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.
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CFM Noise (dbA) Slipstream 24 19 Tri-Cool 28 20
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.