CoolerMaster Vortex Dream Heatsink/Fan

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Substituting a Reference Panaflo 80L1A

Our reference quiet fan is the Panaflo 80L1A. One of several Japanese-made Panaflo 80L1A samples generously contributed to my lab by online retailer Jab-Tech was tried on this HS. In order to install the 80mm Panaflo, it was necessary to use a 70-80mm adapter. It's the translucent blue plastic piece in the photo below.


The translucent plastic adaptor allows utilization of an 80mm fan on the Vortex Dream.

Vortex Dream with Panaflo 80LIA fan
Fan Voltage
Idle
Load
°C Rise
°C/W MP
°C/W TDP
Noise*
(dBA/1m)
12V
30°C
48°C
25
0.31
0.39
24
9V
31°C
54°C
31
0.39
0.49
19
7V
31°C
63°C
40
0.50
0.63
16~17
5V
Test stopped when CPU load temp reached 83°C.
????
* The noise of the Panaflo at <7V is so low that it requires extremely low ambient conditions; the 16 dBA low limit of the acoustic lab in summer is not low enough.

Performance is fine with the Panaflo at 12V. It is already much quieter and smoother than the stock fan at its minimum stock speed control setting. At 9V, the cooling performance is still quite acceptable, and the noise is below that of the stock fan at any usable speed (i.e., 1600 RPM). At 7V, it reached the marginal stage. (A temperature rise of 40°C is really not acceptable.) At 5V, it was obviously unusable.

Questions of practicality and cost come in here: With the 70-to-80mm adapter, fanmate1 and Panaflo fan, you can add a minimum of $15 to the $22 cost of the Vortex Dream. That puts the cost too close to better performing HSF to make it a really viable option. You'd be better off spending $37 on a HSF that performs better straight out of the box.

CONCLUSIONS

"Ultra silent," the Vortex Dream is not. The 70mm rifle bearing fan included with this cooler is much noisier than several earlier 80mm Cooler Master Rifle Bearing fans in my possession. The 80mm clear plastic LED models that I have had previous experience with; those fans were extremely smooth, with negligible mechanical noise, and run at low speeds that little or no cause air turbulence noise. The fan that comes with this cooler makes distinct ticking and buzzing noises at virtually any speed.

The only way to run the stock fan quiet enough is with the controller at minimum. However, the noise is still not great. Only when the fan can be fed a voltage substantially lower than 12V (5V with the Fanmate1) and the speed control turned down judiciously does the fan get quiet enough. Its cooling power at that point is marginal.

There are no simple quieter substitutes for the 70mm fan. 70mm fans are rare and we have yet to identify a good quiet one. The 80mm Panaflo L1A at 8~9V, with an adapter, makes for a decent balance of cooling and low noise, but with the total cost approaching $40, you might as well get a better HSF to start with. It's basically a decent HS and package hampered by a poor quality.

The Good

* Low cost.
* Light weight, low profile design should fit just about any motherboard.
* Tool-free mounting system is very handy.
* Cools quite effectively.

The Bad

* Stock fan is not easy to replace.
* Too much force needed to secure the clip.

The Ugly

* Stock fan is very noisy, an extremely poor example of Rifle Bearing technology. This fan simply does not meet the demands for quiet computing.

Many thanks to Cooler Master for this Vortex Dream sample.

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR Forum.



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