflow so I’m asking more for your experienced opinion as opposed to measurements :o)

    Finally, how would a push&pull configuration of ‘slim’ fans (such as compare to a single push or pull fan?

    Thanks for the awesome blog, I’m still quite new to watercooling and I’m learning alot here :o)


    • Martinm210 says:

      I haven’t run it and measured but it is different. I noticed during some trials with the H220 that it improves quite a bit on the Swiftech fans. Something about the extra fan pushing changes the noise characteristics.

  3. Chris Blevins says:

    Always love these tests Martin….thanks for another round!

  4. Kindred1 says:

    is there any fan better than a typhoon …holy crap those things are awesome 🙂

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for putting up another fan roundup Martin, I know with your thorough testing it takes quite a while to do them!

    I totally agree with not relying purely on sound level measurements because even though it measures low, the frequency range of the Gentle Typhoon’s dual bearings spinning is VERY noticeable to me. I’ve actually modified it by putting asphalt based damping sheet cut into a circle to cover the back of the motor to quiet it down (better yet was a blob of blue tac if you have the clearance). I will give it props for being one of the few fans that works well as a push or pull fan through a restriction like a filter or radiator, most fans I’ve noticed get louder or develop strange harmonics when used as a pull fan..

  6. Church says:

    Why? Why still noone has bested typhoons? Imho many fan vendors have enough resources and expertise to make better ones, yet where are fans that at least will reach GT’s noise/performance?

    • Martinm210 says:

      I have a few more contenders coming. Crossing my fingers for a new king myself..:)

    • Altaram says:

      There have been overcome simply because nobody has done it. Certainly there are many companies that sell fans, but really how many companies actually make them? Actually very few, even theoretically leading brands such as Noctua Noiseblocker or manufacture their own fans, he was entrusted that task to Chinese manufacturers.
      With the Gentle Typhoon does not, the manufactures Servo and Servo is behind the world’s most important companies in the sector of small electric motors, Nidec. Nidec is not a small business such as Noctua, is a giant with tens of factories and spends hundreds of millions of dollars in R & D. While others make toys, manufactures Servo that for years are the best fans in the market. Surely in the future be overcome, but I have the feeling that if anyone can beat the Nidec Servo Nidec GT is itself and not any Chinese manufacturer (by far that masquerade as Germans or Austrians).

  7. Chris H says:

    Well congrats Martin, you may have just convinced me to drop some major coin on AP-15’s to replace my XSPC 2000RPM’s as push fans. Will either drop the XSPC’s entirely or move them to pull duty. Now the question is do I pull air from bottom of rad out the top, or pull from top of rad? Right now I have them pulling from top, but no filter, so it gets pretty dusty, but heard that is best for temps.

    • Martinm210 says:

      Generally pulling cold air into a rad from outside the case nets better cpu temps but some have measured a bit better GPU temps exhausting up. Depends a bit on other case fans as well. I like a bit more posotive pressure into the case which helps push air through GPU and PSU a bit but I do have plenty of case airflow too. Either does work, but I would generally suggest drawing fresh cold ambient into the rad as the better setup.

      • Chris H says:

        Yea, I think I am going to by some modders mesh and use it as a filter for my top rads. I have a Switch 810 like you, so it’s easy to compare notes as it is lol. My GPU is water cooled too, so not sure if that affects temps vs just having CPU water cooled. I’ve been running with both sides off my case since I built it, so my numbers are probably completely off the mark at this point too :/.

  8. Haris javed says:

    Great work Sir!!!!. I am a big fan of watercooling and always read what you have to say before I make majority of my WC purchases. I do have a few questions…
    1. How can we make donations?
    2. I have a few radiators that I think many people will like to know the cooling capacity, (hwlabs sr1 480, sr1 560, gtx 560, alphacool monsta 360,480) would you review user hardware and maybe post result?

    Thank you sir :D, appreciate your great efforts. Also gentle typhoon rocks !!!!!!!…I replaced my corsair sp 120 with the gentle typhoon 2150 rpm version 🙂

    • Martinm210 says:

      I usually only open up donations when the time comes to renew hosting or if there is a need to buy some unsponsored item. I don’t need to renew for a while and have enough parts to keep busy for a little while.

      For approximate rad numbers of larger same series, you could probably assume the triple number /360 x whatever size as a real ballpark guess. 140 sizes will be tough though as you do get more airflow per RPM and more noise. Fan options still pretty limited in 140s as well.

  9. nleksan says:

    Once again, you have done a ridiculously awesome review (or “overview”?)! I am a huge fan (hehe) of your work, as you probably know by now, as you provide the best, most scientific research and evaluations when it comes to water cooling bar none! I truly hope you know just how huge of a contribution to the community you have made over the years, and continue to make; your testing has brought us from a bunch of unsubstantiated claims, rumors, and flat-out ignorant “knowledge” to insightful, scientific, and valid facts.

    (although it may sound like kkissing butt, it’s all very true)

    I was just wanting to jump in and make a few comments of my own…

    First, I would really love to see you do some work with 140mm+ fans, as I have ‘seen the light’ and now use 140mm based radiators whenever/wherever possible due to the not-insignificant increase in surface area provided by the larger diameter fans. Doing some simple math, a 420 radiator (3×140) provides slightly more surface area than a 480 rad (4×120), which is impressive. Even more so is the fact that while 140mm fans are larger by 10mm on every side, they generally have the same or very slightly larger diameter hub. This means that, comparing the 420 and 480, the 420 is going to have a significant amount greater “swept area” (area over which the fan blades spin) with fewer dead spots (especially since it’s 3 fans vs 4), theoretically increasing the cooling potential well beyond what simple XxY measurements would suggest.
    Of course, the trade off is that generally speaking 140mm fans have lower static pressure levels compared to their 120mm brethren, despite their increased airflow per RPM. There are fans which buck this trend, with the Bgears Blasters (1800rpm 103CFM 3.5mmH2O – rated specs) being a longtime favorite of mine. I currently have 6 of the aforementioned Bgears running Push-Pull on an XSPC EX420, with 3 Phobya 140x7mm Decouplers/Shrouds between the push fans and the radiator, 3x 140mm black wire fan grills on the interior (push) fans to keep stray wires from getting frisky, and the fans connected to my BitFenix Hydra Pro fan controller courtesy of BitFenix Alchemy 1x3pin-to-3x3pin sleeved splitters (all push on one channel, all pull on another). Even with the combination of the high fin density of the radiator (19fpi) and it’s use of split fins to effectively double the fin density (38 fins per inch per row), the amount of air going through the radiator is immense. I don’t have an anemometer, but I can say that the rad fans push more air through the rad than a GT AP15 does in free air…!

    I have been recommending these fans for a long time, and many people have been quite happy with them especially considering their low cost ($10-13/ea), in fact they are quite a bargain considering their use of dual ball bearing motors and the degree to which they undervolt without any issues (spin @ 670rpm with no perceptible noise @ 3ft). I would love to hear your thoughts on these fans, especially if you put them in your pretty graph format 😉

    I would love to see you do a roundup of the most popular 140mm radiator fans, as well as the most popular 140mm radiators. I know that the whole 120mm vs 140mm debate will not be abated, but as the most respected individual in the water cooling world, I think that a test or series of tests would have a huge impact on the community (and ultimately the industry).

    If I may, a wishlist of sorts as to what I would like to see compared:
    140MM FANS
    – Bgears Blasters
    – Akasa Viper/Apache
    – Noctua (whatever the popular one is)
    – BitFenix Spectre Pro PWM
    – Aerocool Sharks
    – CoolerMaster R4 (whatever the most popular is)
    – CM Excalibur
    – Scythe Slipstream/KamaFlow
    – Cougar Vortex
    – NZXT RF-FX140LB & RF-FN140LB & RF-FZ140LB
    – Corsair AF140 Performance + Silent Editions (although they suck)
    – Phobya 1700rpm
    – Prolimatech Aluminum Vortex
    – Noiseblocker PK3
    – Swiftech Helix
    – Corsair H110i + NZXT Kraken X60 Stock Fans
    – Sanyo Denkei San Ace 140x38mm 2600rpm Fan
    – ThermalRight TY140 + TY143 + TY147
    – Silverstone FHB-141 140x38mm Fan (has 120mm mounting holes but I know you can figure something out)

    – Alphacool UT60 + XT45 + ST30 + MONSTA
    – XSPC EX
    – Koolance 12-FPI + 20-FPI + 30-FPI Radiators
    – Phobya G-Changer
    – Watercool 140-rads
    – Coolgate Copper
    – Aquacomputer 140 rads
    – HWLabs Black Ice SR1
    – HWLabs GTX
    – HWLabs GT Stealth
    – Swiftech MCR140QP/MCR240QP

    That’s not too much to ask, is it? 😉

    The other thing that I would love to see is a “Shootout of the Giant Rads”… Specifically:
    – Watercool MO-RA 3 PRO 1080
    – Watercool MO-RA 3 1260
    – Phobya G-Changer 1080
    – Koolance 9×120 Copper 20FPI 1080
    – Aquacomputer 840
    – The others that I am forgetting…
    I would love to see a comparison with push vs pull vs push+pull, 600/900/1200/1500/1800/2200/2600/3000rpm speeds and temps (the motivating factor for me in buying a set of these big rads is that I can have it on the other side of a sound-and-temp insulated wall), and the use of 9/18 120-140mm fans vs 4/8 180-220mm fans (I especially want to see the new Silverstone AP182 180x32mm 2krpm 6.1mmH2O fan on these!).

    Lastly, there are a few fans that I truly love and believe to be some of the most underrated, overlooked, and best fans out there for the consumer market that I would love to see tested. I have been recommending them for a long time based on my own personal experiences, all of which have been extraordinarily positive.
    Those fans are:
    Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm 106cfm 5.4mmH2O Dual-Ball Bearing Fans ($9)
    Koolance 120x38mm 2600rpm 117cfm 6.4mmH2O Dual-Ball Bearing Fans ($10)

    I use these fans on my 120 rads, including my UT60 240, in push pull and I have never seen such a great fan for such an awesome price. I have tested with no shrouds, with the Phobya 7mm thick shrouds on push-/pull-/both sides, with the Phobya 20mm thick shrouds in all 3 combinations, and with various mixes of the different shrouds. I have personally settled on “Case – Silicone Gasket – Push Fan – XSPC Foam Gasket – 20mm Shrouds – XSPC Foam gasket – radiator – Phobya 7mm Shrouds – Pull Fans”
    I have yet to see anything outperform this combination, except for when I substitute the 38mm version in. For the same amount of money (fans + shrouds + gaskets), I have not seen any combination of fans that performs anywhere even close to these. The whole setup costs less than 4x AP15’s would have, and delivers a 3.2C lower Delta-T! (with this and the EX420 cooling a 4.8Ghz 3930K, Rampage IV Extreme MOSFET+SB, and EVGA GTX670 FTW 2GB with Heatkiller 680 Hole Editions + Backplates, I have a dT of 0.6C at idle and 3.3-3.9C at load)

    Anyway, sorry for the wall of text and thank you for what you do!

  10. Captivate says:

    Yet another awesome review by Martin. I swear, this guy is sponsored by Scythe, lol. Anyway, it seems like again the AP-15 is a winner. I will for sure now go for AP-15s for my next watercooling build (16 of them in fact, on 2 480 radiators mounted outside the case in a custom built set up). Thanks Martin, keep it up!

    • Martinm210 says:

      They should…funny thing is they won’t even return any of my emails. Tried at one point to see if they would sponsor the new black models and never heard back from them. They snubbed me..but I don’t care. Fortunately fans are cheap enough that the community is willing to sponsor them, no need to bother getting any other support.

      I wish something would come along and compete better though, getting tired of the same old results….nope GT is STILL doing better. The only one coming close is the noiseblocker eloops b12-3 at under 1500RPM where subjectively they sound a little better despite having slightly more noise level.

      • Chris H says:

        Yea, too bad the NB’s are like $5-7 more a fan :(. FrozenCPU wanted 23 bucks a fan, I didn’t think they were that much better from what you wrote and what I heard on the vids.