Arctic Cooling ARCTIC F12 Pro TC Case Fan Review

Arctic Cooling F12

As a single functioned object, the humble case fan has to achieve a fine balance between airflow and noise emissions. The perfect ratio is not only difficult to reach but also varies with the specific user group: silent enthusiasts will require lower fan speeds so less noise is produced whereas the hardcore gamer will want as much cooling potential as possible. Arctic Cooling took this into consideration with its Arctic Cooling F12 Pro TC case fan.

Arctic Cooling, the thermal solutions company founded in 2001, is well aware of this fine tuning between performance and noise outputs; indeed their F12 Pro TC (Temperature Controlled) fans use accurate temperature detection to control the fan speed more effectively in order to reduce noise levels at lower temperatures. Let’s take a closer look at the ARCTIC F12 Pro TC case fan…

Arctic Cooling F12 Pro TC Features

  • Temperature sensor on a 40cm long cable
  • Accurate case temperature detection
  • Cable can be positioned in wherever necessary
  • Extremely quiet – only 0.3 Sone
  • Patented fan holder eliminates the buzzing sound
  • Patented vibration absorption

Specifications

Dimensions/mm120(L) x 120(W) x 38.5(H)
Fan Speed/rpm400 – 1300
Airflow33CFM / 55.8m3/h
Noise Level/Sone0.4
Weight140g
Warranty6 years

ARCTIC F12 Pro TC

A simple but effective cardboard box contains the Arctic Cooling F12 fan and included accessories displaying the main features. The six year warranty is rightly highlighted and a welcoming increase in protection over typical two or three year policies.

The Arctic Cooling F12′s accessory bundle is a little limited though featuring just four screws and an Arctic Cooling sticker; a little on the thin side when you compare to the array of adapters and cables included with the Noctua fans.

In true Arctic Cooling colors, the F12 Pro TC is clad in black and white with a centrally positioned sticker defining the particular model. The actual structure of the fan is a little different from other 120mm fans on the market based around Arctic Cooling’s patented fan holder.

The majority of case fans are directly attached the frame and then rubber mounts are put into practice so as to eliminate vibrations being transferred to the chassis. However, the Arctic F12 Pro TC handles things a little differently; the impeller is joined to a small structure which is then attached to the main frame via rubber mounts so as to prevent the transfer of vibrations from the spinning impeller. As a result, the fan can simply be screwed to the chassis without the need for any fiddly rubber mounts.

The fan holder is consistent across many of the Arctic Cooling fans unlike the thermal management system which is unique to the temperature controlled (TC) models, in contrast to the regular Arctic F12. Essentially, it works on the principle that at lower temperatures, the fan isn’t required to do as much work to move air in or out of the enclosure. However, at high temperatures (over 32 degrees C), the fan speed increases very quickly in order to counter the change – the cooling is not only in accordance to the temperature but also not overly excessive for the lower temperatures.

Consequently, the Arctic F12′s speed is not increasing linearly at the same rate of increase regardless of temperature ensuring that noise levels are greatly reduced until the system temperature requires a high amount of cooling. Moreover, this method of fan speed control allows a high maximum rpm for high performance to still be achieved.

The Arctic Cooling F12 Pro TC’s temperature sensor is equipped on the end of a 40cm cable allowing flexible placement within the chassis to allow for the most appropriate spot for temperature detection to be used.

The Test Setup:

ProcessorIntel Core i7 C0 920 @ 2.67GHz
MotherboardAsus P6T
Graphics CardXFX 1GB Radeon 4870
MemoryOCZ Gold Triple Channel PC3-10666 @ 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24 @ 1.65v
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB
Power SupplySapphire Pure 950W
EnclosureCooler Master ATCS-840
OSWindows Vista 64-bit

Methodology

A case fan’s purpose is a very simple one: to move air from one place to another giving the fan a number of different uses but always performing the same function. In combination with a heatsink, acting as an intake fan, removing hot air or blowing air onto a component.

Inevitably, a larger airflow yields better results in terms of temperature; if airflow was the sole concern of an enthusiast, manufacturing a fan would be a much simpler process. However, the PC world, for the most part, is also hugely concerned with the noise outputs of a said fan. Thus, the perfect balance between airflow and noise is a constant struggle that is very hard to achieve.

As a result, there are two main areas for testing the Arctic Cooling F12 – airflow and noise. The former is relatively difficult to measure accurately and so we prefer to install the fan, block of all other system fans, and then measure a range of temperatures from different components.

Unfortunately, the later (to test properly) requires an expensive decibel meter of which we cannot get hold of and so the noise testing is down to the trusty human ear and so the results are more of a guide than concrete evidence.

Fans:

  • Gelid Wing 12 (FN-FW12-15-B)
  • Scythe Gentle Typhoon (D1225C12B4AP-14)
  • Noctua NF-P12
  • Noctua NF-P14 FLX
  • Arctic Cooling ARCTIC F12 Pro TC

Software:

  • CPU – Prime95 v25.8 & Core Temp 0.99.4
  • GPU – Furmark 1.6.5
  • System – SpeedFan v4.38

Results

Cooling

N.B. All Temperatures are Delta T recorded at load states.

The temperature results make for fairly impressive viewing with the Arctic Cooling F12 Pro TC fan just one or two degrees behind the NF-P14 FLX (a larger 140mm fan). Although it is important to note that in case fan testing a few degrees is actually a relatively larger difference.

Overall, the fan is closely matched to the NF-P12: the system temperature but a degree worse for the GPU temperature. This is certainly a good result as the NF-P12 has been widely regarded as one of the best 120mm fans on the market in recent years.

Noise

The fan speed temperature control works very effectively keeping noise levels very low until the temperature needs to be countered and the impeller spins much faster. At this point, the noise levels are just audible but are not particularly loud it has to be said.

Cost

The ARCTIC F12 Pro TC is priced at around the £6 mark making it very affordable and much more cost effective than competing Noctua fans.

Conclusion

The ARCTIC F12 Pro TC has a lot going for it: the fan speed control management system keeps noise levels to a minimum at lower temperatures without impacting on performance when it is needed most as the temperature rises.

The patented fan holder too prevents the transfer of vibrations and the black and white design is simple but effective looking good but not over-the-top.

If you’re looking for out and out performance, we’d still probably favour the Noctua fans. However, as a much cheaper alternative, the arctic cooling fan provides very impressive airflow and keeps the noise down without the need for a fan controller or resistance wires in the case of Noctua.

Albeit perhaps an accessory bundle a little on thin side, the main product, with six year warranty, is a very attractive purchase.

Pros

  • Temperature control management
  • Fan holder
  • Not over-the-top styling
  • Low noise levels at low temperatures
  • Price point

Cons

  • Limited accessory bundle

Thanks go to Arctic Cooling for providing the case fan for review.

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