Ultimate PC Fan Review


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  • 9 months later...
  • 9 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Get some delta's, the old finger cutters lol 8) I have always gone for noctua's in all my gaming rigs over the years when water cooling when budget has allowed. Really as a noob to the nas/server world i would grab a rack unit and delta's and stick the thing in the garage if heat was that much of an issue. Since the temp's in my home never go above 28 cel, it just seems silly to have over kill when cooling off a few 5400 and 7200 hdd's. If i was using raptors or scsi's 10k+ then i would built a case or buy one for which was a push and pull case flow with the hdd's center for the best solution and lowest noise.  I have being oc'n since the p1 era days and when it comes to air its all about case flow no matter what fans your sticking in the thing. One of the sexist cases i seen was a table with a glass top and the user had his whole system in a push and pull format for air flow, it was pure geek porn lol.


I would really love to see some write ups on temps versus mechinical hdds degradation, its kinda common sense to not let them run hot but how does temp really effect there life span? 


A+ on the guide

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  • 1 year later...

I know this is a bit of an older thread, but I used QuietPC when choosing the fans for my build: http://www.quietpc.com/120mmfans <- this is the link to their 120mm fans.


If you sort by noise level, then look at the amount of air it moves you can figure out a nice balance between noise and airflow. I went with the Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm Ultra-Quiet PWM PC Fan, because from what I could see it was the best balance between noise and airflow.

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  • 2 months later...

So this doesnt get lost:





Like lots of people, I've searched for fan Nirvana of silence and move a boatload of air at the same time.  Luckily I gave up and accepted the laws of physics.


I have, however, found a new favorite 120mm fan. Delta AFB1212SHE-PWM.


I am rebuilding a 4U rack case and needed three 120MM fans for the fan plate.  One problem I have always had is that 3-pin PWM fans (or 4-pin fans on a 3-pin connector) can only be spun down by about 1/3 so a 2000 RPM fan on high, can only be spun-down reliably to a 3rd of that number, or about 700 RPM.  And when you do that, you often get an annoying pulsating noise from the PWM.


Plus most common case fans deliver poor static pressure in restricted airflow environments... particularly those marketed as "quiet" since those marketed as "quiet" are usually 2000 RPM and below.


My new Supermicro mobo forced my hand as all the fan headers are 4-pin, and they do not support 3-pin PWM.  3-pin fans run 100%.... period.  So I started looking at 4-pin 120mm fans.  I also wanted good static pressure to pull air through the grills on the disk trays so I was looking for 38mm thick fans.


I have a couple of Delta fans that came with cases in the past, that like most Deltas, move tons of air but sound like jet engines.  What many people don't know, however, is that 4-pin PWM Delta fans can reliably go down to a very small (~15% or less) of their top speed, and do so without the pulsating noise.


So I tried a AFB1212SHE-PWM because it is only 3700 max speed, and it is 38mm thick so it has better static pressure.  On the Supermicro with the fan speed at 30% duty, the fan spins at 600 RPM and is nearly silent.  Coupled with a 20mm fan shroud www.amazon.com/Phobya-38112-120mm-Plexiglass-Shroud/dp/B004CLFFIA (so the blades don't have to fly so close to the grill, another source of noise) I can barely hear the fan outside the case.  In fact, most of the noise is merely the air entering the grills on the front of the case and exiting the grill in the back (I am running with no exhaust fan other than the one on the PSU).


And if I have the need for serious cooling, ramp them up to 100% and they wipe out anything in the traditional case fan lineups.  At 150 CFM and 14.5 mmH2O, it will pull small animals into the grill.


And they are only $10 on Amazon.


So this is my new favorite fan in restricted airflow and for radiators.  Probably not a good choice for someplace you want total silence like HTPC.

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  • 2 years later...

Update: I got a new WD RED 4TB NAS drive which is one of the quietest affordable NAS drives available now. Unfortunately it is the loudest thing in my computer by far, about the same noise as 700 rpm noctua fans. Now I get slightly disturbed at sleep with this server on at night in my room. Only had older WD green 2 TB and a "greenish" Seagate 2TB before. The Seagate got bad sectors so had to be replaced. They are almost quiet but kind of not recommended for NAS reliability and I guess are old (slower) and not available any more. I hope Unraid will reliably support SDD arrays in the future to get my server silent again.


I used Noctua NF-A non PWM. They are OK as long as your motherboard supports DC fan regulation.

They are brown, an awful colour but they are probably the quietest efficient fans available (OK static pressure and airflow).


Use the screws supplied to mount them, not the rubber things. You will not be able to mount the fans with the "rubber screw replacers", they are impossible to fit and you will loose many hours trying.


With my ASRock motherboard i can set the fan speed in my BIOS to about 500 rpm (custom setting available on all fan headers).

Above about 500 rpm any fan will begin to make more noticeable air noises.


Edit: After reading the next post i upped all the fans to 590-610 rpm. Got slightly hearable noise, but now there is at least a little bit of pressure. The top fan can barely lift a paper. I guess this should be a minimum to use. I also moved bottom fan to inside between bottom air hole and hard drives.


So get a fan that puts as much air out as possible while not being to noisy.

I bought 2x NF-A14 FLX on top and use an old low noise 120 mm fan at back.

Today I would suggest a NF-S12A FLX at the back unless you can fit a 140 mm fan there.


I have a Noctua PWM fan that came with my Noctua CPU cooler (NH-D15S) https://noctua.at/en/products/cpu-cooler-retail/nh-d15s but it makes ticking noises I dislike.

I still use it and it's OK since it is inside the case. I put low noise adapter for lowest possible speed on it so the motherboard PWM circuit can work at higher pulswidth. That lowers the PWM noise from it and I guess the resistor in the low noise adapter will smothen the pulse and hence lower the ticking PWM noise. Obviously max rpm will be reduced to about 800 rpm for it but I do not need more in my setup.


Obviously bigger and more fans will throw more air at same speed so bigger and more is better but they must fit your case.

The top outward pushing fans are the most disturbing so get low noise ones there and then priority is on the back one(s).

Inside and intake (front) fans can be of a cheaper brand (I used the supplied case fractal design fans) and sometimes you can let them run a little faster (than 600 rpm). The noise propagates mostly with the air flow into the case.

The case should be made for many and big fans so you get maximum airflow although low fan speeds.

In an old article i think it was from SPCR they had found that it is most effective to let air flow with intake at front + bottom and outflow at top+ back with both pulling (outflow) and pushing (intake) fans so I did it like that.


An important thing is to buy a PSU unit that is low noise.

Today I would recommend Corsair RM850X or 750X both v2 but some others are probably also OK.

Update: That PSU is noisless (no spinnig fan) at low load. But now with my WD Red HDD I wouldn't notice probably any quality "low noise" PSU over the hard drive noise.


Edited by Alexander
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1 hour ago, Alexander said:

In an old article i think it was from SPCR they had found that it is most effective to let air flow with intake at front + bottom and outflow at top+ back with both pulling (outflow) and pushing (intake) fans so I did it like that.

That is very valid for normal and gaming PC use, but for unraid, where most have 3 or more spinning rust drives, the strategy is a little different. Cooling many hard drives effectively calls for strategic airflow management to eliminate dead spots around the drives. Typically that involves arranging things so that ALL the incoming air is forced over the drives, and every other opening is either taped off or set as exhaust. If you are using a HBA that was designed for a rack mount server, you may also need to divert airflow over the HBA heatsink as well, since rack mount cases typically have noisy high velocity fans forcing boatloads of air over the cards, where consumer cases typically rely on the cards themselves to provide the airflow, or steal available airflow from the drives.


Air will take the path of least resistance, so having any intake fans in the case that are not force ducted over the drives is likely to reduce drive airflow and increase drive temps dramatically. The limited amount of airflow available through a stack of drives or cages also means that CFM is NOT the primary number to be concerned with, instead you need to shop based on static pressure available. Noise reduction, while nice, should be secondary to keeping your rig healthy.

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