What's the best 120mm case fan?

Written by Clive Webster

September 28, 2009 | 10:22

Tags: #120mm #aircooling #airflow #best #buy #case #cfm #compare #comparison #dba #fan #fans #guide #noise #rated #should-i #sound #tested #what

Companies: #bit-tech #test #which

120mm Fans, Page 2

Feser Triebwerk TK-122

UK price (at time of review): £21.84 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): $34.95 (ex tax)
In contrast, the faster spin speed shifted a far more impressive 101cfm, although this came at the cost of a 46.8dBA sound pressure reading. While spinning, the TK-122 also produces two distinct, but similar tones, so it’s particularly annoying to listen to. As such, it isn’t worth buying either.

Gelid Wing 12

UK price (at time of review): £12.17 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): $22.99 (ex tax)
The Gelid Wing 12 spins up to 1,500rpm but is supplied with a rheostat so that you can adjust its speed manually. Gelid claims the Wing 12 can produce up to 64.3cfm at 25dBA. At maximum speed, it produced 51cfm while emitting an annoying tonal 36.6dBA. At minimum speed, it emitted just 24.2dBA, but its airflow was so low that it failed to inflate the black sack, meaning that it was moving 6cfm or less. The Wing 12 has lacklustre performance, so you can do better.

Nexus RealSilent D12SL-12BL

UK price (at time of review): £8,61 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): $14.99 (ex tax)
Nexus claims to make the ‘world’s quietest fan’, so the blue LED D12SL-12BL has a lot to live up to. While it failed to shift more than a paltry 10cfm, it was very quiet, emitting 20.9dBA. However, while the D12SL-12BL is one of the world’s quietest fans, the Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 moves nearly three times more air and is even quieter.

What's the best 120mm case fan? 120mm Fan Reviews, Page 2
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Noctua NF-P12

UK price (at time of review): £17.99 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): $22.29 (ex tax)
Although the Noctua NF-P12 spins at just 1,300rpm, its nine-blade design is supposed to produce lots of static pressure at this low rotational speed. The NF-P12’s speed can be adjusted by two resistor cables that slow it down to 1,100rpm or 900rpm. At 900rpm, the NF-P12 failed to inflate the black sack, so its cfm would appear to be 6cfm or less. At 1,100rpm, it produced 18cfm and emitted 27.2dBA. At full speed, it shifted 34cfm but was a rather noisy 32.8dBA. As such, despite including vibration-absorbing rubber pins, the NF-P12 isn’t really ideal at any of its three speed settings.

Noctua NF-S12B FLX

UK price (at time of review): £17.99 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): $25.99 (ex tax)
The NF-S12B FLX is optimised for moving air at very low rotational speeds, which helps to explain why Noctua bundles two resistor cables that can set its speed to 600rpm, 900rpm or 1,200rpm. At the two lower speed settings, the NF-S12B FLX was extremely quiet, but failed to inflate the black sack, which indicates a sub-6cfm airflow and very low static pressure. At 1,200rpm, the NF-S12B FLX produced 28cfm but was a quite noisy 36.6dBA. Due to the NF-S12B FLX’s poor results at all three speed settings, we can’t recommend it.

Papst 4412F/2M

UK price (at time of review): £22.17 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): NA
On paper, the Papst 4412F/2M is one of the most powerful fans in this Labs, with a claimed airflow of 82.4cfm at 38dBA. However, in our tests, it exceeded both of these figures, with an airflow reading of 101cfm, and a sound pressure reading of 46.4dBA. While this is a high sound pressure reading, the Papst is far less irritating than the theoretically quieter Scythe Ultra Kaze and S-Flex SFF21G, both of which also move 101cfm.

Recom RC-12025M-BL-LED

UK price (at time of review): £6.95 (inc VAT)
US price (at time of review): NA
The Recom RC-12025M-BL-LED is one of the most ostentatious fans we’ve seen, thanks to its silver frame and blue LEDs. It’s claimed to shift 42.8cfm at a frankly ridiculous 13dBA – quieter than almost anywhere on Earth outside of a soundproofed room. Although it is indeed quiet, emitting just 26.7dBA, it isn’t particularly powerful, moving just 22cfm, so it isn’t really powerful enough to cool a high-end PC.

 UK Price (inc VAT)US Price (ex tax)AirflowSound QualityValueOverall
Feser Triebwerk TK-122£21.84$34.958/103/104/105/10
Gelid Wing 12 FN-FW12-15-B£12.17$22.995/107/106/106/10
Nexus Real Silent D12SL-12BL£8.61$14.994/109/107/107/10
Noctua NF-P12£17.99$22.995/108/105/106/10
Noctua NF-S12B FLX£17.99$25.994/108/105/106/10
Papst 4412F/2M£22.17NA8/104/105/106/10
Recom RC-12025M-BL-LED£6.95NA5/108/108/107/10
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