Articles: Cooling

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

The noise graph of the Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition goes lower than the others. This fan seems to be the most comfortable subjectively as well. The SilverStone AP141, Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC (both versions), NZXT FN 140RB and Zalman ZM-F4 are close to the leader in terms of noisiness, but the SilverStone is subjectively the noisiest of the four due to its focusing grid the air has to pass through. Well, the LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P) has the same air-focusing grid as the SilverStone but makes more noise. The noisiest fans are the NZXT FZ-140 LED and the Phanteks PH-F140TS.

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

It is now clear that the fans differ more than they seem to in the first version of the diagram. The difference may be as large as 5 dBA at the same speed. This can be heard quite distinctly.

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 best fan in the previous diagram, Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition, is now joined by the big Thermalright TY-150, so size seems to matter when it comes to fans. The Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC (in both versions), NZXT FN 140RB and Zalman ZM-F4 perform well again. The NZXT FX 140LB graph serves as the watershed between higher- and lower-quality products. The fans whose graphs go higher in the diagram are not good in terms of air flow/noise level. These are the NZXT FZ-140 LED, Phanteks PH-F140TS and LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P):

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

The high-speed NZXT FX 140LB enjoys a large lead. Working at 1970 RPM, it generates an air flow of 46.9 CFM (as measured by our method), which is almost 1.4 times as high as the second-best result shown by the Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC 1500 at 1430 RPM. The latter is closely followed by the SilverStone AP141 working at the same speed and producing somewhat less noise. Next go the unexciting Thermalright TY-150 at 1060 RPM and the LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P), noisy at its maximum 1270 RPM. And then we see a tight group of products from the Zalman ZM-F4 to the GlacialStars IceWind 14025 in which the Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition is the quietest. Having the lowest speeds, the Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC 1000 and two NZXT FZ-140 fans are the worst in this test. By the way, the latter model has a very high specified air flow, but our tests do not agree with that.

So we know how much air flow the fans can produce, but from a practical standpoint it is more important to check out their air flow at the subjectively comfortable noise level of 36 dBA. Here are the results:

The Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition at 910 RPM is ahead thanks to its very low noise level. It is closely followed by the big Thermalright TY-150 at 740 RPM and the two Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC fans at 870 RPM. There are several other models with a good balance between speed and noise including the NZXT FN 140RB, SilverStone AP141, Zalman ZM-F4 and NZXT FX 140LB. The cheap GlacialStars IceWind 14025 at 820 RPM separates them from the worst and noisiest fans: LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P), NZXT FZ-140 and Phanteks PH-F140TS.

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

The Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition is not only the lightest and the quietest fan in this review but also the most economical in terms of power consumption. At the maximum speed of 1120 RPM it needs no more than 1 watt, which is the best result here. The Thermalright TY-150 with its sleeve bearing and the Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC 1000 with its nano bearing are impressively economical as well, requiring no more than 1.1 watts. The LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P) and the cheap Zalman ZM-F4 need but little power, too. The most voracious fans are the high-speed models NZXT FX 140LB and Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC 1500.

The next diagram shows the startup voltage of each fan:

The Nanoxia FX EVO 140 IFC 1500 and the SilverStone AP141 can start up at less than 3 volts. The rest of the models fit within a range of 3 to 5 volts with the exception of the Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition, Thermalright TY-150 and LEPA VORTEX (LPVX14P). The latter even needs as much as 7 volts to start up.

And the final diagram helps compare the recommended prices of the fans covered in this review:

Interestingly, one Thermalright TY-150 costs as much as three Zalman ZM-F4 or as many as five GlacialStars IceWind 14025 fans. And the TY-150 isn’t even the most expensive of these fans. By the way, the most expensive fans were not the best ones in our tests.

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