SPCR's Fan Round-Up #3: 92mm Fans

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NEXUS REAL SILENT CASE FAN DF1209SL-3

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA.

Brand Nexus Power Rating 0.25A / 0.96W
Manufacturer Dynatron Airflow Rating 27 CFM
Model Number DF1209-SL3 RPM Rating 1,500 RPM
Retail Availability Yes Noise Rating 19.2 dBA
Bearing Type Sleeve Header Type 3-pin & Molex
Hub Size 1.30" Starting Voltage 2.4V
Frame Size 92 x 92 x 25 mm Number of Samples 3
Our thanks to EndPC Noise for supplying these samples.
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
21 dBA@1m
1380 RPM
28 CFM
0.87W
9V
19 dBA@1m
1060 RPM
22 CFM
0.68W
7V
<18 dBA@1m
820 RPM
17 CFM
0.57W
5V
<18 dBA@1m
570 RPM
11 CFM
0.45W
@15 CFM (6.8V)
<18 dBA@1m
790 RPM
15 CFM
0.55W
May 5, 2008
The updated airflow results here are the result of improvements in our testing procedures. They are more accurate than the original results above, but they are not directly comparable. Please compare these only with fan reviews published after May 5, 2008 — or ones that have updated results published in a box like this one.
12V
21 dBA@1m
1380 RPM
19 CFM
0.87W
9V
19 dBA@1m
1110 RPM
15 CFM
0.68W
7V
<18 dBA@1m
890 RPM
11 CFM
0.57W
5V
<18 dBA@1m
620 RPM
8 CFM
0.45W
@15 CFM (9.0V)
<18 dBA@1m
1110 RPM
15 CFM
0.68W

Nexus fans are quiet. They're so quiet that, for a few years now, they've appeared in our reviews as "reference" fans, the standard against which other fans are judged. The 92mm version has the same smooth, low freqency noise character as its brothers, and it disappears easily into the ambient noise when undervolted. In SPCR's test lab, this disappearing point is around 8V, judged from a listening distance of one meter.

At full tilt, the noise level of the Nexus 92 is acceptable for most users — the ones who don't obsess over noise and can accept a fan that is quiet but not silent. There is a small amount of motor hum, but it is so quiet that it may be drowned out by other sources of noise in the system. This motor noise drops off almost immediately below 12V, and the only noise from 8~11V is a low growl that just lets you know the fan is spinning. As noted already, it is effectively inaudible below 8V.

The Nexus is affected very little by orientation, which is a bit unusual for fan with sleeve bearings. The rotation speed did not vary appreciably whether the fan was blowing up, down, or sideways. Our usual caution is that sleeve bearings tend to be less tolerant of heat than ball bearings, and is usually not an ideal choice for a hot, heavily-used processor. However, sleeve breaing vary considerably in their design details and execution, and we have no way to ascertain longevity and heat resistance. We can say that a handful of 92mm Nexus samples have been in sporadic use in the lab for some time (read: at least a year or two), and no significant degradation or failure has come to any of them.

The starting voltage for our test sample was an impressively low 2.4V. We can't imagine why anyone would use such a low voltage, but it does make for a very flexible fan. A fan that starts at 3V could potentially be powered by a pair of AA batteries. We leave it to you to find a use for such a fan...

The only real question mark surrounding the Nexus is sample variance. Our look at the 120mm Nexus revealed that some samples were definitely better than others, although the 92mm comes from a different manufacturer. We looked at a total of three different samples, one of which sounded slightly different from the others: It produced a faint ticking that was absent in the other samples. The ticking was minor enough that most people are unlikely to notice, but it does make us wonder whether the fans could become noisier with time.

Noise Recordings

FANDER FX92-W

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA.

Brand Fander Power Rating 0.15A / 1.8W
Manufacturer Unknown Airflow Rating 15~35 CFM
Model Number FX92-W RPM Rating 800~2,000 RPM
Retail Availability Poland Noise Rating 13.9~26.2 dBA
Bearing Type Sleeve Header Type 3-pin
Hub Size 1.38" Starting Voltage 2.9V
Frame Size 92 x 92 x 25 mm Number of Samples 2
Our thanks to Fander for supplying these samples.
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
28 dBA@1m
1900 RPM
45 CFM
1.35W
9V
23 dBA@1m
1530 RPM
36 CFM
0.96W
7V
19 dBA@1m
1230 RPM
27 CFM
0.73W
5V
<18 dBA@1m
870 RPM
19 CFM
0.50W
@15 CFM (4.4V)
<18 dBA@1m
750 RPM
15 CFM
0.43W
*All tests done with the fan controller set to maximum.
May 5, 2008
The updated airflow results here are the result of improvements in our testing procedures. They are more accurate than the original results above, but they are not directly comparable. Please compare these only with fan reviews published after May 5, 2008 — or ones that have updated results published in a box like this one.
12V
28 dBA@1m
1860 RPM
29 CFM
1.35W
9V
23 dBA@1m
1510RPM
22 CFM
0.96W
7V
19 dBA@1m
1220 RPM
18 CFM
0.73W
5V
<18 dBA@1m
900 RPM
13 CFM
0.50W
@15 CFM (5.8V)
<18 dBA@1m
1030 RPM
15 CFM
0.53W

Unless you happen to come from Poland, you've probably never heard of Fander. We certainly hadn't. That didn't stop the Fander FX92-W from unexpectedly showing up on our doorstep, followed shortly by a polite e-mail asking if we had received it. We were a little suspicious — unsolicited review samples are almost unheard of — but we had nothing to lose from turning it on and listening... And we listened, and listened, and said to ourselves "hey, that's pretty good". And then we set it aside to wait for this round-up.

And then we tested it, looked at the numbers, and said "hey, that's really good!" In fact, its good enough to go head to head with the Nexus 92. It even sounds the same: At lower speeds, the noise is a smooth, low hum that quickly fades into the background. The Fander may be a touch sharper, but the difference is tiny and probably irrelevant at slow speeds.

The Fander has a couple of advantages over the Nexus as well. For starters, its default speed is faster. This may be irrelevant to those who won't accept any noise at all from a fan, but it's good news for those who find the Nexus just a tad too slow for their needs. It quickly develops motor whine as it pushes above ~1,500 RPM, but even that is fairly smooth. However, its main advantage is that it comes with its own fan controller, which allows adjustment down to ~800 RPM — the equivalent of ~4.6V. At that level, the Fander was effectively inaudible in the lab.


Comes with a fan controller built-in.

So, here it is: A fan with the best kind of noise character that can be completely silent out of the box — with enough flexibility to set the fan to just the right level without requiring a separate fan controller. Is there anything that could make a more perfect fan than this?

Well, there's a couple of drawbacks. The first is that the Fander is currently unavailable outside of Poland. In fact, they don't even have an English web site. That could change in a hurry; their unsolicited donation to SPCR suggests that they're anxious to expand to the English-speaking world, and we're sure a few of our readers will be eager to import them. However, until Fander gets an international distributor, a trip to Poland may be the only way to get your hands on one of these babies.

A more serious concern is with the bearing and sample variance. Of all the fans we tested, the Fander was affected most by orientation, slowing by almost 15% when blowing downwards. The Fander also had a noticeable "warm-up" time: It started at about 1700 RPM and took two or three minutes to stabilize at maximum speed. One of the two samples had a slight buzz that made us wonder whether it had been damaged in transit.

That said, reliability is not easy to judge. We have no direct evidence that the bearings do not wear well, and Fander's reliability spec (presumably "Z.ywotnos'c'" means MTBF) rates the fan for 80,000 hours — extremely high for a sleeve bearing.

Quibbles of quality aside, we look forward to the time when these begin to show up internationally. The Nexus could use some competition...

Noise Recordings

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