Fan Roundup #6: Scythe, Noiseblocker, Antec, Nexus, Thermalright

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This is a very large, unusual PWM fan included with a sample of the new Thermalright Archon SB-E CPU heatsink we received for review (and use in our fan test platform) a couple of weeks ago. As the model number suggests, it is a 17cm diameter frame, with fins and hub having a diameter of 14cm. As you can see in the photo below, the frame is neither square nor round, but a bit oval. The mounting holes are not in a square pattern, but rectangular. The shorter of the distances between adjacent mounting holes is 10.5cm, the same as for a standard 120mm square frame fan, while the longer distance is 12.5cm, which is the standard distance for a 14cm fan. Despite the cutaway frame, it feels sturdy, and the plastic from which the frame and fins are made appears to be strong, high quality.

The frame of this fan is quite unusual, as you can see. Seven rounded edge blades which look more like ship propellers than fan blades, and five curve struts in a geometrically correct design for minimizing tonality. The power lead is neatly sleeved and terminated with a standard 4-pin connector.

This fan is not yet listed at the Thermalright web site, and neither is the Archon SB-E. What's confusing is that the TY150 fan said to be included with the Archon rev A seems to describe the TY170, and the photos of the TY150 look identical to our TY170. Since there are no specs for this fan listed anywhere, all I can do is show you the specs for the TY150.

Published Specifications: Thermalright TR-TY150
Brand Thermalright Power Rating n/a
Manufacturer ? Airflow Rating 38~84 CFM
Model Number TR-TY150 RPM Rating 500~1,100
Retail Availability ? Noise Rating 23 [email protected]
Bearing Type n/a Header Type 4-pin
Hub Size 1.65" Starting Voltage n/a
Frame Size 170 x 150 x 26.5 mm Weight 180 grams
Fan Mounts n/a Number of Samples 1

Normally, with a fan that is this much of an unknown quantity, I would wait for more info and better availability before doing a review, but this is a special case: This is the fan sold as part of the heatsink used in the new fan test system, so it's something like a reference, and I would feel remiss not to include it in the first set of fan tests on this system.

Asus Fan Xpert 2 shows 1000 RPM top speed, and a wide speed range for the TY170.

SPCR Test Results: Thermalright TY170
°C Rise
Airflow in/out (FPM)

Unsurprisingly, at top speed (which varied from a low of 1020 RPM to a high of 1080 depending on Fan Xpert 2's mood) this big fan is much louder than the reference Nexus 120, and also provides much better cooling: +8 dBA and -3°C for temperature rise. The improvement in cooling at this speed might be a little less than expected, but as I have written many times, the relationship between airflow and cooling is exponential beyond a certain point for any cooling system. The overall sound quality is pretty good, mostly turbulence noise with a couple of tonal peaks that makes it sound somewhat more complex or perhaps "dirtier" than other fans. As the speed is reduced, the cooling to noise ratio improves quite a lot. At 700 RPM, the SPL is only 15 dBA, while temperature rise is still 23°C, just one degree worse than the Nexus 120 at top speed. Even at 550 RPM where the noise level drops to an inaudible 12 dBA, the temperature rise is just 25°C.

The good cooling performance of the TY170 on this test platform undoubtedly has something to do with the big mating surface area of the Archon heatsink which benefits from a large fan's airflow pattern.

The unusual size and mounting hole spacing of this fan probably makes it unsuitable for general purpose application as a case fan, but it is not difficult to adapt it for use on big heatsinks like the Archon.

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