Vantec Stealth Fans
Vantec are a company which we know primarily as a manufacturer of heatsinks. Cooling is their game, and up till now heatsinks were the only game they were involved with. This year things are changing however. Heatsinks and case cooling are becoming sources of a lot of noise, and to the home user this is really getting out of hand. So in addition to the few companies which really specialize in low noise cooling products, Vantec has created the "Stealth Fan" series.
The Stealth Fans come in 60mm, 80mm and 92mm sizes with a set of special mounting screws and a Molex pass thru cable. The fans are a direct result of a collaboration between Vantec and Nidec, a fan manufacturer. We've worked with Nidec fans before and have generally been quite impressed with their construction and longevity. The fans are constructed with glass fiber reinforced plastic and use double ball bearings which tend to last longer than sleeve bearings which can dry out with time.
We tested the three fans in an open environment to see what level of noise they actually produced. The results were quite good, but keep in mind the reason the Stealth Fans are so quiet is that they have lower RPM's and move less cubic feet of air per minute.
Sound Level Measurements
To measure the level of sound produced by a fan in decibels, we use an Omega HHSL1 sound meter. The HHSL1 is highly accurate between a range of 35-130 dB. To measure the level of noise produced, the fans were each placed on a Melamine foam surface and connected to a silent power source. The HHSL1 sound meter was positioned about 12" above the fan and slightly off to one side. The highest average level of noise was recorded.
Note: The accurate scale of the HSSL1 rests between 35dB and 130dB. Vantec list the noise levels of these fans at ~20 dB which is far below what we can accurately measure (sound meters that sensitive cost about $2000). Also keep in mind that we tested from 12" away, and without knowing the parameters used by the manufacturer it is difficult to compare results directly.
Since these fans are designed for use in a case, and not on top of a processor it is almost impossible to offer thermal measurements for comparison which actually mean something. Given the characteristics of an individual case, what components are inside, and the way things are arranged, there is almost an endless array of case temperature results to consider. Also consider that case temp is not homogeneous throughout the entire case - certain areas will be warmer, and those in the stream of air moving through the enclosure will be cooler.
Knowing this, we are not presenting any thermal values here because they would really be pointless. That said, we did test the 80mm fan in our Antec case and noted that in comparison to the stock fans noise level was reduced, and since the Stealth fans move less air, we can surmise that case temperature at that instant was not at the same level, but warmer.
The fans come without any internal thermal speed management, and that is probably a good thing as those things never tend to work that well. For the thermistor to signal to the fan that it should spin faster the intake air must be pretty warm (something we noticed on the Verax fans).
The Stealth fans are quiet, and come in three sizes (60mm, 80mm, 92mm) to fit differently ventilated cases. Given the characteristics of internal case components and other factors, additional cooling which produces the least amount of noise is obviously best. While the Stealth fans will not move as much air when they are mounted inside of a case, they will be very difficult to hear - and isn't that really the point of stealth?
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