Cooling Fan Roundup 2012

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This cooling fan roundup has been a long time coming and requested by quite a few in the forum, it covers a total of 36 cooling fans, 20 120mm and 16 140mm, they were tested for load temperature performance, velocity airflow in FPM (Feet per Minute), volume airflow in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), and noise levels.

I would like to start by thanking all of the vendors and company representatives that submitted their products for testing in this roundup. The invitation was restricted to only one submission from each fan size category of 120mm x 25mm and 140mm x 25mm from each brand, to be in this roundup. Some vendors sent more than one entry to be tested with the understanding they would all be tested, and the best performer in each category entered in the roundup, and they were all tested. I had to apply the limitations or else it would have been too massive a project to have undertaken, this gave each entered brand an equal face off.

Fans have definitely advanced in blade design, style, pitch angle, speeds, and lately a true desire for quiet, but when does quiet sacrifice cooling performance, after all unless you’re just into LED bling and show, you’re buying the fan for cooling. This roundup is totally about getting the raw facts to you, so that you, can make your own decisions based on the tested results, some descriptions, and explanations of testing procedures, discoveries and comments, so without further adieu let’s see what fans are in the lineup and find out how they all stack up against each other.

Starting with the 120mm contenders;


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The 120mm Lineup:


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Phobya G-Silent 12 1500rpm Blue LED, 7 Blade
Rated 1500rpm (+/-10%), 58cfm, 25.5db/A,
Rated 12VDC, 0.2/A, Hydro Dynamic Bearing
3 pin connector, Wht Sleeved
Warranty 3 yrs,
MTBF 50,000 (This Model also comes in Red Led)


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Masscool Blue LED BLD-12025V1, 9 Blade
Rated 1500rpm (+/-10%), 60cfm, 23.5db/A
Rated 12VDC, 0.30 A, 3.60W, Ball Bearing
4 pin molex and 3 pin M/B connectors, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000


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Thermalright X-Silent 120, 7 Blade
Rated 1000rpm (+/-10%), 35.5cfm, 19.6bdA
Rated 12VDC, 0.08A, 0.96W, Liquid State Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000hrs


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Thermaltake Duramax 12, 7 Blade
Rated 2000rpm, 78cfm, 36dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.38A, 4.56W, Double Ball Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000hrs


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Cooler Master Blade Master 120, PWM, 7 Blade
Rated 600~2000rpm, 21.2~76.8cfm,13~32dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.36A, 4.32W, Sleeve Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
MTBF 40,000hrs Master Blade Master 120


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Nexus Real Silent 120mm PWM, 7 Blade
Rated 500~2000rpm, 76cfm, 15.5dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.30A, 1.8W
4 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
3yr Warranty


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Coolink SWiF2 Silent Whisper Fan 2, PWM, 11 Blade
Rated 800~1700rpm, 60.4~127.6m3/h, 8.5~27.1db/A
Rated 12VDC, 0.33A, 3.96W, Hydro Dynamic Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
5yr Warranty


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Scythe Slip Stream120, 9 Blade
Rated 1900rpm, 110.31cfm, 37dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.53A,
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
2yr Warranty
MTBF 30,000


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Cooljag Everflow 120mm R121225BU, 9 Blade
Rated 2400rpm, 110.03cfm, 39.5dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.40A
4 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve

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Noiseblocker NB-Black Silent Pro PL-2, 7 Blade
Rated 1400rpm, (+/-10%), 56.5cfm, 11dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.16A, 1.92W, Nano SLI Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
6yr Warranty
MTBF 160,000hrs


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Noctua NF-S12B, FLX, 7 Blade
Rated 1200/900/600rpm, 100.6m3/h max, 18.1dbA max
Rated 12VDC, 0.10A, 1.2W, SSO Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
6yr Warranty
MTBF 150,000hrs


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Silenx Effizio 120, 7 Blade
Rated 1400rpm(+/-10%), 74cfm, 15dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.11A, 1.32W, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
4 pin molex and 3 pin M/B connectors, No Sleeve
3yr Warranty


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Sanyo Denki San Ace 120 M#9S1212H401, 7 Blade
Rated 2700rpm, 86.51cfm, 36dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.39A
3 wire bare lead, No Sleeve


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Akasa Viper S-Flow 120 PWM, 9 Blade
Rated 600~1900rpm, 83.63cfm max, 28.9dbA max
Rated 12VDC, 0.17A, Hydro Dynamic Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000hrs


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GeLid Wing12PL, PWM, UV Blue, 9 Blade
Rated 600~1800rpm, 128.6cmh, 26.8dbA max
Rated 12VDC, 0.45A, Nano Flux Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
3yr Warranty
MTBF 100,000hrs


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Aero Cool Shark 12cm Black Edition, 15 blade
Rated 1500rpm (+/-10%), 82.6cfm, 26.5dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.30A, 3.6W, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 100,000hrs


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Silverstone, Air Penetrator, SST-AP121- (BL=Blue/GL=Green/RL=Red/WL=White, LED) 7 Blade
Rated 1500rpm, 35.36cfm, 22.4dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.33A, 3.96W, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000hrs


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Bitfenix Spectre Pro BFF-SPRO-12025KK-RP, 9 Blade
Rated 1200rpm(+/-10%), 56.22cfm(+/-10%), 18.9dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.11A(+/-10%), Fluid Dynamic bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve


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Enermax T.B.Vegas Trio Combo LED, PWM, 7 Blade
Rated 500~1600(+/-10%), 34.69~114.65m3/h, 14dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.7A, 8.4W, Twister Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 100,000hrs

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The 140mm Lineup:


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Phobya G-Silent 14, 1100rpm Red Led, 7 Blade
Rated 1100rpm, 53cfm, 24dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.17A, Hydro Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
3yr Warranty
MTBF 50,000hrs


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Cooljag Everflow M#FB14025SL, 7 Blade
Rated 1500rpm 74.2cfm, 26.5dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.20A
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve


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Scythe Slip Stream140, 9 Blade
Rated 1700rpm, 92.4cfm, 36.4dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.35A, Sleeve Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
MTBF 30,000hrs


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Akasa Viper S-Flow 14cm PWM, 9 Blade
Rated 600~1600rpm, 110.61cfm, 26.01dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.32A, Hydro Dynamic Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 50,000hrs


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Thermalright TR TY-140 PWM, 7 Blade
Rated 900~1300rpm, 74cfm, 21dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.20A, Enhanced Hyper Flow Bearing
4 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved


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Noiseblocker NB-Black Silent Pro PK-2, 7 Blade
Rated 1200rpm(+/-10%), 54.7cfm, 20dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.09A, 1.08W, NanoSLI Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 140,000hrs


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Silenx Effizio 140, 7 Blade
Rated 900rpm(+/-15%), 48cfm, 12dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.08A, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
3yr Warranty (This model comes in Yellow, Red, or White Blade)


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Cooler Master CM Essentials 140, 7 Blade
Rated 1000rpm, 60.9cfm, 16dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.14A, 0.96W, Sleeve Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
MTBF 35,000hrs


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Noctua NF-P14 FLX, 9 Blade
Rated 750/900/1200rpm, 110.3m3/h, 19.6dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.10A, 1.2W, SSO Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
6yr Warranty
MTBF 150,000hrs

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Masscool Silent Fan SL-FD14025, 7 Blade
Rated 1000rpm(+/-10%), 45.32cfm, 20dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.25A, 0.96W, 2 Ball Bearing
4 pin molex and 3 pin M/B connectors, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 70,000hrs


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GeLid Wing14 UV Blue Fan Impeller, 11 Blade
Rated 1200rpm, 80cfm, 26dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.35A, Nanoflux Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
5yr Warranty
Water Proof and Dust Proof
MTBF 100,000hrs


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Aero Cool Shark 14cm White Edition, 15 Blade
Rated 1500rpm(+/-10%), 96.5cfm, 29.6dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.39A, 1.8W, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved
MTBF 100,000hrs


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Enermax T.B. Vegas DUO UCTVD14A, 7 Blade
Rated 700~1500rpm(+/-10%), 154.27m3/h, 15dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.6A, 7.2W, Twister Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve
MTBF 100,000hrs


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BitFenix Spectre Pro BFF-LPRO-14025B-RP Blue LED, 9 Blade
Rated 1200rpm(+/-10%), 86.73cfm(+/-10%), 22.8dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.25A(+/-10%), Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve


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Silverstone, Air Penetrator, AP141, 7 Blade
Rated 1500rpm, 64.34cfm, 30.1dbA
Rated 12VDC, 0.22A, 2.64W, Fluid Dynamic Bearing
3 pin M/B connector, Blk Sleeved


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Antec True Quiet 140, 9 Blade
Rated 500/800rpm, 32.44cfm, 20dbA
Rated 12VDC, 3 pin M/B connector, No Sleeve True Quiet 140
Relative Testing Hardware:
CPU AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler
Motherboard MSI NF980-G65 (Onboard CPU Temperature Sensors)
Memory Corsair Dominator GT CMT4GX3M2B2133C9
Soundcard M-Audio 1010LT
Mixer Behringer XENYX 1002FX (Microphone Required Phantom Power)
Sound Measurement Microphone Dayton EMM-6
Antec EA650 Power Supply (Powered the Fans in Testing Tunnels)
Annemometers General DAF 3010B and a Dwyer Model MW-1 (Airflow Measurement)


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Relative Testing Software:
Operating System WinXP Pro
Prime95 v25.11
Core Temp 0.99.8
M-Audio Delta Series
True Audio TrueRTA

Handmade Isolation Sound Test Chamber
6” x 2’ PVC Pipe (Airflow Test Tunnel)


Unrestricted Airflow

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Cooler Master Centurion Case sealed from all airflow leaks for CFM measurement


Restricted Airflow

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Outer Readings

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Inner Readings

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Note: Regarding PWM fans they have only been tested at their full airflow capabilities.
Temperature Performance:

Many in the forum are on the lookout for replacement fans for their CPU coolers that may yield cooler temperatures for an additional overclock edge, the following tests were to discover possible cooling fan replacements for the solutions presently being run. Not all fans were viable candidates to be run in this test, because they were simply not designed for this cooling purpose, quieter designed fans are not superior candidates to replace CPU Heat Sink cooling fans, however all test candidates were fairly submitted to each testing category. The results of this testing is specifically for the enthusiast seeking fans to substitute for their CPU cooling to possibly gain better cooling performance than the heat sink fans they currently are running.

Testing parameters for performance temperature tests were done using an overclocked AMD setup, a AMD 965 Black Edition CPU overclocked to 3900Mhz which was the maximum overclock attainable to be able to run a Noctua NH-D14 heat sink in passive mode with no cooling fans at all for the Control Temperature. The Noctua in passive mode was able to be stabilized by 1 hr running of Prime95 small ffts at an Idle Temp of 30c and Load Temp of 56c, the control numbers. Each test candidate was then slipped into the center of the Noctua and the individual results recorded after a 20min Prime95 small fft run, idle temperature recorded after a 10minute stabilization period, 23c ambient room temperature was maintained with a +.5 or -.5 variance.


Note: All the charts are clickable for a larger view.

In the 120mm category the Cooljag Everflow and the Sanyo Denki San Ace 120, are the top performers. I received both fans as OEM just the fans themselves no packaging at all, but the Sanyo Denki San Ace 120 came as bare lead wires with no end connector, I had to add the end connector to it. As far as cooling performance both of these are some serious no frills workhorse performers maintaining a solid 45c. The next 6 are serious contenders for 2nd place, Thermaltake, Enermax, Aero Cool, Scythe, Nexus, and Cooler Master coming in at 46c, any of these top 8 would be excellent heat sink performance replacement fans.

Forewarning: Regarding the Cooljag and Sanyo Denki fan recommendations, these fans may be a mounting problem for some of the after market heat pipe air cooling solutions, due to the heavy duty frame construction the mounting holes are solid formed, between the screw hole mounting tangs. Make sure you are fully aware of your heat sinks fan mounting capabilities, as far as clip or fan mounting attachments to the heat sink, before buying these fans, you can always modify and cut out the bridge between the tangs, but that would surely void their warranty.


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In the 140mm category the Cooljag Everflow and the Enermax T.B. Vegas Duo took top honors in performance which they both excel at, maintaining 45c, trailed by Scythe, Akasa, and Aero Cool at 46c. All of these top five cooling fans are excellent heat sink possible replacement candidates.
Airflow Inner / Outer Velocity Tunnel exhaust Face Readings:

The airflow testing tunnel allowed measured airflow results under a controlled situation, a 2 foot length of pipe with the tested fan mounted on one end pushing air through the tunnel. The airflow measurements were taken at the opposite exhaust end of the tunnel. The testing tunnel allowed interesting discoveries of how standard designed cooling fans handle and disperse the air they are pushing, generally the air is centrifugally forced to the outer wall of the test tunnel, resulting in higher pressure readings taken at the outer wall than the center of the output face. The testing tunnel allowed a higher velocity unobstructed airflow and the measurements display the fans most capable of dealing with the dead air space all the way to the exhaust end of the testing tunnel.

Disturbing discoveries are that some of the lower airflow fans are actually forcing their air to the tunnel outer walls leaving minimal airflow in the center exhaust face where inside of a computer it would be needed most. This may be the very reason some of you in the forum are baffled by the fact you have a multitude of cooling fans but still hot CPU and GPU temperatures. If you were totally relying on the fan CFM volume rating to solve your cooling problem that may very well be your problem.

The test tunnel was a simple way to discover not only the fans maximum airflow but additionally the capability to overcome the dead air space bringing some of the airflow back to the center of the tunnel and also the computer where it is needed.
Fan blade design has everything to do with pitching the air back to the center attempting to overcome the dead air space, a traditional standard fan blade design just does not accomplish that as well as we would like, as the mass majority all seem to display the same end result characteristics. Cooling fan manufacturers that have attacked overcoming the dead air space have either redesigned their blades with varying pitches, shapes, or increased rpm and noise to attempt to solve the situation. These airflow tests will allow you to discover which fans are actually better at dealing with the dead air space and bringing the airflow back to the center.

These airflow tests are recorded in Feet Per Minute airflow velocity, the unrestricted tests have no grill restriction at all basically mimicking a plain wire grill traditional finger guard, restricted tests are a wire grill with dust screen.


In the 120mm category what was most astonishing was the Silverstone Air Penetrator AP-121, with a full exhaust face reading of 218fpm, no other 120mm fan was able to do that. Holding an inner reading of 82% were Sanyo Denki and Phobya and the closest inner reading behind that was Antec at 77%.


Once again even under Restriction the Silverstone has a full exhaust face reading, the new Air Penetrator series Silverstone has designed is very effective, this is a perfect fan for directing air over memory modules, or directly into a CPU or GPU Heat Sink Coolers intake. Taking 2nd Antec delivered a 74% inner reading.


Cooljag and Silverstone rule the unrestricted airflow with 100% outer and inner readings, and delivering above 75% inner reading was Enermax, Scythe, Noctua, Phobya, Thermalright, Masscool, and Noiseblocker.


Restricted airflow really takes a toll on the 140mm fans output, some of the lower CFM fans take a serious airflow loss behind restrictive airflow screens, even though the Silverstone Ap-141 didn’t have a full face airflow reading this time, it's inner reading was 89% of it's outer. When it comes to overcoming the dead air space created by the fan motor body Silverstone's new Air Penetrator design is obviously delivering the goods.

So what can we learn from these series of tests, obviously the fans with higher inner readings are the fans doing the better job of supplying airflow directly out from the face of the fans to the center of your computer where it's needed the most.
CFM Volume Airflow Readings:

Inside a computer case the cooling fan basically does the same thing as the testing tunnel, centrifugally directing the airflow 360 degrees outward from the fan itself, the normal thought is the fan is pushing the air straight out from the fan but for the most part that's not what’s actually happening. The fan motor body is blocking airflow in the fan center which produces a dead air space that extends straight out from the fan, but inside a computer with all the obstructions the airflow encounters, turbulence occurs at various points inside the case.

We usually depend on multiple fans and either rely on a positive or negative airflow, positive meaning more air in than is being exhausted out, and negative more air out than is coming in. I’m a negative airflow believer myself, but that’s another story, so we are dependent on CFM to base our airflow findings, the next tests cover CFM. Not all fans are rated in CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute), some are rated in M3/H (Cubic Meters Per Hour), all M3/H was mathematically converted to CFM so they would all be on a level rating field.

I used a Cooler Master Centurion Case, gutted with all air vents sealed to perform the CFM tests, the CFM test case being gutted becomes more like a pressure cabinet keeping a certain amount of solid airflow through the case. The CFM tests are 100% positive pressure with only one fan inputting air in and the resulting pressure build at the exhaust was where the measurements were taken.


Cooljag testing higher than it’s 110cfm rating coming in at 113.4cfm is impressive but more so is its restricted CFM of 84.1, that’s some serious cooling power. High honors to Sanyo Denki, Cooler Master, Nexus, Enermax, Masscool, and Silverstone, for their restricted airflow results. It was nice to see a lot of the rated CFM fell on the conservative side with most testing higher than they were actually rated, however the Bitfenix Spectre Pro 120 fell way short of it’s rating, and it’s restricted CFM results are extremely low, it’s definitely a fan not to be put behind screening filters.


Not sure what happened with the ratings regarding the Cooljag Everflow it was rated at 74.2cfm but actually produced 110.6cfm and even under restricted airflow it produced higher cfm results than it's rating, and scored 81.1cfm, impressive. Akasa shares that top crown with high honors following going to Enermax, Aero Cool, Gelid, Scythe, and Silverstone, for very good restricted airflow CFM results.
Noise Level Testing:

The sound testing chamber was a resurrected sub woofer speaker cabinet I had previously made which was seriously heavy duty with 1 1/4" thick particle board side walls. The speakers were removed and the holes sealed up, a removable ¾” plywood cover panel allowed the tested fan to be suspended inside the chamber hanging from a bracket, and a hole drilled on one end of the cabinet to mount the Dayton Audio EMM-6 Measurement Microphone.

An additional hole was drilled in the removable plywood cover to allow the tested fans power connection cable to feed through to the outside of the testing chamber, to supply power to run the fans. The power supply itself was located outside the testing chamber, all holes were sealed during testing with foam insulation. The only contents inside the testing chamber were the microphone and the fan to be tested, the microphone was equipped with a wind sock to knock down air flow noise.

Most of the best sound testing meters don't go below 30dba and use weighting to cancel background noise, measuring by microphone could literally drop to zero inside the sealed chamber when the fan was shut down. The sound measuring process was done recording from a microphone, (Dayton Audio EMM-6), to the testing computer using the True Audio, TrueRTA software, microphone measured sound levels are db/SPL. Test candidates were each identically tested in the sealed test chamber to isolate exterior sounds, Microphone measurement distance from the fan was 200mm or approximately 8”.

Note: Differences between a products rated db/a and measured db/a are not indicators of false advertising data, just indicators of the testing distance being different, some of the rated fan noise level measurements were stated they were taken at a 1 meter distance from the fan. The testing chamber was not large enough to match that measuring distance.

After doing my own research of sound decibel levels from various internet sources the levels they all seem to agree on are, 15db = a pin drop, 20db = gentle rustling of leaves, 30db = quiet library, 40db = whispering, 50db = average home sounds, 60db = normal conversation, 85db = hearing damage with long term exposure, 120db = front row rock concert,140db = gun shot. This is totally to get an idea reference of a comparison of acceptable and not acceptable sound levels, though some of the tested ranges may seem high, even the loudest are in a comfortable range.


Cooler Master Blade Master 120 impressively tested significantly under it's rating, it and the Noiseblocker Black Silent pro took the quiet honors, with Bitfenix Spectre Pro right on their heels, surprisingly the Sanyo Denki San Ace 120 tested out at exactly the same as it was rated.


Cooler Master Essentials 140 takes the quiet crown with Noiseblocker Black Silent Pro right on it’s heels, and the Silverstone AP141 tested quieter than it’s rating.

There's not a fan in this roundup that falls in the category of not worth having, as they all have their specific strengths and weaknesses, it totally depends on what job you're purchasing the fan to accomplish and if it will be under restricted or unrestricted airflow in the case setup. The fans all basically do the jobs they are rated to do, but some designs do stand out above the rest Silverstone and Enermax in different areas have gone above and beyond.

Silverstones new Air Penetrator design is very effective at concentrating the airflow straight out from the fan, and it’s ability to overcome the restriction in the 120mm and 140mm airflow tests was amazing.

Enermax has gone to extremes with their LED lighting with their TB Vegas lineup and doesn’t loose the performance in the process.

Cooljag Everflow's pure raw cooling performance was very impressive in the 120mm and 140mm categories.

Power load temp cooling goes to Cooljag Everflow 120 and 140, Sanyo Denki San Ace 120, and the 140 Enermax T.B Vegas Duo, have to share the top performance crown, and right on their heels, are the Cooler Master Blade Master 120, Nexus 120, Akasa 120 & 140, Thermaltake 120, Scythe 120 & 140, Aero cool 140, and Gelid 140.

Cooling ingenuity and design innovation goes to Silverstone’s Air Penetrator series.

Cooling plus LED Bling and show, Enermax’s T.B.Vegas line takes the crown.

Quiet crowns have to go to Cooler Master and Noiseblocker.

Highest recommendation goes to Silverstones new Air Penetrator design in both the 120mm and 140mm categories, the fan design and engineering is the best dead air space and restriction overcomer of any fan in the entire roundup!

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