Arctic Fan Roundup

Having tested four 120 mm fans from Arctic, I am in a good position to compare their models. I tested their PWM versions. I assume they perform similarly to their temperature controlled and voltage controlled variants. As you will see, the star of this article is the F12 Pro, but not in a good way. The models I have are

Prior to this comparison, I had measurements for 8 fans from various brands, and found that the Arctic BioniX model was the best performer. This motivated me to try other Arctic fans, especially the “Continuous Operation” fan, which is marketed as being more reliable, or at least designed for “continuous operation 24/7.” That is definitely a good design goal, but I find it odd that they don’t describe how reliable their other fans are. Are you supposed to only use Arctic fans for a only few hours at a time, and then they need a rest? Oddly, the CO model is cheaper than the BioniX model. Possibly the BioniX model is priced higher largely for its aesthetics.

Enough speculation! Here is my report, which you can generate at bench.pcfanreviews.com.

The Arctic F12 Pro is my new worst performer. Objectively it performs like the Nidec Servo Gentle Typhoon, which costs three times more, but subjectively the Gentle Typhoon is a heavier, more sturdy fan and so I would hope it is more reliable and has other good qualities.

The F12 Pro is a larger fan due to its depth of 38.5 mm rather than the standard 25 mm, and so it should perform better than average. Despite having 54% more volume for its bearing and fins, it performs worse than almost anything else.

I almost can’t enough bad things about the F12 Pro. Its performance isn’t its only problem. It only has mounting holes on one side, so if you want to reverse the airflow direction, you have to mount it on the outside of your case. It costs a dollar more than the F12. Its frame is flimsy and so if you hold it while it’s operating, the blades hit the frame. The blades cut me when I touched them. I was giving it a hug! Stupid fan. Noctua fans like hugs.

I’m not done. Its PWM control works backwards! At 10% duty cycle it barely spins, which is fine. At 7% it stops. From 6% to 0% it ramps back to full speed!

The other fans perform well. For quiet operation, the vanilla F12 appears to be the best of them, while for higher performance, the CO model is better. If I could afford it and didn’t want to deal with fan failures, I’d purchase the CO fan. Unfortunately I don’t have anything beyond Arctic’s marketing to base that opinion on. It is, however, a very good performer as far as its noise and airflow. Never buy the F12 Pro.

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