Noctua NF-S12B FLX vs. Thermaltake ISGC Fan

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Product(s): Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 Case Fan
Provided By: Thermaltake

Price:

Product(s): Noctua NF-S12B FLX Case Fan
Provided By:
Noctua
Price:

Introduction: 

Today we’ve got a bit of a different head-to-head article for you, we’re taking the Noctua NF-S12B FLX fan and putting it up against the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12. Now I know what you’re thinking already, “Who cares, they are just case fans”, and in a sense your right, however when you bring home your next new case and power it up and it sounds like a jet about to take off you’ll be glad you read this review. Both of these fans are designed to take that noisy case and bring it down to a reasonable level without sacrificing airflow and temperatures.

 

First Impressions - Noctua NF-S12B FLX:

The Noctua NF-S12B FLX comes from a long line of cooling from the folks over at Noctua, and this 120mm fan uses adapters to let you run the fan at either 1200, 900 or 600 RPM which should allow you to find a good mix of airflow and noise. The NF-S12B FLX is a redefined version of Noctua’s original NF-S12 fans. Noctua’s original NF-S12 fans become known for excellent air flow to noise ratio, and Noctua has tried to take the new NF-S12B FLX fans to the next level with some engineering enhancements. The biggest change is the addition of beveled fan blades which aim to reduce noise and airflow by up to 10%.

Let's take a closer look at the Noctua NF-S12B FLX 120mm fan.

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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Box Front
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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Box Back

 
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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Box Back (Open)
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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Inside of the Bo


 

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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Front View
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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Back View

 

As you can see in the picture below, the fan blades of the Noctua NF-S12B FLX have a bit of a different design thanks to the notched ends. This is done to achieve more airflow with less noise, both of which are good things. Head on over to Noctua for the full explanation of why they went with a new type of fan blade design and what it means for performance.

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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Fan Blade Design
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Noctua NF-S12B FLX - Accessories

 

 

Noctua NF-S12B FLX Specifications:

All specifications have been taken from Noctua.at

Highly optimized impeller with Beveled Blade Tips
Thanks to its further refined blade geometry with extended leading edges and Beveled Blade Tips, the NF-S12B achieves up to 10% more airflow and static pressure than its much acclaimed predecessor at the same noise level.

3 speed settings for full flexibility
Providing 1200, 900 and 600 rpm speed settings via the supplied Low-Noise and Ultra-Low-Noise Adapters, the FLX (Flexibility) version can be fine-tuned for superior airflow or maximum quietness.

Smooth Commutation Drive 2
The latest version of Noctua’s advanced SCD drive system ensures superb running smoothness by eliminating torque variations and switching noises.

SSO-Bearing
Noctua’s time-tested SSO-Bearing technology has become synonymous with supremely quiet operation and exceptional long-term stability.

 

 

Detailed Specifications

Size 120x120x25 mm
Bearing SSO-Bearing
Blade Geometry NF-S12B Blade Design with BBT
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 900 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 600 RPM
Airflow 100,6 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A. 75,8 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A. 49,2 m³/h
Acoustical Noise 18,1 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 10,6 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A. 6,2* dB(A)
Static Pressure 1,31 mm H2O
Static Pressure with L.N.A. 0,76 mm H2O
Static Pressure with U.L.N.A. 0,34 mm H2O
Input Power 1,2 W
Input Current 0,1 A
Voltage Range 12 V
MTBF > 150.000 h
Scope of Delivery
  • Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • 4 Vibration Compensators
  • 3:4-Pin Adaptor
  • 4 Fan Screws
Warranty 6 years

 

 


 

First Impressions - Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12:

The Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 is a new release from Thermaltake and they’ve gone with a unique fan blade design which reduces noise by 3% and also increases air flow by 15%. In addition to the new fan blade design, Thermaltake has went with a Hydro Dynamic Bearing for the fan which is used to help reduce noise but also help extend the lifetime of the fan (up to 50,000 hours).  The ISGC line of fans from Thermaltake is available as individual fans, but they are also being used for Thermaltake’s ISGC line of CPU Coolers (ISGC stands for “Inspiration of Silent Gaming Cooling”).

 

 

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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Box Front
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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Box Contents

 
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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Accessories
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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Notched Fan Blades
 
As you can see in the pictures above and below, the fan blade design on the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 is a bit different than previous case fans from Thermaltake. The fan blade is notched, which is designed to help improve airflow and reduce noise at the same time.
 
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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Fan Blades
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Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 - Fan Speed Controller

 

Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 Specifications:

All Specifications taken from Thermaltake.com

Attractive Appearance
Fans don’t need to always be the same. ISGC Fan 12’s unique fan blade design cannot only reduce the noise, it is also absolutely good-looking. Unlike other fans’ conservative design, Thermaltake makes ISGC Fan 12 a good example of aesthetics. Its flower-like blade design can highlight user’s different taste.

Unique Fan Design
The unique fan blade shape increases 15% airflow and reduces 3% of total noise

VR Fan Speed Control
By using the know, users can adjust the fan speed (800-1300RPM) according to their needs. This function can let the user have more options to choose silence of performance.

 

Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 Detailed Specifications

Fan Dimension    120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan Speed    800 ~ 1300 RPM
Fan Speed Control    Adjustable Manual Fan Speed Control
LED Color   

n/a

Bearing Type    Hydro Dynamic Bearing
Noise Level    16 dBA
Max. Air Flow    58.3 CFM
Max. Air Pressure    1.42 mm H2O
Power Connector    3-pin
Rated Voltage    12 V
Started Voltage    7 V
Rated Current    0.10 A (Max. 0.33 A)
Static Pressure   
Operation Temperature   
Power Input    1.20 W (Max. 3.96 W)
MTBF    50000 Hrs @ 25℃
Weight    157 g

 

 

 


 

Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 vs. Noctua NF-S12B - Comparison:

So now that we've taken a closer look at both of these fans, and before we get too far in to the review, let’s take a look at the technical differences between the two fans. The biggest things of note when comparing case fans is fan speed, noise, and airflow. In this section I will compare both fans against each other in those three categories.

 

Fan Speed Comparison:


Noctua – 1200/900/600 RPM, this is achieved using fan adapters.

Thermaltake – 800-1300 RPM, this is achieved using a variable fan controller built into the fan’s cable

What does this mean:

Depending on what type of application you are using these case fans for will maybe change your decision from one fan to the other, however in 95% of applications you’re going to install the fan and set it to a level that works for you and then never touch it again for a long period of time, and in those cases it doesn’t really matter how you control the fan speed as long as you can get it to a level that works for you.

 

Airflow Comparison:

Noctua
@ 1200 RPM – 59.21 CFM (100.6 m^3/hr)
@ 900 RPM – 44.61 CFM (75.8 m^3/hr)
@ 600 RPM – 28.96 CFM (49.2 m^3/hr)

Thermaltake
@1300 RPM 58.3 CFM (99.05 m^3/hr)

 

 


What does this mean?

More airflow is generally going to mean lower temperatures in your case, more airflow is generally also going to mean more noise also, and you’ll need to find a happy medium between the two. In most case applications you’re not going to need crazy amounts of airflow, but rather just a steady airflow to move the heat out of the case. Both of these fans are pushing about the same amount of air at their highest speeds, and both will be pushing about the same at their minimum speeds, so if you’re looking for max airflow, we’ll call it a tie.

 

Noise Comparison:

One of the biggest questions people have about buying new case fans is "How quiet is it?". Let's compare these two fans to see just how quiet they really are.

 

Noctua
@ 1200 RPM – 18.1 dBA
@ 900 RPM – 10.6 dBA
@ 600 RPM – 6.2 dBA

Thermaltake
@ 1300 RPM – 16 dBA

 


What does this mean:

The differences between 18.1 dBA and 16dBA are going to be unnoticeable to the human ear, so both are going to make about the same amount of noise when running at full, so when comparing noise while running at maximum speed we’re going to have to call this a tie also. At minimum speeds both of these fans are pretty much silent, so we’ll also call noise while running at low speeds a tie. The biggest thing to note is that both of these fans are huge improvements over older case fans which were able to get up into the 30-40 dBA range depending on how fast they were running (a 4000 RPM 120mm fan could reach 59dBA), both fans offer noticeable improvement over a generic 120mm case fan and both could very easily help you reduce noise while still keeping decent airflow in your case.

 

 


 

Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 vs. Noctua NF-S12B FLX Testing:

 

Testing:

Test Setup:

For AMD (AM2+) testing we will be using the AMD Phenom X4 Quad-Core 9950 CPU, which produces 140 Watts of heat and is currently one of the hottest running processors available. This processor should give us a very good estimate of how a cooler will perform with one of the hottest CPU's available. Click here to go to AMD's Processor Spec Finder to find out how many of watts your AMD processor is producing.

For all testing, we have taken all temperatures using CoreTemp v.0.99.4. CoreTemp takes a temperature from the CPU core, and allows for much more uniform results across different motherboard and CPU platforms. These temperatures may seem higher than other temperature recordings; because chances are they are taking temperature recordings using the diode underneath the CPU, which isn't able to be as accurate, and can really fluctuate between different brands of motherboards.

For all tests I used Arctic Cooling MX-2 High-Performance Thermal Compound. We use the same thermal paste in all our testing so that we can keep our results consistent.

For testing of these case fans we have recorded our numbers using stock AMD cooling with no case fans, and once again with each of the fans we are testing.


AMD Test System:

Here comes the big test.....

 

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Click on Chart for Larger View

 

After all of our testing, we’ve seen that both of these two case fans are a great upgrade and help reduce temperatures. Both of these fans feature the ability to adjust your fan speeds to a level that is suitable for your case, and both of these fans will help you reduce the noise coming from your computer. In all the categories we looked at both the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 and the Noctua NF-S12B FLX fans  both were very similar and both are a great choice, so unfortunately we didn’t make your buying decision any easier (and both fans retail for approximately the same amount ~$19.99 USD).  While it’s pretty much impossible to crown a winner between these two fans, we’re going to have to just settle for a tie.

 

 


 

 

Both fans we've tested today have performed very well, and thanks to engineering improvements found in both fans, the noise and airflow are much better than previous fans from both companies have been. Just when you thought that there wasn't anything new in the case fan world, companies like Noctua and Thermaltake prove you wrong.

I'll break down my final thoughts for each of these fans individually below.

 

Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 Case Fan Final Thoughts:

Thermaltake has produced quite a few 120mm fans over the years, but this new ISGC Fan 12 is really quite an improvement, and as our testing and comparison went on the ISGC showed that it is a great fan. Both the airflow and the noise reduction when compared to previous Thermaltake is noticeable, and it’s not too surprising that they are putting these fans onto their ISGC line of CPU Coolers. The Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 comes with rubber fan mounts to help reduce vibrations, as well as a 4-to-3 pin adapter to allow you to plug your fan into your computers power supply instead of the fan headers on your motherboard. This fan also features a VR Fan Speed Control built into the cable which will allow you to easily and quickly adjust your fan speed on the fly.

 

The biggest thing most people ask about a case fan is "How quiet is it?", and if that's your first question, you'll be very happy with the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12. Even at max speeds you probably won't be able to hear it over other system noise, however if you're really concerned about noise (and the rest of your system is virtually silent), running the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 at the lowest speeds will make it as close to silent as you will get with a case fan.

At the end of the day I can easily recommend the Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12 case fan to anyone looking for a great 120mm case fan. The ISGC Fan 12 is definitely an improvement over older case fans, and is a good choice when compared to other case fans, and for those reasons has earned our “Editor’s Choice” award.

Pros:

  • Excellent Performance
  • Improved Design
  • Easy Fan Speed Adjustment
  • Good Value

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

BCCRating

 

Editor's Choice

 

Noctua NF-S12B FLX 120mm Case Fan Final Thoughts:

The original Noctua NF-S12 fans were a great choice if you needed a new case fan or an upgrade for a old fan, and now the NF-S12B FLX fan is a even better choice and improves on an already great fan. Like other Noctua products, the NF-S12B FLX that we took a look at feature RPM control by using fan adapters, the NF-S12B FLX comes with 2 adapters and can run at 1200, 900, or 600 RPM, which should suit most applications. The MSRP is ~$19.99 USD and it comes with rubber fan mounts as well as a 4-to-3 pin power adapter so you can plug it into your computers power supply if you’ve run out of fan headers on your motherboard. The NF-S12B fan also comes with a 6 year warranty and offers a lifespan of approximately 150,000 hours so chances are good that this fan will easily outlive the computer you put it into.

Biggest question about fans is always about how quiet they are, and the Noctua NF-S12B FLX does not disappoint. Even at its max speed, the NF-S12B FLX is pretty quiet and chances are good you won't be able to hear it over top of other system noise. If you are really worried about case noise you can slow the fan speed down even more and when running at low speeds this fan is virtually silent, which makes it a great choice if you're trying to reduce noise levels in your case.

At the end of the day it’s pretty easy to recommend the Noctua NF-S12B FLX case fan. The quality of this product is great, and the performance is an improvement over most case fans (as well as an improvement over earlier Noctua fans). The Noctua NF-S12B FLX 120mm case fan has earned our “Editor’s Choice” award and is a great fan that is worthy of your consideration.

 

Pros:

  • Excellent Performance
  • Improved Design and Performance
  • Good Value
  • Extra Long Lifespan (~150,000 Hours)

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

BCCRating

 Editor's Choice

 

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