BitFenix Spectre Pro LED Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware

In each of the red bubble wrap bags, BitFenix provided us with four rubber vibration dampening mounts, four metal screws, 3-pin connector to Molex adapter, and an extra fan LED wire. To clarify, the extra fan LED wire is used to connect the fans to the BitFenix Hydra Pro fan controller for on-the-fly LED on/off switching. Both of the fans are identical in structure, with the only difference being the color scheme. For obvious reasons, the Spectre Pro LED Red is mainly red in color, while the Spectre Pro LED Blue is mainly blue. Otherwise, they both feature tinted grey fan blades and surrounding edges. I would personally say the colors of these two fans are not too offensive to look at. However, if you do not like the LEDs, BitFenix also has you covered in the Spectre Pro lineup. The fan grille on the Spectre Pro LED model is quite minimal, which should result in better direct airflow throughout the case. In addition, BitFenix advertised these fans have a dual frame construction to dampen the vibration properties even at high speeds. However, as the Spectre Pro LED are plastic-on-plastic, and do not have any other material to dampen the vibration, I am interested to see how well it actually works in real life.

As pointed out by Senior Technical Editor Preston Yuen in his Deepcool GF120 review, the larger width of the fan blades in their designs should translate in a focused airflow for better static pressure. The Spectre Pro LED has nine fan blades, which is standard. They designed them to be wider, reinforced, and with more overlap to maximize airflow, and generate better static pressure, as aforementioned. BitFenix claimed the curvature of the fan blades and the design of the cage directs airflow into a column, minimizing diffusion and pushing air to its intended destination. In terms of the cabling from the manufacturer, BitFenix has chosen to wrap all the wires in black, and tie them directly onto the plastic frame. These wires, however, are thin and are not sleeved, resulting in a cheap feel. They do have the length with 55cm cables, measured from the middle of the fan to the connector. This is definitely long enough my SilverStone Kublai KL05. In fact, I had to find ways to hide the longer than normal cable for a cleaner build.

Both of the Spectre Pro LED fans have a 3-pin voltage controlled connection. It can be connected directly to your motherboard or your power supply via the 3-pin to Molex connector. The Spectre Pro LED utilizes FDB or fluid dynamic bearings, which typically have the greatest lifespan, while remaining quiet. Unfortunately, BitFenix has not provided their estimated mean time to failure. The specified maximum speed of both fans is 1200 RPM. However, speed is only one aspect to a fan, with the sound and CFM following in importance. As always, I am going to borrow a lesson from Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kwan’s review of the Noctua NF-F12 PWM and NF-P12 PWM fans in the following section.

Noise and CFM relates to the big challenge when designing fans is to provide the best airflow to noise ratio. One would want the best amount of airflow, while keeping it as quiet as possible. Even with the best ratio, it is quite difficult to measure objectively at all times. The most common unit of objective measurement is CFM (Cubic feet per minute) of air for airflow, and dB noise, respectively. We will go over how application and CFM is related with regards to its standard measurements, but let us discuss perceived noise first.

dB (Decibels) is a logarithmic unit of sound intensity. While it provides what appears to be an objective measurement for the most part, it should be noted that perceived noise levels to the human ear, and actual sound intensity, could result in very different things. Human ears are more sensitive to particular frequencies, and when those particular frequencies are emitted from its source, it may appear louder than its numbers suggest. That same can be said vice-versa -- frequencies human ears are less sensitive to can actually have louder dB measurements from a sound meter, yet the human ears does not perceive it to be as loud as the numbers suggest. Other factors such as turbulence noise are often not measured correctly, therefore, while it usually provides a good reference, it does not necessarily reflect real life performance.

With regards to the application and CFM, it is generally optimal to have a fan to have a high air volume flow rate -- but as aforementioned, pure CFM values are limited to an extent with regards to its indication on fan performance. It is not completely about how much air in can move per minute quantitatively, but equally as important is how it is executed in reality. Airflow to noise ratio is an essential factor as mentioned earlier. Static pressure is also very important depending on application. High resistance applications such as dense fins on a large heatsink require high static pressure, while case fans need less static pressure and faster airflow. Its differences in application is like a large truck that has a diesel engine with lots of low end torque for towing, compared to a sports car with a high revving gasoline engine with lots of power to beat around the track -- they are simply designed for different purposes, so choose one appropriate to your needs.

Since both of the fans only vary by color, I will only list the specifications once. The BitFenix Spectre Pro LED is rated at 56.22 CFM, 18.9 dB and 0.12 mmHg. By comparing to an earlier review done by Technical Editor Aaron Lai on the SilverStone FQ122, FW122, and FW122, the one most comparable to our fans today is the FQ122. The SilverStone FQ122 is rated at 63.8 CFM, 24.9 dB, and 0.11 mmHg.

Before we move onto the performance tests, it is important to note after taking both the fans out of their respective bubble wrapped bags, there was a little surprise waiting for me. On the top of the Spectre Pro LED Blue, the connection for one of the LED wires was loose and had to be resoldered by us here at APH Networks. Although this was not a big deal, as soldering does not require too much effort for those who have the equipment and know how to do it, it is certainly not a norm, nor an expectation for most people. The loose LED wire may have been caused by a poor soldering job during manufacturing.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. Performance Tests
4. Conclusion