Articles: Cooling
 

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Performance

Before discussing the first diagram with our test results we should tell you that we don't include the duplicate fans, i.e. the Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC 1000, NZXT FZ-120 and ZEROtherm ZT-120F. The first of them is almost the same as the Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC 1300 whereas the other two are identical to their highlighted cousins in terms of performance. However, you can see all of our test results in the table at the end of this section.

The first diagram helps compare the fans in terms of noisiness. The lower the graph, the quieter the fan is.

The Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition stands out among the rest of the participating products. Its cousin Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition, optimized for a stronger air flow, doesn’t show such an outstanding combination of speed and noise, but becomes the leader among the other fans. Close to the Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition is the noise graph of the Enermax T.B.APOLLISH which is so quiet that remains not just comfortable (36 dBA) but actually quiet (33 dBA) even at its maximum speed. That’s a surprisingly good product from Enermax.

Nanoxia’s FX EVO 120 IFC 1000 and 1300 models do expectedly well, but the PWM modification of the same model isn't perfect. Unlike the other fans in this review, both samples of the Nanoxia FX EVO 120 PWM 1000 produced a characteristic sound of the motor and the tonality of that sound varied depending on speed, as is indicated by the jagged shape of the graph.

The GlacialTech GT12025-LBD0A, ZEROtherm ZT-120F (and its LED modification) and NZXT FN 120RB are good, too, whereas the GlacialStars IceWind 12025, Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120 and LEPA CHOPPER do not impress us at all. The NZXT FZ-120 and the NZXT FZ-120 LED are the noisiest fans here.

We can also view an enlarged fragment of the diagram up to 36 dBA (after which the noise becomes uncomfortable).

Both fans from Corsair and the Enermax T.B.APOLLISH still look best. The Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC and ZEROtherm ZT-120F are good, too. The Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120 is the worst fan at low speeds but the NZXT FZ-120 becomes louder, starting from 670 RPM.

Next goes a diagram that shows the correlation between noise and air flow. The lower the graph, the less noise and the more air flow the fan produces.

The results depend directly on the amount of noise produced by the fans, so the overall picture and standings remain the same. We just get a different perspective. The Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition enjoys a large advantage again. Even the slower Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition cannot deliver the same performance, although their graphs are very close in the diagram at low speeds. We like the inexpensive GlacialTech GT12025-LBD0A as it performs just as well as the Nanoxia fans which cost five times as much (the only question is how long the GlacialTech is going to last). The quietness of the Enermax T.B.APOLLISH and the perfectly balanced impeller of the ZEROtherm ZT-120F must be noted, too. The NZXT FZ-120, Antec TrueQuiet Pro 120 and LEPA CHOPPER are the worst ones in this test.

Now let’s take a look at a comparative diagram that shows the peak air flow of the tested fans.

It is not surprising to see the Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition on top but the runner-up is unexpectedly the GlacialTech GT12025-LBD0A. The Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC 1300 and the ZEROtherm ZT-120F LED turn out to be similar again, just as they were in the test of noise at maximum speed. After that we move down from faster to slower fans, the LEPA CHOPPER and the Enermax T.B.APOLLISH taking last places.

Now let’s check out their air flow at the subjectively comfortable noise level of 36 dBA.

The Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition seems to have no rivals today. It is followed by a group of seven 120mm fans that produce an air flow of 15.5 to 16.4 CFM at 36 dBA of noise. The GlacialTech and the GlacialStars must get a special mention here. The LEPA CHOPPER and Enermax T.B.APOLLISH are separated from the others because their noise level is below 36 dBA.

The Enermax T.B.APOLLISH is even quieter than 33 dBA, which is the basis for the next diagram, so it is separate again.

There are some changes in the standings in the middle group. The Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition and Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC have moved up. The PWM-regulated Nanoxia doesn’t keep up with the ordinary EVO 120 IFC fans and takes its place between the ordinary NZXT FN 120RB and the mediocre LEPA CHOPPER. The two NZXT FZ-120 fans are no good for ultra-quiet computers at all.

The peak power consumption of each fan is shown in the next diagram:

Both fans from Corsair and the two Nanoxia fans with rated speeds of 1000 RPM are the most economical in terms of power consumption. The Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC 1300 and the ZEROtherm ZT-120F need about 1 watt of power. The latter’s highlighted version requires 0.7 watts more. The least energy efficient fans are the GlacialTech GT12025-LBD0A and the NZXT FZ-120 LED.

The next diagram shows the startup voltage of each fan:

Most of the fans start up at 5 volts and lower and seven models can even start up at less than 4 volts. The shining LEPA CHOPPER needs 6.7 volts to begin to work while the Enermax T.B.APOLLISH won’t budge until 12 volts.

The final diagram helps compare the recommended prices of the fans covered in this review.

 

 
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