30/01/2010 by The Sorcerer
Fans!! Its more complex than one thinks! For pc cases, heatsinks, NB/SB, rams, graphic cards, hard drives, external hard drives etc. I have few of them, some really old 40mm fans from the ye old p4 Williamette stepping to 120mm fans from noctua and from antec. There are many types of fans other than ball bearing and sleeve bearing but for this blog post, we’ll talk about ball bearing and sleeve bearing. I emailed ADDA, NMB, scythe, panaflo and delta fans, out of them “xxxxx” companies replied back. The credits goes to them for giving the knowledge and answering my doubts
Before contuing further, these are pretty important stuff to judge case fans so that you can separate men from boys and really loud mouths:
Operating temperature: Fans live up-to their advertised lifespan depending on the operating temps, just like power supplies. Since in India its pretty hot and/or humid majority of the time, we’ll take the operating temps between 40~50 degrees in this article, just like how some reviewers prefer to test power supplies. Why is this important? Because this influences lifespan and lifespan depends on operational temperature and the lubrication type.
Lubrication type: Sleeve and ball bearing need lubrication within their bearings.
Noise: One of the most important points to keep in mind about fans. You might get a which might push a lot of air but end up with a really noisy fan- like this one. For the curious but don’t wanna check that out, its a Delta TFB1212GHE which is rated 40+dBA.
Lifespan: To make it more clear, the lifespan of the case fans which are lubricated by the company themselves. The lifespan of the lubrication depends on not only the bearing type, but also the RPM, quality of the lubrication already present in the fans and the operational temps, again we will stick to 40-50 degrees.
Connector type: For those who do not know, case fans comes with either usual molex, 3 pin pwn and 4 pin pwn connector. FYI, PWN= Pulse width modulation.
Molex: When connecting the fan using the molex (peripheral) connector, the fan runs in full power. You can’t control the speed, unless you undervolt/over-volt the connectors. However there are some fans like in antec 900 which comes with a 3 speed controller viz. pre-fitted with the fans itself. The 3 speed “speed controller” is actually a Slide potentiometer which can be used to decrease/increase voltages. You slide the potentiometer it controls the voltages ((I think 5, 7 and 12v but I am not too sure so sure about it)) and therefore the speed is increased is increased/decreased.
3/4 PWN connectors: They do the same job as the slide potentiometer where it decreases/increases the voltage to increase/decrease the fan speed. Main advantage is that you can use those those fan controllers which comes as a pci slot or as a 3.25/5.25 bay controller. You get sunbeam pci fan controller and nzxt, sunbeam and also lian li’s bay controller as well. However, AFAIK most of these bay controllers I saw comes with their own thermal diodes, another headache IMO.
Bearings do matter a lot however. After doing some minor research on ball bearing fans, I found some types of ball bearing types that are used in case fans. They are:
Single ball bearing
Dual/double ball bearing
mixed ball/sleeve bearing
Ceramic ball bearing
So!! Which one do we get in India? AFAIK, single and double ball bearings, but as far as what I learnt so far that there is a quality difference (material of the bearing and the lubrication) between them and since manufacturers don’t make a point to specifically point out the good, the bad and the noisy! NMB and delta make pretty good fans, better than these CM ball bearing fans and I think they somewhat cost the same. Question comes, why not buy delta and NMB fans? Does really want LED fans?
Zoombas and I had a conversation once about LED fans. He told me that one is better off getting good enough non LED fans and getting couple of CCFL tubes. If you think about it, 1 LED fan isn’t bright enough to lit the whole case like a “smurf” xmas tree and there’s no option to turn the damn LED off, but if you get 1 of those CCFL tubes, depending on the size of the case 1 tube is more than enough to illuminate every corner of the system and you aren’t stuck with the only light option being blue- you get green, white and red (iirc), besides best part about CCFL lights is that they are pleasing to the eyes.
The point is do some basic research. There is options for people who are willing to spend 200-250 bucks for a case fan and people spending 700-800+ bucks on fans that makes your system look like some pimp’s crib. Does it matter? Well yeah. But it doesn’t matter to you, then you aren’t one of guys who want to rightfully earn their right to call themselves as “hardware enthusiasts”. It all depends on research and the best place to start research? Well, we still do have google for a reason, yeah?