February 15th, 2011

Arctic Cooling PWM Fans

Arctic Cooling PWM Fans Review

Introduction

Arctic cooling produces some of the worlds better heatsinks and their products can be found in many an enthusiasts humming rig. However heatsinks are not the only product they focus on, they also put a lot of R n ‘D into their fans. Today I have two of them, their 120mm and 90mm PWM Arctic Fans; lets see how they perform.

Features

  • Regulate RPM speed of up to 5 fans by the onboard CPU fan controller (lowest noise level for a given system load)
  • Control the entire cooling for your needs (silent / quiet / overclocking) via BIOS settings
  • Lowest Noise Level at its Air Flow Rate
  • Patented Case Design
  • Patented Vibration Absorption
  • Circulation Optimized Fan Blades
  • High Airflow
  • High Static Pressure
  • Compatible with tool less Mounting Mechanisms for Standard 25 mm deep fans
  • Long Lifetime

How it Works

How it Works

Bits and Box

The AC PWM fans come in stylish black boxes covered in the Arctic Cooling brand. On the Front is their logo and the model name, along with a large “New” to represent the fan’s PWM fan control ability.

Arctic Cooling Fans Box

The sides feature mounting diagrams and specifications for the fans. All of this is backed by a large assortment of the fans model name in varying contrasts of gray.

Arctic Cooling Fans Box

Along with the fan you receive an AC sticker and four of the chunky mounting screws. It would have been nice to see a spare here as it is always a pain when you have to mount with 3 screws because you can’t find that one that flew from the bag as you tore it open.

The Fans

The fans themselves are quite plain in some respects. They have a matt black finish and a small AC logo in the centre just above the fan blades.

Arctic Cooling Fans 120mm

Arctic Cooling Fan 120mm

Arctic Cooling Fan 90mm

Arctic Cooling Fan 90mm

Speaking of the blades, they have smooth surfaces, unlike the Noiseblocker’s. This should mean it takes much longer for the surfaces of the fans to become engrained with dust; as can happen over periods of time. Smooth surfaces also decrease air turbulence which will reduce the fan’s noise output.

Another aspect of these PWM fans that you may find interesting is their mounting method. All of the fans are mounted onto a plastic frame – as apposed to sporting screw holes themselves. They are attached to this frame by small rubber pegs, this should help absorb any vibrations from the fan making them much quieter.

Arctic Cooling Fans

The main feature that makes these fans stand out from the competition is the cabling. Yes folks the fan’s cables are what are interesting here; this is what you shelled out for. These fans don’t use your typical 3pin connectors but the 4pin PWM headers. They also have a 4pin female connector (For daisy chaining) and a 3pin fan speed monitoring header. This PWM controller allows your fans (maximum of 5) to be individually controlled by your bios keeping your system cool while keeping the noise level low.

Cables

Also, the daisy chaining option means that all this can be done using just one 4pin PWM socket on your motherboard. AC recommend you use one of their CPU coolers, stick on a PWM fan and begin the daisy chain from there.

PWM Female

Testing

For the testing phase of this review I have decided to compare these fans to another brand of fan that are noted for their low DB and their build quality; Noiseblocker (with their latest range of 120mm and 90mm fans).

It is very difficult to test system fans fairly as there are many factors that would need to be taken into account. However, since we can assume that the fan that moves the most air will provide the best cooling we can compare them on different fronts; their noise, features and longevity.

To do this, both sets of fans were left running for one week in our test PC to see how audible they are during day to day activities and also how much dust would build up on the fan blades in this short time.

Results

Over the week I heard almost nothing from the Noiseblocker fans and was very impressed that not once did I take note of them moving much above inaudible. The AC fans were much the same with almost silence being the name of the game. However, at some points they did make a dull hum; nothing to make a scene of, but there is a slight noise to the 120mm fan.

The PWM cabling of the AC fans was useful in terms of keeping the AC fan noise down, even during intense gaming with overclocks high they were very quiet indeed. The fact that this feature was not on the Noiseblocker fans was not really of any concern because they remained very quiet even at 100% speed, but it would be nice to know that they perhaps had a bit of extra juice when overclocking for example; at least you know that the AC fans are holding back slightly, waiting for when the RPM is needed.

In terms of dust build up, the AC fans were the clear winners. The smooth blades on the fans meant that at the end of the week there was barely any dust build up at all, with only a thin film in the corners of some of the fans. The Noiseblocker’s didn’t fare so well with dust being present, thinly, across most of the fan blades. The ridged structure of the blades made perfect pockets for dust; these fans will need irregular cleaning to keep them working properly.

Noiseblocker Fans Buildup

Cost

The AC fans range in price from £5 for an 80mm and £9 for a 120mm which is a little bit cheaper than Noiseblocker’s offerings which tend to be around £7 and £10 respectively.

Conclusion

Both the Arctic Cooling fans and the Noiseblocker fans are very capable of keeping your case cool while managing to keep things about as quiet as you can with active cooling. However, in terms of price, features and lack of dust build up the Arctic Cooling PWM fans win hands down. However, if you are after super silence throughout the RPM range, then the Noiseblocker fans are for you; just remember though, silence comes at a premium.

Pros Cons
Quiet Slightly humming noise at certain RPM’s
Good cooling ability
PWM features

XSR Value Award

I’d like to thank our sponsors Arctic Cooling for providing us with these fans.

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