Noiseblocker B12-PS: Gabe's Mini-ReviewWith minor M12-PS and M8-PS notesIntroduction & Configuration
I recently finished my first build ever, an mATX Hackintosh. My goals were fourfold: near native OS X, powerful, small, and quiet. Since I wouldn't have OS-level fan control, I was going to rely on BIOS-level fan control. My Maximus V Gene is supposed
to be able to dial PWM fans down to any level duty cycle, whereas it cannot go below 60% on voltage control. Couple that with the horizontal fan mounts of my Silverstone FT03 and open-corner fan clips on my Venomous X Black, and the Noiseblocker B12-PS looked like a very good gamble.
I used three B12-PS, one M12-PS, and one M8-PS. The B12 fans went into my bottom intake, heatsink pull fan, and case exhaust. The M12-PS went in my center angled intake bracket, which is supposed to be a vibration culprit. The M8-PS was placed in the odd GPU exhaust bracket. I had to mount the B12 exhaust "outside" the case (on the FT03, this is no big deal because a grill goes over the top panel anyway) because otherwise it would interfere with the unusual mPCIe combo card on my motherboard. I've lined the back, front, and one side panel with acoustic foam, but I wasn't hyper-aggressive about noise blocking (this is a very "leaky" case).
>>>Subjective Impressions and Notes (Click to show)
The frame is quite nice, it feels sturdy and looks good. The silicone corner inserts are much less fussy than the multiframes and their loose "faceplate ring;" they effectively cushion the frame against whatever you mount the fan on. The fan screws are in turn threaded through soft silicone inserts, so vibration is not transmitted very easily.
I greatly appreciated the modular cable design, as it meant I could easily choose the right cable length for each fan. For my M8-PS and M12-PS I had to loop excess cable, but for each B12 I was able to use a long or short length where appropriate. The cables are sleeved in black, and I also liked that the white/red cables (on the fan itself, before the modular connector) matched my system colors.
Unfortunately, my motherboard's manual LIES (this is confirmed on the ASUS forum), and PWM fans cannot be set lower than 60% duty cycle. For my B12-PS fans, this equates to ~800±50 RPM.
At that RPM, the B12-PS are certainly "quiet" in a subjective sense (this is in a very quiet room mind you), but they are definitely still audible. The noise characteristic is not bad. Sitting about 1 meter from the exhaust fan, I forget them most of the time. But I wish I could assess how they are at about 500 RPM. Maybe with my next BIOS revision...
Bringing myself much closer (less than half a meter), there is a subtle but audible motor tick noise. It sounds a little bit like a laptop hard drive seek noise, but quite soft. At one meter that noise is virtually inaudible. Again at close distance, if I turn my head 90° so my ear is facing the fan, there is a slight high-pitched overtone at all RPMs. Again, this is not audible at normal sitting distance.
When the fans rev up to ~1150+, the noise becomes a bit more tonal. It's still not bad, and in my computer they only get that high when stress testing with Prime95 or somesuch. Even during games at max settings at 1920x1200, my system doesn't get hot enough to make the fans call attention to themselves.
I wish I had some kind of hard data for you guys, or more valuable opinions (remember this is my first build!). I am aware that these fans have not set new reference levels in tests, and that they have issues in pull configuration. For what it is worth, my B12-PS in pull on the Venomous X doesn't seem to be obviously bad.
- Look great, unusual design is a conversation piece
- Wide PWM range with low min RPM, HOWEVER I was not able to test below 750 RPM due to my mobo's BIOS limits
- Easy and effective anti-vibration mounting design
- Open corners work with most heatsink fan clips
- New bearing is specifically rated to handle horizontal mounting
- Modular cable design is a boon to small form factor builders
- Pleasing enough tonal character at normal sitting distance
- Decent noise-to-CFM
- Some anti-dust properties, but I didn't have any practical way to test this
- COST! These are way too expensive in the USA, and even too expensive in Europe. NB's Multiframe series, which seem to perform better sonically, are already in this stratospheric price tier.
- eLoop design seems irrelevant. Cool in theory, but the end result is much like any other premium fan. Other reviews allege that the even-bladed design results in resonance noises, too.
- Alleged pull noise; I didn't specifically note this, but it's possible it's getting lost amidst the other fans or subdued by my soundproofing. Or I just am not experienced enough to ID it.
- Mild tonal quality at higher RPMs. It's not annoying, but it does exist.
- Slight motor tick noise at very close distances NOPE, my bad, this was just my PSU acting up and buzzing a bit (softly, and it was hard to isolate).
Ultimately I am satisfied with these fans, and I think they were an interesting experiment that works for my build, but I could not recommend them at their current price. At those levels, the Multiframes (or Gentle Typhoons, or other fans) might be a better bet. But if, like me, you are concerned with horizontal mounting, wide-range low-min-RPM PWM function, aesthetics, and case/clip constraints, the B12 series is certainly worth a look.Edited by Gabedamien - 10/6/12 at 7:28pm