Unboxing and Overview
be quiet! sent this via one of their distributors in North America along with the other Silent Wings 3 fans, so we begin with a look directly at the fan packaging. They were kind enough to send 2 of each type to help rule out any sample discrepancies, and this means this review will be based off 4 samples in total- 2 each of the DC and PWM controlled versions. So let’s take a look at both, with the DC fan on the left and the PWM fan on the right:
The packaging is near identical to that used on the rest of the Silent Wings 3 fans, and I like this more so than what they used on the Silent Wings 2 fans. This single piece box style is getting popular, and the black with orange accents color scheme of the company come through nicely here. On the front we see the company and product name as well as an illustration of the product inside along with some marketing features, which carries on the back and sides in multiple languages. A flap on the bottom helps keep the contents inside in check, no seal here though.
You open the box and there is yet more information available- inside the box, and as a product manual (online version available here). I HIGHLY recommend reading the manual- it’s just 4 small parts (or even two depending on your application) repeated in multiple languages, and is very handy in using the fan as we will come to see. The accessories and the fan also come individually packed in boxes, so this is all very nice to see.
Let’s take a look at the accessories:
The PWM version comes with a set of 4 hard plastic corners with rubber pads on the top and bottom surfaces for use as a radiator fan, 4 rubber corners for use as a case fan, 4 self tapping metal screws, 4 plastic washers and push pins. The DC voltage control version comes with these as well as a SATA to 12/7/5 V adapter. Thankfully no full size MOLEX here! The rubber corners are similar to the ones that came with the Silent Wings 2 in that there are two sides- S and L- and you choose what side you want facing outwards depending on if you want a flush fit or max decoupling.
On to the fans now, with the DC version on the left and PWM version on the right again where applicable:
Aesthetically, these look very similar to the Silent Wings 2 and also the standard speed Silents Wings 3 120 mm. This is not a bad thing- that textured finish coupled with an all black frame and rotor will look nice with just about all PC DIY builds. The only change in color is in the white and orange logo on the hub stickers. The fan frame has a rubber finish on the inside, and be quiet! claims that “is equipped with funnel-shaped air inlets producing extremely high air pressure”. The fans come out of the box without corners, and the customer gets to decide which corner (out of the 3 possible permutations) to go with:
The manual makes it fairly clear, but you have slide the corners along the built-in rails on the fan until they click in place. To remove them, use a small and flat object to push down the locking tab from one side as seen above. The plastic corners with the rubber top/bottom are interchangeable but the rubber corners have the specific S/L sides.
As a result of this strip being loose, I noticed that these fans have a rubber strip on the fan frame that helps further dampen vibrations. I was able to push it back in place without much trouble.
The fan hubs are on the larger side of average for 120 mm fans, coming in at 1.7″ across, but again not to the point where a shroud is a must have. These fans use a new IC motor with a 6-phase, 3-pole design for higher efficiency and it shows. Rated at 0.37 A (4.44 W) including max start up boost, these drew 0.098 – 0.102 A (1.18- 1.22 W) each on average at full speed during operation. You should thus, in theory, be able to power 1-2 of these off a single 1 A fan header even with max input current draw considered. The soldering of the fan wires was fine on all the samples, including the PWM fan seen above. The fan bearing used is an Fluid Dynamic Bearing, although it is unclear if this is a “true” FDB based off Matsushita’s patent. Either way, in the limited time of testing done, there was no bearing noise perceived.
The fan wires have black insulation and all 4 wires in the cable are sleeved as well, in a heatshrink style application right from the edge of the fan frame. The sleeving material can be improved upon as the wires are visible closer up, but inside a case with the cables tucked away this won’t be a visual issue from a few feet away. The fan cables are long at 50 cm (~19.7″) in length, and they terminate in a black fan connector- 4 pin or 3 pin depending on the fan.
For the sake of testing as a radiator fan, the hard plastic corners were used. But people may well want to consider this as a case fan so here is a quick look at how the washer/push pin set up is used with the rubber corners:
Imagine the case panel between the washer and the corner, and you have it. On to testing and results on the next page.