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Fan recs for a retro case with limited options

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Hey all 

I'm trying to upgrade my workhorse retro PC's cooling a bit to bring it into this century. It doesn't run particularly hot, and with VERY few exceptions I don't push it anywhere near its limits but its pretty damn loud (or would be if not for the fan controller), and what's in it is just a hodge podge of cheap stuff (pretty sure the intake and exhaust fan pairs are matched sets at least)

 

It's built in an old GMC Noblesse SE case so I'm limited to two 80mms in the front and back and a slim 120 mounted in the lower left of the side panel. The side fan ended up more or less right against the gpu, ahead of its cooler so I can go intake or exhaust there. It does need to be a slimline fan, a full sized one hits the gpu and prevents me from closing the side panel.

 

It's a little thing but aesthetics are important to me on this. The intake fans are completely hidden, so can be absolutely anything, but the exhaust fans I'd strongly prefer to be black or Grey as they'll all be visible through the side panel (I'm not opposed to RGB, but they'd need a controller. My mb doesn't have native support). 

 

I was and am pretty decent at actually building PCs but cooling tech left me behind when I had to start adulting in the 2010s so I'm very much out of my depth here. Your recs would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Jaalbatross said:

Hey all 

I'm trying to upgrade my workhorse retro PC's cooling a bit to bring it into this century. It doesn't run particularly hot, and with VERY few exceptions I don't push it anywhere near its limits but its pretty damn loud (or would be if not for the fan controller), and what's in it is just a hodge podge of cheap stuff (pretty sure the intake and exhaust fan pairs are matched sets at least)

 

It's built in an old GMC Noblesse SE case so I'm limited to two 80mms in the front and back and a slim 120 mounted in the lower left of the side panel. The side fan ended up more or less right against the gpu, ahead of its cooler so I can go intake or exhaust there. It does need to be a slimline fan, a full sized one hits the gpu and prevents me from closing the side panel.

 

It's a little thing but aesthetics are important to me on this. The intake fans are completely hidden, so can be absolutely anything, but the exhaust fans I'd strongly prefer to be black or Grey as they'll all be visible through the side panel (I'm not opposed to RGB, but they'd need a controller. My mb doesn't have native support). 

 

I was and am pretty decent at actually building PCs but cooling tech left me behind when I had to start adulting in the 2010s so I'm very much out of my depth here. Your recs would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

What’s your budget? Slim fans, especially large ones don’t work very well.  It would be nice to maybe make it a full thickness fan.  Opens up a lot of options.  For that we’d need specs. Cooler model is of particular interest.  Not everyone even makes a 80mm fan anymore.  One doesn’t really need to worry much about bearing type with case fans because they’re vertical.  Cheap bearing is fine with those.  It’s possible they’re sleeve bearing and just worn out.  Could be the case with the cpu fan too, but some of those don’t really have replacements anymore.   the horizontal ones that can have problems. I’m assuming your slim fan is 15mm.  A regular fan is 25mm so only 10mm needs to be found to make it a regular 120mm case fan.  Noctua and scythe both make 15mm 120s.  The noctua is ~$20 and the scythe is ~$15 pin count could matter though if the ting is old enough. I’m seeing a lot of odd brands for 80mm fans like Simon which is ~$6. There are some for $20 though

Edited by Bombastinator

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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4 hours ago, Bombastinator said:

What’s your budget? Slim fans, especially large ones don’t work very well.  It would be nice to maybe make it a full thickness fan.  Opens up a lot of options.  For that we’d need specs. Cooler model is of particular interest.  Not everyone even makes a 80mm fan anymore.  One doesn’t really need to worry much about bearing type with case fans because they’re vertical.  Cheap bearing is fine with those.  It’s possible they’re sleeve bearing and just worn out.  Could be the case with the cpu fan too, but some of those don’t really have replacements anymore.   the horizontal ones that can have problems. I’m assuming your slim fan is 15mm.  A regular fan is 25mm so only 10mm needs to be found to make it a regular 120mm case fan.  Noctua and scythe both make 15mm 120s.  The noctua is ~$20 and the scythe is ~$15 pin count could matter though if the ting is old enough. I’m seeing a lot of odd brands for 80mm fans like Simon which is ~$6. There are some for $20 though

No set budget. I've looked at the current options and the ones from reputable companies are all $10-15 for the 80mms, and $15-25 for the 120mm. I'm fine with the top end of that. The 120 really does need to be a slim unit. The amount of space between my gpu (a 780ti. I think its an MSI but don't quote me...) is minimal. A 25mm wide 120 makes physical contact with the card and impedes closing the case. I can flip it around and put the 120mm at the top left but that's honestly worse as it hits the psu and REALLY makes closing the case difficult. (I should note the side panel window is a hack job piece. Started by a previous owner and finished by me. It's held in with 4 bolts and tape and could be replaced given time and effort but getting everything to line up will be a pain. Not necessarilly hard, just time consuming.)

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, The Jaalbatross said:

No set budget. I've looked at the current options and the ones from reputable companies are all $10-15 for the 80mms, and $15-25 for the 120mm. I'm fine with the top end of that. The 120 really does need to be a slim unit. The amount of space between my gpu (a 780ti. I think its an MSI but don't quote me...) is minimal. A 25mm wide 120 makes physical contact with the card and impedes closing the case. I can flip it around and put the 120mm at the top left but that's honestly worse as it hits the psu and REALLY makes closing the case difficult. (I should note the side panel window is a hack job piece. Started by a previous owner and finished by me. It's held in with 4 bolts and tape and could be replaced given time and effort but getting everything to line up will be a pain. Not necessarilly hard, just time consuming.)

Ah.  the video card gets in the way too. I don’t have a solution for that one.
 

Quiet fans and some history

Noctua made its bones buying the FDB patent long ago.  Case fans don’t really need expensive bearings though.  Fan technology is propeller technology and that more or less pinnacled when jets became a thing in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s  The math is all worked out. So blade shape and pitch are just a formula.  What changes these days is materials. Better materials mean more stiffness and less vibration which allow more aggressive shapes, So construction and finish quality can matter a lot. The three big boys seem to be scythe, noctua, and arctic cooling, though there are a bunch of others as well. There are some fan companies that are a lot less prevalent than they used to be. Mostly I think due to how successful their various cpu coolers were. The last breakthrough was fluid dynamic bearing though and that happened so long ago the patent ran out. There aren’t much in the way of company secrets in fans.  The noise graph of fans is not even though.  As the end of the blade reaches a given velocity it will start to produce noise.  Staying below that velocity makes a fan much quieter.  So there is a hook on the low end of the noise/speed graph.  A 120x25mm fan hits that breakpoint somewhere generally within a hundred rpm of 1000 rpm depending on model and lot. It’s not a big change.  The cheapest fans will be nearer 900.  The more expensive ones nearer or a bit over 1000.  Smaller fans will be higher rpm because the end of their blade moves more slowly at a given rpm.   It may be that those two 80mm fans won’t produce enough airflow to cool your machine at that level. This is where fans start to differentiate.  They used to print a fan curve on the boxes but I haven’t seen that in a while.  If you could find a fan curve graph for a given model of fan you could choose based on the lowest Db at that amount of airflow. 

Edited by Bombastinator

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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