[SOLVED] [SOLVED] Help Chosing New Case Fans (there are so many choices now)

Feb 28, 2019
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Hi All,

recently I have been looking to replace my case fans, being about 12 years old it's probably about time ahead of a full upgrade next year.

I currently have 5x120mm Arctic Cooling fans cooling a Cooler Master Cosmos case, 1 of them is on the CPU Heatsink (a Zalman CNPS10X). Would prefer 2 on there, but the ram is in the way and its set to suck air, not blow onto the heatsink. I like the fans as they are quiet, and the 'network' link means less hassle setting them up to be as quiet as possible while still ramping up only when under load.

The fans I have are the older 120mm variant of this.

Preferences:
  • Quiet (near silent) operation.
  • 2-Way mounting.
  • No RGB nonsense.
  • Fair price (around £10-15 or thereabouts)
Thanks,
Noki

Short of an specific model recommendation what should I be looking for, bearing type, number of blades and shape, that sort of thing?
 

Darkbreeze

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I think the Fractal design Define R6 is the best all-around, one size fits ANY, air or water cooling case, whether with or without TG side panel, on the market at anything resembling a reasonable price.

It supports very tall air coolers, just about any kind of water cooling configuration you could possibly want to do, has exemplary cable management and storage mounting features, looks fantastic even though it is a somewhat understated, simple design aesthetically and doesn't try to have unnecessary fancy or exotic shapes or outlandish lighting.

It also supports everything from mini ITX to eATX form factor motherboards and multicard configurations.
 

Darkbreeze

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Pretty hard to beat the Noctua NF-F12. Few more bucks each than what you wanted to pay, especially if you want the black version, but there are really no other fans except the Noctua NF-A12x25 (Which are significantly better) that compare in terms of airflow and noise level at any given equal RPM and decibel level.
 
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Karadjgne

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Case Fan: ARCTIC - Arctic F12 PWM CO 74 CFM 120 mm Fan (£12.97 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case Fan: BitFenix - BFF-SCF-P12025KK-RP 51.3 CFM 120 mm Fan (£8.79 @ CCL Computers)
Case Fan: Noctua - NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM 70.75 CFM 120 mm Fan (£12.43 @ Amazon UK)
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available

With the way you have your cooler setup, I'd go with the Noctua P12 there, and use the Arctics at case fans.

Adding a second fan doesn't do much in the way of cooling, even the Noctua NH-D15S uses a single center fan and is only @ 3°C behind the NH-D15 with dual 140mm fans. The CM hyper212 plus, using front and rear fans is the same as the hyper212 evo.

Difference between a NF-F12 and NF-P12 Is the NF-F12 is a focused flow design. That means it's exhaust is directed almost 90°, which is great for anything behind it, but useless for stuff (like your heatsink) in front of it. The P12 has slightly better airflow, higher cfm. Works better in 'pull' than an F12.

And, as mentioned, the newly designed A12x25 is better still across most of the fan curve, the F12 having better static pressure at ultra low rpm, the S12 having better cfm at ultra high rpm. But anywhere in between, like 500rpm-1300rpm,the A12 beats any Noctua design currently.
 
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Darkbreeze

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I'm afraid this is the occasion where I'm going to have to ask you to back up those assertions with some proof. You know I specifically focus on cooling research and design when it comes to systems and read all I can of reviews, lab testing, etc., and nowhere can I recall any such thing such as what you are claiming in regard to those fans.

While the P12 redux does have a higher CFM AND a higher static pressure rating, it also runs at a higher RPM and has a 3db higher noise rating. Those redux fans also, if you've ever used them, and I have several on my bench, have a different "pitch" or "tone" if you will, that is not particularly as pleasant or unnoticeable as the newer Noctua fans.

All those Redux fans are based on older Noctua designs, hence the "redux", and the only reason that fan has a higher CFM and static pressure rating is because it also runs at 200rpm higher than the F12.

Even when in a pull configuration, static pressure is important if there is a significant static resistance either in front of or behind the fan. Only actual exhaust fans that are typically venting to a lower pressure environment have little use for a higher static pressure capability.

It is unlikely, at an equal RPM, which is what I stated earlier, that that P12 1700rpm Redux fan has the ability to "work better in "pull"" than the F12. I'd have to see test specific results of both fans at the same RPM to accept that conclusion.

https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/94875-growing-popularity-of-high-static-pressure-fans-blowers-in-smaller-applications
 

Karadjgne

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https://aphnetworks.com/reviews/noctua_nf_f12_pwm_nf_f12_pwm

F12 in front of heatsink, P12 if behind it. And you won't get rpm specific results on anything as mobo's don't use rpm base, but duty cycle base. By default, the P12 will always spin a little faster than the F12 at the same duty % when comparing a 1500rpm fan to a 1700rpm fan. If comparing the F12 to the original P12 at 1300rpm, the P12 would always spin a hair slower.

I've used pretty much everything Noctua has for fans except for the A series, haven't built anything since they were introduced, but have read up on curves and performance charts, reviews etc of them. Especially the info put out by Noctua before they got graphic happy. But even on Noctua site, the P12 is slightly ahead in performance overall ratings, the F12 excelling in push, mainly due to the focus. The P12 has a broader output cone. However, that focus is only of any use to exhaust side of the fan, doesn't affect input in the slightest, but cfm does. Static pressure is also attributed to the exhaust, blade design, pitch, size affecting that. Not so much on input. Input is mostly affected by cfm. The more air moved through the fan, the greater the low pressure area in front of it.

It's really hard to put concrete proof to that, much of what I know I got from my father in law, who was a 'propeller man' in WWII, and knew more about props, fans, pitch, angles of rotation, degrees of angles according to length and weight etc than anyone I've ever met. And he passed some time ago.
 

Darkbreeze

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I'll get back to you on that. I don't want to put this off topic anymore than I already did. We'll talk about it in another discussion when I have some free time and check a few things out. You get a pass for now. LOL :)
 

Karadjgne

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From the picture, that's a Cosmos S case. The front fan is attached to the lower hdd bays and is removable from the front. Bonus to the Cosmos S is its ability to field a 200mm intake on the side panel, and Noctua makes one. I'd do that ans change that top mount fan to exhaust instead. A lower rpm 200mm will move a ton of air inside and you'd be needing better exhaust to compensate.
 

Darkbreeze

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Yes, you can't have a tower cooler AND a side panel fan both, on that case. Well, on MOST cases for that matter.

Definitely you don't want ANY top or rear fans as intake. Flip that fan around, or the idea anyhow.

In 95% of use cases, you will always want front and bottom fans as intake, and top or rear fans as exhaust. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are not even necessarily exceptions I agree with, just ones that some choose to use such as top mounted radiators oriented as intake assemblies which basically either leaves only the rear fan location for use as an exhaust or the use of fan locations that should NEVER be used as exhaust, as exhaust.

Fans are always changeable, otherwise, if one fails you'd have to get a new case. Nobody is going to design like that, not even really bad companies. Front panel comes off, then you can remove the fan for replacement.

If it were ME, I'd mod that case to accept another front intake fan. I'm not sure I've ever seen a full tower case (At least not in a LONG time) that only supported a single front fan on any modern bottom mounted PSU design chassis unless the single fan was a 200mm. Granted, there is the side fan, but obviously that can't be used with any moderately tall tower cooler.

Looking more closely it looks like there is a bottom fan location IN ADDITION to the one for the power supply, that can be used for intake and if it will not interfere with anything like the PSU depending on how long your PSU is, I'd probably think about using that location to gain another intake fan.

Edit: I see you already planned to use that bottom location, so nevermind.
 

Karadjgne

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Damn. This is a first. Top of the line, full tower flagship case (in its time) touted as perfect for high end builds and enthusiast class components, and a 154.9mm cpu clearance? What was CM thinking? Or is that with the included 200mm Fan mounted. I can't tell, CM has shut down the official pages, and no reviews state it.
Did find that there's ability to mount 3x fans on top though. And yes, as Darkbreeze mentioned, I'd figure out a way to get another fan in front.
 

Darkbreeze

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If you remove the first couple of drive bays, including the one below and a few above the existing fan, you could easily mod that case to accept two 140mm fans in front. I get that not everybody is inclined or willing to do case mods though. It's a good case for it however as the rest of the case design is pretty decent for it's era.

It also seems there is a revised side panel door that either increases the height of the CPU cooler you can use or increases the size of what you can use if you use a side fan.


But as old as that case is it's pretty unlikely you'd find one anymore unless it was on Ebay used.
 

Karadjgne

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That was actually a major topic of discussion on many of the posts I read, CM making a case, selling it (at the time) for $250 and a few short years later, there's no parts, upgrades or replacements to be had. Many complaints coming from second-hand buyers on eBay and other sources, who just wanted a complete case, or the missing hdd bays, or replacement wheels etc.

If (as it looks like) your case is still in great shape, complete etc, it might be worth it to sell it, and buy a new case, that isn't as big, has better cooling options, fits what you need and/or want out of it.
 

Darkbreeze

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Pretty sure those retainers simply pull out of the hole they are stuck in. Much like these.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-qSq9P_NLI


The things you think are clips, are actually just the grills on the front of the fan. Which is weird because there really shouldn't BE any grills on the front of a fan that is installed IN a case unless it's covering the hole to keep things from the outside from getting into the fan like exhaust fan locations or modded cases.

And even if you break them, in the event they don't easily pull out or unscrew, it's not a big deal to use rubber screws like those in the video I linked to or actual fan screws to fasten them back where they need to go. They are not a big deal.
 

Karadjgne

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Case recommendations kinda rely on the equipment, especially the mobo. Right now it's all ATX. Between the Intel 9900k and the upcoming 3000 series Ryzen, the HEDT cpus are having it rough unless you have a specific need for excessive amounts of ram, cores, pcie lanes. Ppl are even starting to look at full custom loops in mITX.

With enthusiast builds, serious lack of need for a monster case is gone. Almost nobody is running 2x sli/CF , never mind 3 or 4x sli/CF, with the advent of large capacity SSDs, the need for multiple hdd bays is gone, optical is pretty much dead, networking has advanced to the point where raid boxes/Nas are far better and easier to deal with than a monster case with 5-6 massive TB hdds internal in 1 case.

So even a mid sized ATX actually has more usable internal space and more commonly better performance than threadripper or Intels HEDT cpus.

Eatx is pretty much been relegated back into the hands of professionals and out of the house.

As far as an ATX case goes, my choice would be the Fractal Design Meshify C. It's simple, no TG, no RGB, one of the best airflow cases there is, quiet, hdd bays are removable, wiring is hidden beneath a psu shroud and decent quality. And far lighter than the Cosmos cases, and far smaller its large enough to also handle upto a 360mm aio, and any aircooler on the market.
 

Darkbreeze

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Well, it's like the Jeep Renegade being classified as a compact car. Really? It's an SUV, how the hell is that "compact". There are very liberal rules, or none, when it comes to marketing and specifications for cases. There are cases that say they support eATX for example, but they only support SOME eATX sizes, not all, because those too can vary due to there not being a very rigid standard regarding what actually constitutes what.
 

Darkbreeze

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Another option, with serious airflow improvement, is the Define S2. It's the EXACT same case as the Define R6, but without any drive cages in the way. All drives get mounted on the bottom of the case or on the backside of the motherboard.

https://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreviews/3371-fractal-define-s2-case-review-doesnt-need-to-exist


I have the original Define S, and although I'd rather have the newer version, I have no complaints about this case at all AND have done some fairly heavy modifications to it to improve airflow which have paid dividends. Kind of looks nice too.

These are actually older pictures. I need to take some newer ones with many changes made since then.





 

Karadjgne

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Many ppl will say that cases with doors etc will be bad for airflow, and even pro reviews have said as much for my R5. Bunch of hogwash really. It all depends on the case design. There's plenty of space in front of those 2x 140mm fans that they provide plenty of airflow for most ppl. Reviewers have this nasty tendency to go to extremes with all tests, and yes doors don't help matters when compared to open flow designs such as the Meshify. But most ppl do not need extremes of airflow, they just need the air to flow and the stock Fractal fans do that exceedingly well. Not to say there aren't better, but you could do a damn sight worse.

Both of the hdd bays are gone in my R5, I still use a BR burner in the top slot, but both my hdd and ssd sit in the lower optical bay. There's honestly tons of excess room, even mounted my 280mm aio in pull at the front and never came close to the gpu.

The R6 is an awesome case, but then again, it is a Fractal Design, so it's hard to say anything bad about it at all. Oh, except 1 thing. If it's in your bedroom and you plan on leaving it run overnight, drop something over the power/hdd led, that sucker is bright!
 

Darkbreeze

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My system dropped ten degrees, with the EXACT same fan configuration, when I opened the front panel up as compared to before I did that. So I don't believe it's "make believe". In fact, the system is quieter AFTER doing that than it was before, because the fan RPM does not tend to ramp up as frequently OR as high, when it does.

Obviously, that was during worst case scenarios running full loads of Prime small FFT or Realbench, so you have to consider, but under other loads like Handbrake (Actual conversions) it was very similar.
 

Karadjgne

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I like that word, 'most'....

I7-3770K @4.6GHz with Cryorig R1 Ultimate, p95 26.6 small fft door closed 70°C. Door open 67°C. Gaming temps @ 55°C door open or closed. Quieter with door closed. 2x140mm stock intakes, 1x 140mm exhaust, top panels intact.
Got the same temps with an nzxt x61 @ 4.9GHz with only the aio as exhaust and/or intake, 2x 140mm fans as intake and/or exhaust. (I swapped out of curiosity to experiment with airflow vrs heat, didn't change much other than hdd temp went up 2°C.)

One thing I didn't monitor was fan rpm, figures. I've got SpeedFan set to max all the fans out at roughly 900rpm, so everything is next to silent anyways, so my temps are kinda squewed by that, I've not done max rpm tests, which could very well show a larger difference. But even as supposedly quiet as that R1 is supposed to be, even at 900rpm (ish), if I pull off the silencer lids, it's rather loud.
 
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Karadjgne

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Many ppl will say that cases with doors etc will be bad for airflow, and even pro reviews have said as much for my R5.
But most ppl do not need extremes of airflow, they just need the air to flow
I said most. The vast majority of pc users. That includes a lot of office pc's, regular gamers, grandma's YouTube surfer etc. It's only ppl who regularly push boundaries with uber heavy loads, like p95 or handbrake or Adobe CC etc and are looking for benchmark numbers, that'll benefit. For most ppl there's no difference in the performance of their pc with uber airflow. As long as it's decent, that's all that matters.
 

Karadjgne

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Lol,yes I'm no spring chicken. With a rear exhaust fan, and no other exhausts on top, you'd get better results keeping the panels on top. Fans will draw air from the nearest available source, so opening up the top vent just gives that rear exhaust a whole bunch of fresh air to draw from. With the top panels intact, that cpu fan/rear exhaust is forced to draw more from the case, supplied by the intakes. If you have a top exhaust as well, that'd be a little different, the fan forcing exhaust not allowing intake. It wouldn't affect cpu temps, much if any, but will affect other case temps slightly as the rear exhaust is slightly less effective. It's why even though a top intake right in front of the cpu fan sounds great, and you do get better cpu temps that way, it also redirects the case airflow, causing a circulatory pattern, which over extended periods of heavy use is detrimental to case temps in general, air is supposed to flow in/out, not round and round.

Load temps aren't much affected by case temps, not nearly as much as idle temps are. Just because load temps are way above what case temps usually run. Idle temps compared to ambient out of case temps are a good indicator of general airflow. Generally idle temps are @ 6-12°C above ambient, with decent airflow. If ambient are 23°C and idle temps are 40's, you have an airflow issue or a cpu load. Could be fan curves, lack of fans, pathetic fans, wrong fans etc. Most ppl at idle with a 23ish°C ambient will run low 30's. Of course with current versions of windows and all the excessive stuff it does in the background, even idle is hard to get, temps constantly bounce from 30ish to 50ish with apps opening, internet checks, windows store, etc.
 

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