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 Post subject: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:32 am 
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Hey!

I want to buy silent 120mm case fans.

My PC is still not fully complete, but right now I have two external radiators with no fans, both the CPU and VGA is watercooled. I need some airflow, because my motherboard is not watercooled (yet).
In the future I would like to get a PSU that turns off the fan if it's not under significant load, I want to watercool my mobo, and I want to move the pump and the radiators outside my room. So basically the only moving part would be 1 HDD, and the case fans. If I do all this maybe I wouldn't even need case fans, but I still want a tiny bit of airflow, 2-3 fans max.

What can you guys recommend? I was looking at the Noctua NF-S12A ULN, and Noisblocker B12-1. I have no idea what's better, or if there are other better fans.

I don't really care how much the fans cost, I only want to buy 2-3, and it's a long time investment (I hope).


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:24 am 
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With so little cooling needed, just one intake fan at minimal rpm should do. The $10 Scythe Slipstream 120-M is great.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:28 am 
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HollyBoni wrote:
I don't really care how much the fans cost, I only want to buy 2-3, and it's a long time investment (I hope).

I own both the fans you quoted, and I don't like both that much, though they're not bad ones.

The first questions are: how will you drive them? By some mobo headers? By an external fan controller? Have they to be tied to some specific temperature sensor?

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:56 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
HollyBoni wrote:
I don't really care how much the fans cost, I only want to buy 2-3, and it's a long time investment (I hope).

I own both the fans you quoted, and I don't like both that much, though they're not bad ones.

The first questions are: how will you drive them? By some mobo headers? By an external fan controller? Have they to be tied to some specific temperature sensor?


Oh wow, that's a surprise, I thought they're both really good.

I don't want to control the fans, I want to run them at a constant RPM, I was thinking 700-900RPM, no temperature sensor. I also don't want to undervolt them, because I hate the motor ticking noise. 3pin or molex, don't want/need PWM. Also my mobo only has one PWM header, and the waterpump is connected to that.

So what should I get instead?

Basically I want to get the quitest fan on the market right now in the 700-900rpm range that still moves some air.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:16 am 
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The Akasa AK-FN058 Apache Black 120mm has an excellent reputation if installed as a pull fan on radiators. Easier to find in Europe but if you're in the States there are sources such as FrozenCPU. Read the reviews. Yes it is a PWM fan but seems to be OK under voltage control. However if you only have a single PWM header you could consider using a PWM splitter cable such as this one from the same source.


Last edited by lodestar on Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:20 am 
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lodestar wrote:
The Akasa AK-FN058 Apache Black 120mm has an excellent reputation if installed as a pull fan on radiators. Easier to find in Europe but if you're in the States there are sources such as FrozenCPU. Read the reviews.


It's a PWM fan that spins up to 1300rpm. Pretty much opposite of what I want.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:32 am 
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You could consider the Noctua NF-S12B REDUX 700RPM 120mm. There is a review on Quiet PC UK which says of this fan "...Just swapped the stock fans in my PC case with three of these, the difference is immense, much, much quieter. Also they feel like a quality, well made product + backed up with a 6 year guarantee...".


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:46 am 
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lodestar wrote:
You could consider the Noctua NF-S12B REDUX 700RPM 120mm. There is a review on Quiet PC UK which says of this fan "...Just swapped the stock fans in my PC case with three of these, the difference is immense, much, much quieter. Also they feel like a quality, well made product + backed up with a 6 year guarantee...".


I'm sorry but that review is absolutely pointless, no info at all. Yes, if I swap out my 4500rpm fans to 3000rpm fans, it's going to be much quieter...

As I said in my first post, I considered the Noctua NF-S12A ULN, but then quest_for_silence said he doesn't like them that much. I'm waiting for his answer to find out why.


Last edited by HollyBoni on Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:13 am 
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Again, look at the Scythe Slipstream 120-M. 1200rpm max, low start up voltage of 2.4V, down at SPCR's noise floor @ 4.3V and 720rpm. Compared to other fans, Oct 2015 article. For less airflow, there's the 800rpm version SY1225SL12L with 3.2V start up and 420rpm @ 5V.

Hook them up to the mobo header, set them to 500rpm or less and you won't hear them.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:16 am 
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You ought to reconsider the Akasa Apache, it is a particularly good radiator fan. Use the low cost Zalman Fanmate to dial down the voltage and speed to what you want. The Fanmate will report the actual fan rpm to a motherboard header. The Fanmate itself can be powered direct from the PSU with the right adapter cable.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:24 am 
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lodestar wrote:
You ought to reconsider the Akasa Apache, it is a particularly good radiator fan. Use the low cost Zalman Fanmate to dial down the voltage and speed to what you want. The Fanmate will report the actual fan rpm to a motherboard header. The Fanmate itself can be powered direct from the PSU with the right adapter cable.


The Akasa Apache is 4pin PWM, the Fanmate is 3pin. I know I could get an adapter, I know there are fan controllers in existence, I simply don't want one.
Also, I need case fans, not radiator fans.

CA_Steve wrote:
Again, look at the Scythe Slipstream 120-M. 1200rpm max, low start up voltage of 2.4V, down at SPCR's noise floor @ 4.3V and 720rpm. Compared to other fans, Oct 2015 article. For less airflow, there's the 800rpm version SY1225SL12L with 3.2V start up and 420rpm @ 5V.

Hook them up to the mobo header, set them to 500rpm or less and you won't hear them.


Can't control the 3pin headers on my mobo.
I don't want to undervolt the fans, because in my personal experience that ALWAYS results in increased ticking noise from the motor.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:35 am 
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HollyBoni wrote:
Oh wow, that's a surprise, I thought they're both really good.

Because the Noctua suffers of an odd sort of low frequency hum, sometimes pulsating, particularly when used as exhaust, which let you aware of its presence even when the turbulence noise is really low. IMO around 800rpm the ULN is not inaudible.
The eLoop is IMO better though it has a somehow odd sound signature, sort of a rough character like a four-engined WW II heavy bomber flying high and far, with sometimes a faint clicking in background at close distance (the clicking can easily be masked behind a solid panel). The B1 is usually not able to spin up to the declared speed, topping around 600rpm instead of 800rpm (same "defect" of the previous PL1, declared for 900rpm but capable to spin up to just under 800rpm).
SPL is extremely low for both, indeed.


HollyBoni wrote:
I don't want to control the fans, I want to run them at a constant RPM, I was thinking 700-900RPM, no temperature sensor.

Puget Systems for the Fractal Orfield test used the Slipstream SL (500rpm): the L version (800rpm) is not as quiet, though it moves some serious air for the pace. Bearing quality and quality control may be an issue with the Slipstreams, you could end up to cherry picking the right ones if pursuing the utmost silence.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:42 am 
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Pulsating low frequency hum and ticking?

Jesus, I thought you get a silent fan for this amount of $$$.

Now i'm completely lost what to buy.


The quietest fan i've ever heard (or didn't hear to be correct) is a Coolink Swif2 92mm 1000rpm. NO NOISE whatsoever, only if I put it next to my ear. It doesn't push a lot of air but it's absolutely silent. I want that in 120mm!


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:11 am 
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HollyBoni wrote:
Pulsating low frequency hum and ticking?

Jesus, I thought you get a silent fan for this amount of $$$.

I am criticizing (judging the merits and faults of) two expensive fans: what I call "large" may appear "small" to you, it's all a matter of personal expectations, that's why I also pointed out that the sound pressure level is extremely low.
They are far from perfect IMO, given also the sheer amount of money, but they are not bad ones, as already said: just the perfect fan does not exist, the quiet one is the one stopped.


HollyBoni wrote:
Now i'm completely lost what to buy.

Buy on Amazon (or some e-tailer with equivalent service level), listen to the fans for a while, then return the one you don't like, in case.
I'd add that the Noise Blocker M12 S1 (700rpm IIRC) is in my opinion superior to the eLoop B1, sound-wise.


HollyBoni wrote:
The quietest fan i've ever heard (or didn't hear to be correct) is a Coolink Swif2 92mm 1000rpm. NO NOISE whatsoever, only if I put it next to my ear. It doesn't push a lot of air but it's absolutely silent. I want that in 120mm!

They do the 120mm, a 1000rpm one (though the impeller is rather different from the 92mm one). If you should ever go for a 1000rpm fan, I'd recommend the evergreen Nexus Real Silent Case Fan (also called Basic).

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:19 am 
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Yep, I think i'm going to buy a bunch of fans and return what I don't like.

I just thought someone could tell me "here you go, this is the quietest 12cm fan on the market" and that's it. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:42 am 
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HollyBoni wrote:
I just thought someone could tell me "here you go, this is the quietest 12cm fan on the market" and that's it. :(

I'm not used to give this kind of advice: perhaps it's my fault, I'm somewhat too much problematic.
Take also note that below 600rpm, almost all 120mm fans are close to inaudible, when you listen to them at more than one meter's distance (so it mostly depends how far you sit from your rig).
Give a try to the M12 S1, if conveniently priced there, or the Slipstream/Glidestream SL/L.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:40 pm 
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HollyBoni wrote:
Yep, I think i'm going to buy a bunch of fans and return what I don't like.

I just thought someone could tell me "here you go, this is the quietest 12cm fan on the market" and that's it. :(


We sorta did.

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:47 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
HollyBoni wrote:
Yep, I think i'm going to buy a bunch of fans and return what I don't like.

I just thought someone could tell me "here you go, this is the quietest 12cm fan on the market" and that's it. :(


We sorta did.


Only sorta, that's the problem.

I'm not blamin you guys, I just thought more expensive fans don't make weird noises.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:07 pm 
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I have slipstream pwm and dc800rpm, both click to some degree (can it be fix with oil?), where the pwm click pretty bad. At 700rpm, air noise will cover the click. Maybe the db version?
If you need performance

Gentle typhoon down to 800rpm with silicon mount?

I have try some fdb fan(sflex, nzxt x31 fan) and they have no unpleasant bearing noise. They do have bearing noise, but not audible except in close distance. Some people say fdb hums, so I guess people do hear different things.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:14 pm 
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baii wrote:
I have slipstream pwm and dc800rpm, both click to some degree (can it be fix with oil?), where the pwm click pretty bad. At 700rpm, air noise will cover the click.


It's the motor that clicks, not the bearing. It gets louder if you undervolt the fan.

Can't fix it with oil, you basically can't fix any bearing with oil... Once the bearing starts making a little bit of noise you can't restore it to a 100%, doesn't matter if you use grease, oil, or some kind of magic stuff. That's true for any type of bearing, not just the ones in fans.


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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:28 pm 
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HollyBoni wrote:
I just thought more expensive fans don't make weird noises.

SPL is just a part of the whole picture, one of the objective ones, but "sound quality" assessment is highly subjective: so maybe what's really weird for you, isn't that much for me (for instance I'm much more tolerant to clicking than several co-forumers here).

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 Post subject: Re: Quietest 120mm CASE fan?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:31 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
The eLoop is IMO better though it has a somehow odd sound signature, sort of a rough character like a four-engined WW II heavy bomber flying high and far, with sometimes a faint clicking in background at close distance (the clicking can easily be masked behind a solid panel). The B1 is usually not able to spin up to the declared speed, topping around 600rpm instead of 800rpm (same "defect" of the previous PL1, declared for 900rpm but capable to spin up to just under 800rpm).


Also, see this another thread about the eLoop series, including my last comment.

These particular fans seem to have some kind of resonance issue if something is before the airflow. In my particular Antec Fusion case, there is always something blocking the intake side of the fan, even when used as exhaust; the fans go in-between the grille and MB, and there's a few cm space between the fan and the MB edge (the typical PC case is not configured like this; here's one picture of the Fusion inside, DDG/whatever will find you more).

But I would not dismiss the "weird sounds" made by more expensive fans as just something subjective... while the subjectivity is a remarkable issue, even some fans with good reviews might have quality control issues (i.e. uneven quality), or some issues that didn't come up on the testbenches used in reviews (in the eLoop series case, it is probably the latter, but some of the former, too). Also, this applies to anything: a high pricetag is not a quarantee of high quality.


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