Second 140 mm Fan Roundup: Antec, bequiet!, Corsair, Scythe

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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

  • Antec TrueQuiet 140
    — 550 RPM (11 dBA@1m)
    — 700 RPM (13~14 dBA@1m)
    — 750 RPM (15 dBA@1m)
  • Antec TwoCool 140
    — 550 RPM (11 dBA@1m)
    — 700 RPM (13 dBA@1m)
    — 900 RPM (18 dBA@1m)
    — 1,100 RPM (22~23 dBA@1m)
  • bequiet! Silent Wings 2
    — 550 RPM (11 dBA@1m)
    — 700 RPM (12 dBA@1m)
    — 900 RPM (15~16 dBA@1m)
    — 950 RPM (17 dBA@1m)

COMPARISONS & FINAL THOUGHTS

The following tables have been assembled indicating the temperature rise each fan produced at noise levels of 22 dBA@1m and below. The fans have been arranged loosely from best to worst from top to bottom.

140 mm Fan Comparison: Thermal Rise (°C) at 1,100 RPM
SPL (dBA @1m)
25
24
23
22
21
20
19
Airflow (FPM)
Scythe Kaze Maru 2
(adjustable model)
           
18
470/610
Noctua NF-A14 FLX
           
18
390/520
Noctua NF-A15 PWM
         
18
 
410/530
Corsair AF140 Quiet
     
17
     
530/660
Antec TwoCool 140
     
18
     
470/580
Phanteks PH-F140HP/TS
     
18
     
460/640
Xigmatek XAF-F1453
18
           
490/730
Noctua NF-P14 FLX
 
19
         
500/660

The data collected for the 140 mm fans at only the 1,100 RPM level reveals some points of interest.

In terms of cooling performance, it was a tight race with a spread of only three degrees. Noise levels, on the other hand, varied by a very significant 6 dB. And finally the measured airflow didn't seem have any direct correlation to anything (as we are fond of reiterating, to dispell the mainstream myth). For example, the NF-P14 FLX had a relatively high airflow reading of 500 FPM in and 660 FPM out but it was last in performance and second last in noise. Meanwhile, the AF140 Quiet Edition achieved a much better thermal result and was quieter as well despite having a similar airflow numbers.

Fan Comparison: Thermal Rise (°C)
SPL (dBA @1m)
22
21
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Antec TwoCool 140
       
19
       
21
 
23
Phanteks PH-F140HP/TS
         
19
       
22
25
Scythe Kaze Maru 2
(adjustable model)
     
18
     
19
 
22
   
Noctua NF-A14 FLX
     
18
     
20
   
23
 
Noctua NF-A15 PWM
   
18
       
20
   
23
 
Noiseblocker B12-2
           
20
20
   
23
28
Corsair AF140 Quiet
17
       
18
     
22
25
 
Noctua NF-P14 FLX
       
21
       
23
 
27
Antec TrueQuiet 140
             
22
23
   
26
Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120-12
                   
24
27
bequiet! Silent Wings 2 140
         
20
21
     
25
29
Noiseblocker M12-S1
                   
25
29
Corsair AF120 Quiet
         
20
   
23
 
26
30
Corsair AF120 Performance
       
20
   
23
   
26
 
Thermalright TR-TY150
 
20
         
23
   
25
 
Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120-14
   
19
     
22
   
24
27
 
Xigmatek XAF-F1453
     
20
 
22
       
26
 
Nexus Real Silent
       
22
     
24
 
26
33
Xigmatek XLF-F1453
19
           
21
 
26
   
Noiseblocker B12-PS
19
     
21
     
24
 
28
30
Corsair SP120 Quiet
   
21
         
22
24
29
32
bequiet! Silent Wings 2 120
       
22
     
25
 
27
34
Noiseblocker M12-S2
23
               
25
29
33
Antec TrueQuiet 120
 
23
 
24
       
26
 
29
34
Noiseblocker M12-P
         
22
   
25
 
31
 
GELID Wing 12
         
22
   
26
     
Antec TrueQuiet 120 Pro
 
23
 
24
       
27
 
30
35
Antec TwoCool 120
         
22
 
26
   
31
34
SilverStone AP123
   
24
       
27
   
31
 
140+ mm models in yellow, 120 mm models in grey.
Green box indicates a win, blue box indicates second place.

To say that we were surprised that the Antec TwoCool 140 won our performance test is an understatement of the greatest degree. Considering that the TwoCool 120 came in near the bottom of our last 120 mm fan roundup, the 140's excellence seemed to come out of no where. It's funny to see two fans with such similar designs ending up at opposite ends of the spectrum. Like its little brother, the 140 is plagued by clicking at lower speeds, though it doesn't sound quite as annoying. Still we wouldn't describe the noise it makes as pleasant.

The Antec TrueQuiet 140 is also a big improvement over the 120 mm model, though to a lesser degree. It is no performance king, but holds its own, giving up only 2~3°C to the TwoCool 140 at equivalent noise levels. Such a small thermal sacrifice is well worth it for the best sounding model of this roundup. However, 800 RPM at full speed may seem pointless to users who aren't silence-obsessed — there's little crossover appeal.

The bequiet! Silent Wings 2 140 mm left us with the same general impression as the 120 mm variant. It offers middle-of-the-road cooling proficiency and fairly good acoustics. It doesn't sound quite as smooth as the TrueQuiet, PH-F140, or NF-P14, but it comes fairly close.

Like its 120 mm brother, the Corsair Air AF140 Quiet Edition is a strong performer but the hum it produces at lower speeds gives it an overall sound that is average at best.

The Scythe Kaze Maru 2 is right up there when it comes to cooling but it is far and away the worst sounding fan in this roundup, with an undesirable buzzing that's prominent even at low speeds. Based on past experience with this line, it's quite possible that only the adjustable speed model sounds this way. The fan speed controller is a nice addition but some may find it cumbersome especially if multiple fans are required.

Great thanks to Thermalright for sponsoring the CPU thermal simulator and the heatsink and fan samples. Thanks also to the fan sample suppliers: Antec, bequiet!, Corsair, and Scythe.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

First 140 mm Fan Roundup: Noctua, Phanteks, Xigmatek
Fan Roundup #7: Antec, bequiet!, Corsair, GELID, Noiseblocker, SilverStone
Fan Roundup #6: Scythe, Noiseblocker, Antec, Nexus, Thermalright
Fan Test System, SPCR 2010
Fan Test Methodology V.3
Anatomy of the Silent Fan
SPCR's Recommended Fans

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.



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