Date: May 25th, 2007
Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Noctua
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The packaging for all three fans is very similar, consisting of a cardboard box with a window to give the consumer a glimpse of what's inside. A clear plastic tray holds the fan and accessories.
PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH
The fans themselves have a cream-colored frame and brown fan. While this color combo is not my personal favorite, it is different and will leave no doubt as to whose fans you're running in your rig. The three-wire fantail is sleeved in a black mesh material, secured with black heatshrink and terminates in a three-pin connector. The Noctua owl logo is proudly displayed in the center of the frame.
Aside from the fan itself, you'll get a 3- to 4- pin adapter, the ULNA adapter, four silicone vibration compensating mounts and a bag containing four conventional fan mounting screws. If you look closely, you can see the heatshrink-covered resistor soldered in the red lead of the ULNA.
This photo shows the difference in the blade design between the 120mm and 80mm fans. Noctua calls the 120mm design “straight-blade,” while the 80mm fan has their “raised-blade” design. Both 120mm fans have the “straight-blade” configuration. So why all the attention to blade design? Here's what Noctua has to say.
“The Straight-Blade-Design of the NF-S12 series provides the maximum efficiency of a straight fan blade without the drawback of higher noise emission, which arises when straight blades are used at higher rotation speeds. At the low rotation speeds of the NF-S series, the Noctua Straight-Blade-Design achieves a significantly higher flow rate than forward or backward swept blade designs. Furthermore, among other measures to prevent vortices like the rounded rotor hub, the distance between rotor and stator (tip clearance) was increased in order to reduce the problem of tip vortices which plays an important part in the noise emission of axial fans. With its fan blade exactly tailored to ultra low noise application, the NF-S12 series is significantly more quiet than other high end silent fans .”
I don't get many fans for evaluation here in the lab, and I don't have the resources or equipment to either validate or dispute Noctua's specifications. Consequently, the testing phase of this review will consist of my subjective observations and impressions of these products. I've built scores of systems for various applications and have used most of the cooling fans on the market at one time or another, so I do have an experience base upon which I'll depend to judge the Noctua fan offerings.
As fans go, these Noctua specimens are pretty impressive. Plugged straight into the PSU, they weren't silent, but the noise produced was quite different than the vast majority of other fans I've used. While most fans emit a distinctive “whirring” sound, the sound from the Noctua units was lower in frequency and easily masked by the background room noise. After a very few minutes, my ears seemed to “lose” the Noctua fans. With the ULNA's in place, the fans became completely inaudible from a distance of more than a few inches. Similarly, the airflow performance was quite good, considering their silence.