Test Phanteks’ T30-120: Beat Noctua’s best
A few months ago, when I went to Phanteks to pick up the plane Review case, I saw something in the corner of my eye: a fan I hadn’t seen before. I asked about it, but was quickly told that I shouldn’t have seen that, and quickly closed the door. Fast forward to today, I have four Phanteks T30-120 fans on the test bench, and a wind tunnel to let it pass its pace.
What Phanteks told me at the time was that this fan would be better than Noctua’s best spinner, winning its performance with a healthy advantage. Of course, I’m skeptical, but now it’s coming, and voila, the T30-120 is actually very good. Because Phanteks claims that the T30-120 is the ultimate fan, I relentlessly compared it with the Noctua NF-A12x25-it is the benchmark for the best fans on the market today.
Let’s learn more.
What is the secret of T30-120?
Very similar to Noctua’s flagship fan NF-A12x25, the T30-120 is made of forward-swept fan blades made of liquid crystal polymer (LCP) material, with the edge very close to the frame, only 0.5 mm, to achieve maximum static pressure. However, although Noctua’s spinner has nine blades, Phanteks’ T30-120 has only seven. Unlike Noctua’s fan, the frame of T30-120 is also made of LCP material, and rubber anti-vibration pads are glued at the corners, so there is no radiator gasket.
In the center, you will see the fan’s motor, which is a three-phase wheel hub made by SUNON with magnetically suspended double vapo bearings. This is an extremely quiet and stable motor with a long rated service life. It is also a very powerful motor because the fan can spin at speeds up to 3000 RPM.
However, there is another reason why the hub must be very powerful, and this is the real secret of how the T30-120 outperforms Noctua: Phanteks is a bit…cheating. Okay, my child. But unlike most 120mm fans, T30-120 does not limit itself to the 25mm frame thickness standard. On the contrary, as the name suggests, the T30 has a thickness of 30 mm, which provides 25% space for larger fan blades, thereby improving performance. Of course, since it is no longer a 120x120x25mm fan, this technique has a slight difference in performance improvement to a certain extent, but performance is still performance. And many fan applications can accommodate thicker fans.
One SKU rules all
When leaving the factory, the T30-120 is configured to rotate at a speed of “only” 2000 RPM and respond to the PWM signal in a linear manner. To reach 3000 RPM, you must flip the switch on the back of the fan to pop it into “Advanced” mode. But please use this mode carefully, because it is too fast, if you touch it during operation, you will hurt your fingers in the fan.
For mute lovers who are too lazy to set their own PWM curve, there is another mode: hybrid. This limits the maximum rotation speed to only 1200 RPM and completely shuts off the fan when the PWM signal is below 50%.
Having all these different modes when switching on and off is actually a good way to keep the product line simple and provide customers with ease and flexibility-there are no separate SKUs for different flavors, and you don’t need to mess with low-noise adapters. Just buy the fan and use it as you wish. If you feel that you need a different fan mode, just flip the switch on the back to change the fan from whispering quiet to powerful.
Apart from that, T30-120 really has nothing to say. It is indeed equipped with a daisy chain cable that saves you from the pain of a splitter, and since it is a bit thicker than most products, it is equipped with longer screws, so you can still fix it to your chosen AIO or On the radiator.Oops, it even comes with a second set of screws longer than the ones that have been lengthened, because Phanteks also sells digital halo (we are in Liquid-cooled Mirror Maze PC construction), when you want to turn this ultimate fan into the ultimate RGB fan.
Comprehensive test: Phanteks T30-120 vs Noctua’s Finest
For the first test, I just placed the fan in an open space, placed the decibel meter 30 cm in front of it, and measured the noise level emitted by the entire RPM range at 250 RPM intervals. Both Phanteks and Noctua’s fans will happily spin at 250 RPM under the lowest PWM signal, but Noctua’s spinner ends at about 2070 RPM, and Phanteks’ T30-120 will soar to 3000 RPM. In fact, it was so powerful at this speed that the fan started to push itself along my test bench. what.
At the same RPM, the T30-120 sounds louder than the Noctua NF-A12x25, but this is not surprising. With its thicker design, it should push more air at a lower RPM for better acoustic efficiency. Therefore, the next test is required.
Wind tunnel noise standardization test
For the next test, I decided to use a wind tunnel to focus on noise normalization performance. When I found the fan came back, I hinted to Phanteks that I was working on the correct fan test, so they set up a complete kit that I can use not only to test the T30-120, but also to test a large number of other fans in the future (please continue Pay attention to more). The wind tunnel is expandable and can be installed with 120 mm and 140 mm fans. The entire wind tunnel has air straighteners to (mainly) resolve any turbulence, and an anemometer is used to measure the air velocity leaving the tunnel. It’s very simple.
For this series of noise standardized tests, I would like to know the performance of the fan at a few noise levels, whether it is in an open-air configuration or when it is restricted by a radiator. The lowest noise level I tested was 34 decibels, because this is the background noise in my office at night. This is a bit high for proper scientific testing, but still very quiet, and most rooms will have a similar background noise anyway. To be fair, none of us live in an anechoic room-so the first value is the RPM number the fan reached before it broke the noise floor. After that, I started measuring at 35 dBA and recorded the speed of each fan in 2.5 dBA increments.
Then, I put the fans in the wind tunnel, set them to the speeds I recorded for each noise level (noise test on the tunnel is not possible because it will produce echo and resonance), and record the final wind speed of the two fans, With and without a simple radiator as a limit, then use that value to calculate the airflow. This method is not in the real world. If you want, you can think of it more as a “comprehensive benchmark”, but it is consistent and the results will not change with the temperature of my room.
The results speak for themselves. Phanteks’ T30-120 beats Noctua NF-A12x25 with the highest airflow of each noise level. When limited by the radiator, the difference is not as dramatic as in the open air, but the T30-120 still wins with a healthy advantage.
A word about future fan testing
Of course, these are just comprehensive tests-I believe you want to know where my real tests are. Currently, I am still trying to build a complete fan test setup, combining synthetic and real-world tests on a PC. I originally wanted to include a real-world result in this hands-on work, but the setup has not yet been completed. Sorry, you have to wait until next time, but we will also include more fans in the future.
Phanteks’ T30-120 may be a bit “cheating” by extending the frame to 30mm thickness instead of the industry standard of 25mm, but the company did not skimp on the rest of the trimmer engineering. Of course, what is going on here is not Noctua-level improvement, but the result speaks for itself: the 5 mm thick T30-120 beats Noctua’s famous NF-A12x25-this fan is considered the best PC fan in the world-at least From the point of view of noise and acoustics.
With this in mind, I am not sad that Phanteks decided to make the fan thicker. In fact, I am really surprised that it took so long for anyone to do this-this is such an obvious opportunity, and I am curious whether this is the beginning of a new era for thicker PC fans. I’m curious about the performance of the 30mm thick 120mm Noctua fan, but I don’t expect to find out soon.
T30-120 may not be the best-looking fan. With its rough industrial design (although Noctua’s fan is also visually stunning), you must carefully check whether it fits the configuration you want to use because of the increased thickness. But in most versions, thickness should not be a problem. If you want RGB, you can choose Phanteks Halo.
Overall, among the excellent performance, structural quality, speed switch, 6-year warranty and daisy chain cable, Phanteks T30-120 is a simple recommendation, even if its price is US$29.99 (this is the approximate current price) for Competition NF-A12x25). I’m sorry Noctua, but the first place is no longer yours-unless for some reason you need to stick to 25mm.