120mm Fan Roundup: Scythe, 1stPlayer, Reeven, Phanteks

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Scythe Slip Stream 120 dB

A couple of years ago Scythe launched the GlideStream series, which didn't quite live up to the performance and acoustic quality of its Slip Stream predecessors. The 120 dB is a throwback, going back to the old Slip Stream design but utilizing dual ball bearings instead of sleeve. It's a strange move as over the years, many major manufacturers have dropped ball bearings in favor of sleeve, fluid, or magnetic bearings. Scythe provided us with three of each of 120 DB's six models, ranging from 500 to 1900 RPM, which sound mostly the same at equivalent noise levels. The the 1300 RPM PWM and 1600 RPM "H" models were chosen for testing.

Unboxed. The packaging is similar to the Euros but along with the screws an isolators, Scythe includes a molex adapter.

Intake side.

Exhaust side.
Specifications: Scythe Slip Stream 120 dB
Manufacturer Scythe Power Rating PWM: 2.04 W
"H": 3.72 W
Model Number PWM: SY1225DB12M-P
"H": SY1225DB12H
Airflow Rating PWM: 9.80 ~ 74.25 CFM
"H": 88.11 CFM
Bearing Type Ball Speed Rating PWM: 300 ~ 1300 RPM
"H": 1600 RPM
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating PWM: 3.0 ~ 26.5 dBA
"H": 33.0 dBA
Hub Size 36 mm Header Type PWM: 4-pin w/ molex adapter
"H": 3-pin w/ molex adapter
Blade Diameter 113 mm Fan Mounts Screws, isolators
Cable Length 50 cm Weight 110 g
Starting Voltage PWM: 6.0 ~ 6.5 V
"H": 3.5 ~ 4.0 V
Number of Samples 3
Corner Type Open Retail Availability Yes
Additional accessories: none.

The 120 dB looks identical to the original Slip Stream with a design characterized by a small hub, nine thin but long blades with ample separation between each fin, and struts curved in the opposite direction. It would seem that the only difference is the type of bearings used. The sample pictured above is the pink PWM model. Different colored stickers are used to identify the various 120 dB models.

The three PWM samples have a similar sound except for one fan that emitted a faint whistling at 900 RPM. Our "H" samples have less variance with all three sounding subjectively identical.

Fan Xpert 2's fan speed analysis of the 120 dB PWM.

Fan Xpert 2's fan speed analysis of the 120 dB"H" model.
SPCR Test Results: Scythe Slip Stream 120 dB PWM
Fan Speed (RPM)
Thermal Rise (°C)
Airflow in/out (FPM)
SPCR Test Results: Scythe Slip Stream 120 dB"H"
Fan Speed (RPM)
Thermal Rise (°C)
Airflow in/out (FPM)

The PWM model goes down to about 380 RPM while the 3-pin "H" sample bottoms out between around 750 RPM, not quite low enough to get data for the 700 RPM level. Both fans are quiet until approaching the 1100 RPM mark and as one would expect, the measured noise levels are similar with a difference of about 1 dB when operating at equivalent speeds. Performance-wise, the two are average overall, though the PWM model suffers less of a decline at 550/700 RPM than most 120 mm fans. Both intake and exhaust airflow figures are quite high for both.

Acoustic analysis of the 120 dB PWM.

Acoustic analysis of the 120 dB"H" model.

At 550 to 900 RPM, the PWM model sounds mostly smooth but up close, there is some audible bearing chatter. There is also a faint flutter at close proximity that persists throughout its range. At 1100 RPM and above, it's smooth but buzzy. Starting at about 1000 RPM, a ~220 Hz tonal peak appears and grows in magnitude as the speed increases but isn't audible to the naked ear over the rest of the noise. The "H" variant produces similar acoustics.

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