This project started a while back when BeQuiet sent most of their latest line-up of Silent Wings 4 fans. Rather than going out and just talking general specs and showing the fans, we decided to build out a long term fan testing suite with professional sound level meter as well as test bench that can support both 120 and 140mm fans, and after months of getting all the right equipment - we are ready to embark on this new fan testing journey starting with BeQuiet.
In this review, we will take a closer look at almost the entire range of Silent Wings 4 fans and compare them to see which one is the best option for your needs. Whether you're looking for a silent cooling solution for your computer or just want to upgrade your existing fans, the Silent Wings 4 series appears to have it all here, or so it seems on the surface. Let's dive in and see what these fans have to offer.
Starting with the range - it is split into standard silent wings fans and pro version. Pro fans come in two options, 120mm and 140mm and both are PWM. The more standard version still comes in two of the same sizes but now there are three different options. First is a standard 3 Pin DC fan. The other two options are 4 Pin PWM and PWM High Speed fans. The standard and PWM fan have identical specifications both running up to 1600 RPM on the 120mm fans and up to 1100 RPM on the 140mm variant. The main difference is the control element. For those not familiar with this, let me guide you through it.
3-pin fans are generally less expensive and simpler to install than 4-pin fans, but they do not offer the same level of control over the fan speed. 4-pin fans are more expensive and require a motherboard or other controller that is capable of sending PWM signals to the fan, but they offer the ability to adjust the fan speed for improved performance or noise reduction. While you can control the speed of 3 pin fans by reducing the amount of power sent to them, the amount of control is less.
The High Speed fans on the other hand are, well… high speed. The 120mm fan has up to 2500 RPM speed and 140mm fan is rated for up to 1900 RPM. The Pro versions can go up to 3000 RPM and 2400 RPM respectively and in our tests we found that they are very close to these numbers within only a few percent variance.
I really like how these boxes are presented and the feel of the fans. The whole package has a very premium feeling. And they should be, since they are not the cheapest. Let me quickly cover what you get in the box starting with the fan itself.
The non PRO models come pre-installed with an anti vibration mount and have an extra hard mounting option for radiators in the accessory box together with some fan screws. The PRO fans go an extra step and come pre-installed with radiator corners which are optimised for use with radiators and they also have the other two mounts as in the box.
All of these fans are non RGB which personally I really like. They have this simple sophisticated beauty about them. They all feature braided cable at 50 cm in length, but the one on the PRO model is more slim and has a much nicer fan header connector.
Internally these fans feature 6 pole motors with 3 phases and fluid-dynamic bearing. BeQuiet claims this will make them last for a super long time. Up to 300 thousand hours. That is over 34 years which is a bold statement. They also provide a 5 years warranty. That is 29 years less than the expected lifespan but I will allow it.
The one thing that is kind of funky on the PRO fans is the ability to change the FAN speed profiles from medium to high speed and also ultra high speed, unlocking the full potential. To be fair I am not sure why you would need this in most cases as you can control speed using PWM. Unless you want to install them in a location where there is no PWM controller.
Let’s now get to the benchmarking. For this we are using our new test bench with Intel i7 8700k CPU set to output a consistent amount of heat. For the cooler we are using a dual air tower from Coolermaster and we have the ability to use either 120 or 140mm fans on it. Even though this test bench may not represent normal use, the purpose of this is to demonstrate performance delta while keeping the variables the same.
Please note that in the graphs we are showing temperature above ambient which was between 22 and 23 degrees Celsius.
Let’s start with all of these fans set to 40 dBa target. Here we see almost all of the fans keep the CPU temperature down to a similar level and that is actually a good thing, that means the majority of them have similar performance profile at set noise level. You will notice a rogue Cooler Master fan in this chart score in line with the best of beQuiet fans.
If we look at the top of the chart where we are getting a little hotter at 50 to 54 degrees, this is where we have those standard lower speed fans and they just don’t have the airflow to cool to the same degree, but more on that a bit later on.
When we change all of these fans to 100% speed - we get a slight shift in the leaderboard and now the pro fans lead the pack by a few degrees, while the middle of the stack only drops 1 degree. The extra speed on those PRO fans clearly provides a nice bit of extra performance, but there is a trade off which is noise.
The slow spinning fans are in the same spot and that is for a good reason. They actually were running at 100% since the first test as they are quieter than 40 dBa. Have a look at this noise chart for all of the fans. The PROs are not only best cooling but also loudest, peaking over 50.5 dBa. What was surprising for me is the noise level of the 140mm variant - it actually is louder than the 120mm version. Normally 140mm fans are quieter, but even after re-testing we still got the same results.
But just like a temperature graph, on its own it does not show the whole story. When we look at both of these graphs together we start to see performance partens. We sorted these by noise on the right hand side and then there is matching temperature on the left. You can achieve similar performance to a PRO 140mm fan by using a 120 or 140mm high speed fan that operates at a 6 dBa lower noise level. A quick reminder - 10 dBa is about double the perceived loudness, so that is a considerable difference.
With that in mind, if we drop down to 35.1 dBa (which is almost half the noise of the high speed fans), then we are only gaining 2 extra degrees of heat, and this leads us well to the conclusion.
The new beQuiet range of fans provides something for everyone. If you prioritise silence and are willing to accept slightly higher temperatures, you can choose standard fans. If you want to trade some noise for improved performance, you can opt for high speed fans. While I should recommend standard fans, I personally don't think there is any benefit to using them.
You don’t really gain anything at all here - you can achieve the same fan speeds with the high speed variant just by turning their speed down and you have some performance headroom should you ever need it. To make it even more reassuring - the price between the two is the same. Then there are really only two types of fan to choose from with two sizes. If you have spare money and need the absolute best that beQuiet produces then go with the PRO fans and you will be happy, overwise high speed is your choice
In terms of sizing - I would recommend using 120mm fans for Air towers and radiators for the added air pressure. Alternatively, I recommend using 140mm fans as intake and exhaust in your case, as long as your chassis can accommodate them.
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