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PooBaa's QUIET 80mm casefan Review.

Last response: in Overclocking
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November 29, 2002 12:18:41 AM

A question that had been bugging me for a while now was "Whats the best quietest casefan that also moves a decent amount of air?"
Typically i class 80mm casefans into 3 categories.
0-2500rpm - Quiet
2500-4000rpm - Medium
4000+ - Screamers
As point of intrest, for my ears even a medium speed casefan is way too loud. My PC sits next to the monitor on my desk, so the noise source is not far from my head. Thus quiet, realy quiet fans are a must.
Problem is, many brands say they are quiet... but are they really?
So today im mainly looking at the "quiet" class.
The fans i have lined up are:

<b>A.</b> Xinruilian low profile Cheapo Casefan. All black colour. BallBearings. 80x80x15mm. 7 thin square tipped blades. rpm <1500rpm. Unknown cfm & dBa. 0.14A rating.

<b>B.</b> Superflower that came with my SB-201 atlas case. All black colour. Ballbearings. 80x80x25mm. 7 round tipped normal blades. approx 1500-2000rpm. Unknown cfm, dBa. 0.14A rating.

<b>C.</b> Panflo 'Quiet'. All black colour. Special panflo designed Slieve bearing. 80x80x25mm. 7 square tipped blades. 1900rpm. 21dBa. 24cfm. 0.10A rating.

<b>D.</b> Enermax Variable. Dark blue frame, Clear plastic blades & hub, Gold grill. 2 ball bearing. 80x80x25mm. 7 square tipped clear blades. 1000-3000rpm variable. 21-33dBa. 25-40cfm. 0.23A rating.

<b>E.</b> Thermaltake 'Smartfan 2' (using speed controller). Bright pastel orange colour. 2 Ball bearings. 80x80x25mm. 7 square tipped blades, with alot of blade sweep. 1300-4800rpm. 17-48dBa. 20.55-75.7cfm. 0.70A Rating.

Testing was very Ghetto, but still useful.
Casefans were tested on my desk, with open sided PC noise behind it from my case. (A good way to test for noise that can be heard over casenoise.
Noise was measured with my ears. From a distance, different angles and closeup.
Variable speed fans were run at their slowest setting.
Two seperate types of noises can be discerned. The natural 'whine' from blades cutting the air, and the bearing noise.
Airflow was tested with my hand in a situation of zero static pressure. My hand or a piece of paper was sufficient to rank them.

<b>RESULTS</b>

<b><i>Quietest Fan</b></i> -
Panflo. Hands down. The panflo had minor 'whine' like all fans, but bearing noise, especially the 'buzz' of ballbearings was completely absent. I had to put my ear to within an inch of the hub to hear any bearing noise. Very impressive.
Next came the Superflower then closely followed by the enermax. The enermax had a louder whine and buzz, but at a lower pitch than the superflower. Considering the superflower was a generic casefan that came with my case, abeit an expensive case, it was suprisingly quiet.
The Xinruilian came next. Most of its noise came from a VERY poorly bananced hub. It vibrated alot when held too.
Last was the Thermaltake smartfan. Dissapointingly loud considering what its 'Official noise rating' was. I must note that the first smart fan was returned as bearing noise & vibration was very bad. This second one is better, but its still very buzzy at low speed. Cranking the speed of the smartfan up, it seemed to perform best at medium 2000-3000rpm speeds, and Amazingly loud (and powerful) at full 4800rpm. Considering the fan can go from 1300 to a delta screamer like 4800rpm its understandable why it sounds odd at low speeds, more a design limitation than anything else.

<b><i>Best Airflow at slow speed</b></i>
This was very close, but i believe once again the panflo was the winner, closely followed by the enermax variable and the superflower.
The xinruilian was obviously hopeless here. Very low CFM's moved.
Also suprisingly poor was the Smart fan once again. At its slowest setting it moved a very feeble amount of air. On a slightly plus side, i could turn it up a bit without increasing the noise too greatly. But compared to the panflo it still wasnt a great noise to cfm ratio.

<b><i>Winners and Loosers, Good and Bad Points.</b></i>
The Xinruilian is definately a looser, except for price. Low cfm. Low profile. Poorly balanced fan. But what do you expect for a crappy $2 AU fan???
The superflower came out suprisingly well. Decently quiet ball bearing fan, with good airflow, and a useful molex connector which has a passthough unit so you can daisy-chain multiple fans. The only odd thing was heat. the front of the hub got slightly warm to the touch after 30mins. None of the others did. No big issue though. A decent allround fan.
The panflo suprised even me. Very low noise levels, no bearing buzz and good cfm's. The panflo uses a unique patented self lubricating slieve bearing (Hydrowave bearing (HWB) according to the marketing gibberish). And i can attest that it DOES work. Additionally when holding the fan i noticed that vibrations were very low too. They also SAY it should last as long as a ball bearing fan too. Time will tell i suppose. The only gripe I had was that the fan comes with a bare wire connector. You have to pay a few bux extra ($AU) for a 3 or 4 pin connector. But they have a nice unique connector that plugs right into the fan hub mount.
Next up was the Enermax. A little dissapointing due to its buzzy noise, still a decent contender if you are looking for something that looks a bit out of the ordinary and/or you want to be able to control speeds from slow to med-high. Some of the extra noise could be attributed to the included fan guard and air/blades rushing by. At high it moves a decent amount of air, without being delta screamer loud. The clear blades, blue frame and gold grill would look great in a modded case. NOTE: At full speed the Enermax passes the self propulsion test, moving itself slowly accross the desk. :smile:
Finally there is the Thermaltake smartfan2. An interesting contunderum. Cool funky orange colour.
I noted before that the first one i got had to go back due to REALLY bad bearing vibration. This second one is alot better, but it still vibrates significantly, enough to slowly slide accross the polished desk over half an hour and to be felt when firmly holding it.
I cannot reccomend it for use as a 'silent' fan as its the most expensive fan in the lineup, it is buzzy at slow speeds and its airflow is frankly very poor at low speed.
It feels as if 1300rpm is <b>TOO LOW</b> and the motor is struggling not to stall.
Crank up the speed however and you find out what the fan is really about. Hearing a fan go from an idle of 1300rpm to a scream as bad as my 4900rpm focused flow delta is something to behold! :eek: 
Mmmwwoooohaa haa haa haa *snort*
Sorry. Where was i? :smile:
The smart fan's use is NOT as a quiet fan. Its best use would be a temp dependent cpu or case fan where low noise is not a priority. And as such the pack comes with a large array of addons goodies.
You get the fan, a Thermaltake Steel grill, a jumper for full power setting, a 3-4 pin connector, a plug in rheostat AND a plug in temp sensor/speed controller. The temp sensor lead is almost 16 inches long, so can be put almost anywhere.

<b>THE END</b>
Now if you will excuse me, these fans sitting on my desk are freezing my tits off! Gotta turn em off now!

<b>ALLMOST....</b>
Just for fun i hauled my delta fan out of retirement to compare it to the Thermaltake at full speed. A battle of the screamers!
TT Smart fan - 4800rpm. 75.7cfm. 48dBa. 0.70A (according to their figures)
Delta 80mm focused flow screamer - 4900rpm, 68.5cfm. 49dBa. 0.87A

Well both scream like banshee's in heat! The Smart fan, despite its 75.7cfm rating DOES NOT move more air than the delta. And i dont think much of their figures. The delta easily moves more air, and is considerably louder. Man are they loud!
Both fans easily pass the self propulsion test!!!

<b>The Intel Celleron 2.1 & 2.2Ghz processors provide consumers with a great way to get on the Internet. Which one of the 478 pins plug into the phone socket? - <i>Intel & The Inquirer</i></b>
November 30, 2002 12:14:26 AM

Nice to see a review on the forums.

What Panasonic model was that again?

Were all of those fans that you had around your place or did you go out and get a couple?

I give you an A++.

However, I was wondering where the Papst, Orix, Sanyo Denki, and other quality manufacturer fans were in this? They have great fans, especially Sanyo.

Anyway, thanks for posting that for us here in the community. Keep it up. :)  :smile:

<font color=red><b>Come to the <A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/community/modules.php?na..." target="_new">THG Gathering/LAN party</A>
November 30, 2002 3:44:12 AM

Panasonic? u mean the Panflo? the product code is: FBA08A12L. (hope that means something)

A couple of the fans i had lying around. The xinrullian was one of my first. The superflowers came with my new case. Everything else i purchaced recently.

As i was buying the fans withmy own moolah i had to keep the number down. These were the ones easily obtainable locally. Vantec stealths would have taken time to get. Sanyo-denki are impossible to find here, ive tried, and in oz noone seems to supply sunons in the low speed variety.
Bit of a shame that.


<b>The Intel Celleron 2.1 & 2.2Ghz processors provide consumers with a great way to get on the Internet. Which one of the 478 pins plug into the phone socket? - <i>Intel & The Inquirer</i></b>
!