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Best current fan for a 240MM rad? (currently old SP120)


gunner007dc
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So I've been fairly out of the loop for awhile on cooling fans since a few years ago getting my H100i and some SP120 PWM Quiets.

 

I've been looking to replace them as one of them is failing, and the other I accidentally broke a fan blade when I was moving to a new case.

 

I keep the unit pretty quiet, and the average RPM of the SP120's range from about 500RPM->1200 (at full tilt) (using them as intake)

 

I've been looking at replacement fans and a bit confused on what options I have. I know I'm looking for something with high static pressure, but not sure how the fans really compare. I'm guessing the ratings are probably at full speed which makes it a bit confusing. (not sure if there's a graph showing CFM vs PWM %)

 

Basically it looks like my options are

 

ML120 Pro

HD120

LL 120

 

From what I've seen the LL120 don't seem to be a good radiator fan due the smaller CFM, HD120 seems better, but the ML120 Pro seem to be the best. The only thing is the ML120 seems to have a huge RPM curve. At about 1200 RPM the fans do make a bit of noise (SP120). At 1300RPM and below, are the ML120's noisy? Not sure how they compare with the old SP120 PWM.

 

The radiator itself is mounted on the front of the case, so RGB isn't going to be a huge issue since I won't be able to actually see them. RGB would be nice, but I'm thinking I could get away with LL as exhausts or HD if needed.

 

Any direction is appreciated. If they're all still underwhelming, there are a few stores still selling the old SP120's.

 

Thanks for reading!

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I'll take ML anything over the SP120 series any day. It doesn't sound like you are completely infatuated with RGB-LED, so from among those three the choice is pretty easy. Both the HD and LL fans will work on a radiator. If you are someone who gets upset that Fan B is +2C warmer than Fan A while simultaneously running Heaven and Prime 95, then you definitely want the ML series. I would likely make the same recommendation for casual users too, since the LL and HD require twice the wiring and you really want a Lighting Node Pro or Commander Pro as well to move the light control to software side.

 

The ML series is PWM and the range is large. I have a ML120 Pro on my GPU radiator right now. It is a 2-4C better than the HD120 that preceded it, but a tiny 120mm radiator and Titan X is an extreme example. I wouldn't expect to see much difference at like RPMs on a dual radiator and a 95 TDP CPU. I think most 120mm fans start to get a bit buzzy at 1300 and above. Coincidentally, that is about where I limit my ML120 on the GPU. It is undetectable now at 750 and it will slowly build up to 1500 at my top GPU temp of 50C. At 1200-1300, I would need to concentrate to pick it out from the general fan and pump noise. The only thing to possibly take into consideration is the fan start test. Most fan controllers do a high speed power on to make sure there is sufficient starting voltage. Not really necessary for PWM, but many fan controllers still do this either for both types. Some people get really annoyed at that momentary blip to 2000+. If you are in that category, look for something with about a 1500 rpm max.

 

Static pressure is often overvalued as statistic. It is the amount of pressure necessary to make a fan stop completely at a specific speed. This makes the value extremely RPM dependent. A further twist is many 120mm fans have a natural uplift in that figure in the very last 100-200 RPM. This may make a 1700 rpm fan look much more impressive than a 1500 rpm, even though their values would be identical at 1200 rpm. The curve is rarely linear on a 120mm, but since those P-Q curves are almost never provided, all you can do is some basic division to try and compare at like speeds. What you really want to know is how much air will pass through a radiator at a given speed. Rare to see that, except in select professional reviews. Take a look at the ThermalBench site. They have multiple comparisons for Corsair fans and others. Also keep in mind an extra 20 fps of linear airflow likely does not change your coolant temp by even a single degree and thus has no actual effect on CPU temperature.

 

I don't know what case this in or how much room you have, but once to consider is bulking up and going push-pull on the radiator. I normally not overly enthusiastic about it, but since you are dedicated to lower speeds and the H100i is on the front intake, that does make it a good candidate for it. Perhaps in that situation you could pick up 3 more SP120 QE's. You could also get two ML's and see if you like them more. Down the road, add two more if desired. Naturally, you can do the same with HD or LL fans, but that really becomes an expensive and elaborate proposition.

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Thanks a lot for the insightful information!

 

1. I am currently building in a Phantek Pro M case, so there is quite a bit of room up front and around.

 

Link to case: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811854042

 

2. I do like RGB if it looks nice (LL / HD) but I feel it's generally wasted on the radiator at the moment due to the fact I won't be able to see it at all from my current position.

 

3. I'm currently using 3 AF140 quiets as my exhaust fans. (1 rear, 2 top). I've heard the LL/HD aren't as good so was hesitant to jumpt o HD/LL fans to replace the AF's.

 

4. That's a good thought on the ML120. I was reccomended to do push/pull on the rad. I was thinking of at first just doing ML120 pros on the rad to see the difference. (rad fans are linked to h100i temp) Though I may try both down the line. Currently 2x 120 pros cost me about $50 where as a SP120 quiets are about $35.

 

I guess my question is, will the ML120's outperform the SP's as just a direct upgrade (rpm/noise). I do notice that when I put the SP120 full tilt, the temp does drop pretty quickly (though if I used the ML120's I'd have to set full tilt at around 1300RPM as I imagine 2200 is probably a jet engine LOL)

 

Thanks for all the help!

 

Edit: Forgot to add I do have a Commander Pro (currently AF are wired to it, the SP are wired to the pump itself)

 

Last edit: I for the life of me don't see a difference between ML120 and ML120 Pro.

Edited by gunner007dc
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I'll take ML anything over the SP120 series any day. It doesn't sound like you are completely infatuated with RGB-LED, so from among those three the choice is pretty easy. Both the HD and LL fans will work on a radiator. If you are someone who gets upset that Fan B is +2C warmer than Fan A while simultaneously running Heaven and Prime 95, then you definitely want the ML series. I would likely make the same recommendation for casual users too, since the LL and HD require twice the wiring and you really want a Lighting Node Pro or Commander Pro as well to move the light control to software side.

 

The ML series is PWM and the range is large. I have a ML120 Pro on my GPU radiator right now. It is a 2-4C better than the HD120 that preceded it, but a tiny 120mm radiator and Titan X is an extreme example. I wouldn't expect to see much difference at like RPMs on a dual radiator and a 95 TDP CPU. I think most 120mm fans start to get a bit buzzy at 1300 and above. Coincidentally, that is about where I limit my ML120 on the GPU. It is undetectable now at 750 and it will slowly build up to 1500 at my top GPU temp of 50C. At 1200-1300, I would need to concentrate to pick it out from the general fan and pump noise. The only thing to possibly take into consideration is the fan start test. Most fan controllers do a high speed power on to make sure there is sufficient starting voltage. Not really necessary for PWM, but many fan controllers still do this either for both types. Some people get really annoyed at that momentary blip to 2000+. If you are in that category, look for something with about a 1500 rpm max.

 

Static pressure is often overvalued as statistic. It is the amount of pressure necessary to make a fan stop completely at a specific speed. This makes the value extremely RPM dependent. A further twist is many 120mm fans have a natural uplift in that figure in the very last 100-200 RPM. This may make a 1700 rpm fan look much more impressive than a 1500 rpm, even though their values would be identical at 1200 rpm. The curve is rarely linear on a 120mm, but since those P-Q curves are almost never provided, all you can do is some basic division to try and compare at like speeds. What you really want to know is how much air will pass through a radiator at a given speed. Rare to see that, except in select professional reviews. Take a look at the ThermalBench site. They have multiple comparisons for Corsair fans and others. Also keep in mind an extra 20 fps of linear airflow likely does not change your coolant temp by even a single degree and thus has no actual effect on CPU temperature.

 

I don't know what case this in or how much room you have, but once to consider is bulking up and going push-pull on the radiator. I normally not overly enthusiastic about it, but since you are dedicated to lower speeds and the H100i is on the front intake, that does make it a good candidate for it. Perhaps in that situation you could pick up 3 more SP120 QE's. You could also get two ML's and see if you like them more. Down the road, add two more if desired. Naturally, you can do the same with HD or LL fans, but that really becomes an expensive and elaborate proposition.

 

 

amazingly educational!.. GREAT post C-A!!!!

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I really like the AF140 and it is an excellent exhaust fan. Let's assume your have all 3xAF140 maxed at 1000 rpm with no grill/grate restrictions and thus realize the full volume potential of 180 cfm (60x3). Fan B is rated at 50cfm at 1000 rpm and it totals 150 cfm at maximum. Your actual difference in case ambient temperature in these two scenarios? 0C. In both situations your exhaust potential is so drastically higher than your intake potential that it will never be able to actually exchange that much air in a cycle. That air exchange intake/exhaust is how you keep the internal air cooler. The front radiator and fans will always limit that to a smaller volume and you only need to run those 3x140's at medium speed to keep the balance. You could swap LL or HD fans in their place with no loss in performance, but it doesn't seem like you are quite ready to jump into RGB madness. I will not encourage you further. Different fans and blade types might make small differences in direct cooling of specific hardware components. This is very fan, case, and motherboard specific. For example, in my Air 540 I used to run an AF140 at the back as exhaust. I have another brand X fan that is rated significantly lower in terms of CFM (48) but has a flatter, wider blade. I know it does not move as much air and can clearly feel the difference with my hand. However, the angle on the weaker fan was just right to draw air from around the motherboard VRM. 3-5C difference just by swapping the two fans. Since my total case ambient is largely unaffected, I started to use fan B. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to predict which fans will do this. Generally, flatter, wider blades are better for direct cooling but offer lower volume flow in return. For most people, it is irrelevant either way. Something like a M.2 drive may be very receptive to this type of cooling, depending on distance from fan to drive.

 

If you want to be picky, an AF140 at 600-700 rpm is likely slightly quieter than a HD140 at the same speed. This is mostly due to blade design. Those steep raked AF blades have the lowest noise with high airflow. The HD is more of a hybrid for multi-purpose use. You can use a HD140 on a radiator with no difficulties. I would not recommend the same for a AF140.

 

ML120 vs SP120 - I believe you can find a specific comparison on the ThermalBench site. Scroll to the bottom for a Corsair vs Corsair comparison, including SP120 QE and ML120. Also here. Both fans at 1000 rpm? No performance difference. At 1200? No difference. At 1500? No the ML120 wins because the SP120 was left behind at its radiator restricted max ~1250-1275. I think the key points are this. I find the sound profile of the ML series to be significantly more pleasing than the SP120. I don't get too carried away with sound pressure levels, but tonal quality matters. Easy preference for the ML. The second aspect is the ML120 will always beat the SP120 QE because you can make it go that little bit faster. I know, not fair and you don't want loud. However, my personal experience is there are visible differences in the 1200-1600 rpm range. If you needed just a little more cooling for whatever reason, the ML is capable. The SP is capped. The other part of this is the ML is really a hybrid blade, not quite as pressure orientated as the SP. This theoretically gives the SP an advantage at the lowest speeds (say under 800), but as speeds increase the SP becomes more limited and the ML opens up. These hybrid blades like on the ML, HD, and LL series can outperform a pressure orientated fan if you spin them up high enough. Probably not at 1000, but again that 1200-1500 range has potential.

 

ML standard vs Pro - coloring and corners. I do not have a plain grey one to compare. I do very much like the Pro series. They are heavy, solid in feel, and well there is just something I like about it. I generally think you get what you pay for, so if the two fans have the same bearing and the same blade, what part is left to reduce costs? I like a strong, sturdy frame and am willing to pay for it. The other thing is you can get the ML is LED colors (red, white, blue). I have an all black set and another in white. This is another way to get some subtle LED color. These are not spot lamps and the effect is subtle. I consider that a selling point, but if you want blinding light, that is the HD series.

 

I think it's worth getting a pair of ML Pros to compare. If you don't change it up now and then, you never know what's out there. Buy from someplace friendly on returns. If you hate them or are otherwise unimpressed, send them back and three more SP120 QE. The Commander Pro will be handy regardless. I am assuming you have the older H100i (piano black, square block). You do not want to be running 4 fans of any amperage on it. The fan controller is just a little too vulnerable. However, the C-Pro can control and power them all using coolant temp, removing that obstacle. I would recommend that no matter what you choose for fans. (you can still put two on the cooler if needed).

Edited by c-attack
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Excellent amount of information! Thank you!

 

I'll pick up the ML120 Pro and throw them on there to see what happens. Fry's is nearby and they're pretty good with returns.

 

Yes it's the first generation H100i. I'll keep that in mind if I do push/pull. I still have 3 open spots on the Commander Pro.

 

I was interested in the RGB, I was looking at the LL to replace the AF. Though like you said, maybe you just gotta try. Good point though about how specs don't mean everything.

 

I'll update this when I swap a few out.

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Replaced the SP120's with a pair of ML's. I now see what you mean by tonal difference. The ML120's sound a lot quieter and pleasing at 1300RPM and same silence. I do like the black frame. I love my AF's but my first build was red, so they still have those plastic rings and I for the life of me can't find the others. I'm pretty happy with my setup. Daily driving it's muted and minimalist, and if I want for the holidays or other items, have a little RGB. (Though I really wish hardware playback was an option - my only gripe is since the new release of Link, when booting or shutting down it has to go back to rainbow bright -which sucks at 5AM and wakes up the Mrs.)

 

Though for kicks I put on my max profile and lol @ 2500RPM. Boy does it move a ton of air at that point. I took your suggestion and moved the radiator fans over to the Commander Pro so there's no fans connected to the H100i. It freed up a couple fan extensions as well since the ML has such long cables.

 

Thanks again for the help, looking forward to eventually replacing the AF's down the line with LL when I get more RGB centric. (Right now only using a few strips and the built in Asus stuff for GPU/MB/RAM) [Or more money, $130 for 140mm x3 :(]

Edited by gunner007dc
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