Date Posted: September 23, 2002
With the modern processor hitting temperatures in excess of 50C under load, heatsinks have gotten bigger, and fans getting louder. These loud fans are the result of the incredible CFM most of them put out, and although they do the job well, the noise can be unbearable for some. There are lower RPM fans available, which are more or less silent, but the paltry airflow that usually accompanies it doesn't make for the friendliest overclocking environment.
Thermal controlled fans are really nothing new. There are several manufacturers producing them, and the Vantec Thermoflow is just another. The question is, what separates Vantec's fans from the others? Before we begin, here are the specifications ripped right off their ...
Right off the bat, we can see that Vantec's temperature range is a little more forgiving than others. Starting at 25C, the fan starts to speed up until it levels off at 50C. Up until recently, I would have said that the 50C is a little high, as I wouldn't think most cases would reach that temperature. However, I recently acquired a Shuttle XPC SS51, which is a small form factor PC. After loading it up with all my equipment, I realized that cooling is actually a concern with this case.
Although we received several case fans of various sizes, I'm going to be focussing the review on the 80mm fan. All the fans are similar in design, save for the size differences.
I was a little surprised that a 4 pin molex connection is required, as the fan doesn't really draw a lot of power. A fan monitor connection is included so that you can keep an eye on the fan speed if you so desire.
Pictured above is the sensor. Like the Thermaltake Smart Fan, I don't really feel that this is the best position for it as the sensor isn't really in the "hot" areas. commented that the fan probably wouldn't make a good intake fan. I'd have to agree as the cooler air being drawn into the case would never allow for the fan to spin at the higher RPM levels. The fan would be better suited for exhaust or perhaps a silent heatsink application.
Testing and Final Words
Like I mentioned earlier, testing was done on a Shuttle XPC SS51. Along with the 2.4GHz CPU, we've added a 7200rpm HDD, a GeForce 4 Ti4600 and a 24X Plextor. No joke, system temperatures regularly hit 52C. Now, I am going to have to investigate this a little closer, but the system does come stock with a relatively slow spinning fan. With the Vantec Thermoflow, case temperatures were a little better at 49C. Noise levels were acceptable, but it is noticably louder than the stock solution.
We also tested the Thermoflow on an Athlon 1700+/Swiftech heatsink. Previously, the combination was equipped with a Thermaltake Smart Fan 2. Load temperatures after 20 minutes of Prime95 were 49C. With the Thermoflow, temperatures were unchanged, although the Thermoflow ran much quieter.
As you've probably guessed, we were fairly satisfied with the Thermoflow. I do think that Vantec should redesign the fan so that it reaches it's maximum RPM at a lower temperature. In the Shuttle PC, the fan was running near maximum capacity (3346 RPM), and wasn't loud enough to be a distraction to me. The price is right as well. I've spotted them in local retail stores for about 18$ Canadian, which is only about 5$ more than generic, and 2$ cheaper than Thermaltake's solutions.
Pros: Fairly priced, decent performance, not terribly noisy.
Cons: Peak speeds require case temperatures higher than most people will likely never achieve.
Bottom Line: This isn't the best performing fan I've used, but it wasn't designed to be a 80cfm monster. It is the best thermal controlled fan we've tested thus far though.
Agree? Disagree? Discuss it in our forums.