80x25mm Fan Round-Up #1

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CHENG HOME ELECTRONICS SUPER RED CHA8012AS-A

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA.

Brand Cheng Home Electronics Power Rating 0.09A
Manufacturer Cheng Home Electronics Airflow Rating 25.07 CFM
Model Number Super Red CHA8012AS-A RPM Rating 2,100 RPM
Retail Availability No Noise Rating 23 dB
Bearing Type Sleeve Header Type 3-pin
Hub Size 1.37" Starting Voltage 3.7V
Frame Size 80 x 80 x 25 mm Number of Samples 4
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
29 dBA@1m
2210 RPM
32 CFM
1.06W
9V
22 dBA@1m
1700 RPM
25 CFM
0.81W
7V
20 dBA@1m
1310 RPM
19 CFM
0.64W
5V
~18 dBA@1m
860 RPM
12 CFM
0.49W
@10 CFM (4.6V)
<18 dBA@1m
780 RPM
10 CFM
0.38W

These fans are not available on the retail market, but we have included it because many long-time silencers should be familiar with its noise characteristics: Seasonic used these fans in some of their earlier power supplies before they switched to their current supplier.

Cheng Home Electronics is about what you'd expect for a fan supplier to the electronics industry. They're based in Taiwan, manufacture in China, and sell "worldwide". The most notable aspect of their design is the use of three support struts instead of the usual four. Presumably this has the effect of reducing impedance slightly, but it's hard to imagine that the effect is large. In any case, we didn't notice that the Super Red produced substantially more airflow than any other fans.

The Super Red is faster than either of the two previous fans, so it's no surprise that it was noisier, although it's still classed as a low speed fan by the manufacturer. More critically, it remained audible even when undervolted to the 10 CFM level, and that level could not be achieved without dropping the voltage below 5V (the lowest easily achievable voltage in most systems).

Once again, the culprit was noise character, which is typical of ball bearing designs: The fan produced a severe buzz whenever it was running, although the whine from the motor eventually replaced it as the dominant noise at higher (>10V) speeds. The fan also produced a squealing high frequency overtone that was very irritating. This tone was most audible at lower speeds.

Noise Recordings

NMB-MAT 3110KL-04W-B10

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA.


An oddity: This particular sample ran slower than the others, despite bearing the same model number.

Brand NMB-MAT Power Rating 0.10A
Manufacturer NMB-MAT Airflow Rating 24.7 CFM
Model Number 3110KL-04W-B10 RPM Rating 2,150 RPM
Retail Availability Yes Noise Rating 22 dB
Bearing Type Ball Header Type 3-pin PSU (2 wire)
Hub Size 1.37" Starting Voltage 5.4V
Frame Size 80 x 80 x 25 mm Number of Samples 3
Samples 1 & 2 (rated for 0.10A)
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
25 dBA@1m
1930 RPM
29 CFM
0.86W
9V
21 dBA@1m
1420 RPM
21 CFM
0.55W
7V
19 dBA@1m
1050 RPM
14 CFM
0.42W
5V
@10 CFM (5.7V)
<18 dBA@1m
800 RPM
10 CFM
0.32W
Sample 3 (rated for 0.06A)
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
21 dBA@1m
1355 RPM
21 CFM
0.48W
9V
~19 dBA@1m
970 RPM
14 CFM
0.28W
7V
~19 dBA@1m
680 RPM
9 CFM
0.21W
5V
<18 dBA@1m
390 RPM
3 CFM
0.15W
@10 CFM (7.2V)
~19 dBA@1m
770 RPM
10 CFM
0.22W

NMB-MAT is a large OEM manufacturer that is the end result of a three-way merger between three well known manufacturers: NMB, Minebea, and Panasonic's Panaflo division. Because of this, the specifications for the company's fans can be found in a dizzying number of places, as all three companies still maintain independent web sites. Even worse, the specifications published in different places do not always agree with each other, making it difficult to know exactly which fan you're looking at.

Our samples bear NMB's mark, not the more recent NMB-MAT brand, so it seems likely that they were manufactured before the merger took place. For now, we will assume that the specifications on NMB's web site are the correct ones.

Making matters even more confusing, we ended up with a lower speed sample that, for all intents and purposes appeared to be identical to the others except for its electrical rating its default speed, and the presence of an RPM monitor wire. According to NMB's model numbering system, the only difference between the fans should have been the RPM monitor wire — the differences in electrical rating and speed are not accounted for in the model number. Because the model numbers are identical in every important respect, we have included the lower speed fan with the rest of the samples and listed the test results for this "unofficial" model side by side with the results for the two other samples.

Oddly labeling nonwithstanding, all three of our samples sounded very similar when run at similar speeds. We were unable to identify the slower model on the basis of noise quality alone. All suffered from a persistent buzz that never quite went away, even at the quietest levels. At certain speeds, the noise sounded like wet high voltage power lines — a singularly irritating quality.

Aside from the noise quality, the fan was reasonably low speed and was therefore reasonably quiet. The maximum measured noise level of 25 dBA@1m is not loud, especially given the amount of airflow it generated at that level. In this respect it is like the Papst that we looked at above: Slow enough to be quiet, but with a poor noise character that ruins it for use in very low speed situations.

One word of warning: One of our samples had a very high starting voltage: It would not start consistently below 5.4V, which is above the minimum voltage given by several popular fan controllers such as Zalman's Fanmate. NMB rates the minimum input voltage at 6.0V, so we were technically operating the fan out of spec, but we were surprised nevertheless — most fans of this speed rating have no such issues.

Noise Recordings

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