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

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Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12

Noiseblocker is a relative unknown in the international world of DIY PC cooling, but it is a German company so serious about fans, they sell nothing else. Noiseblocker produced one of the best sounding and performing fans in our last fan roundup, the M12-S1, so we're happy to see more of their products. The MultiFrame series featured detachable silicone rubber corners that fight vibration but the rest of the fan structure was fairly conventional. The eLoop series, on the other hand, has a radical design, quite different from anything we've seen before.


Six different versions are available, four 3-pin, and two PWM, with speeds varying from 800 to 2,400 RPM. We elected to test the two middle-of-the-pack variants, the B12-2 and B12-PS.

This is just about the oddest fan we've ever laid eyes on. The fins are not really fins at all, joined together at the tips forming scoop-like structures. The design is reminiscent of the Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120, which joined all the trailing edges with a circular ring that replaced the usual circular structure which is part of the frame. The eLoop goes further: Blade edges have teeth and the corners are padded with rubber half-ovals. The cable is also absurdly short, meant to be joined with either (or both) of the two included extension cables. The fan is secured with nuts and bolts, but rubber washers are also provided to dampen vibration further.

The intake side of the fan is smooth.

The struts are oddly curved, like they've been partially melted. The hub is surprisingly small for a motor that has to spin the extra fan blade mass which extends 116 mm across from tip to tip, almost touching the frame. The mounting holes are closer to the corners than most fans because only the center ring, which juts out slightly, is what measures 120 x 120 mm.

Specifications: Noiseblocker NB-eLoop Series
Manufacturer Noiseblocker Power Rating B12-2: 0.85 W
B12-PS: 0.95 W
Model Number B12-2
B12-PS
Airflow Rating B12-2: 51.1 CFM
B12-PS: 58.1 W
Bearing Type NB-NanoSLI (magenetic) Speed Rating B12-2: 1,300 RPM
B12-PS: 1,500 RPM
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating B12-2: 16.7 dBA
B12-PS: 21.2 dBA
Hub Size 32 mm Header Type B12-2: 3-pin
B12-PS: 4-pin PWM
Blade Diameter 116 mm Fan Mounts Nuts, bolts, and rubber grommets
Cable Length 2 cm, 20 and 45 cm extensions Weight 130 g
Corner Type Open Number of Samples 3 of each model
Starting Voltage 3.0 ~ 3.5 V Retail Availability Yes
Additional notes:

Noiseblocker B12-2:


This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-2.

Acoustic analysis of the Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-2.

SPCR Test Results: Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-2
Fan Speed (RPM)
1200
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
15~16
15
12
11
-
Thermal Rise (°C)
20
20
23
28
-
Airflow in/out (FPM)
400/450
390/430
-
-
-

The B12-2 unfortunately lacked the broadband quality of the M12 series. At 1,200 and 1,100 RPM the fan droned somewhat, while at 900 RPM, a slightly dull buzz was noticeable. At 700 RPM, some tonal elements centered at ~90 Hz crept in. This combination of characteristics is undesirable but in the B12-2's case, they were fairly muted. The overall sound was acceptable.

Of all the fans tested, the B12-2 displayed the least amount of variation amongst its samples. We tried out three of them and while there were some differences, they were so subtle that we found it exceedingly difficult telling them apart or whether one sounded better or worse than another.

We also have to mention the models we opted not to test, as Noiseblocker sent us samples from their entire line, four different 3-pin SKU's in total. The B12-1 had a low rotational speed of just 800 RPM so it only would've have been good for two data points and we found that the B12-2, when slowed to the same speed, sounded comparable. The B12-3 and B12-4 were simply too fast, 1,900 and 2,400 RPM respectively, though the former had similar acoustics to the B12-2 when set to an equivalent speed.

Noiseblocker B12-PS:


This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS.


Acoustic analysis of the Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS.

SPCR Test Results: Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-PS
Fan Speed (RPM)
1400
1100
900
700
550
SPL (dBA@1m)
21~22
18
14
12
11
Thermal Rise (°C)
19
21
24
28
30
Airflow in/out (FPM)
430/550
350/450
-
-
170/230

Visually, the B12-PS is identical to the B12-2 but we noticed an immediate difference the moment it was turned on. The B12-PS was easily the worst sounding fan of the roundup. It was a buffet of all the sounds you don't want to hear in a fan. At top speed, it whined, buzzed, and hummed, all simultaneously, and from there it just got worse. At 1,100 RPM the fan slowed to the point where a very strong, dirty tone revealed itself. As we slowed the fan further, this tone started to fluctuate, vacillating in frequency. We thought at first that there was something wrong with our motherboard's PWM controller so we tried it on another motherboard and a voltage controller but it sounded the same.

The three samples we had on hand exhibited slight differences from one another. If you consider the one we tested as the norm, the second fan had some extra clicking at 1,100 RPM, while the third was whinier at 1,400 RPM. At other speeds, the trio all sounded very similar.

We also had a triple set of the B12-P, a second PWM version that spins at 2,000 RPM. It had a similar character but when dialed down to speeds equivalent to the B12-PS, it developed an odd rattle. This, combined with its high optimal speed made it a unsuitable test candidate.

The B12-PS turned out to be slightly more effective than the B12-2 at the same speeds, but the increased noise level and poorer acoustic quality really hurt its effectiveness. We strongly recommend avoiding B12's PWM variants; the 3-pin B12-2 is far superior, as are presumably the 800 RPM B12-1 and 1,900 RPM B12-3.



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