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

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SilverStone Air Penetrator AP123

The Air Penetrator series has logged some pretty big miles for SilverStone over the years and continues to make appearances in several of their high-end cases. An AP is easily recognized by what amounts to its own built-in fan grill, a myriad of struts littering the exhaust side. This is meant to straighten the air flow and keep it more focuse in a staright line. The latest 120 mm variant has an even weirder appearance thanks to the use of three different size of blades.

SilverStone wins the award for simplest packaging. No plastic anywhere, just a thin cardboard box no larger than required.

The accessories included are also basic, a set of screws and isolators, but the design of the fan is anything but.

The AP123's nine blades alternate among three different sizes. SilverStone claims this results in oise reduction when placed against a case's intake grill. We suspect they lower the amplitude and broaden the Q of any tonal peaks for a more broadband sound quality. The blade tips also flare outward slightly.

The strut curvature creates an ideal, almost perpendicular angle with the fins. All these struts undoubtedly impede airflow but it might be worthwhile if it truly breaks up the tonality that plagues almost all case fans.

Specifications: SilverStone AP123
Manufacturer SilverStone Power Rating 3.96 W
Model Number HA1225SL12SF-Z Airflow Rating 31.4 CFM
Bearing Type Fluid Dynamic Speed Rating 1,500 RPM
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating 31.4 dBA
Hub Size 40 mm Header Type 3-pin
Blade Diameter 112 mm Fan Mounts Isolators or screws
Cable Length 50 cm Weight 150 g
Corner Type Open Number of Samples 3
Starting Voltage < 3.5 V Retail Availability Yes
Additional notes:

This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the SilverStone AP123.

Acoustic analysis of the SilverStone AP123.

SPCR Test Results: SilverStone AP123
Fan Speed (RPM)
Thermal Rise (°C)
Airflow in/out (FPM)

In this case, we've definitely saved the best for last. The noise emitted by the AP123 was simply sublime, almost completely broadband. Even placing the fan right up to our ears, there was no hint of tonality. At high speed, it exhibited just a touch of whine but far less than most models. At 1,100 RPM and below, it was completely smooth sailing. One consequence of the design is a higher noise output compared to the other fans in our roundup running at the same speeds. At 1,500 RPM it was 2~3 dB louder than competing models, while at 1,100 RPM the difference ranged from 2 to 6 dB.

We received three samples from SilverStone, all of which had similar characteristics. Quality control seems to good for this model/batch.

While the AP123 sounded terrific, the temperature rises we recorded were unflattering. The higher noise levels seemed to skew the results toward the bottom. SilverStone even admits on their website that this model generates more noise (in SPL?) than previous Air Penetrators but that it runs quieter when utilized as an intake fan with a fan grill against its back. At the 1,100 RPM level it also produced the least amount of measured airflow of all the fans tested today.

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