Posts Tagged ‘Noctua’

In the continued pursuit of the ultimate radiator fan, I bring you round #10.  This round was brought to you buy “cpachris” from  He sponsored 5 never tested before fans including the new Bitfenix Spectra Pro Black, Noctua NF-F12 PWM, Silenx Effizio, Noise Blocker M12-S2, and Phobya Naon-G12.  I put these up to the test against the previous undefeated Gentle Typhoon AP-15.  While many fans are good in case fan applications, few seem to rival the low noise output of the GTs once mounted to a radiator.  Unfortunately the GTs are not perfect either, they are a rather boring grey/black color scheme, they do have some resonance issues at specific RPMs, and they are often out of stock and suspect to overpricing due to their high demand and inadequate production.

With that, let’s bring it!


For the test rig, I’ve built an exhaust collection chamber that’s basically a long piece of 8″ PVC with insulation, a bunch of flow spreader tubes, and an MCR120 radiator mounted to the face of it.  The anemometer hot wire sensor is then mounted to the back of this to measure air speed through a smaller port.  The chamber’s purpose is to collect the fan exhaust, straighten it out, and provide a consistent means to measure it in a fixed spot without creating additional noise.

I am using an Extech Hotwire anemometer that is set to zero at the start of the round left alone the duration of the test.  For control and check, I test the first fan again after all other testing to be sure the hotwire didn’t go out of calibration.  I have found in the past that it can happen, so this extra test is to ensure data is good relative to the fans tested in this round only.  It’s a good meter, but I still don’t trust it without doing the checks.  It is however a hotwire meter which more importantly doesn’t have a vane probe to warm up or create noise.  The only drawback is dust and temperature changes can cause calibration issues. For noise level I am using a basic noise meter measure A-weighted dbA.  The radiator is a Swiftech MCR120 as shown below:

The video is via Canon T2i and audio via Zoom H1.  Not shown in the photo, but I place the Zoom on a tripod in line with the fan at a 12″ distance and the zoom has a foam wind protection sock on it.  The lens used this round was the kit 18-55 as opposed to the Tokina shown below, but you get the idea good HD video and good HD stereo audio are at the heart of the tools.

I combine the video and audio in Sony Vegas 9, add the text notes, and export to an 8MB/sec wmv before uploading to youtube.  During this combining effort, I set the T2i audio to mute and turn on the Zoom H1 audio. I use a double finger snap to create a wavform mark so I can line the two up.  Then I trim the whole thing to start/end of the test done.

Alright, enough of the testing setup, let’s get to the results


Here is a summary of what the video meters produced.  Sorry about the lack of RPM data on the Silenx, but something was odd with the Hz readings, so I pulled the data off.  The Gentle Typhoon AP-15 results are still the strongest of the bunch in terms of CFM per dBA, however I would as usual encourage you to evaluate the noise characteristics in addition to noise level for a more complete picture.  I have received messages by some readers indicating that they can’t stand the noise type of the GTs and I would agree that they do produce a different type of noise that may or may not be what you are willing to put up with.  The GT’s also do have a habit of resonating as specific RPMs as can be seen by the bump in the noise chart below. The GTs just have a special fan blade that seems to bury nearly all air type noises into the radiator which is good, but it also tends to have a little bit of bearing whine and the motor noise is present perhaps a bit more than other fans.  I think the noise quality of some of the other fans is superior, but the GT-15 remains dominant in noise level.

The noiseblocker actually has good noise ber RPM, but isn’t pushing as much air per RPM.  The Noctua has a very good CFM/RPM similar to the GT15 leaving some of the others as much as 200RPM behind. Regarding looks, I liked the noiseblocker, Phobya, and Bitfenix better than either the Noctua or GT.  As far as build quality goes, the GT probably gets my vote as it has a larger hub with metal bearing casing and dual ball bearing construction. The Noctua probably provides the most accessories giving you several resistor options to reduce fan speeds if you didn’t have a fan controller. Finally, there is PWM control which is only provided by the Noctua in this bunch.  You could however control the others via software tools like a Sunbeam Rheosmart without much extra cost. So there you have it, another round of 120mm fans and the GT-15 is still king of noise level, however there are other factors to consider that may sway you toward other options.

A special thanks goes out to “cpachris” from OCN for sponsoring these fans and my many supporters for sponsoring the tools, equipment, and website.



This thread will serve as my updated 120mm radiator based fan testing work in progress. While fan specs are helpful, like pumps they represent how the fan performs in an artificial open air and unmounted condition without any restriction, mounting vibrations, or undervolting effects. In addition there are many different mathematical methods in which noise levels are calculated (Removal of ambient noise) and measured making the task of comparing fans based on specs alone for a radiator application a best guess. In addition, those testing conditions do not include vibration created noises that exist once a fan is mounted to a radiator. Many fans also exhibit motor ticks or harmonics at some voltage levels other than 12V when using a fan controller. That brings me to the purpose of this test, to test in a more real world like radiator scenario without any adjustments to noise levels and record it for your own review.

This round will focus in testing and comparing 120mm fans on a Swiftech MCR120 radiator using a voltage based fan controller to evaluate a more real world radiator condition on a constant test platform.

First off, a HUGE thanks to the following sponsors. It’s been amazing how much support I have received in this so far..a real tribute to the community we have here:

This includes the parts/fans and the sponsors who have donated for this cause as well as some tabular results:
Click to enlarge:

I’ll start creating a new post for each new fan including the pictures and the data tables then link them back up in this main post.


I’ll update this from time to time. Per my reading, it normally takes about 3dbA for most people to perceive a change in noise level…that’s about the spread of “Most” of the fans here. But if we’re splitting hairs…here is the chart for your viewing pleasure…

Just note this is NOISE LEVEL only. I think this is only half the picture, noise quality is what you get by listening which points out the things like motor tics, and other less that smooth sounds.



And last but not least, my completely subjective rating on noise quality. I suggest you listen to the videos to sort this out yourself, I think everyone will have a slightly different opinion on this, but this is what I came up with as a place to start. Noise quality has nothing to do with noise level. I made up my own scoring system by listening for motor type noises and resonance issues. If a fan sounded like very smooth air, it would get high marks. I also marked against resonance issues. If the fan had specific voltage ranges where it resonated, I marked it down. I rated quality in 3 steps and resonance in one field, and averaged them out. I wish there was some sort of scientific way to do this, but this was the best I could do. Again, I suggest rating this with the videos for yourself.

Generally anything with a 7 or better is really good and pretty tight. I just had a slight preference toward fans with slightly lower pitch and or smoother air noises.

Many fans below that were also very good in some areas, but may have had a small motor tick or resonance issue during the test. Resonance is one of those tricky things that may be specific to one test bed. I can only rate what was tested though, it would be impossible to see how the fan behaves in all situations. I’m also typically only testing one sample, and it’s very possible the one fan I test was flawed or less that perfect.

Bottom line, there is no replacement for trying out a fan yourself. Before you go buying 20 fans of the same type, I suggest trying out at least one sample for yourself and see how you like it.