Arctic Cooling 8L and 12L Cooling Fans Page: 1

Introduction

The name Arctic Cooling is heavily embedded within the realm of PC enthusiasts, and really needs no introduction. This aftermarket cooling company continues to set the bar for many manufacturers with its intelligent and innovative approach to cooling. Not only are Arctic Cooling's products extremely effective at what they do, but, are on the whole visually aesthetic too. Today I have been fortunate enough to receive a box of sample goodies from Arctic Cooling, and it contains the latest additions to the Arctic Fan series. Now, the review subjects today will more than likely find themselves residing within a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC or within that of a connoisseur of the silent PC pursuasion; than someone requiring huge air volume performance and the ear splitting side effect. I'd like to now introduce you to Arctic Cooling's new 8L (80 mm) and 12L (120 mm) fam series. Let's take a look shall we?

Arctic Cooling 8L and 12L fan boxes


Specification

80L


120L



Packaging

The first thing I must say about Arctic Cooling's, is that it's extremely sexy looking and by far the most unimposing looking packaging out there. The black background and gray/white text works very well. I actually prefer this style of packaging approach than the 'tacky' blister type packs of some manufacturers out there. Instead of providing superfluous pieces of paper in the form of installation details, specification and key features, Arctic Cooling have included this information subtley on the side of the box.

12L key features 12L specifications
8L technical specifications


Contents

Inside each box you should find:
  • 1 x Fan
  • 4 x mounting screws
  • 1 x Arctic Cooling sticker

Box and contents

Now we've had a look at the professional looking packaging, let's look a little closer at the two review subjects.



Arctic Cooling 8L and 12L Cooling Fans Page: 2
Page <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 20/09/2006
Author: Matthew Fogg (PV5150)
Hardware Acquired: Arctic Cooling


A Closer Look

AC 'L' series fan AC 'L' series cable sleeving

One thing that I've really come to expect of Arctic Cooling and their range of products, is their attention to detail and level of finish. Again, they have delivered and failed to disappoint. The 'L' series of fan is sleek, unobtrusive and totally classy. Significant changes to mainstream fan design have been implimented by the manufacturer, and it certainly shows. The first area of change being that the fans have been manufactured using plastic reinforced fibreglass, in order to eliminate humming caused by the high frequency vibrations of the fan blades. Arctic Cooling, in the included product sheet state that:

"Vibrations generated by the running fan are absorbed by a patented vibration dampener (Bi-axle rubber elements). Thanks to the unique patented fan support which omits lateral frame, turbulence inside the air intake current is reduced, leading to a lower and significantly more comfortable audible envoironment."

Further, it's a nice change to see fan manufacturers covering unsightly wiring with cable sleeving and heatshrink wrap. Nice touch Arctic Cooling !

Vibration dampening mounts Looking for thermal Control

In the above left picture you can clearly see the rubber mounts that Arctic Cooling have employed to minimise fan vibration. This rubber mounting system, in the opinion of the author is a far more effective method of controlling extraneous fan vibration than using the rubber grommets included by some case manufacturers. The reason being simply because of longevity and cost effectiveness. The rubber grommets are certainly an effective way of controlling vibration, but if for whatever reason should you need to remove the fan, it's almost guaranteed that they'll break during removal.

Whilst having a bit of a prod around the 'L' series fans, I started looking to see whether there was actually any 'thermal control' facility. Apart from removing the sticker and looking for a heat sensor where the wires connect to the fan's pcb, the fan is a sealed unit. I was unable to determine whether the fans are able to be thermally controlled at this stage, we'll have to wait for the testing page to see if they can or not.

AC's patented Fluid Dynamic Bearing

In order to help alleviate premature failure, Arctic Cooling have taken to including Fluid Dynamic Bearings (FDB) in the new Arctic Fan L series. The FDB style of bearing has a longer lifespan and provides an quieter/cooler operating environment than typical ball bearing type fans. This is why Arctic Cooling are able to provide an extremely impressive 400,000 hours Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) rate and an inclusive 6 year warranty. I have included a small picture from Arctic Cooling's website illustrating the principal behind FDB bearings. (Accessed 12th September 2006)

Side view of 'L' series fans showing optimised blades

Another area where Arctic Cooling have further improved the silent cooling features of the 'L' series is by optimising the fan blades themselves, in order to achieve larger airflow and higher static pressure, whilst keeping the fan noise to a minimum. The slightly reduced speed of the fan as opposed to the current linep of Arctic fans also assists in significantly reducing low level noise. Now that we've had a look at the main features of the new Arctic fan 'L' series, let's see if they live up to the silent disposition for which they were designed.



Arctic Cooling 8L and 12L Cooling Fans Page: 3
Page <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 20/09/2006
Author: Matthew Fogg (PV5150)
Hardware Acquired: Arctic Cooling


Testing

The testbed chosen for the Arctic Cooling 12L and 8L review has been listed below:

Intel Core 2 Duo e6600
ASUS P5B Deluxe
XFX 7900GT Extreme Edition 560/750
2GB GSKILL PC2-6400 CL4 4-4-4-12
2 x 80GB WD HDD's RAID 0
CoolerMaster 830 Stacker Case

All testing was performed inside the CoolerMaster case to try and keep the results as real life and verifiable as possible.


Results

The first thing I'd like to say about Arctic Cooling' new 'L' series is that they are so incredibly quiet. The lovers of silent PC's would drool, literally; the fans are barely audible and were drowned out by my stock Intel CPU cooler.

Performance wise, these fans are certainly not for the overclocking enthusiast. The fans simply do not pass enough volume of air for substantial benefits, especially for those users who still utilise air cooling and aftermarket heatsinks. The 12L, although it certainly performed well as an quiet extraction fan in the side door of my stacker, would simply be out of its league atop a heater core in a watercooling setup. This isn't by any means a flawed design, it's simply the targeted audience isn't the overclocking fraternity.

The design of the fan itself, is quite radical and it certainly does the job as far as providing a silent cooling solution. But, the design is actually a double edged sword in as far as the fan cannot be reversed or turned around; in order to change the fan from exhaust to inducting. Again, this isn't specifically flawed; but something to remember if you decide to use these fans.

Arctic Cooling 12L and 8L fan

Now that we've had a thorough look at the new 'L' series fans from Arctic Cooling, let's head over the page to view the conclusion and find out how they scored.



Arctic Cooling 8L and 12L Cooling Fans Page: 4
Page <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ufo1.com/ad/c.js"></script> Posted 20/09/2006
Author: Matthew Fogg (PV5150)
Hardware Acquired: Arctic Cooling


Conclusion

To be quite honest the Arctic Cooling 12L and 8L fans are quite impressive. Now I'm not intending to wax lyrically about Arctic Cooling, but these fans are well worth the US$5.99 (8L) and US$9.99 (12L) respectively. Firstly, the R & D that has gone into them is very apparent, the build quality is extremely good right down to the classy cable sleeving provided as standard. Admittedly, there are better performing fans out there, but the price you pay is the additional noise that comes along for the ride.

The silence that these fans provide whilst performing more than adequately, is testament again to the skilled design team at Arctic Cooling. Especially considering that these fans operate at such low RPM. Secondly, the included 6 year warranty is nothing to be sneezed at, thanks to the fluid dynamic bearing that is included, as opposed to the traditional ball bearing approach of other manufacturers. I have been running these fans in various cases for around a week and a half now, and they haven't started to whine or display any characteristics of premature wear.

So if you're in the market for some high quality, well performing fans to compliment that HTPC build, you could certainly do yourself a favour and invest in a couple of these. I'd expect that these fans would perform extremely well in either a Lian Li PC-V300, Shuttle SFF case, or similar variants.

I have decided to award Arctic Cooling the innovation award based on them providing a truly well rounded product. Once again the bar has been set for others to follow.

Pro's
+
Extremely quiet
+ Competitive pricepoint
+ Impressive 6 year warranty
+ Quality build
+ Effective cooling considering the low RPM

Cons
-
Fan can only be used one way
- Air volume not sufficient for high performance


Innovation award

Thanks to Arctic Cooling for providing the 8L and 12L fans for review.

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