Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Quiet 120mm fan review

  1. #1
    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    10,867
    Thanks
    1,502
    Thanked
    935 times in 805 posts

    Quiet 120mm fan review

    I've been after some decent fans to bring down the noise level of my PC, but there aren't many decent roundup reviews I can find, with most of them being outdated. However, I recently stumbled upon these two reviews, which are excellent IMO.
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coo...roundup-2.html
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coo...roundup-1.html

    Based largely on the above reviews, I went ahead and purchased a few fans to make a subjective comparison, a Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilentPRO PL1, Scythe Kama Flow2 900rpm, and a Yate Loon D12SL-12. I already have a couple more I'll cover, an Antec TriCool and a Sharkoon Silent eagle I wasn't completely happy with.

    Bear in mind I'm looking for quietness here, but obviously airflow will play a part in the decision. Also I'm not using any noise/airflow measuring gear besides the back of my hand and my ear, but you could argue an ear is better than a noise meter as some tones are more annoying than others at the same loudness, however some noises may be more or less annoying/noticeable to other people. Also, when I mention problems such as vibration/noise, I'm comparing to other fans mentioned here - I don't consider any of them to be poor fans, just some are better than others, and YMMV - I'm only testing single samples. One other thing, when I mention ticking, I mean something like a faint but rapid tick/click for what sounds like several times per rotation - stick your ear next to nearly any relatively quiet PC fan and you'll probably know what I'm referring to.

    It could just be my experience but I find ball bearing fans tend to be noisier than other types such as sleeve and FDB so I avoided them after the Silent Eagle. However, I remember a 92mm Akasa Amber as being very quiet, but it's a dual ball bearing fan which may be why. I may try some more at some point, the Scythe Gentle Typhoon being one which comes highly praised. There are a few more fans I'd like to try but most of the ones I have in mind are more mid-speed fans.
    Edit: As CAT pointed out below, the Silent Eagle uses a sleeve bearing, not ball bearings as I originally thought.

    The Contenders
    Antec TriCool - When set to low (med/hi not really suitable for this comparison, they're both fairly loud) it performs fairly well; mechanical noise is nice and low, but airflow noise isn't all that smooth - you can hear a bit of air turbulence noise, probably because the blade design isn't optimised for silence. For a pre-installed fan it's pretty impressive and moves a fair amount of air. However, my one occasionally makes a sort of clicking/scraping noise which can sometimes be cured with a nudge, like parts are slightly out of tolerance or something. Also very little vibration, however I noticed a faint ticking noise only present when placed on a hard surface; applying force downwards didn't help (originally suspected wobbling) but it faded when lifted up or placed on silicone gasket. Edit: As noted in a post further down the thread, I've found the two TriCool 120mm fans I've tested behave badly when mounted horizontally, with airflow pointing upwards, but it doesn't happen when flipped. One is worse than the other, but both create far more vibration in this orientation to the point I don't consider them suitable for use mounted like that; aside from noise, reliability may also be a concern IMO. However, this is something I'll try to investigate further, as Antec ship loads of these fans mounted exactly like that in their cases. I should also mention I didn't notice the scraping noise in any of the 3 fans in my 900 case during use.

    Sharkoon Silent Eagle - Again, for most people it will be plenty quiet enough, airflow is decent but seems to kick a percentage backwards. It makes a noticeable buzzing/rumbling at all speeds and some vibration so ideally should be soft-mounted, but it is supplied with rubber mounting pegs. I've also observed a scraping noise similar to the Antec; it's uncommon during use but I've noticed it a few times during spin-down.
    Update: After using this fan for a week or so in my PC, a good portion of the rumbling noise has subsided, it still creates some vibration but it's on par with the Scythe now and should be fine with soft mounting. It rates better than when I tried it out of the box, but it still falls behind the Noiseblocker/Scythe; yeah it's 1000rpm vs 900rpm but even when I reduce voltage the noise doesn't change much, and if anything becomes more annoying as the softer noise subsides.

    Yate Loon - At 1350rpm it's the fastest contender here (I assume the Antec on low is slower, it looks/sounds like it) so I'd expect it to be the noisiest. And it is, but it also moves the most air. As an aside, I'm not certain why they use the high speed model in some PSUs, I'd think this one would cope fine. Anyway, the most prominent sound would be the buzzing noise, but I don't think it's bearing noise as it ceases as soon as I cut the power, so likely electronic noise. And it's a real shame as undervolted to 6.5/7v it would be a good contender without it, moving a decent amount of air, similar to the Scythe. Also very low vibration, even up at 12v, so hard mounting should be fine. I may pick up another sample to check for that noise, as for the price they would be excellent for vertical mounting (sleeve bearings), but being more mass-produced (I assume) than the others, there may be more sample variance.

    Scythe - Exceptionally quiet with a very smooth sound profile - I have good hearing and beyond about 15cm it's as good as silent. I can hear a faint whine during startup but it fades when up to speed, and can't really be heard at realistic distances. There's a small amount of vibration however, nothing significant, but you may want to soft mount as most of the noise generated came from vibration when placed on my desk; when lifted up or placed on the silicone mounting gasket supplied with the Noiseblocker, it's much better.

    Noiseblocker - Joint quietest here but with a slightly different noise profile, a very faint ticking/buzzing noise is present but again, it really shouldn't be audible in practice. It would probably be the quietest here as it has very low airflow/mechanical noise but the faint tick makes it roughly as audible as the Scythe IMO as it's more noticeable than a smooth hum. Very little vibration so hard mounting should be fine, but you get a good vibration-reducing mounting kit supplied. Airflow is, according to my hand, slightly less than the Scythe.

    Conclusions
    Unless you're after extreme quiet and you have an Antec case, the TriCool fans on low perform admirably, unless you get a slightly poor sample like I have, as that scraping noise is quite audible and annoying, but I suspect it's not a common thing.

    Unfortunately, as I said above, I can't recommend the Yate Loon ATM because of that buzzing noise but if another sample (I'll try to go with another supplier to try to get a different batch) is free of it, it rates highly in value for money if you're prepared to undervolt it, but if you have a fan controller it may be an advantage as you can turn them up for more airflow when needed. Also, aside from the Antec at mid/high its IMO more suitable than the others for a hotter syetem; super-quiet fans are more suited to Llano/i3/i5 systems without discrete graphics for 2 reasons - they may not expel heat too well, and the GPU fan will likely be much louder. Also worth noting is the use of a sleeve bearing; it's the subject of much debate in some places but they tend to perform well at first but wear faster than the others so end up louder than other types would be after a while. I'm not really sure of timeframe though and it would depend on the quality of the bearings - a very good quality sleeve would likely outperform a poor quality ball bearing even over time. It's also generally recommended sleeve bearings are only used vertically has they wear faster and can perform worse when mounted horizontally, but this doesn't seem to stop countless PSU MFRs from doing it...

    And despite some good reviews, I can't really recommend the Silent Eagle either; it's by no means a bad fan, but even without the other three I bought to compare it with, I wasn't too keen on it. I'm probably more picky than most but there are better fans for the money. It's also scored well in some professional reviews but maybe that's due to what I was saying earlier - a higher number on a sound meter doesn't necessarily mean a more noticeable noise to human ears. I could have a bad sample but it doesn't seem like the sort of thing which would vary much. The vibration/noise seems more to do with design than anything being unbalanced or out of tolerance.

    As for the remaining two, they're both excellent low-speed, low-noise fans and I'd have a hard time picking a winner here; for hard mounting I'd have to recommend the Noiseblocker, it barely vibrates at all and is incredibly quiet. For soft mounting, it would be the Scythe as I find the noise profile less noticeable and it has a slight advantage with airflow. However, we have a problem - the Noiseblocker is supplied with a great soft-mounting kit, the Scythe comes with normal screws. The Noiseblocker is the most expensive by about £3 but it's cancelled out by the need for some soft mounts for the Scythe IMO. For heatsink mounting I'd probably go with the Scythe, I think it would cope better with the resistance.

    So I can't really call it conclusively, if you get a soft mounting kit, I'd go for the Scythe for case use, but for anywhere soft mounting isn't practical I'd recommend the Noiseblocker. But really it's very close either way, and I feel it would be unfair to call one a winner over the other.

    Feel free to ask any questions.
    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by watercooled; 18-06-2012 at 05:12 PM.

  2. Received thanks from:

    blueball (17-06-2012),CAT-THE-FIFTH (17-06-2012),Phage (17-06-2012),Pob255 (18-06-2012)

  3. #2
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Hopefully somewhere less backstabby
    Posts
    28,789
    Thanks
    3,203
    Thanked
    4,456 times in 3,442 posts
    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Quiet 120mm fan review

    Thanks for that - very useful.

    SPCR also did a recent 120MM fan test too,and the Scythe and Noiseblocker fans were also considered the best:

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1266-page1.html

    Funnily I have both the Antec Tricool 120MM and Silent Eagle 2000 120MM and I have not compared the two for some reason.

    The Silent Eagle actually uses a sleeve bearing BTW,but I had a smaller diameter version wear out within two years,and it started making higher pitched noises. It was being used as the CPU cooler fan on my Shuttle(was running at maximum constant speed). The sleeve bearing fan on my Akasa Vortexx Neo graphics card cooler did the same thing within two years too(had to buy another one) and it too was running a maximum constant speed. Then a mate had the sleeve bearing fan on their FSP PSU go in around three years. In the later case it was being used as the primary exhaust in a relatively small case.

    I find that sleeve bearing fans are fine as long as they are not run at maximum speed for long periods - if you are doing that a ball bearing or another type of bearing will probably be a better choice.

    I do like the Noctua fans - the one that replaced the smaller diameter Silent Eagle fan still works fine years later,and I preferred its acoustic signature. The Panaflo fans are pretty quiet and reliable from my experience too - the xbitlabs article rated the one they tested highly.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 17-06-2012 at 03:27 AM.

  4. Received thanks from:

    watercooled (17-06-2012)

  5. #3
    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    10,867
    Thanks
    1,502
    Thanked
    935 times in 805 posts

    Re: Quiet 120mm fan review

    That's exactly the sort of review I was looking for, and SPCR was the first place I checked but for some reason I didn't find it!

    And I'm not sure where I got the idea the Silent Eagle was a ball bearing, I've looked back over a few pages and it's correctly referred to as sleeve - maybe it was someone in a forum, and for that reason I'll go edit the OP in a sec. However, the rumbling noise/vibration AFAICT comes from some sort of indents as the rotor turns, something I assumed to be caused by an imperfect bearing housing, but it could be due to motor design. With sleeve bearings, horizontal use can apparently cause them to wear faster, and due to increased friction they can perform worse too. However, you'd still expect some force perpendicular to the bearings due to thrust created by the rotor, especially in high speed fans, so I'm not sure how much difference orientation would make in practice?

    I'd definitely considered Noctua, but was (perhaps unfairly) put off for a few reasons. They cost about twice as much as the Scythe/Noiseblocker and according to a few random forum posts, they're overrated. I tried an 80mm but it was a fair bit noisier than a much cheaper Panaflo, but I guess I shouldn't judge their entire range based on a form factor which seems near impossible to make quiet.

    I might try to get hold of some 120mm Panaflo's, the 80mm ones are about the best I could find.

  6. #4
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Hopefully somewhere less backstabby
    Posts
    28,789
    Thanks
    3,203
    Thanked
    4,456 times in 3,442 posts
    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Quiet 120mm fan review

    The Noctua I used was a 92MM one,and I needed decent airflow as it was part of a fansink in a Shuttle P2 chassis. I tried a few other higher flow fans,and the Noctua was relatively quiet for the amount of airflow they produced. The one I used was the Vortex flow one which is meant for heatsinks.OTH,I do think they are very expensive. The Panaflo fans are good though. I used one on the cooler in my Shuttle G2 and that has lasted for years. OTH,it is hard to say whether newer designs are better,but I consider the Panaflo generally well built.

  7. #5
    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    10,867
    Thanks
    1,502
    Thanked
    935 times in 805 posts

    Re: Quiet 120mm fan review

    I've done some searching and I can't find any UK suppliers of Panaflo/NMB-MAT fans, I don't suppose you know of any? I think they make quite a few, are there any particular model numbers I should be looking for?

    Something I should add, about the review - the 'ticking' noise you get coming from a can of Coke is a fair bit louder than that coming from the Noiseblocker, just to put it into perspective.

  8. #6
    Senior Member watercooled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    10,867
    Thanks
    1,502
    Thanked
    935 times in 805 posts

    Re: Quiet 120mm fan review

    Another quick update, the Silent Eagle occasionally makes a scraping sound similar to the Antec, again usually fixable with a nudge.

    Also, the Antec it seems really doesn't like being used with airflow pointing upwards, as it starts vibrating relatively strongly, and becomes much louder than when in other orientations. This may again be due to a defective sample, but I have some Blue LED ones on an Antec 900 I can remove and test, as they are all vertical in the case. I was thinking it may be an issue with the design, but IIRC they are used in that orientation in the likes of the 300...

    After a quick search I found the following:
    Antec TriCool 140mm: Blades were off blaance. Cause fan vibrate like insane on top exhaust when mounted horizontally. Vertically no issues with vibration. Had low growling and ticking.
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums...hp?f=9&t=62830

    Edit: Have just tested another TriCool, and while it's not as bad as the first, pointing it upwards does significantly increase vibration. I may look into this more, as I don't recall a recent build for a friend in a 302 case making noise like that, and it uses a TriCool in the roof.
    Last edited by watercooled; 17-06-2012 at 10:24 PM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •