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!!!China vs. Japan Panaflo and Globe 120 vs. AF120CT!!!

Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 11:31 pm
by Edward Ng
I have decided to answer two questions that have been up in the air in a concrete manner, once and for all! These two questions are:

1) Are the Panaflos from China really lesser quality than the Panaflos from Japan?


2) How similar is the Globe 120 thermal fan to the AcoustiProducts AcoustiFan AF120CT?

Without further ado, allow me present the cast of this story, in my classic style:

AcoustiProducts AcoustiFan AF92CT:

...and rear.

Panasonic 92mm Panaflo M1B, made in Japan:

...and rear.

Panasonic 92mm Panaflo L1A, made in China:

...and rear.

Panasonic 80mm Panaflo L1A, made in China:

...and rear.

AcoustiProducts AcoustiFan AF120CT:

...and rear.

Globe 120 thermal fan:

...and rear.

I meant to shoot all of them to scale (never moved the camera once or adjusted the zoom), but unfortunately the images shot right on the wooden floor are all to one scale, while the images on top of the white box are all to a different scale (but otherwise are to scale with each other), so it makes it easier to compare...

Are the China-fabbed Panaflos truly inferior to the Japan-fabbed pieces?


And to you, the reader, I present the following evidence...

I used Sigma One as a testing platform, by running a 3-pin power connector out, then hooking up a Zalman FanMate to it; all fans were tested through the FanMate. Testing process was quite simple; fans were tested while held in my hand, at the minimum voltage for the FanMate (5.5volts), at the maximum voltage (11.5volts) and at a, "special," voltage; this voltage was necessary due to the fact that AcoustiFans cannot start at 5.5volts!

Lingo Alert: From here on out, the 92mm M1B from Japan will be referred to as the, "Japanaflo," while the 80mm L1A and 92mm L1A from China will be referred to as, "Chinaflo80," and, "Chinaflo92," respectively.

Temperature Regulation: All thermal control fans had the thermistor firmly planted in the palm of your tester's hot hands during the test, to ensure a relatively consistent heat level.

5.5volts behavior: Japanaflo, Chinaflo92 and Chinaflo80 all start just fine, while AF92CT cannot start; however, once spun up by hand, it will (just barely) remain spinning at 5.5volts.

5.5volts acoustics: First off, none of the fans made any noticeable wind noise at this voltage. AF92CT barely maintains its own spin, moves almost no air and makes virtually zero motor noise (of course, being almost completely useless, this is expected). Japanaflo moves a quite useful amount of air (considering it's not windy enough to make air noise), while making only a very low frequency whir noise when held flat, and producing only a slight bearing chatter sound when held vertical. The chatter is audible only within about 15"; the whir is audible for up to four feet. Chinaflo92 emits little to no whir at this low voltage, but the chatter is clear and obvious; chatter character does not change with fan orientation, and is clearly audible anywhere in the room at the hour of testing (2:30am). Chinaflo80 emits a similar chatter sound as Chinaflo92, but is much lower in volume; in fact, the chatter from Chinaflo 80 at this voltage is inaudible outside 18"; as is the fan itself.

AF92CT Start Voltage (approx. 45 degree twist of control knob on FanMate): None of the four fans yet make wind noise; the AF92CT now produces a very, very faint motor hiss, which is not audible outside if approximately 15", and does not change in character whether fan is held flat, or vertically. Japanaflo continues to emit zero chatter when held flat, but the whir is now slightly higher in pitch; the chatter is still audible when held vertically and up to a range of 24"; whir audibility is still the same four feet. Chinaflo92 turns in the same results as at 5.5volts, as does Chinaflo80.

11.5volts acoustics: AF92CT now produces a minor leading edge wind cutting sound that is audible at most eight feet away (rather like a jet engine at low rpm), and a very faint hum is audible when held flat, of up to a range of about 18". Japanaflo's chatter is now only apparent when held vertically (strangely); and is just barely audible at the other end of the room, but is mostly drowned out by the general sound produced by its blades beating air into submission; there is also a hum-like tone coming from it that is more audible when held flat, and up to a range of about two feet. At this voltage, the motor chatter of Chinaflo92 is at epic proportions, and is clearly audible in any portion of this testing area, along with a mid-low frequency hum; the farther from the fan you travel, the more the chatter overcomes the hum. Chinaflo80's chatter is not as loud as Chinaflo92's, but it can still be heard faintly even at the opposite end of the room (some 12' away), and within 6' there is an audible low-rpm jet noise, as well.

Are AF120CT and Globe 120 the same fan, or not?


There are several pieces of proof, and they all add up...

Firstly, if you look at the images above, of the shape of the blades and the designed of central fan hub, they're virtually identical. That, however, is nothing compared to the labels on both fans. Look at the similarities in the labels!!! They're the same model number! They use the same amount of current! The labeling is virtually identical in the lower half. None of this is as important, however, as the actual test...

5.5volts behavior: Both fans refuse to start at this voltage; however, AF120CT makes a small attempt by sort of rotating for itself about 30 degrees or so.

Distance rotated to start AF120CT: Approximately 30 degrees on the FanMate dial.

Distance rotated to start Globe 120: SAME!!!

Acoustics at Start Voltage: Globe 120 produces an extremely minor chatter when held vertically that almost disappears when held flat, that can only be heard within 15", and there is a minor propeller noise that is audible within 9". AF120CT is almost identical, except the propeller noise is slightly lower in frequency, and the chatter is almost completely gone when held flat, even smoother than Globe 120. The difference is so close, it can only be attributed to differing density of black vs. clear plastic, and general manufacturing inconsistency, but they are obviously the same exact design.

Acoustics at 11.5volts: Globe 120's is virtually eliminated, and the fan basically puts out an airplane propeller noise; plenty of air is moving, for sure. As for the AF120CT, I'll be damned if it doesn't sound precisely the same; the chatter is gone, and it sounds like a small prop. plane.

Beyond those pieces of evidence, allow me to present just a couple more tidbits: the thermistor on both fans is gren, has a 1/2" long piece of black heatshrink wrap covering the bare lead portion that goes into the extension wire, which, for both fans, is white, with one line marked by a dashed grey line. AF120CT, however, is more well-hung in the thermistor department by a good 5". The power/signal cable is also identical between both fans, a helical twist of one red, one black and one white wire, even identical in length (although my Globe 120's was twisted more tightly and cleanly/neatly than my AF120CT's).

They're simply too similar to not be the very same fan, only with aesthetic changes made to the AF120CT.

Going back to the issue of the Panaflos...

Just with this small sample of fans I have here, there is no longer a hint of doubt in mind that the Japan made Panaflos are superior. The motor chatter exhibited by my China-made Panaflos cannot be ignored; they are virtually the same in frequency and signature, only different in volume and audible range (between the 80mm and the 92mm pieces). While my Japan-made Panaflo also exhibits a chatter, it is much more minor (than that of the China-made Panaflos), and of a different frequency range. Moreover, the fact that a Japan-made 92mm M1B is outperforming a China-made 92mm L1A and 80mm L1A, acoustically, is proof enough; if of equal quality, the L1As should always outquiet the M1Bs, because they are slower fans, in general. Physical differences are also noticeable; the fan hub on the Japanaflo is smooth, while the hub on the Chinaflos are textured, and there are other subtle nuances that are different between the China and Japan pieces, in the molding of the frames etc....

My Japan 92mm M1B was purchased at Jab-Tech, while my China 80mm and 92mm L1As were bought from Performance-PCs. I will be making a phone call, tomorrow, to speak to someone at Performance-PCs, hopefully Hank Baron, about my situation, and to inform him of this issue, so that at least he can hopefully do something for me (at least maybe take these fans back), and perhaps better yet, try to take some sort of action to deal with Panasonic, or his own distributor, with this issue. If only the 80mm and 92mm L1As were available from Jab-Tech, perhaps I could get Japan-made pieces from them (or are they completely out of production?!? :cry: )


EDIT: BTW, My Panaflos are all custom sleeved and 3-pin tailed. The Japanaflo has blue sleeving, while the Chinaflo92 has green and Chinaflo80 has red. In the end, however, the different colors proved useless, as I could hear the difference as clear as day vs. night, anyway.

Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 11:43 pm
by SometimesWarrior
Thanks for the detailed fan round-up, Ed! Very interesting... <strokes non-existant goatee>

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 12:08 am
by nutball
I'd just like to back up what Ed has said about the Japan v. China Panaflo 80mm L1A's. I ordered two L1A's from Dorothy last week, and they came through as one of each.

I did a side-by-side comparison at the low-end of a Zalman Fan-mate (~6V) and there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the sound emanting from the two fans. It was difficult to judge if one was louder than the other, but the quality of the noise from the Chinese attempt was definitely more objectionable, having more of a chattering sound than the Japanese contribution.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 12:25 am
by RLiu818
haha all the china panaflos went into my cousin's pc and i used the japanaflos. haha~

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 2:05 am
by frootip
This is Dorothy's explanation as given to me by mail:
o China fans can be slightly better overall, Japanese fans more consistent
o China plant being brand new, the Japan plant having less new tooling

So I would say that to conclude that A is better than B you would need more samples, and I seriously doubt you can distinctively tell the difference between the 'flo's @5v... unless one of them is performing badly. Both are of the same design (AFAIK), meaning the differences can only be implementational -> very small for good/bad and would variate between samples.

Maybe Dorothy can jump in and shed some more light.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 2:52 am
by nutball
frootip wrote:So I would say that to conclude that A is better than B you would need more samples, and I seriously doubt you can distinctively tell the difference between the 'flo's @5v...
That's a fair enough comment, it's easy to come to the wrong conclusion with small-sample statistics. On the other hand I've got hold of four of these things now, the first three were all China-made, and I've been wondering what people on this board were on about. Now I've got a Japan-made one I think I have a better insight :)

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 4:25 am
by luminous
I've got 2 92mm BX Panaflos - both from China. They are awful, much worse than even a Zalman ZM-F2. My 92mm Acousti Fan is a really big improvement. I've posted about this previously, but feel that I should add these findings to this topic.

Fan details:
3K05JT1 - 1BX
DC12V 0.15A
Matsushita Electric
Made in China

Unfortunately I have not had a Japan produced Panaflo for comparison. I don't feel like buying several more in the hope that one of the ends up being from Japan :(

EDIT: All fans were powered by my Akasa FC-03 controller at its min setting (claimed 5V - not verified).

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 5:36 am
by Edward Ng
That's fine; I can see where you're coming from in regards to not having enough samples of the Panaflos...

As for the AF120CT and Globe 120 issue, however, I am positive my results are concrete. I have three AF120CTs and ALSO three Globe 120s in my possession. Of the AF120CTs, one is a, "clicker," and that one was one of my original two from the first batch of AcoustiFans (2 AF80CTs, 2 AF92CTs and 2 AF120CTs; six initial total) that I had purchased, and it had not begun to click until several weeks into usage. The new one is clickless, and the other original one I had remains clickless. None of the Globe 120s click, but with three samples of both fans to compare, I am 100.000000% confident that they are the very same fan, from the very same manufacturer.

Put simply, there was easily a much, MUCH smaller variation between AF120CT and Globe 120, than I found between the two Panaflos from China vs. the Panaflo from Japan, of which the difference is as vast as the sea dividing the two fabrication plants. Even the one clicking AF120CT, for all intents and purposes, sounds exactly like any other AF120CT, or like a Globe 120, only with an intermittent click (it's not very rapid; it makes me wonder exactly how they developed this click, and it is not like any click I've heard on any other fan before).

If I can get my hands on more Panaflos, I will continue to report on the situation!


Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 5:42 am
by Ralf Hutter
So the 92mm M1BX japanaflo is quieter at 5.5V than the Chinese 92mm L1A at 5.5V?

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 5:52 am
by Edward Ng
That is correct, my good comrade; at 5.5volts, my China-made L1A is LOUDER than my Japan-made M1B!

As a matter of fact, the M1B exhibits less motor noise (particularly chatter!!!) at 11.5volts than does the L1A! Of course, overall noise from the M1B, at this point, is now higher than the L1A, due to the incredible amounts of air being moved by the M1B in comparison.

However, if I had to get subjective about it (I'd seriously prefer not to...), I still prefer the overall noise signature of the M1B at full blast than the L1A, because it's a wind whoosh sound, and not an angry motor chatter noise. As for 5.5volts, there's no comparison; the Japan M1B slaughters the China L1A.

(all above comments are 92mm vs. 92mm; the 80mm L1A from China sounds like a way dumbed-down China 92mm; of course, it's not quite as effective as either of the other fans...)


Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 6:21 am
by hofffam
Perhaps if you were nicer to your fans they wouldn't make angry noises.....


Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 7:16 am
by wussboy
Dang it! I was gonna buy fans today (evercool 120s) but I want these Globes now! Again, does anyone have any idea where to get them in Canada?

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 8:10 am
by bomba
Great review Ed!

I recently ordered (5) 80mm L1As from SVC for use in PSU fan swaps. Fans received were all China 80mm L1As. I powered each fan at 12v to compare noise and found discenable variance from one fan to the next. I did not listen to them at lower voltages, but installed the quietest one into a modifed Fortron PSU. The modified PSU is quiet but audible even at initial PC startup. You've got me wondering how much quieter a Japanese 80mm L1A would be.

Sure would be helpful if we could knowingly order only Japanese Panaflos.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 9:58 am
by dasman
I picked up a 92 M1Bx japanaflo about a week ago and it has a bad tach -- I've thought about RMAing it, but now I'm not so sure... Don't really want a chinaflo in return.


Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 2:40 pm
by Interitus

I don't plan on using any of these fans in my rig, but seeing "Japanaflo" was enough to justify reading this

oh and gj on the tests ;)

Posted: Tue May 25, 2004 3:20 pm
by maxxymus
I just got me a bunch of Chinaflo's from SVC and yes, they do have differences noise wise, and I've changed the voltage with my sunbeam and seems that the even worse ones make a serious clicking noise.. fortunately, when in case u can barely hear the noise. Dunno, I'm no audiophile :)

Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 8:39 am
by mpteach
Any body now where i can order a bunch of L1A japanflos?

Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:07 am
by Edward Ng
Jab-Tech.Com; they offer guarantee Japan made for $1.00 extra. Let 'em know I sent you! :wink:


Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:46 am
by mpteach

Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:49 am
by sthayashi
Ed, assuming you're getting more Panaflos, perhaps you can pick up a couple Japanaflos and compare them to equal Chinaflos. Maybe even do some blind testing to make sure that there is a difference.

Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:52 am
by dasman

Any idea if they plan to offer Japanflo M1B's (both 80 and 92mm)?


Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 2:19 pm
by Edward Ng
st, I got one Japanaflo80 L1A from them (it's the one with the purple sleeving in my Hyper 6 review), and unfortunately it sounds the same as my Chinaflo80. :cry:

dasman, as for if they have Japanaflo92 M1B, ask John. The 92mm M1B I got is from Japan, and it was purchased with Jab-Tech, but I do not know if he has any of them left; last I checked with John (at Jab-Tech), I think he told me they don't. :(


Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:37 pm
by Nebor
So is the 92mm Acoustifan better than the Panaflo?

Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:54 pm
by Edward Ng
Acoustically speaking, the AF92CT is quieter than any other fan I have ever owned, with the exception of the still quieter AF80CT; quieter indeed than any of the Panaflos in my possession (which, at this point, includes one Japanaflo92 M1B, one Chinaflo80 L1A, one Japanaflo80 L1A and one Chinaflo92 L1A, in order from least noisy to noisiest). Please do keep in mind that the AcoustiFans do not spin as fast, and require more than 5.0volts to start spinning (if I get around to it, now that I have a multimeter, I will do a precise test for what voltage is necessary to spin my AcoustiFans and Globes).

If you notice in the order I listed above, I have the Japanaflo80 L1A being noisier than the Chinaflo80 L1A; this is correct, although in all honesty, they're virtually identical, anyway (about 10% higher volume on the chatter noise for the Japanaflo).

I realize that that comes to contradict my theory on whether origin of manufacture has any real effect on the quality of a Panaflo, but I am doing what I can to get my hands on more samples of both, China and Japan 80mm L1As, before I make a concrete decision. The reason why I still stand fast is because that Japan 92mm M1B is so much better than all my other Panaflos, that I believe I may have gotten a dud 80mm L1A from Japan...

A little help from John @ Jab-Tech might clear the matter up further, but for now, realize that you are more likely to get satisfactory acoustic performance from a Japan-made piece than a China-made piece, but as always, manufacturing anomolies can and will occur.

However, those AF92CTs and AF80CTs really do kick butt, and are consistently made (something I cannot, unfortunately, say for AF120CT, even though they supposedly have the issues under control). Anyway, Globe 120s make up for the AF120CT issue quite well.


Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:48 am
by _Nickel_
I got twenty Chinaflo 80mm L1s from B.G. Micro at $2.65 a piece and they all make clicking noises. On the other hand I got one Chinaflo 80mm L1 from Dorothy in the UK and it does not make any clicking noises. The one I got from Dorothy is a L-1A while the B.G. Micros are L-1J.
The ones from B.G. Micro also look slightly different: the metal hub of the rotor (opposite the side with the sticker) looks different. Maybe they are using two kinds of machines to make the fans.

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:14 pm
by Trip
If fans made in China generally aren't as good as those made in Japan, I wonder if there are specific factories that are better than others...

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:27 pm
by dasman
Edward Ng wrote:Acoustically speaking, the AF92CT is quieter than any other fan I have ever owned, with the exception of the still quieter AF80CT; quieter indeed than any of the Panaflos in my possession
Just curious -- how do you overcome the CT series thermal control to get an apples to apples comparison? (I.e., 92ct @ 12v vs 92m1b @ 12v) I was under the impression that it was pretty close to impossible to get the CT's to run full tilt.

On a different topic: Acousti's website lists the 80c and 92c (fixed speed versions) as being available, but I've been unable to find them. Since I consider you the resident Acoustifan expert 8) , do you know of a source?

I want to use a 92c on my SP-94 (cuz I'm really, really happy with the 92ct I have), but haven't been able to find one. I had gotten a 120c (disappointing fan :() from QuietPC, but neither they nor Acousti have answered my emails about the 80c/92c availability.



Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 3:57 pm
by Edward Ng
Well, in the spirit of pioneering, I'm going to take the thermistor on my Globe 120 and short it, and see if that brings the RPMs to full. If it does, I'm convinced the same thing would work for the more expensive AcoustiFans (hey, if I sacrifice one of my Globes, somebody else should be okay with sacrificing one of their smaller AcoustiFans, too! :lol:).

Expect an update in a few.


Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 4:48 pm
by Edward Ng
Ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud owner of a Globe that spins at the full 1850rpm at 12 volts.

When I plugged my fan in, it was varying speeds around 1460, depending on what I did with the thermistor. I then cut the thermistor off (fan monitoring is disabled when the thermistor is removed, but the fan was spinning quite slowly, but it didn't stop), then stripped off some of the sleeving and the moment I twisted the ends together, zoooooooom; the fan monitor suddenly registered 1850, flat-out.

dasman, you should be able to get full speed on your AF92CT just by cutting the thermistor off, peeling away some of the sleeving and shorting the two wires together.


PS Btw if you wish to be able to go back to thermal operation later, keep the thermistor around; you can probably reattach it quite easily!

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 6:50 pm
by dasman

You da man! 8)

Quick question -- when you say the af92ct is the quietest fan you've ever owned -- is that due to it never running full tilt? (due to thermistor) How do you think it would compare to your 92m1b if both were running at the same rpm/voltage?

I may try shorting the thermistor tomorrow and comparing it to my 92m1bx.

Thanks for being the guinea pig!