Fan Roundup #5: Attack of the 120 Scythes

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Scythe 120mm Fans At Ambient Noise Level (~18 dBA@1m)
Fan Speed
780 RPM
20 CFM
630 RPM
21 CFM
720 RPM
24 CFM
640 RPM
21 CFM
740 RPM
20 CFM
780 RPM
22 CFM

When set at the speed where the fan noise at one meter did not change the lab's ambient SPL of 18 dBA, most of the fans performed similarly, with one exception. The 1200 RPM Slip Stream M stood out, pushing more air than all the other Scythe fans. As a bonus, was also the best sounding of the bunch (along with the 800 RPM variant), making it the clear winner of all of Scythe's sleeve bearing fans, and the best performer to date.

While the 1000 and 2000 RPM Ultra Kazes performed well, the measured SPL is deceiving. They sound subjectively worse than any of the other fans in the round-up when registering ~18dBA@1m. The others are more or less inaudible.


Almost all the Scythe Slip Stream fans are winners, as is the Kama PWM fan. The 1200 RPM Slip Stream in particular performed amazingly, pushing more air at the ambient noise level of our lab than any other. The 800 RPM Slip Stream L is also formidable, matching the performance of the Nexus fan in our fan test setup, and beating it for airflow and/or cooling when used with the Scythe Ninja Copper. It can be run at full speed in most systems without being heard.

The larger, heavier Ultra Kazes did poorly in comparison. While they move lots of air, the acoustic cost is unacceptable for silent PC enthusiasts. They are best used in high impedance loads, such as blowing air through tightly spaced watercooling radiators, but quiet operation is out of the question.

Some will want to argue that the sleeve bearings of these Scythe fans don't hold up well under high heat conditions. It's not as cut and dry as some folks would like you to think; there are complex factors in comparing ball bearing and sleeve bearing fan merits. (See Anatomy of A Silent Fan for more details.) The bottom line is that the Nexus 120 we've been using as a reference is also a sleeve bearing fan, and we've not heard complaints about the shortness of their life in the many years that we've been recommending them.

Finally there's the issue of price. Scythe Slip Stream fans typically sell in the US and Canada for no more than $10, sometimes as little as $8. This is a far cry from the $15~20 for a Nexus 120 or $18~25 for a Noctua 120. It's not the bargain basement value price of $3~5 for a Yate Loon 120, but the Scythes are actually a bit quieter, packed for better protection in transit, and come with cable adapters. They will go, at least for now, to the top of SPCR's fan rankings.

Great thanks to Scythe, Anitec and NCIX for supplying the fan samples.


SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Fan Test Methodology V.3
Testing Fan Airflow V.2
SPCR's Fan Roundup #4: 120mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #3: 92mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #2: 120mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Roundup #1: 80mm Fans
SPCR's Fan Testing Methodology
Anatomy of the Silent Fan
SPCR's Recommended Fans

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