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

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ANTEC TRUEQUIET & TRUEQUIET PRO 120

Antec is one of the best known enthusiast case brands and needs no introduction here. They have offered a variety of case-related accessories for years, including many fans. The TQ and TQ Pro 120 are their newest models. They have some shared characteristics, and the TQP120 has a truly unique feature not found in any other fan.


Shown above: Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120, TrueQuiet 120, and TwoCool 120.


The TQ120 has rubber damping blocks in the corners to which the mounting screws are affixed. This seems inspired by the Noiseblocker Multiframe fan design, which preceded the TQ fans by a couple of years. To go one step further, both the TQ and TQ Pro fans come with long, easy-to-use, soft rubber plugs that can replace metal screws altogether for a truly decoupled fan mounting. Note the good struts/blades geometry, the wide flaring of the blades as they extend from the hub, and the very small diameter of the hub. It is a 2-speed fan; the black switch on the thin lead enables full or reduced speed.


The TQ Pro 120 has the same rubber blocks in the corners as the TQ120, but it has another ace up its sleeve: The circular structure which is normally part of the frame is an integral part of the fins. The outer edges of the fins no longer exist, as they are attached to a circular band that spins with the blades.


Another view of the Anetc TrueQuiet Pro 120.

Published Specifications: Antec TrueQuiet 120
Brand Antec Power Rating 0.12A
Manufacturer ? Airflow Rating 21.5 / 35.8 CFM
Model Number TrueQuiet 120 RPM Rating 600 / 1000
Retail Availability yes Noise Rating 8.9 / 19.9 dBA
Bearing Type ? Header Type 3-pin
Hub Size 1.35" Starting Voltage n/a
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Weight 138.9 grams
Fan Mounts rubber plugs, screws Number of Samples 4


Antec TQ 120 fan summary.

SPCR Test Results: Antec TQ 120
RPM
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
19
15
12
11
°C Rise
24
26
29
34
Airflow in/out (FPM)
330/500
-
-
170/230

The TQ120 is the more conventional of the two Antec fans covered here. Aside from the rubber blocks in the corners and the dual-speed switch, it is not that unusual. Antec does not provide full technical details of the fan; not even breaing type is mentioned, but I suspect it is a sleeve. It is widely distributed, like most Antec products, and sells typically for $8~12.

The TQ 120 is a quiet fan even at full speed, although not exceptional. The overall sound quality is good, marred by occasional intermittent clicking noise, albeit at a very low level. It could be slightly sloppy bearing reseating, but the level is low enough that it should not be audible except in the quietest of environments. This was heard in all the samples I tried, with varying degrees. It's not that unusual, the Nexus 120 also exhibits this kind of noise sometimes. Part of the issue might be the frequent handling during the testing. In actual use, fans are rarely moved. The cooling performance is close to the reference Nexus 120, within a degree or two. The various samples had high speeds of 1020~1100 RPM, and low speeds of 630~700 RPM. In most cases, the low speed is quiet enough to make the fan inaudible.


Antec TQ Pro 120 fan summary.

SPCR Test Results: Antec TQ Pro 120
RPM
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
19
14
12
11
°C Rise
24
27
29
35
Airflow in/out (FPM)
330/500
-
-
170/230

The Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120 is a fan I had high hopes for. It is marketed as a high end fan, and sells for as little as $14 but also as much as >$25.

While it proved to be a very quiet, smooth fan superior in its acoustic qualities to the TQ120, it was not the best of the bunch here. The core design attempts to reduce noise by eliminating the outer edges of the fans, which create turbulence noise. This it might have done, but at the cost of cooling efficacy — probably because turbulent airflow is more effective at cooling than more laminar flow. This helps to explain the slightly poorer cooling results compared to the TQ120.

Interestingly, the attached circular ring seems to have another effect: When changes in speed are set in the controller, most fans change speed and stabilize within a few seconds. With the TQ Pro 120, it took much longer for the fan to change speed and stabilize at the new speed, whether going up or down. I hypothesize that it's an effect of the added mass at the outer edge of the moving mass and the small motor size. It has more inertia or momentum, yet the motor is smaller, so the end result is that speed changes take longer. This is mainly a point of curiosity and should have little effect on long term use.



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