Summing up our tests, we can categorize the fans into four groups. The first group includes high-speed models which are meant for efficient cooling regardless of noise. These are the Koolance FAN-12038HBK-184, Koolance FAN-12025HBK, three Scythe Gentle Typhoon High RPM models, and the NZXT FN 120LB. The senior Scythe features a better air flow/noise ratio than the thick 38mm Koolance. On the other hand, the difference between 76.5 and 69.3 dBA isn't large, and you're going to have a lot of noise in both cases.
The second group includes products which are rather poor in performance. The Cooler Master Turbine Master MACH1.8, for example, seems to have no benefits from its technical innovations such as the original impeller. The Spire Air Force 120 LED, Prolimatech Red Vortex 12 LED, Enermax T.B.SILENCE and Zalman ZM-SF3 also belong with this group. Their high noise and mediocre air flow make them a poor choice.
The third group of fans includes products with mainstream specs. There’s nothing extraordinary about them, yet we can’t find any serious flaws, either. This group includes the Prolimatech Blue Vortex 12, the unstable but presumably long-lasting Zalman ZM-F3 FDB, the two colorful LEPA Casino variants, the LEPA 70D capable of working at ambient temperatures up to 70°C, the perfectly ordinary LEPA Vortex with an air-focusing grid, and the Swiftech Helix-120 which is optimized for liquid cooling systems. One of these fans is going to be a good choice if you can’t find any product from the leading group.
And the leading group includes the GELID Wing 12PL, Noctua NF-F12 PWM, two SilverStone SST-AP121 models with air-focusing grids, two Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC models, Corsair AF120 Performance Edition and, of course, Corsair SP120 High Performance Edition. Each of these eight products is going to produce a stronger air flow at a lower level of noise compared to ordinary fans. They also feature a long service life and various extra features such as speed regulators, vibration-absorbing elements, interchangeable colored rings or beautiful highlighting. Interestingly, the two fans from Nanoxia are the most affordable here, although the company has never been noted to produce inexpensive products.
That said we are proud to award Noctua NF-F12 PWM and both Nanoxia FX EVO 120 IFC models with our Recommended Buy title:
As for the best fan in this roundup, we'd choose the Corsair SP120 High Performance Edition. It is worthy of joining the ranks of such remarkable products as the Noiseblocker, be quiet! SilentWings and Scythe Kama Flow 2. The new fan from Corsair is undoubtedly our Editor's Choice: