Silent & Colorful Cooling - The Corsair ML120 is the Real (Quiet) Deal
Corsair bills the ML120 as the fan that would be built by NASA. This analogy isn't far off the mark, however, I think it's as appropriate to say that this is the fan that a geeky computer home builder would create if they were told they had no limitations.
When choosing fans for performance there are a few primary considerations.
1. Does it handle variable speed well?
2. Is the hair handling quiet?
3. Will the fan generate noise while in motion? Will it develop noise over time?
4. Does it look cool?
5. Vibrational noise is often overlooked!
Corsair clearly put their design team to work in each of these areas. The result is a fan that literally has it all. The ML120 is a 4-pin WPM fan boasting 2000 RPM of range. I also verified it works fine in 3-pin configuration and sounds great in the process; the ML120 has custom designed fan blades for hair handling, which helps it produce pressure and airflow while being quiet.
The system uses a magnetic bearing so there is very little contact with the motor and the fan blade, and the fans also come in LED versions with fixed blue, red and white LEDs. To cap it off, the ML120 has its mounting corners attached with a rubber compound that provides vibrational dampening.
The ML120 specifications claim 12-75 CFM flow and 400-2400 RPM rotational speed, with .2 to 4.2 mmH20 static pressure with a 16-37 decibel range. These ranges are in the realm of the quietest 120mm fans available.
This is the fan I wanted when I first built my own computer 20 years ago.
In a real world test, I swapped out two case fans of a popular case builder with three of the Corsair ML120s. Turned all the way up, the three ML120s registered around 65 decibels, or 6 decibels less than the two current fans. That is about the volume of people talking.
However, the difference in the quality of that sound was enormous. The previous case fans had a high pitched whine and a ticking sound that drove me mad, while the Corsair ML120s were smooth, though they made discernible air noise.
Where the ML120 truly shined was at actual operating speeds. Turned down to their lowest setting, the old fans had a consistent tick and a high pitch to them. The ML120s even at mid settings were smooth, made very little sound and were almost pleasant to listen to.
Prices for the Corsair ML120 range from 24.99 to 39.99, in single, LED and two pack variations on Amazon. The fans also come in a 140-millimeter variant, the ML140. At $20 bucks each in a two pack, these fans are basically a steal, while the premium for the LED lighting is only a couple of dollars.
To sum it up, this is the fan I wanted when I first built my own computer 20 years ago. Now, after using just about every fan manufacturer, and building many more computers, this is the fan I want to use everywhere today. The ML120 is a 10 without question.