SPCR's Fan Roundup #4: 120mm Fans II

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YATE LOON D12SM-12

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA.

Brand Yate Loon Power Rating 0.30A
Manufacturer Yate Loon Airflow Rating 70.5 CFM
Model Number D12SM-12 RPM Rating 1,650 RPM
Retail Availability Yes Noise Rating 33 dBA
Bearing Type Sleeve Header Type 2-pin PSU + RPM Header
Hub Size 1.58" Starting Voltage 2.9V
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Number of Samples 1
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
32 dBA@1m
1640 RPM
54 CFM
2.22W
9V
28 dBA@1m
1350 RPM
42 CFM
1.60W
7V
23 dBA@1m
1130 RPM
34 CFM
1.26W
5V
~20 dBA@1m
860 RPM
24 CFM
0.93W
@25 CFM (5.4V)
20 dBA@1m
880 RPM
25 CFM
1.01W
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
32 dBA@1m
1640 RPM
46 CFM
2.22W
9V
28 dBA@1m
1350 RPM
36 CFM
1.60W
7V
23 dBA@1m
1130 RPM
28 CFM
1.26W
5V
~20 dBA@1m
860 RPM
21 CFM
0.93W
@20 CFM (4.6V)
20 dBA@1m
760 RPM
20 CFM
0.86W

Yate Loon has long been favored among the most hardcore silencers who are willing to go out of their way to get the best of the best. What sets it apart is not its quality but its cost; because Yate Loon is a manufacturer, not a reseller, it can typically be found for a fraction of the price of most retail fans. The downside is availability; such low prices are possible because Yate Loon ships only in bulk quantities, which means a retail outlet must be prepared to hold a large inventory in stock. Few retailers are willing or able to do this, and consequently, Yate Loons can be tough to find.

There's more to their popularity than their cost, of course. Yate Loons owe much of their popularity to the fact that they are essentially the same fan as the Nexus Real Silent Case Fan 120. Yate Loon manufactures a special bright orange model for Nexus, but the fans are identical apart from their speed and color.

The sample that we examined was obtained from a first-revision Seasonic S-12 power supply. Consequently, it has an unusual two-pin fan header and an additional RPM monitor cable. It also spins faster than the low speed version that is typically favored by our users. It is designated as a medium speed fan, and it requires undervolting to match the low noise of the low speed version. It is worth noting that the S-12 line no longer uses Yate Loon fans; Seasonic switched suppliers since the first S-12 revision, apparently because of quality control issues with Yate Loon's products.

Despite it's excellent reputation and our own experience with Nexus fans, this particular Yate Loon did not live up to our expectations. Though it wasn't bad compared to many lesser fans, it lacked the buttery smooth sound that made the Nexus a standard-setter. It suffered from a muffled ticking that prevented it from ever becoming inaudible, and the simple electronics in the hub produced a faint whistling squeal. While neither of these issues were terrible, they were enough to make us wonder whether our sample had been damaged at some point. Unfortunately, it was impossible to obtain another sample due to the issues with distribution noted above.

Aside from the noise character, the Yate Loon proved unsurprisingly similar to the Nexus. It has sleeve bearings which make it unsuitable for use in high heat or horizontal situations, like power supplies <all eyes towards the original revision of the S-12>. It also has a very low-torque motor; even a modest amount of back pressure caused the rotation speed to drop by as much as 300 RPM. We noticed this effect with several of the quietest fans we tested. Perhaps the smoothness of the noise character that we like requires a tradeoff in the design of the electrical motor?

Noise Recording

GLOBAL WIN 120mm FAN

Ambient noise at the time of testing was 19 dBA.

Brand Global Win Power Rating ?
Manufacturer ? Airflow Rating 41.7 CFM
Model Number ? RPM Rating 1,300 RPM
Retail Availability Limited Noise Rating 19 dBA
Bearing Type Nanometer Ceramic Bearing Header Type 3-pin
Hub Size 1.66" Starting Voltage 4.0V
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Number of Samples 1
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
28 dBA@1m
1420 RPM
38 CFM
1.38W
9V
23 dBA@1m
1150 RPM
30 CFM
1.06W
7V
20 dBA@1m
940 RPM
24 CFM
0.85W
5V
<19 dBA@1m
690 RPM
16 CFM
0.66W
@25 CFM (7.4V)
20 dBA@1m
970 RPM
25 CFM
0.87W
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
1420 RPM
35 CFM
1.38W
9V
23 dBA@1m
1150 RPM
25 CFM
1.06W
7V
20 dBA@1m
940 RPM
21 CFM
1.85W
5V
<19 dBA@1m
690 RPM
16 CFM
0.66W
@20 CFM (6.5V)
20 dBA@1m
850 RPM
20 CFM
0.80W

The Global Win NCB fan is another favorite of the experienced crowd. Like the Yate Loon, they can be a little hard to find, but it's popular enough that it's been subject to several user reviews in the SPCR forums. It's distinguishing characteristic is it's "Nanometer Ceramic Bearing", which appears to be a variety of sleeve bearing that uses exotic materials to give it longer life than usual — a claimed MTBF of 80,000 hours. You can dazzle yourself with the technical details in this white paper / catalogue if you want to know more.

However, past this point, things get a little strange. There appears to be no record of the fan anywhere on Global Win's web site — not even a model number. A limited number of fans are listed in the hard-to-find brochure linked to above, but none comes close to matching the specifications of the model that we examined. And, verifying that we had correctly identified the fan proved even more difficult, since the fan does not appear to have a model number; none is listed on the packaging, and, while a few web sites listed some variant of "1202512L", which is almost certainly wrong as the number belongs to the model numbering scheme from the similarly named Globe Fan, not Global Win.

The lack of official, reliable information about this fan proved a problem when trying to ascertain the fan's specifications. None were listed on the package, so we resorted to what secondhand information we could find on the internet. The information listed above comes from SVC, a major reseller whose information could be corroborated with other resellers on the web. However, as noted above, the model number is almost certainly incorrect, which casts the rest of the information in a similarly suspicious light.

Acoustically, the Global Win left nothing to complain about. At its best, the noise character was as smooth and quiet as the best, and the fan became inaudible below 6V. However, our sample had an intermittent rattle that seemed to get worse when the fan was tilted slightly down, and the smooth motor hum seemed to throb a bit occasionally. Once again, we suspected a damaged sample, and were frustrated by the fact that we had only a single sample for comparison's sake.

The Global Win bore other similarities to the Yate Loon as well. It too lost a lot of speed when the back pressure increased. The lineage of the Nanometer Ceramic Bearing was also evident on occasion; like most other sleeve bearings, the speed dropped slightly when blowing down.

Overall, the Global Win seemed very similar to the Nexus, with a similar noise character, similar airflow, and similar questions about sample variance and bearing damage. While the Nanometer Ceramic Bearings sound as though they should give the Global Win an edge, it is a proprietary technology, so the claim of longevity is at the mercy of Global Win's corporate honesty. Given the severe lack of official information about this fan, it's difficult to give it our full confidence.

Noise Recording

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