Introduction

It's funny, when I did the first 120mm radiator fan roundup two months ago, I wasn't expecting quite the response it got. It was an interesting exercise that seemed worth sharing with the rest of you, and as it turned out, I was mostly right. What I wasn't prepared for was the avalanche of responses from both you and from vendors about the fans that were tested, or more appropriately, the fans that weren't tested. It was obvious there needed to be another run of fans, and that's just what I've done.

Ten new contenders; some pulled from my own stock, one pulled from retail, and some graciously and generously sent by vendors. The results from these fans will be added to what will wind up being absolutely massive comparison charts. There's an entrant from Scythe, Noctua's gold standard NF-F12, the Enermax Magma, and even a couple contenders from Cooler Master and Rosewill. Is there something available that's a better choice for Corsair's H80 120mm radiator, or are the stock fans still the most well-rounded option?

A lot of testing went into this round. Results are still comparable with the older results (and they most definitely will be compared with the older results), but the batch of fans I have available now are an even more eclectic blend. I'll tell you now that there are some results that turned out pretty much as expected, but some surprises and hidden gems here too.

Before we go on it's worth getting a refresher on the previous article. While the next page has the testing methodology again in its entirety, all but the most fundamental information on the original eight fans I tested with will be omitted for the sake of brevity.

Testing Methodology
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  • prophet001 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    "Yes, undoubtedly I have omitted someone's favorite fan." Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    yea i guess when people say things like this that everyone should shutup and never give recommendations... brainiac

    what are you? a sheep?
    Reply
  • landerf - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    No it's not. I was crazy about gelid fans for a brief time but I was just being an idiot. Don't let the price fool you, they under perform and make too much noise. Look at any fan roundup with them in it and you'll see how mediocre they are. Move along and your wallet will thank you. Reply
  • Naoe Shigen - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Let me start off by saying that I'm a long-time reader of Anandtech and that I absolutely love the site (even when some of Anand's articles go over my head =P). This will be my first comment ever.

    I have to say that this is a really disappointing review for at least two reasons:
    1) Why test with a Corsair H80? It's a horrid little all-in-one solution whose radiator -- regardless of the fan used -- can't even match the top-ten air coolers.
    2) How do you take the time to test a bunch of fans in order to determine which is the best for use with a radiator and *not* test at least one or two Gentle Typhoon variants? Or even some of the GELID offerings? If the article was done in a week and based upon the stock at a local Fry's or Microcenter, then fine. But when the article was written in two parts and across several months? No.

    In general I have noticed that this is where Anandtech tends to let me down with the quality of its articles. I can only assume that Anandtech lacks contributors who have a serious interest in specific enthusiast genres like water-cooling. I would love to see the level of expertise and attention to detail that I have come to take for granted with SSD/CPU/Mobo articles applied to water-cooling, overclocking, and case reviews. Especially now that things like water-cooling and overclocking are easier and more mainstream than ever. But hey, maybe I'm crazy and I'm the only one that feels this way. It wouldn't be the first time... =D
    Reply
  • Naoe Shigen - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    To put this in perspective, this is the caliber of review I would expect from 3dgameman.com. And he's one of the least informed owners of a hardware review website that I can think of. Second only to motherboards.org, which makes me wonder why anyone would take computer component advice from someone that looks and sounds like an ex-wrestler.

    But I digress...
    Reply
  • FaaR - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    You're missing the point of the review by complaining about the performance of the H80; it's not the performance of the cooler that is being reviewed, it's how fans used on a radiator perform that is of the matter here.

    That certain air coolers perform better than the H80 really doesn't factor into it, as these air coolers aren't radiators.

    CPU temperatures, while (maybe) higher than other cooling solutions, are merely supplied as an indicator of fan performance.

    Also, in defense of the Corsair H80, it's probably one of the more common all-in-one radiator coolers out there, so people owning one can use this review as an easy indicator of what fan will work well with it. By the way, I am not one of them. I have a Noctua aircooler in my rig.
    Reply
  • Gasaraki88 - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    Really? You people want him to test every single fan on Newegg or something? Are you going to buy all those fans for him? If vendors don't give some to him to test or he doesn't have them on hand he's not testing them. Are you paying him to sit there for 2 months taking 100s of fans off and on the cooler just so you're happy that your brand of fan was in the article? Reply
  • sicofante - Sunday, October 28, 2012 - link

    No, but not including the most commonly praised radiator fans (the Gently Typhoons) doesn't seem reasonable at all. Either the writer doesn't know about them (which would be bad) or the review is biased for some obscure reason (which would be worse).

    (To the one complaining about the chosen radiator: the H80 fares typically in the range of the top air coolers and it offers a much more safe mounting than those. If you ever want to ship a computer, don't even think of those top air coolers, unless you want to risk breaking your motherboard. And never forget to ship the fans separately or face finding them bouncing around your case throughout the trip... Ever wondered why factory overclocked systems use Asetek all-in-one watercoolers? Now you know.)
    Reply
  • soloburrito - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    So yeah, there are a lot of fans you guys will obviously miss out on, but if given the opportunity, I wouldn't mind burning $10 or $15 to send a fan for you all to test straight from a distributor.

    That's the easy part. Whether you have enough time to put dozens more fans through their proper paces is another issue entirely.

    Just a thought.
    Reply
  • Adamantine - Monday, October 22, 2012 - link

    I would like to point out that you at least have an understanding of what specs are important for fan performance and that you spent quite a bit of time doing the review. The fans in the test, don't really have a problem with the results, although the review is not perfect. Hopefully, you're going with more of a database approach and just haven't gotten to the most highly regarded fans for radiators. Also, you should consider going with the higher speed fans since higher speed fans have more versatility when combined with fan controller. There are a couple models out there that make weird or annoying noises when combined with a fan controller, although sometimes the same model at a lower speed doesn't have the noise.

    Some of the highly regarded fans (most are based on Sony's fluid bearing):

    Gentle Typhoon 1850
    Scythe S-Flex
    Gelid NFB
    Cougar PWM 1500
    Cougar 1200
    Reply

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