One thing we did want to mention is that the about of noise a case fan will make depends on a number of factors, some of which are outside the control of the fan manufacturer. If you place a fan in the open, it tends to make less ‘wind’ noise than when you have it in a case behind a fan grill. We tested both outside the case and then inside the case when checking for any whine, buzzing, ticking or whistling.
When testing the S12A, we did not hear ticking, whistling, rattling or harmonics with any variant at any speed. The fans were run in pairs of each model for hours at a time on the test bench in the background while we did other things around the office and worked right next to them. At no time was the noise distracting – at worst, the open air test at 1200rpm was about the only time we really remembered that they were running.
When running the fans outside of the case, we found them to be:
- barely audible between 600-800 rpm
- audible at 900 rpm
- noticeable 1200 rpm
When mounted in our Fractal R3 home server build, we couldn’t hear the fans over ambient noise unless we ran them at 1200 rpm.
The noise that we were able to hear seemed to be purely the air passing through the frame struts and it really was minimal.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
It’s always hard to talk about Noctua fans without mentioning the colours or aesthetics. The reality is that when installed in our Fractal R3, you can’t actually see the front fans because they are sandwiched between the drive bays and the front panel. When you hold an S12A in your hand, you can feel the build quality, immediately see how the cable braiding is. If you are seeking a certain ‘look’ for your build and the beige / maroon colour theme is going to be offensive then you are out of luck here.
As per all of our previous Noctua reviews, the build quality, accessories and performance of the NH-S12A fans we received were in line with the asking price of AU$25.
The S12A provides a solution for all situations through 3 different variants of the same platform with a performance to noise ratio to suit most case fan requirements.
I don’t like to be able to hear my PC builds regardless of if they are a performance gaming system, a HTPC or a home server. For me, the performance to noise ratio is perfect and I was really impressed.