Case fans are a very important part of your case. They assist the rest of your cooling system in getting rid of the hot air from the system. Now anyone can go and pick up a leaf blower and just stick it in front of their tower and say they are done, but there are other requirements to a case fan besides being able to blow a lot of air.
Noise, for one thing, is becoming more and more important to users. Most people actually like to be able to hear other things in the room instead of the whine of a 6000rpm fan. Usability is another section that is important to a computer user. Fan controllers are becoming more and more popular because they allow the user to throttle the fan to their needs. Pump up the air flow when they are doing intensive work or overclocking, while still being able to throttle the fan down for some near silent operation. Finally, appearances are becoming more and more important. Many computer owners have modified cases with windows and lighting setups, so you want your case fans to fit right in.
The two Aerocool case fans that we are looking at today may be just what the doctor ordered. Aerocool has just recently released the X series of case fans. "X For Extremity", as they say, are fans that are aimed at computer users who care about cooling. The X-Flow which is designed to be the best of both worlds, uses an included fan controller where you can either run the fan in silent mode, full speed or anywhere in between. The other new line of fans that Aerocool has released is the Aluminum line. These fans feature an aluminum design, quad-led lighted fins, and are geared towards silent operation.
The fan itself is a standard design. Aerocool decided to use a black casing with clear fan blades.
The X-Flow comes with a fan controller which gets mounted into one of your expansion slots on the back of your case. Although this is not the most convenient of locations (most fan controllers are located on the front) it still does work. A large silver knob is mounted in the center which is how you control the fan speed.
Included in the package is 3-pin to 4-pin adapter, which is a welcomed added feature. Most motherboards only have 3 connectors for fans, so the included adapter will allow for most users to be able to utilize the fan.
The Aluminum Blue
The Aluminum Blue uses a slightly more exotic design. An aluminum casing and clear blades are used. The blades are rounded for a more silent operation. The Aluminum fan I received is lighted by four blue LEDs but other combinations are available. Once again Aerocool includes a 3-pin to 4-pin adapter.
Testing was accomplished using the following system:
AMD 1700+ @ 12.5 x 166 @ 1.55 volts
Asus A7N8X Deluxe Revision 2.0
Enermax CS5107 with 1x92mm intake and 1x80mm exhaust
Windows XP SP1
Aerocool Deep Impact DP-102 heat sink
Aerocool Aluminum LED Fan (RPM: 2000, DBA: 20.3, CFM: 21.5)
Aerocool X-Flow (RPM: 2000~3500, DBA: 21.8~38.3, CFM: 22.9~41.1)
Aerocool Case Fan (RPM: 2500, DBA: 24.6, CFM: 31.5)
All fans were installed on the Aerocool Deep Impact DP-102 heatsink in a single fan setup. Load temperatures were acquired by running the system for 30 minutes with Folding@Home running. Here are the results of the tests:
|Aerocool with 2 Alum (Blow Blow) Load
|Aerocool with 2 Alum (Blow Blow) Idle
|Aerocool with 2 Alum (Blow Suck) Load
|Aerocool with 2 Alum (Blow Suck) Idle
|Aerocool with 1 Alum Load
|Aerocool with 1 Alum Idle
|Aerocool with Aerocool Aluminum LED Load
|Aerocool with Aerocool Aluminum LED Idle
|Aerocool with X-Flow High Load
|Aerocool with X-Flow High Idle
|Aerocool with X-Flow Low Load
|Aerocool with X-Flow Low Idle
As you can see it is quite a range. Starting with the X-Flow we can see that at the highest fan speed it performs excellently. Temperatures are close to that of the DP-102 with 2 fans installed. Noise levels at this speed are pretty good too. The fan is easily drowned out by my other case fans. At low speed however it is just too slow. Temperatures started to spike, and my computer became unstable, giving me multiple random restarts. Obviously this case fan at its lowest speed cannot push enough air to adequately cool the DP-102's superconductor tube. One thing to note on a positive side is that at the lowest setting this fan is dead silent. The X-Flow is actually silent to about three-quarters full speed. After that you start to notice the fan, but it is definitely no screamer.
The Aerocool Aluminum LED fan performed pretty well for what it was designed for. It is designed for silent operation, which inevitably means less air flow. Temperatures were higher than all of the other case fans, but that is because of the limited amount of air flow. The thing that really surprised me was the X-Flow set to its lowest speed reportedly pushes slightly more air than the Aluminum LED fan. The reason this surprises me is because the Aluminum LED fan performed better than the X-Flow at its lowest speed. This leads me to believe that either the X-Flow pushes less than reported air flow at its lowest setting or the Aerocool Aluminum LED supplies a higher CFM than reported.
While any Joe Blow can install a 200CFM screamer fan in his rig, his cooling may be good but his hearing won't be after a while. You can then go to the other extreme and have a totally silent system that will run hotter than a volcano. This is why fan controllers are so popular. They allow the end-user to adjust the speed/sound level of their fans, and set them appropriately. Separate fan controllers can run a pretty penny so other options need to be available.
The X-Flow is an interesting case fan because it includes a fan speed controller which gets mounted in one of your extra pci-slots. Although having the knob at the back of the computer is not the most easiest to access, it still does work. The X-Flow provides just the right mix of airflow and noise at its highest setting, where it lacks in airflow at the lowest setting. At the lowest setting it just did not provide enough airflow, and caused my system to become unstable. I would recommend this fan for the part-time overclocker, as it allows for adjustment to bump up the airflow when you really need it.
Aerocool Aluminum Blue
Silent operation is becoming more and more popular these days. As stated above, anyone can hook up an extremely high CFM/Noise fan to their system. The only problem is the noise level. The Aerocool Aluminum LED case fan is an exact opposite of a high CFM/Db fan. It's a good thing it lights up or else I would have not known it was running. The fan is very quiet, but it is still able to push almost 22CFM of air. The silent operation is mainly due to the fin design on the fan; they are rounded to provide a more silent operation.
The four blue LEDs light up the fan pretty good. They are no competition to the newer CCFL fans but they still glow brightly. If you have no other lighting in your case you will defiantly notice this fan. The Aluminum surround is also a pretty neat design, being a nice break from the standard black plastic.
Pros: Included fan controller, fairly quiet at highest setting, dead silent at lowest setting,
Cons: Low airflow at lowest setting, pci-slot fan controller (hard to access)
Pros: Silent operation, lights up bright, aluminum base
Cons: Low CFM
Both of these case fans are good for their target market. The Aluminum Blue fan lights up brightly and is dead silent. The X-Flow included fan controller is a welcome addition and seems to work well.
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