As the old overclocker’s adage goes, “get your cooler ready for summer.” Conducting tests of cooling systems at the height of the heat season has already become a good tradition of our portal, and we are not going to deviate from it. This review will take a look at nine new fans from respected companies such as Noctua and Fractal Design. To begin with, we will get acquainted with their appearance and equipment, and then move on to comparative tests.
Fractal Design is a relatively young Swedish company that has made a good name for itself in the PC case market. According to the logic of modern production (each brand strives for the universality of the product range), sooner or later it had to start producing cooling systems as well. What actually happened. Three series of fans appeared in their assortment – Venturi, Dynamic and Silent R3. The brightest representatives of each of the three lines came to our test, therefore, their features will be described in detail in the future.
Fractal Design Venturi HP-14
As of today, the Venturi series is the best among the company’s fans and has four models. Two of these are the HF-12 and HF-14 (120mm and 140mm variants respectively) whose blade configuration is designed to increase airflow in the housing. Yes, and the name HF stands for High Flow, that is, a powerful stream. And the HP-12 and HP-14 models are 120- and 140-mm fans, the purpose of which is to create a high static pressure (High Pressure) and they are suitable for installation in cramped conditions – on radiators of cooling systems, dense baskets of hard drives and the like. with them. Unfortunately, the only variation out of four, the Venturi HP-14, came to our test, which makes it impossible to form an opinion about the entire product line as a whole. At its core, this is a large-sized 140mm black fan with seven large, flat impeller blades. The bearing that is used here is a full-fledged hydrodynamic (FDB) with enhanced magnetic centering of the rotor axis, which inspires hope for its silence and durability. The blades have two aerodynamic optimizations – teeth located closer to the bearing and the so-called Trip Wire – a thin cutting strip on the top of the blade. From the manufacturer’s point of view, these devices should reduce the turbulence of the air passing near the stator and on the impeller blades, while also reducing aerodynamic noise. Although personally it seems to me that the effectiveness of this solution is not very high. The fan has a four-pin power cord 500 mm long enclosed in a kapron braid.
Although the overall frame size of the fan is 140mm, it can also be installed on a 120mm footprint. This is achieved thanks to the replaceable rubber corners of two standard sizes, which, moreover, also significantly dampen the vibration coming from the propeller. An elegant and practical solution.
Fan testing showed that the hope for a low noise level did not materialize. Its PWM speed controller emits an audible constant crackle that negates all the advantages of a hydrodynamic bearing at low speeds. PWM crackling is noticeable starting from 800 rpm, and closer to 1100 rpm it drowns in the aerodynamic noise of the impeller. But this fan creates a powerful air flow and pressure. In a word, it is powerful, but noisy throughout the entire speed range. It would be interesting to hear how the version without PWM behaves, but, unfortunately, there is no such one in the company’s assortment. If the fan is connected to a conventional connector, the impeller is able to start when 8 V is supplied at a speed of about 600–700 rpm.
|Noise, dB (A)||51||50||49||47||45||43||41||39||37||35||35||35|
The Venturi HP-14 comes with four interchangeable rubber brackets for mounting it on 120mm mounting holes, four black mounting screws and a four-pin PWM splitter without braid, allowing you to connect two fans to one motherboard header.
Fractal Design Dynamic GP-14
The Dynamic series is the smallest in the Fractal Design range. So far, it includes only two fans of size 120 and 140 mm – under the nomenclature names GP-12 and GP-14. We have already met both of them in the reviews of the company’s cases, since in new models they began to replace the Silent R3 propellers, which are simpler in terms of filling. On sale there are both options with white and black impeller. Structurally, the blades are similar to the Venturi series, and have the same set of aerodynamic optimizations. The so-called “hydraulic” mechanism (HDB) is declared as a bearing, which is most likely a “hydrostatic” simplified version of the classic “hydrodynamic”. That is, the lubricant is not distributed using special channels, but the centering magnet and the sealing of the bearing are present. As well as much lower friction and longer life than the conventional bushing option. This instance of the GP-14 has a size of 140 mm, with a standard arrangement of mounting holes without any dampers. The length of the three-prong power cord without braid is 500 mm.
The maximum impeller speed reaches 1000 rpm, with a noise of 41 dB(A). The blades of this fan are capable of starting with 4 V at 400 rpm and 35 dB (A) of noise. A sound of 37dB(A) is achieved at 800rpm and 8V. The fan is generally very quiet, but its motor produces a not-so-pleasant crackle that starts in the low rpm range and only gets louder as speed increases. This sound will not be heard from a closed case, but lovers of complete silence (those who put their ear to the fan) and owners of fine hearing can be annoyed. As for me, this is a very good version of a cased propeller from the “install and forget about its existence” series.
|Noise, dB (A)||41||38||37||36||35||35||35|
In the kit, in addition to the fan itself, there are only four black screws for attaching the propeller frame to the case.
Fractal Design Dynamic GP-12
Everything said above about the Dynamic GP-14 is fully applicable to its younger 120-mm counterpart in the face of the GP-12. In addition to the reduced size of the blades and the frame, there are no other differences. Hydraulic bearing (HDB). The length of the three-prong power cord without braid is 500 mm.
The operation of the GP-12 can be described as fairly quiet. The bearing is well balanced and vibration free. The maximum speed reaches 1200 rpm, while aerodynamic noise and bearing chatter, although audible, do not cause a sharp rejection. The optimal noise threshold is at around 900 rpm and is obtained when 8 V is applied. The propeller is capable of starting from 4 V and 500 rpm.
|Noise, dB (A)||44||42||41||38||37||36||35||35|
Theoretically, mounting screws should be supplied with the fan, but they were not found in our copy.
Fractal Design Silent Series R3 140mm
We have already come across Silent Series R3 fans several times before, as these are the first propeller models that Fractal Design has equipped its cases with. As a result, this line is the most complete in terms of available sizes. In addition to the usual 80, 92, 120 and 140 mm turntables, it also contains exotics with a 40, 50 and 60 mm frame. A threaded sleeve is used as a bearing, with a MTBF of 40,000 hours. Relative to conventional bushings, this option is a little more tenacious and a little less noisy in general, but the difference is not always noticeable to the naked eye (or rather, to the ear). In a word, the series is the most budgetary in its essence. This 140mm example uses a nine-bladed, frequented impeller. There are no dampers on the frame, the three-pin power cord 350 mm long has no braid.
The operating speed range is very small. The impeller to start at 600 rpm will require 7 V voltage, it will remain relatively quiet up to 800 rpm, and at the maximum 900 and 1000 rpm, aerodynamic noise from the blades will manifest itself in all its glory. Parasitic overtones from the bearing can be heard throughout the entire range, but they are distinguishable only near and when installed in the housing, the propeller will not stand out against the general background. The pressure from this instance is not felt, but the air flow is quite decent.
|Noise, dB (A)||44||41||39||37||36|
The package includes four black fixing screws.
Fractal Design Silent Series R3 120mm
The smaller 120mm model of the Silent R3 fan also has nine blades and is no different from the older 140mm model except for dimensions and performance (which also stems from a smaller size and a slightly different speed range).
For a confident start, this propeller also requires a rather high voltage of 7 V, although the specifications state 6 V. It remains extremely quiet only at the starting 700 rpm. In the rest of the range, up to a maximum speed of 1200 rpm, the engine produces a characteristic high-frequency sound, reminiscent of the singing of a “cricket”. On the one hand, the fan is relatively quiet with a normally balanced bearing, but this overtone is exactly the “fly in the ointment” that will annoy the demanding user. Although, as always, this may be a feature of our particular instance.
|Noise, dB (A)||44||42||41||40||37||36|
The package includes four black fixing screws.