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Looking for a High CFM/low DBA 120mm Case fan... does it even exist?

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May 13, 2008 3:39:56 AM

im planning on using every fan slot in my Cooler Master RC-690, except for maybe the upper side panel one.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119137

The problem is i want the case to run cool and quiet. The case can hold 7 fans total, but i plan on only having 2 intakes and 3-4 exhaust due to case design.

If you look at some of the pictures for the case, you'll notice that the front intake 120mm fan is blocked alot by the 3.5" HD bays. Depending on how easy they are to remove, ill take them out, but theres a good chance i wont. That, and a bottom mounted 120mm fan are the only intakes for the whole computer. (I am thinking 2 higher CFM fans here running always at 100%)

My processor heatsink is a Xigmatek Rifle 120mm.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233003

I plan on having its 120mm fan aiming to the back of the case, to shoot any hot air straight out the back 120mm, and any excess hot air will be sucked up by the top 2 120mm's.

Since i am going to SLI 2 8800GTS's, i was also thinking of adding 1 on the door (will experiment with this) and either suck air in or out.

So to sum it up... i want an average 120mm Case fan w/ no LED (if there is one maybe a simple one so i can clip its LED w/o much problem) with maybe 60-80 CFM, but 25-30 DBA.... (only problem w/ these numbers is that theres 50 of these on paper, but after reading reviews on most of the 120's, they never work out to be what they are on paper.

Basically im looking for fans that you guys already own, and love, and wish to recommend.

Im also not sure if i would want to plug these into the motherboard or if i should get a fan controller. I honestly would rather not, and just let them run at 100% all the time. I like to keep things simple.
May 13, 2008 4:09:08 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have a couple of these in my P182. They are as quiet as it gets without using an ionic breeze to move air inside your case.

I read some of the reviews on Newegg, and a few things come to mind. People read the specs on these fans and assume that if your buying 20db fans that they will be be 20db in the case. Indeed they are 20db fans, in a free flowing sound insulated environment. If you put a grill in front or behind them, it's louder. Not because the fan isn't 20db, but the air restriction creates vibrations in the air, thus noise. 2nd, one fan running alone in a sound test chamber, with no air restrictions runs at 20db. 1 fan with a little air restriction (filer, grille etc) is a little louder, so what happens when you add ANOTHER 20db source plus restrictions? I wonder... 3rd you're kind of crying about the noise your 120mm fans will make when you are running 2 8800GTS w/ dual slot coolers, which run quite noisy at 100%. I happen to know this because I have 2, and I run them at 100% all the time. They aren't in the P182 with the scythe, they are in a CM Centurion, which due to the configuration I have, they run a little hot which is why I run them 100%. The P182 is on the floor next to the desk, and is dead silent in comparison.

OK so to make along story less long here's the short cut:

Buy the scythes, but don't ask for a quiet, high flow fan, and then complain to me when you a) Install 6 of them and "can still hear the air moving" (duh moving air makes noise, moving more air makes even more noise), get water cooling if you're going to be anal. b) the price. They are expensive for case fans, but they do use FDBs and despite some reviews the contrary, they really do run quiet.

FYI, you don't need a fan controller, even at 100% they are quietest thing with moving parts in your bedroom.
May 13, 2008 4:13:19 AM

Didnt read the whole thing...

I use Scythe (the fluid dynamic bearing ones)
Noctua are just as good.

The fluid bearing fans are the quietest, but check the CFM to see if its enuf.
Related resources
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 7:40:28 AM

If you run an imbalanced system (2 intake 4-5 exhaust [inc. psu]) it will probably increase the noise as more air will be sucked through the intake fans than they want to move.
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 10:56:31 AM

Scythe S-FLEX 21Ds all the way.
Currently have 11 in my system and it is almost silent.
Even on sale at the egg.
$17 savings for a total of $12.99 each.

Don't forget to cut the fan grills out.
It will help increase air flow and quiet your system at the same time.
May 13, 2008 1:57:02 PM

thanks for the feedback so far.

just another question tho, do u guys think i should get 2 noisy intake fans, but really high CFM, and then get 3 more quiet ones for the exhausts? to keep a little balance in the system?
May 13, 2008 2:31:04 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it technically better to have more intakes than exhaust fans? That way the case maintains positive air pressure and air inside the case flows the way it's supposed to?

EDIT: My vote's for Scythe S-FLEX fans. Used them in pretty much every computer I've ever built or had any say in whatsoever. They're extremely quiet and move a lot of air.
May 13, 2008 2:35:44 PM

Id vote for Noctua NF-S12-1200.
May 13, 2008 2:44:33 PM

Any speed Scythe S-Flex fan, or the 1200 RPM Scythe Slip Stream fan (800 RPM is absolutely silent in most environments, but moves less air).

The Gospel of quiet fans (and quiet computing for the site as a whole):
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article63-page2.html
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 2:55:38 PM

chedrz said:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it technically better to have more intakes than exhaust fans? That way the case maintains positive air pressure and air inside the case flows the way it's supposed to?


I thought a balanced system was ideal...
May 13, 2008 3:00:50 PM

As others have posted the Scythe S-SFLEX fans are good, the SFF21-D is very quiet but @ 800rpm moves ~33cfm of air, the -E model spins @ 1200rpm moving ~40+ cfm and the -F model spins near 1600 rpm moving ~63+ cfm. Even the -F model is rated @ ~28db on full blow.

Another popular solution is to use the crazy Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000rpm 120mm jet turbine-finger eating-blackhole creating fan with a fan controller...allowing up to ~130cfm. The fan controller will allow you spin it down for the noise level you prefer. Add to that these fans are inexpensive and it may be worth considering. They are however, thicker than your run of the mill 120mm fan you'd have to make sure it wouldn't interfere with your RAM, especially if you're running 4 sticks.
May 13, 2008 3:06:27 PM

At a given RPM I believe the S-Flexs are quieter than any other model/maker. [Simplistically] they would have the best cfm/dba on the market for standard fan design (read: no special blade or hub design). The Slip Streams will move more air at a given RPM than the S-Flexs, but they are a little louder (typically) because of the less-robust bearing design.
May 13, 2008 3:07:09 PM

I went with 9 of these bad boys in my Coolermaster Stacker 832, and they were worth the price. Very quiet, good airflow, couldn't be happier.

Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E 120mm Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have 5 intake, 4 exhaust (plus the PSU fan for 5in/5out).

They have adapters for 3-pin to molex. Keeps my case very cool. Don't skimp on fans, quality ones will keep your temps low and the noise down.
May 13, 2008 3:27:53 PM

On a slightly different note, you won't need 7 fans in the CM690.
I have hotter running components in mine (as per sig) and with 4 fans (3 came fitted out of the box - the front intake, the side intake and the back exhaust. I added a top exhaust) it is very cool.
My CPU idles (on stock cooler) at 28-31C which is mighty impressive IMO for a 125W part. Under 100% loading on Seti@Home it'll peak around 58C. Video cards are 45C GPU core and 55C GPU core at idle with PCB ~5C less than that one each. The hotter GTX's PCB is the same temp at idle as the cooler GTX's core. From the tiny amount of testing I have done, it seems one card gets quite a lot more of the cool intake air from the side fan. I could sort that, but to be honest the GTX's are so far within limits I can't really be bothered! :D 
The front intake fan provides plenty of cool air into the case, even past the HD's (4 in my case) and does a significant job of cooling the HD's as well.
Oh and the bottom intake is nigh on useless if you have a big PSU (my CM Real Power Pro definitely falls into this category!) and for any kind of cable management, it makes the bottom intake useless.
The only other fan I would consider is another top one, for nothing other than a nice blue glow throughout the case :D  There is no more need for cooling IMO. Especially with a nice cool Intel 45nm dual or quad and the GTS's :) 
May 13, 2008 3:28:18 PM

In my CM690, at the moment I use the standard. That's 1 front intake, 1 side intake and 1 rear exhaust. I think the exhaust maybe is a 140mm, but I'm not sure, can't remember. I was just wondering why you aren't considering the side panel intake? It's worth using as it shoots air onto your CPU/GPU area.

Also, with my AF7, the fan faces the front of the case. However, it is an intake fan, so it goes through the heatsink then the exhaust pulls hot air out the back. Consider this when using your xigmatek, as it may be an intake-style fan.
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 3:45:36 PM

I'm using SFF21E too. These fans are better, with almost the performance of the SFF21F at 57 cfm and only the noise of the SFF21E, but they cost a lot at $33.51:

Noctua NF-P12-1300 120MM Ultra Quiet Cooling Fan 1100-1300RPM 63-92M3/H 12.6-19.8DBA
http://www.ncixus.com/products/27129/NF-P12-1300/Noctua/

a c 121 ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 4:05:59 PM

I am also using a CM-690. I added a Rosewill (hey, it's not a PSU!) blue LED fan on the top. I'm using Abit's FanEQ and running most of my fans at 8.0v when cool, which is just about always. After an initial whooshing when I power on, the noise cuts way back. I'm using all of the fan headers on my mobo:
CPU: AC7
SYS: rear
Aux1: top
Aux2: front
Aux3: PSU fan monitor
Aux4: side
I'm considering adding a bottom and the second top, but I don't think I really need them.
That Rosewill is one of the quietest fans in the case. Moving enough air to blow off a piece of notebook paper, I hardly hear it. By comparison, a TT fan I tried there first was annoying unless I dropped it down to 6.5v.
May 13, 2008 5:01:08 PM

Noctua's are not worth it, to put it quite bluntly. Noise, CFM, build quality is about the same (or slightly worse) than the S-Flex fans at a much higher price.
a b ) Power supply
May 13, 2008 6:30:42 PM

LOL, no fan is worth $33.51+shipping anyway. It would be fun though, a $70 case with $250 worth of fans added later :) 

May 13, 2008 8:20:01 PM

really appreciate the info everyone. Im probably gonna go w/ 1 of the 6 scythe 120mm's.

I probably wont get the lower CFM ones tho.

When it all comes down to it, i want the most CFM (CFM is priority for me) w/ the least DBA.

the only question now is if i wanna spend $15 per fan or $9 lol.
May 13, 2008 9:51:24 PM

stevediaman said:
When it all comes down to it, i want the most CFM (CFM is priority for me) w/ the least DBA.

S-Flex 1600. Period.
May 14, 2008 12:37:44 AM

I wont buy a fan that can't push over 75 CFM, that is just me. Positive pressure is only ideal if you are in a very dusty environment. Negative pressure produces better cooling, because it draws extra, cool, air from any holes in the computer, where positive pushes more air into the case letting heat sit and build in temperature. The difference is minimal and even non-existent if a case is very positive or negative, an unbalanced system creates the most heat. Ideally, for cooling purposes, slightly negative (ex. 3 intake and 4 exhaust fans of the same type and specification) is the best. My entire opinion on CFM vs. DBA is CFM being 70% important and DBA being 10%, with reliablility/looks 20% all together. I say get those Scythe Slipstream fans @ 88 CFM and 1 Silverstone fm121 or Scythe Ultra Kaze for an intake fan.
May 14, 2008 3:34:33 AM

Steven Bancroft said:
Go update your machine Kyle :kaola: 

Watch yo mouth! I'm waiting for Nehalem, foo!
May 15, 2008 11:29:34 AM

KyleSTL said:
Watch yo mouth! I'm waiting for Nehalem, foo!



this can take a looooong time... 1.5 till 2 years... and also at the start they will be very expensive and with all users that are waiting for a new architecture it will be out of stock :-)

August 1, 2008 7:37:04 AM

The_Blood_Raven said:
I wont buy a fan that can't push over 75 CFM, that is just me. Positive pressure is only ideal if you are in a very dusty environment. Negative pressure produces better cooling, because it draws extra, cool, air from any holes in the computer, where positive pushes more air into the case letting heat sit and build in temperature. The difference is minimal and even non-existent if a case is very positive or negative, an unbalanced system creates the most heat. Ideally, for cooling purposes, slightly negative (ex. 3 intake and 4 exhaust fans of the same type and specification) is the best. My entire opinion on CFM vs. DBA is CFM being 70% important and DBA being 10%, with reliablility/looks 20% all together. I say get those Scythe Slipstream fans @ 88 CFM and 1 Silverstone fm121 or Scythe Ultra Kaze for an intake fan.


Like the above explanation.
Does anyone have any really good links to "airflow theory"... Maybe even with some data that proves the above.
!