R6 120mm Fan Testing on an MCR120 Radiator Round 6 Summary

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Fans
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This thread will serve as my updated 120mm radiator based fan testing work in progress. While fan specs are helpful, like pumps they represent how the fan performs in an artificial open air and unmounted condition without any restriction, mounting vibrations, or undervolting effects. In addition there are many different mathematical methods in which noise levels are calculated (Removal of ambient noise) and measured making the task of comparing fans based on specs alone for a radiator application a best guess. In addition, those testing conditions do not include vibration created noises that exist once a fan is mounted to a radiator. Many fans also exhibit motor ticks or harmonics at some voltage levels other than 12V when using a fan controller. That brings me to the purpose of this test, to test in a more real world like radiator scenario without any adjustments to noise levels and record it for your own review.

This round will focus in testing and comparing 120mm fans on a Swiftech MCR120 radiator using a voltage based fan controller to evaluate a more real world radiator condition on a constant test platform.

First off, a HUGE thanks to the following sponsors. It’s been amazing how much support I have received in this so far..a real tribute to the community we have here:

This includes the parts/fans and the sponsors who have donated for this cause as well as some tabular results:
Click to enlarge:

I’ll start creating a new post for each new fan including the pictures and the data tables then link them back up in this main post.

MASTER NOISE vs CFM CHART

I’ll update this from time to time. Per my reading, it normally takes about 3dbA for most people to perceive a change in noise level…that’s about the spread of “Most” of the fans here. But if we’re splitting hairs…here is the chart for your viewing pleasure…

Just note this is NOISE LEVEL only. I think this is only half the picture, noise quality is what you get by listening which points out the things like motor tics, and other less that smooth sounds.

ALL FANS ALL LEVELS

NOISE LEVEL BAR CHARTS dbA @ X CFM

NOISE QUALITY (MOTOR TICKS/RESONANCE/SMOOTHNESS)
And last but not least, my completely subjective rating on noise quality. I suggest you listen to the videos to sort this out yourself, I think everyone will have a slightly different opinion on this, but this is what I came up with as a place to start. Noise quality has nothing to do with noise level. I made up my own scoring system by listening for motor type noises and resonance issues. If a fan sounded like very smooth air, it would get high marks. I also marked against resonance issues. If the fan had specific voltage ranges where it resonated, I marked it down. I rated quality in 3 steps and resonance in one field, and averaged them out. I wish there was some sort of scientific way to do this, but this was the best I could do. Again, I suggest rating this with the videos for yourself.

Generally anything with a 7 or better is really good and pretty tight. I just had a slight preference toward fans with slightly lower pitch and or smoother air noises.

Many fans below that were also very good in some areas, but may have had a small motor tick or resonance issue during the test. Resonance is one of those tricky things that may be specific to one test bed. I can only rate what was tested though, it would be impossible to see how the fan behaves in all situations. I’m also typically only testing one sample, and it’s very possible the one fan I test was flawed or less that perfect.

Bottom line, there is no replacement for trying out a fan yourself. Before you go buying 20 fans of the same type, I suggest trying out at least one sample for yourself and see how you like it.

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Comments
  1. […] the kit but if you want to get a feel for how some of the other choices perform then take a look at This Even the great work done in testing shown in that link is only related to one type of rad so you […]

    • Bolek says:

      Please try Super Flower fan. It is extreme quiet with high flow
      I’m running it at 500 rpm. For me everything over 1000 rpm is LOUD. So I am surprised you divided fan speeds into such categories :) I have to run Noctua p12 at 400 rpm to be pleased by its inaudible sound:). I own super flower (terrible name) for a few days And I am surprised by its noise quality and CFM! The only drawback is that it uses rubber instead of holes and you have to drill to have a possibility to mout it to the radiator. Best regards !

      • Martinm210 says:

        Hrad to measure noise below 1000rpm also gets really hard to tell a difference between fans that slow. Subjectively, a $5 yate loon is as good as most fans down at those speeds.

        • Bolek says:

          Yes, but some fans don’t want to turn on on such low voltage :) Noctua p12 won’t start, Super flower without any problems :) I am very glat to have such cheap and very good fan.

          BTW, I am scientist and I do like your aproach while testing. Have you ever consider boxplots for a visual representation of your results? Best Regards