BitFenix Spectre Pro Fan Review

Waco - 2012-05-11 08:23:09 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: June 6, 2012
Price: $12.99 to $22.99

Introduction:

Today OCC is once again taking a look at products from the renowned BitFenix. BitFenix is well known for its innovative and attractive case designs; the last time we saw something from BitFenix was in the form of the Raider mid-tower gaming chassis. Today we're changing directions a bit and taking a look at a few BitFenix Spectre Pro and Spectre Pro LED case fans.

Since BitFenix's entire design focus is on state-of-the-art hardware it comes as no surprise that these fans are something out of the ordinary. These are follow-ups to the original BitFenix Spectre fans and are outfitted with quite a few more features. Between the dual frame construction, reinforced fan blades, and high pressure/airflow design they certainly sound like a good upgrade for your case. Let's dig into the packaging and find out just what we've got in store today!

Closer Look:

Opening up the packing box I found a 230mm Spectre Pro LED fan, a 140mm Spectre Pro fan, and a 120mm Spectre Pro LED fan. Each is packaged quite similarly with the front of each box clearly showing the size, color, and type of fan. There won't be any surprise when you pull them out of the packaging. The sides of the packaging have very large text with the model names – there's no mixing up which ones have LEDs and which ones do not. The backside of each box has a list of features and specs, all of which are spelled out on the Features and Specifications page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we have the fans out of their boxes we can take a look at what they come riding along with! BitFenix has included standard case fan screws, rubber vibration-isolating mounting pegs, rubber washers to minimize vibration, and a 12 volt to 7-volt adapter to slow the fans down should you find them too loud at full speed. The two Spectre Pro LED fans have an additional accessory: an extension cable to allow toggling of the LEDs on and off with selected BitFenix cases and accessories. Do note that the 12 volt to 7-volt adapters are a bit of a "dangerous" addition if I may call them that. They use the 12 volt rail for the positive input power and your power supply's 5-volt rail as the "ground." Normally this won't cause any issues on a modern power supply as long as you have a decent load on the 5-volt rail. However, if you do not pull more power from the 5-volt rail than these fans back-feed into it, many power supplies will either behave erratically or shut down to protect themselves. I would have rather seen a resistor-based setup to slow the fans down instead of this somewhat non-specification "hack job." However, most people won't have any issues with this unless they're running an almost purely fan-based load on their PSU…and I'm pretty sure most of us like to at least run our computer off of our PSU as well.

 

Closer Look: 120mm BitFenix Spectre Pro LED

Pulling the 120mm BitFenix Spectre Pro LED out of its box reveals its dual frame construction. To be perfectly honest this construction feels slightly more flimsy than a single-piece frame but at the same time it looks absolutely amazing and shouldn't pose any issues once installed. The red frame outlined with smoked grey mounting points really highlight the overall construction and quality in this fan. There is a 2-pin plug hanging off of the fan that is jumpered out of the box; this is the 2-pin plug that allows the toggling of the red LEDs on the fan itself. The fan connector itself is a standard 3-pin plug with power, ground, and fan RPM output. Spinning the fan up with a spare PSU reveals its true colors: blood red lighting backed by a smoked grey frame. The lights aren't going to blind you but they do add a nice red tinge to anything near them. I'm a huge fan of red lighting with dark accents and I must say this fan looks awesome!

 

 

Closer Look: 140mm BitFenix Spectre Pro

The 140mm BitFenix Spectre Pro looks nearly identical to its smaller 120mm sibling except for the size and color. Gone are the smoked grey fan blades, red motor frame, and smoked grey outside frame. They are replaced with pure black plastic that is completely opaque. The same construction quality is seen with this version. The wiring is identical with the exception of the 2-pin LED plug; obviously this is not needed on a fan without LED lights on it.

 

 

Closer Look: 230mm BitFenix Spectre Pro LED

Unlike its two smaller brethren the 230mm BitFenix Spectre Pro LED has a massive two part frame that looks nothing like I've ever seen before on a case fan. The edges remind me of a chain-drive motorcycle or something straight off of a Gears of War chain saw gun. While it is quite different, I do like the way it looks with the red motor frame and smoked grey fan blades and frame. This fan is quite bulky, however, and I worry that it may not be all that easy to install in anything but BitFenix cases. This is a common issue with larger fans, but hopefully I can figure out a way to get it into my test case! The lighting on this fan is similar to its smaller 120mm bother – muted but very red.

 

 

 

All lined up together these fans look great together! It's time to move on and see how well they perform in various configurations in the Cooler Master HAF XM. This case was chosen because it should be able to hold the three fans we're looking at today in addition to all of its stock fans with very little effort.


 

Specifications:

Materials:
PC & PBT
Operating Voltage:
12 Volts DC
Starting Voltage:
5 Volts DC
Bearing Type:
Fluid Dynamic Bearings (FBD)
 
 
120mm
 
Dimensions
120x120x25mm
Current
.11 Amps +/- 10%
Speed
1200 RPM +/- 10%
Air Flow
65.22 CFM +/- 10%
Air Pressure
1.24 mmH20
Noise
18.9 dB(A weighted)
 
 
140mm
 
Dimensions
140x140x25mm
Current
.18 Amps +/- 10%
Speed
1200 RPM +/- 10%
Air Flow
86.73 CFM +/- 10%
Air Pressure
1.38 mmH20
 
 
230mm
 
Dimensions
230x200x30mm
Current
.38 Amps +/- 10%
Speed
900 RPM +/- 10%
Air Flow
156.27 CFM +/- 10%
Air Pressure
1.81 mmH20
Noise
25.6 dB(A weighted)

 

Features:

 

 

 

All information courtesy of http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/products/accessories/spectre-pro

Testing:

Testing the BitFenix Spectre Pro fans required pushing my hardware to heat things up! Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, and chipset during idle and load conditions. Load conditions were simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs and 3Dmark Vantage for one hour. The maximum load temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor and the idle temperatures were taken after a 30 minute cool down time.

Since we're taking a look at three fans today I tested a few different configurations, all of which will be housed in the venerable HAF XM recently reviewed by OCC. The first configuration is simply adding the 140mm Spectre Pro fan to the side panel at the rearward location. The second setup involves replacing the rear fan with the Spectre Pro 120mm fan and moving the stock Cooler Master 140mm rear fan to the side panel, again at the further back location. The third test configuration involved installing the 230mm Spectre Pro fan on the front of the HAF XM and moving the stock Cooler Master fan to the top of the case (the 230mm fan is too large to install in the top position). Note that the 230mm fan does not fit perfectly into the stock 200mm fan location on the front of the case. It sits very slightly askew when screwed down into the case because the mounting holes do not line up with the holes in the case. This will not affect performance at all and is purely a cosmetic issue if you like to measure your tolerances down to the millimeter.

The last configuration, and arguably the best in terms of airflow, is with all of the Spectre Pro fans installed in the HAF XM in addition to all of the stock fans. The Spectre Pro 230mm fan is again installed at the front of the case as an intake fan. The two 200mm Cooler Master fans are installed in the top of the case as exhaust fans. The 120mm Spectre Pro fan is installed at the rear of the case as an exhaust fan. The 140mm Spectre Pro shares the side panel with the 140mm Cooler Master fan as an intake fan. This configuration provides a massive amount of airflow through the case and should be the best cooling configuration we'll see today!

 

Testing Setup:

 

Test Case:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clearly the fourth configuration really sets a new bar for air cooling! With all of the stock fans from the HAF XM in addition to the Spectre Pro fans the amount of airflow through the case, while remaining quiet, clearly cools the interior components extremely well. The HAF XM is no slouch in the cooling department even in its stock configurations so any improvements here are notable. The first three configurations all improve on the stock cooling performance of the HAF XM but if you really want to improve your case cooling you'll want to outfit all of the available fan locations with fans. The first and second configurations were literally identical, which isn't terribly surprising given their similarity. The third lagged a bit behind the first two. The best bang-for-buck improvement is definitely with the first or second configuration, which provided a good drop in load temperatures even with only a single additional fan over the stock configuration.

Conclusion:

Overall I was fairly impressed with the performance of the Spectre Pro and Spectre Pro LED fans. They are a bit pricy compared to the fans I would normally put in my machines (which do tend to lean much closer to function over form than anything else) but after seeing them and seeing what kind of performance they can deliver I have to say I'm happy with them. They took the Cooler Master HAF XM from being a case with great cooling to a case with nearly unbeatable cooling potential! Improving upon a case that already has such good cooling capabilities is no small feat – and on top of that, they did it without making a racket. Even running at full speed the BitFenix fans made relatively little noise compared to how much air they were moving. They don't make any annoying droning, whining, or ticking noises at full speed or at the 7v speeds.

The construction, styling, and quality of these fans is evident the instant you pull them out of their packaging. While somewhat expensive compared to bargain-bin fans they are clearly better constructed than most fans and they definitely keep up with the BitFenix claim of being high-flowing but quiet and vibration-free, even when installed with regular case screws and the included small rubber washers. I can't pick out anything in particular I dislike about these fans except that the 230mm fan has an oversized frame that can make it difficult to mount in standard 200mm case fan locations. This is an issue with all 200mm+ fans from various manufacturers so I don't consider this a huge design flaw. In general these fans did exactly what they were designed to do: cool quietly.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: