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

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COMPARISONS

We can look at the cooling performance at various SPL levels. SPL levels above 25 dBA@1m are ignored; it's too loud. The numbers in the middle of the table represent temperature rise.

dBA @ 1m
22
21
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Nexus 120
22°
24°
26°
33°
TR TY170
20°
23°
25°
NB M12-S1
25°
29°
NB M12-S2
23°
25°
29°
33°
NB M12-P
22°
25°
31°
Scythe GT120-12
24°
27°
Scythe GT120-14
19°
22°
24°
27°
Antec TQ 120
23°
24°
26°
29°
34°
Antec TQP 120
23°
24°
27°
30°
35°

This is not a great table, I'll come up with something better later, but basically the lowest temperature in each column marks a "win". The farthest right incidence of a given temperature rise also indicates a win. The green boxes indicate wins, the blue boxes indicate second place.

So...

  • Best cooling at super quiet noise levels goes to the Scythe Gentle Typhoon 800 RPM model. The Noiseblocker M12-S1 comes in a close second in this category.
  • Best cooling at <22 dBA@1m goes to the Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1450 RPM model. The Thermalright TY170 comes in second, but consider its limited applications due to size and mounting considerations.
  • Interestingly, the Nexus 120 doesn't get a single win or runner up in this roundup. The noise and cooling performance are both good, but not good enough to win or place any at of the test points. It's the first time that SPCR's venerable reference fan hasn't stood out in a test group. The silent competition has become tougher.

CONCLUSIONS

What should be really clear to everyone reading this article is that extremely low noise levels can be achieved with any of the fans in this select quiet group by turning down the speed. Every fan can achieve 12 dBA@1m, although there are differences in subjective perceptions of their sound emissions, and in their cooling effectiveness.

The standouts for me are the Noiseblocker M12-S1 and the Scythe Gentle Typhoon 12, for amazingly low noise and excellent cooling performance at those low sound levels. I prefer the Noiseblocker for its innovative anti-vibration design, which gives it higher versatility. The NB M12-S2 is also very worthwhile; the table above doesn't make it clear that the S1 beats it at the low end by only a decibel, and it offers the option of >1000 RPM for greater airflow when it is needed.

The Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120 also could be a good low noise choice where superlative cooling is not necessary. Its noise signature is very good, although with the switch on low, the cooling might not be quite enough. But so many motherboards have good fan control functions these days that it's not necessary to use a hardware controller to reduce fan speed any more.

The Scythe GT 14 (1450 RPM version) also provide good results, but as noted in the text, the odd tonal ringing which appears when its slowed to >1200 RPM make it impertative that you use it at or close to maximum speed. This is another reason why I'm keen on testing the GT13, the 1150 RPM model.

The Nexus 120 remains a reliable product. It might not be best in any particular area, any more, but it's relatively modest in price, provides fine cooling, and it is still a very quiet, fan that has withstood the test of time. The Antec TrueQuiet 120 falls in a similar category, more affordable and pretty quiet, but its cooling performance could be better.

The Thermalright TY170 is a bit of an oddball, despite its very good performance. Because of its mounting limitations, it is best on a big heatsink that can accept it and benefit from its broad airflow pattern.

Great thanks to Thermalright for sponsoring the CPU thermal simulator and the heatsink and fan samples. Thanks also to the other fan sample suppliers, Scythe, Antec, Nexus and Noiseblocker.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Fan Test System, SPCR 2010
Fan Test Methodology V.3
Fan Roundup #5: Attack of the 120 Scythes
SPCR's Fan Roundup #4: 120mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #3: 92mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #2: 120mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #1: 80mm Fans
Anatomy of the Silent Fan
SPCR's Recommended Fans

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.



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