Fan Roundup #7: Antec, be quiet!, Corsair, GELID, Noiseblocker, SilverStone

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Corsair Air AF120 Performance & Quiet Edition

Starting off as a memory manufacturer, Corsair has used their enthusiast following to extend their sphere of influence into other areas like cases, power supplies, and CPU coolers. Their Air series of case fans are broken down into two lines, the AF120 and SP120, with one high and one low speed variant for each. AF120 is marketed for all purpose use.


Though you can buy them separately, the Air series also comes in dual packs.

A decorative crimson plastic ring runs around the frame of the AF120 but there is also a blue and white option inside the box. Fans screws are provided as is a curiously short 6 cm 3-pin extension cable.

A round frame with corners jutting out give the fan the traditional square profile. Rubber washers are secured around the mounting holes to help cut down on vibration. The nine blades of the AF120 are wispy, not unlike members of the Scythe Slip Stream series.

Specifications: Corsair Air AF120
Manufacturer Corsair Power Rating Perf: 3.96 W
Quiet: 2.28 W
Model Number Perf: CO-9050004-WW
Quiet: CO-9050002-WW
Airflow Rating Perf: 63.47 CFM
Quiet: 39.88 W
Bearing Type Hydraulic Speed Rating Perf: 1,650 RPM
Quiet: 1,100 RPM
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating Perf: 30 dBA
Quiet: 21 dBA
Hub Size 43 mm Header Type 3-pin
Blade Diameter 112 mm Fan Mounts Screws
Cable Length 30 cm, 6 cm extension cable Weight Perf: 150 g
Quiet: 140 g
Corner Type Open Number of Samples 2
Starting Voltage < 4.0 V Retail Availability Yes
Additional notes:


This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the Corsair Air AF120 Performance Edition.


Acoustic analysis of the Corsair Air AF120 Performance Edition.


SPCR Test Results: Corsair Air AF120 Performance Edition
Fan Speed (RPM)
1600
1500
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
28
26
18
14~15
12
11~12
Thermal Rise (°C)
16
17
20
23
26
30
Airflow in/out (FPM)
610/930
-
420/660
-
-
210/320

Given its high rotational speed, it's no surprise that the AF120 Performance Edition was one of the louder fans in this shoot-out but it also posted higher than average noise levels at most of the speeds at which it was tested and worse yet, it sounded lousy. At full speed its acoustic profile was dominated by turbulence but there was a high pitched buzzing that had an almost electrical twang to it. At 1,500 and 1,100 RPM a hum developed, turning into a steady dry tone at 900 RPM. At 700 and 550 RPM this was replaced by clicking and rattling. Spectral analysis revealed a mess: tonal peaks at multiple frequencies, more evident at lower speeds.

We had two samples on hand, both from the same dual pack but they there was no difference in noise as far as we could tell.

As for cooling, the AF120 Performance Edition turned out to be exemplary. It delivered tremendous cooling at high speeds and suffered only a mild decline as the speed was reduced. It also generated the highest airflow measurement at 1,100 RPM, though the link between airflow and cooling didn't pan out for some of the other models we tested.


This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the Corsair Air AF120 Quiet Edition.


Acoustic analysis of the Corsair Air AF120 Quiet Edition.

SPCR Test Results: Corsair Air AF120 Quiet Edition
Fan Speed (RPM)
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
16~17
13~14
12
11
Thermal Rise (°C)
20
23
26
30
Airflow in/out (FPM)
410/630
-
-
200/310

The Quiet Edition of the AF120 suffered from many of the same tonal effects as the Performance Edition, only to a lesser degree, resulting in a much cleaner sound that we would describe as average. Of course it may have simply be that the series doesn't take well to reduced speeds and the AF120 didn't have to slow down quite as much to hit our targets. The Quiet Edition was also measurably quieter at both 1,100 and 900 RPM.

The two samples we examined sounded similar except at low speed. At 900 RPM and below, the one we tested had a more buzzy character while the other was more clicky. This variance is unimportant as both characteristics are undesirable; neither really sounded better to our ears.

The Quiet Edition produced the same thermal rise as its high speed brother at each speed setting only with slightly lower noise levels. Factor in the superior sound quality and the Quiet Edition is clearly a better candidate.



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