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The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:41 am
by flyingsherpa
I'm in the middle of a new build and am looking for 120mm fan recommendations. A lot has changed since the recommended list was last updated. I know SPCR isn't quite what it used to be, but surely we can get a sticky here with a summary of currently available fans and users' reviews/recommendations? I (and many others, I assume) don't want to wade through dozens of posts here trying to figure out what the current top performers are...

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:28 pm
by lodestar
The stand out 120mm fan, noise wise, is the Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM, provided you have a motherboard BIOS and/or fan software that can get it down it the lowest PWM duty cycle settings.

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:29 pm
by CA_Steve
Here's the best $30 fan in terms of pushing big air at lower noise levels Noctua A12x25 PWM

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:03 am
by flyingsherpa
Thanks guys, do you recommend that A12x25 for use as intake/exhaust fans too? I see it's excellent on heatsinks / rads (higher pressure scenarios), but some say the S12x25 might be better as a case fan (good for more airflow at lower pressures). I believe my motherboard has decent PWM control, so I might end up with one of each to test things out...

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:17 am
by t0bi
Notcua makes great fans they are quite and well designed. Currently using all Notcua fans in my system no issues so far

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:47 am
by Abula
flyingsherpa wrote:Thanks guys, do you recommend that A12x25 for use as intake/exhaust fans too? I see it's excellent on heatsinks / rads (higher pressure scenarios), but some say the S12x25 might be better as a case fan (good for more airflow at lower pressures). I believe my motherboard has decent PWM control, so I might end up with one of each to test things out...
The Noctua NF-S12A PWM is a great fan, but really struggles with any restriction like fan filters, so i would still go with NF-A12x25, remember the PWM versions, i dont recommend the 3pin as the starting point is too high.

Since you are buying one of each, looking forward to your comments and experience.

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:14 am
by flyingsherpa
Woah, cool charts, Abula... what tool/software is that?

I'm still deciding on getting both or just going with an A12. Last night I realized I have the thinner A12x15 on my heatsink, and it is indeed a great fan.

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:57 am
by Abula
flyingsherpa wrote:Woah, cool charts, Abula... what tool/software is that?
Asus FanXpert 2 and 3, only thing that i use Asus motherboards these days.
flyingsherpa wrote:I'm still deciding on getting both or just going with an A12.
I would go A12 all the way, specially if your fan placement are behind filters or heatsinks, that said, for the back case fan i don't see an issue for the S12A, and its cheaper but also don't have the range of operation that the A12 has. Remember the FLX version is not good on the A12x25, starts at 900rpms, while the PWM can drop close to 300rpms, and very good tonally to 800rpms, even above its above 1000rpms its still acceptable (although this is very subjective to each).
flyingsherpa wrote:Last night I realized I have the thinner A12x15 on my heatsink, and it is indeed a great fan.
Its a nice fan for what it is, specially on the NH-L12S perform really well cooling an 8700K@4.7, but A12x25 performs better.

Re: The state of fans in 2019?

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:32 am
by flyingsherpa
Just a late update. I ended up buying a PWM A12x25 for my bottom intake (InWin A1, which has a dust filter), and an S12 as the rear exhaust (no filter). It's working well. I then decided I wasn't happy with the NH-L12s and switched to a NH-U12s, which has much better performance, but its fan (F12, I believe) seemed to always have to spin too high. So I swapped it out for another A12x25 and it made a huge difference. Now that fan noise is sorted I can just barely hear my hard drive (sucks, but the case has side vents and I keep it on my desk, kinda miss my old solid-side-panel floor-resting mATX case, but the InWin looks really good on my desk so oh well).

So I ended up spending way more on a heatsink... a U12s plus an extra fan... could have got a D15s for that (but would be hard to fit in my mini-itx case), not to mention having an extra L12s (guess I could sell it). But I'm happy and not overly concerned with cost. This has been my first foray into PWM fans and active control, as my previous system was built 9-ish years ago when PWM wasn't as popular. And that system was low-powered enough that I just used a bunch of zalman fanmates and set them at fixed (and silent) speeds. Tweaking fan curves is a little annoying but worth it and seems to work well... we just had a heatwave (no a/c in that room) and everything seemed to ramp up appropriately and keep things in check.