Are Tri-Cools really *that* bad?

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angelkiller
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Are Tri-Cools really *that* bad?

Post by angelkiller » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:08 pm

Hi all,

The general consensus appears to be that Tri-Cools are not very good fans and should be replaced with quieter models. I see this brought up many times when a user was considering an Antec case. However, I don't understand where this bad reputation has come from and I now question its validity.

I've decided to compare a Tri-Cool to a 800rpm Scythe Slipstream. I think that nearly all people would recommend the Slipstream over the Tri-Cool. But how do they compare? SPCR has reviewed bothfans. Obviously I'm only talking about the "Low" setting on the Tri-Cool. Anything higher is definitely too loud. The Slipstream is running at 12v.

Code: Select all

             CFM       Noise (dbA)
Slipstream   24           19
Tri-Cool     28           20
The Tri-Cool is 1 dbA louder than the 800rpm Slipstream, which is regarded a a very quiet fan. I think that most would agree that 20 dbA is pretty quiet and is encroaching on silence in most situations.

My own (very informal) experiences also seem to support the data. My system has four noise sources. Two 800rpm Scythe S-Flex's, the 80mm fan on my NeoHE 500W, and the "louder" sample of the WD3200AAKS. It's gotten colder here, so heat was turned on, which led to instability of my X1950Pro / passive S1 combo. I'm upgrading soon, so figured that I'd throw a fan in there for the time being. The fan was a Tri-Cool and after adding it to my system, I can tell no difference in noise.

I bring this inquiry objectively. SPCR's data and my own experiences seem to contradict the general consensus. Maybe my hearing isn't as sensitive as others. Maybe the current Tri-Cools are different than the one used for testing. Sample variance? I'd like for people to report their experiences with Tri-Cools, especially those who do not recommend the fans.

Hellspawn
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Post by Hellspawn » Fri Nov 07, 2008 7:30 pm

in my case, I don't think it's all that noisy from a 'moving air around' standpoint, but the click, clack and whatever you want to call the noises that come from the hub are what bothers me.
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Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Nov 07, 2008 7:33 pm

Hello,

The most accurate numbers on the Tri-Cool is here:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article69 ... ml#tricool

On low, it is 20dBA @ 21CFM
The Low setting was quite impressive; it deserves mention for having one of the quietest "stock" speeds of any fan we've tested, although the airflow drops off proportionally. Nevertheless, 20 dBA@1m is quiet enough that some users may find it inaudible, especially in an office environment where the ambient noise tends to be fairly high.

Noise quality was also fairly good. Like the Papst 4412, the TriCool was smooth at high speeds, but developed some roughness when slowed down. In this case, the roughness took the form of a chuffing noise that was clearly audible in the Low speed setting and even when the fan was undervolted for the test at 25 CFM.

Unfortunately, this acoustic artifact at low speeds is enough to put the TriCool behind the Nexus and the Papst; it is audible no matter what speed the fan is operating at, which makes the TriCool unsuitable for users who want complete silence. But that should not take away from its good points: It is cheap, widely available, and is quiet enough for many casual users.
So, at approximately the same 21 CFM, the Scythe 800RPM running at 9v is 18dBA, and it is smoother sounding:
The 800 RPM Slip Stream is also very impressive. For those who don't want to muck about with fan control, it can be run at full speed and be inaudible in the majority of systems. It's very quiet and can be made dead silent with a bit of undervolting. Like the 1200 RPM model, it has a low starting voltage and good acoustics across its range. Very smooth and quiet all the way up to 12V.
In general, people say that the Tri-Cool on low is okay, but you can do better with some other fans.
Sincerely, Neil
http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/

Blue_Sky
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Post by Blue_Sky » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:53 pm

The best comparison I can make with the Tri-Cools is between those and the Scythe Kaze 500 RPMs. At low, the Tri-Cools seem to push about as much air as the Scythes, but have an audible effect at 1 m, whereas the Scythes don't.

At 500 RPM or thereabouts, it is pretty tough to make any objective measurements about air flow.
You should note that I did not hear any "roughness," as per SPCR, with either of my Tri-Cools at med. or low settings. I would liken the noise to what I would expect of a higher RPM.

I would recommend the Scythe S-Flex, but if you don't see any difference, go with what you have.

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Post by pony-tail » Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:16 am

I have found some ( well one out of the five that shipped with cases ) to be almost tolerable the others have had various annoying noises an one rattles and clacks - so on the whole I believe they are that bad ! Mine have been "donated" to other family members to replace even noisier fans that shipped with their machines . They are audible over my ceiling fan (no air con here - costs to much to run) . They are quite a bit better than the cheapo Chinese crap that ships with el -cheapo cases that the local white (or black lately) box shops ship their machines in .
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alphabetbackward
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Post by alphabetbackward » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:23 am

I honestly don't find them to be that bad and the fact that they are free is icing on the cake.

But for me, the hard drive noise was louder than the fan but since I've replaced it with a laptop drive, I went and got a retail 3-pin Tricool and using Speedfan, it spins at 700 RPM and is inaudible to me.

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Post by tehcrazybob » Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:51 am

I've left the tricools in place whenever I've built a computer for a friend or family member, and they are genuinely quite good compared to most stock fans out there. However, in a quiet room, I can still hear them when installed in the case, whereas I cannot hear an undervolted 1200 RPM slipstream running at ~800 RPM. This isn't a perfect comparison, though, because I've never tried soft-mounting a tricool, and I always soft-mount when I'm going to the trouble of installing higher-quality fans

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Post by jessekopelman » Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:18 pm

Quieting is a viscous cycle. As soon as you've made one thing quieter, you notice something else. Tricools are usually fine, until you've achieved perfection on the CPU cooling front, then suddenly they are way too loud :) Then you replace them and notice that your HDD or maybe PSU is too loud . . . and so it goes . . .

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Post by pony-tail » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:48 pm

Quieting is a viscous cycle. As soon as you've made one thing quieter, you notice something else. Tricools are usually fine, until you've achieved perfection on the CPU cooling front, then suddenly they are way too loud Smile Then you replace them and notice that your HDD or maybe PSU is too loud . . . and so it goes . . .
Yeah ! Then you spend a not so small fortune replacing 2/3 of what you have built - - and - - lo and behold it is time to upgrade again . The cycle continues ! It does however make a few people VERY rich - unfortunately I am not one of them.
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Modo
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Re: Are Tri-Cools really *that* bad?

Post by Modo » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:29 pm

angelkiller wrote: The general consensus at SPCR appears to be that Tri-Cools are not very good fans and should be replaced with quieter models.
There, fixed that for you. ;)
Can you keep it down? I'm having trouble hearing the artillery.

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Old PC

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Re: Are Tri-Cools really *that* bad?

Post by jessekopelman » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:38 am

Modo wrote:
angelkiller wrote: The general consensus at SPCR appears to be that Tri-Cools are not very good fans and should be replaced with quieter models.
There, fixed that for you. ;)
I think even that is too extreme. Should be more like, "The general consensus appears to be that Tri-Cools are far from the best fans and should be replaced with quieter models if you are committed to upgrading all noise-producing components in the quest for silence."

ame
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Post by ame » Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:15 am

I've noticed that when somone on the forum askes for advice regarding a quiet part for his new system he is given 1 of 2 answers

1. The top scoring part from SPCR list. ( eg: HR01 plus)
2. The best preformance/price part (eg: a Xigmatech cooller)

If you follow #1 It makes a lot of sence to recommend an S-flex, Slipstrem or Nexus and report its added value in terms of silance.

However Tricools still qualify for #2 as they are the absolute best preformance/price fans when you buy an Antec case (division by zero=infinity).

Sure they are not ultra silent and I have personally removed them from my Audio rig, but they are considered silent by any other user I've met (in person) :) . They are much better than alot of carp that is out there.

On all builds I've done, when I'm down to 3-4 fans spinning at about 1000-1200, I still wanna go on tweaking, but people stop me and say somthing like "its perfect like that" or "just let me play allready" :lol:

Munters
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Post by Munters » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:59 am

Same over here. I build a system using an Antec Solo, and used the standard Tricool. Why spend more money where the tricool can be good enough for me?
Apart from the Tricool fan, this system has two KamaFlex input fans @700 rpm, and a Scythe cpu cooler with fan, and another fan in the Modu82+ psu.

I didn't like the system however, it made a humming noise, which appeared to be generated by the Tricool fan (running at low of course).
So I replaced it by a S-Flex, and the sound was gone. I couldn't hear the fan itself, just the air flowing.

I don't have a db meter at home, I replaced and adjusted all the fans just using my ears, and for me the s-flex is silent whereas the tricool isn't.

(All the fans are running at 500 - 800 rpm, and I do not hear my system at all. So now working late I hear the neighbour snore :roll: )

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Post by Olle P » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:41 am

(Disclaimer: This is a general observation, since I have no experience with any of the fans previously mentioned.)

When it comes to quiet cooling the top priority is the same as with all other cooling aspects: To have sufficient cooling. With insufficient cooling you have worse problems to deal with than some noise.

Assume you build a new system from scratch and is insecure about how much airflow is needed to get sufficient cooling. Which fans do you pick; the ones with low flow and noise or the ones with more flow and noise?
The low flow fans might not pull enough air at full speed, whereas the more powerful fans can have their speed reduced to match the desired airflow.
My point is that if you invest money in fans that are too weak it's pretty much a matter of money down the drain.

Now apply this to the Tri-cool fans on low speed compared to Scythe Slipstream on full speed:
- The airflow is roughly the same.
- If that airflow is proven insufficient, there's no way to increase it with the Slipstreams, whereas with Tri-cools you just up the speed a notch or two and continue doing your business.
If that's too noisy in the long run, then it's easier to solve that problem later on by replacing some components or adding another fan.

That's the way I went when I designed my scratch built computer case; five cheap and fairly noisy but powerful fans, intended to be run at the least sufficient airflow. For various reasons, that I will mention in the article I'm about to write on the subject, the required airflow is somewhat larger than anticipated. I still haven't felt any need to run all fans on full speed simultaneously though, not even just for fun.

Cheers
Olle

Aelek
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Post by Aelek » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:49 am

I consider my computer to be quiet (not silent) and have no negative issues with tri-cools on low.

I have two of the tri-cools standard in a P180b connected and on low.
At ~1,5 m (floor at the side of desk to my ear) I dont hear any fan specific noises. (other sound sources 4 suspended 1tb samsung f1's, 2 s-flex 1200 rpm and a enermax modu82+ 625w)
They DO add to "fill" the general whoosing sound (of air moving) emitted by my system. Its not so much louder as well the soundspectrum is more "filled" (by lack of a better description). I find the noise they create to be very even and inconspicuous. no clicked, pitch-changing or any such thing.

That said the s-flexes are (subjectively)quieter then the tri-cools

Hope that helps you

Aelek

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Post by pleb » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:56 am

To chime in with what a lot of people are saying, on Low they're really barely audible at ~1.5m IMO. Since replacing the stock fan on my HD4850 with an accelero + Scythe 800rpm the only significant noise source in my Antec Sonata III is the Earthwatts 500 PSU, and I find that I have to concentrate to identify that noise if there is any ambient noise at all. (TriCool @ Low, Xigmatech S1823 (or whatever the number is) with stock pwm fan, 2*Samsung F1 320GB being the other noise sources in the case).

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Post by ScruffyDogg » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:53 am

To answer the original question,... NO antec tricool fans are not bad

On this computer, I too have a Sonata III, 2 antec tricool fans - low setting, xigmatek S1283 with included pmw fan, earthwatts 500, a BFG 8800GT OC (stock cooling).

The loudest thing is the 8800GT when system loads,... then the stock cooling is fairly quiet,... it will be replaced with a passive accelero S1 soon.

Other than the 8800gt at load,... there is a very slight hum and slight whoosh of airflow, fairly quiet, not silent.

Very able to live with this as is,... but some slight mods to muffle exhaust and possible ducting w/removal of a fan/ and placing the other in a different position possibly coming and should get this to half of the "very quiet" it is now.

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Post by PartEleven » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:55 pm

I'll have to agree with the OP as well; Tri-Cools really aren't that horrible for a quiet system. However, they are definitely not as good as some of the better SPCR recommended fans. If you are pursuing absolute silence, then replacing Tri-Cools is a must.

The issue I have with some of the system-building advice given on SPCR is that some person would post their potential build (often involving some Antec case that will come with a Tri-Cool or two) and the FIRST piece of advice they get is to replace the Tri-Cools. I think that is totally unnecessary. Since they are going to get the Tri-Cool whether they want it or not, it probably would be beter for them to try them out and see how it works for them before considering replacing them. I've used Tri-Cools for the longest time before replacing them with slipstreams because they were quiet enough for me. I only replaced them because I switched to 2.5" drives, which at that point made the Tri-cools the loudest component.

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Post by rpsgc » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:20 pm

So... if the loudest component in your computer is a Corsair PSU, with a base noise of 22dBA, how would you notice a Tri-Cool @ low which, according to spcr, only makes 20dBA?
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Post by sebas » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:23 pm

I was considering replacing my tricools with S-flexs' and was reading up on the SPCR forums when I came to this post, As I have both type of fans in my system I thought my impressions might help.

I just built my new system in a p182 case, as stadard it came with 3 tricool fans, as a cpu fan I have a Scythe S-flex 1200rpm (mounted on a HR-01 plus).

The Tricools are definitely much quieter (on a low setting) then my old computer and I can only hear the S-Flex over the Tri-cools when I put my ear up to it directly. The S-flex is connected to the mobo so it could be that its not running at full speed (Ill need to check).

During normal day use, I have no problems with the Tricool fans as they aren't loud. During night time/ trying to sleep next to one ~2 meters away, they are annoying. Im considering removing the power to the top fan and seeing if that helps.

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Post by xan_user » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:28 pm

For me tri-cools aren't that bad till you've had them a year or so, then they get loud quick.

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Post by dhanson865 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:58 pm

rpsgc wrote:So... if the loudest component in your computer is a Corsair PSU, with a base noise of 22dBA, how would you notice a Tri-Cool @ low which, according to spcr, only makes 20dBA?
Because noise is additive. Two fans at 20dBA or ten fans at 20dBA you will be able to hear them in addition to the 22dba PSU.
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Post by Modo » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:30 pm

dhanson865 wrote: Because noise is additive.
This can be disproved by listening to two fans @500rpm versus one (of the same make) @1000rpm. Good fans are inaudible at the lover setting. Tri-Cools don't run that low unless you mod them.
Can you keep it down? I'm having trouble hearing the artillery.

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Post by rpsgc » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:24 am

dhanson865 wrote:Two fans at 20dBA or ten fans at 20dBA you will be able to hear them in addition to the 22dba PSU.
But no one said two or ten fans, I was only talking about one fan.
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ame
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Post by ame » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:27 am

But no one said two or ten fans, I was only talking about one fan.
In your case the tricool might not be noticable as a sound source as it's sound is masked by the Corsair but its sound is still added to the total amouont of sound emiited and makes the entire computer louder.

BTW im not sure a Corsair PSU (VX450 idle-mid load) makes more noise than a tricool mounted on a case on low. Maybe the tricooll measurment you quoted is of a non mounted fan - so with no turbulance there is less noise.

Regrdless you shouldn't read dB ratings as set in stone. Preception of sound is a subjective thing.

Many lound computer issues are case specific and there may be sample variance or model changes by companies. Yet the measurmet of the dB spl has to do with the room accoustics and equipment used, even time of day, so it will never sound the same in a diffrent enviorment.

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Post by jhhoffma » Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:06 am

Modo wrote:
dhanson865 wrote: Because noise is additive.
This can be disproved by listening to two fans @500rpm versus one (of the same make) @1000rpm. Good fans are inaudible at the lover setting. Tri-Cools don't run that low unless you mod them.
It is true. Two 20dB sources should result in a 23dB sound level, as intensity is doubled and dB scale is logarithmic.
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Post by jessekopelman » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:27 pm

ame wrote: In your case the tricool might not be noticable as a sound source as it's sound is masked by the Corsair but its sound is still added to the total amouont of sound emiited and makes the entire computer louder.
You are simplifying things too much. If you want to talk about sound as the cumulative effect of all sources, you need to count all the other sources that might be within range. Of course you don't, since that would be a descriptor of background noise and the nature of our hearing is such that background noise is very easy to tune out unless it is very loud. With that in mind, when looking at the impact of adding a new noise source to your PC it is actually better to treat the cumulative effect of all existing sources as background noise and assume that the new source will be fairly unnoticeable if it is below background noise in intensity. Of course, human hearing is capable of incredible gain through concentration and if the noise characteristic of something is such that you are inclined to focus on it (even subconsciously) you will be able to hear it even if the intensity is well below the background noise floor. The short version of all of this is that dB rating should be used only as one tool in deciding if something will be inaudible and at least as much weight should be given to any available descriptions of characteristics of the noise produced -- this is why SPCR bothers to give you recordings of the things they test in action.

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Post by jessekopelman » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:34 pm

jhhoffma wrote:
Modo wrote:
dhanson865 wrote: Because noise is additive.
This can be disproved by listening to two fans @500rpm versus one (of the same make) @1000rpm. Good fans are inaudible at the lover setting. Tri-Cools don't run that low unless you mod them.
It is true. Two 20dB sources should result in a 23dB sound level, as intensity is doubled and dB scale is logarithmic.
But hearing is directional (especially once frequencies get above 100Hz), so noise sources are only perfectly additive in certain circumstances. In the case of fans: they need to be close to each other and oriented the same way. Things become even more confusing if we are talking about fans that are at very different RPM, as they will have peak intensity at different frequencies and while the average additive sound pressure may be equivalent to simple adding the two individual average sound pressures, the effective sound pressure may be much less.

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Post by gopherbob » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:16 am

About 4-5 months ago I bought the Antec 900 case. It contains about 4 120mm tricools.

Set all on low there was a 'sound' that I didn't like. It's not that my computer is quieter now with the fans I've replaced them with but the noise is better to my ears. I've never tried to make a PC quieter but as soon as I heard the pitch of the tricools and realized that the little speed controller they put on them is pointless since they were unbearable at anything other than low I went online to research how to fix the problem.

They arn't bad fans... but when you can get yate loons for dirt cheap that perform just as well if not better at times and don't have that 'sound', why not?

I like Antec a lot they should consider putting some dirt cheap yate loons with their little fan controller in them... might even save them some money. I would give them props for it.

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Post by Aris » Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:01 am

It depends. I built a quiet rig for a friend of mine. He thought the stock fan on his 8800GTX and the antec tri cool on medium was quiet.

Me personally, i cant stand the tri cool even on low. I always replace them with a Scythe S-Flex 1200rpm, and then undervolt it down to around 700rpm.

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