Question First-World Problem: ML120, NF-F12 3000RPM PWM, or NF-S12A

Dec 29, 2019
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I'm currently debating on which all black fan to buy; I have narrowed it down to these three. I'm going to purchase nine of the fans I wined up choosing, which will be placed in a Lian Li O11 Air case. They will be used strictly as case fans and will NOT be placed against a radiator and I will have a Corsair H150i XT with RGB ML 120s in the side mount. I prefer performance over sound, however, a lower noise is definitely appreciated. Seeing that I will have nine of these fans and three RGB ML120s, I will be using two SilverStone 8 port PWM fan hubs (one for intake and one for exhaust), which will connect to my Corsair Commander Pro so I can use Corsair iCUE to control the RPMs without having to go through the BIOS. (I Like Overkill in Airflow Performance ;) )

So my question(s) are, is all of this compatible and which fan should I choose for the job?

Corsair ML120Noctua NF-F12Noctua NF-S12A
dB(a) @ Max Speed~35 dB(a)43.5 dB(a)17.8 dB(a)
RPM Range400-2400 RPMs750-3000 RPMs300-1100 RPMs
Airflow @ Max Speed~75 CFM~110 CFM~60 CFM
Warranty5 years6 years6 years
 
To start, be sure to recognize that you have not told us the correct name on some of these. Noctua makes an NF-F12 PWM model with much lower speed, airflow and noise that your specs. You are talking about the NF-F12 industrial PPC-3000 PWM fan there. And the other all-black Noctua is their NF-S12A PWM chromax.black.swap. Noctua makes a lot of fans with similar names, so be sure to get the right ones when you order.

This type of comparison is tough because the makers never give you ALL the info on air flow and noise versus speed. What you get is usually just performance at max speed. For example, although the NF-F12 can produce the highest air flow, if you slow it down to the point where it gives you the 75 CFM that is the MAX of the Corsair ML120, what noise does the Noctua make? Unknown, but certainly significantly less than 43.5 dBA.

What you CAN conclude from those data, though, is that the NF-F12 has all the air flow capacity you need under very heavy use circumstances, and most of the time they will be running much slower than max. That means much lower than max noise, and VERY likely long life for these fans running about 60% or less of max speed.

The NF-S12A models likely would give you enough cooling since you plan to use so many, but they would run closer to their max speed - they have just over half the air flow capacity of their larger cousins.

All the fans you listed are of the newer PWM type so they CAN be used with the Silverstone Fan Hubs you cited, as long as you ensure that the mobo fan headers you plug the Hubs into are configured to use PWM Mode.
 
Reactions: Metro_2033_Fan
Dec 29, 2019
22
3
25
2
To start, be sure to recognize that you have not told us the correct name on some of these. Noctua makes an NF-F12 PWM model with much lower speed, airflow and noise that your specs. You are talking about the NF-F12 industrial PPC-3000 PWM fan there. And the other all-black Noctua is their NF-S12A PWM chromax.black.swap. Noctua makes a lot of fans with similar names, so be sure to get the right ones when you order.

This type of comparison is tough because the makers never give you ALL the info on air flow and noise versus speed. What you get is usually just performance at max speed. For example, although the NF-F12 can produce the highest air flow, if you slow it down to the point where it gives you the 75 CFM that is the MAX of the Corsair ML120, what noise does the Noctua make? Unknown, but certainly significantly less than 43.5 dBA.

What you CAN conclude from those data, though, is that the NF-F12 has all the air flow capacity you need under very heavy use circumstances, and most of the time they will be running much slower than max. That means much lower than max noise, and VERY likely long life for these fans running about 60% or less of max speed.

The NF-S12A models likely would give you enough cooling since you plan to use so many, but they would run closer to their max speed - they have just over half the air flow capacity of their larger cousins.

All the fans you listed are of the newer PWM type so they CAN be used with the Silverstone Fan Hubs you cited, as long as you ensure that the mobo fan headers you plug the Hubs into are configured to use PWM Mode.
Yes, excuse my laziness, but typeing industrial PPC-3000 PWM multiple times is rather annoying. Thank you for answering the SilverStone Fan Hub question, however, I'll be connecting the SilverStones to a Corsair Commander Pro (A bit sacrilege I know), but I like being able to control all my components in one place without going through the BIOS.
 

Phaaze88

Distinguished
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ML120: 4.2mm-H2O
NF-F12: 7.63mm-H2O
NF-S12A: 1.19mm-H2O
Those are the static pressure ratings you left out. That's basically how well the fan can deal with obstacles.
That, plus the ones you've listed already, are only for the fan running at max rpm. None of those numbers are going to be as high otherwise.
Unfortunately, most of the manufacturers don't seem to like posting the fan curves for their fans, which would make the selection easier.

I Like Overkill in Airflow Performance
Filling all the fan slots like that contradicts what you're after.

I already played around with that in a Phanteks Enthoo 719 out of curiousity. I only use NF-A14s and NF-F12s myself:
View: https://imgur.com/K4F0y6i

View: https://imgur.com/An7EAIF


It's just trying to blast air needlessly, while also being louder - a lot louder. Doesn't perform any better than if I had cut the number of intakes in half - of which there were far too many anyways.
AirBLOW over Airflow = bad.

The optimal setup in that O11 Air case:
Side intake: H150i XT
Front: None needed. In the case review, the front panel filter was shown to be too restrictive anyways; they made it too dense. If you put some fans here anyway, remove the filter, just run them on the lowest rpm and keep it there, or else it'll disrupt the air coming through the side.
Bottom: None needed. It's just as weak as the front panel.
Top exhaust: 3x 120, and take the top filter off, as you don't want to trap dust in!
Rear: Ah, those little 80mms... they can be fairly loud while moving even less air... pass.


All that said, either the ML120s or NF-S12As would work.
 
Dec 29, 2019
22
3
25
2
ML120: 4.2mm-H2O
NF-F12: 7.63mm-H2O
NF-S12A: 1.19mm-H2O
Those are the static pressure ratings you left out. That's basically how well the fan can deal with obstacles.
That, plus the ones you've listed already, are only for the fan running at max rpm. None of those numbers are going to be as high otherwise.
Unfortunately, most of the manufacturers don't seem to like posting the fan curves for their fans, which would make the selection easier.


Filling all the fan slots like that contradicts what you're after.

I already played around with that in a Phanteks Enthoo 719 out of curiousity. I only use NF-A14s and NF-F12s myself:
View: https://imgur.com/K4F0y6i

View: https://imgur.com/An7EAIF


It's just trying to blast air needlessly, while also being louder - a lot louder. Doesn't perform any better than if I had cut the number of intakes in half - of which there were far too many anyways.
AirBLOW over Airflow = bad.

The optimal setup in that O11 Air case:
Side intake: H150i XT
Front: None needed. In the case review, the front panel filter was shown to be too restrictive anyways; they made it too dense. If you put some fans here anyway, remove the filter, just run them on the lowest rpm and keep it there, or else it'll disrupt the air coming through the side.
Bottom: None needed. It's just as weak as the front panel.
Top exhaust: 3x 120, and take the top filter off, as you don't want to trap dust in!
Rear: Ah, those little 80mms... they can be fairly loud while moving even less air... pass.


All that said, either the ML120s or NF-S12As would work.
I left out the static pressure because I didn't plan on using them on a radiator and I already removed all of the filters. I had planned on the top and side being exhaust; I've watched BitWit and he suggested making the radiator an intake as well, however I thought I could counter act that with the front and bottom as an intake and leaving the radiator as an exhaust, which would be set to a much lower RPM.
 

Phaaze88

Distinguished
Herald
Doesn't work well because the side and top are the sections where air is going to meet the least amount of resistance in that particular case.
PLUS, if the side is set as exhaust, then what's the point of the front intake? Some of that air is going to get sucked right out and do nothing.
 
Reactions: Metro_2033_Fan
Dec 29, 2019
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25
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Doesn't work well because the side and top are the sections where air is going to meet the least amount of resistance in that particular case.
PLUS, if the side is set as exhaust, then what's the point of the front intake? Some of that air is going to get sucked right out and do nothing.
Good point, that was partially my goal since the side mounted radiator would absorb some fresh air if I had the front as an intake and I thought the bottom as an intake would make up for the rest of my system including the GPU. I kinda thought I could sacrifice my CPU as an exhaust to get more out of my graphics card: seeing that the CPU wouldn't be dumping hot air into the case. I also figured having the top as an exhaust would mitigate the exhaust of hot air through the side radiator. Your point has been on my mind ever since I purchased the O11 Air instead of the O11 Dynamic. Our cases are definitely similar and I appreciate your advice; I wish there were more videos discussing stuff like this instead of, "check out my new thousand dollar apple stand" that almost no one is going to spend the money on.
 
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