CORSAIR iCUE QL RGB Fans Review 18


Value & Conclusion »

Performance Testing

Please refer to the dedicated test setup page here as it applies to this review as well and I did not want to go over it separately to save on review space. As mentioned before, I am only testing the CORSAIR QL120 fan here.

Let's remind ourselves that the fan is rated for 525–1500 RPM (+/- 10%). CORSAIR sent over three fans in total via the QL120 triple pack, and they hit an average of 1468 RPM at 100% PWM duty cycle and went down to an average 554 RPM at 38% PWM duty cycle, which was then the case until 1% PWM duty cycle. These numbers are all within the rated range even with the CORSAIR spec sheet mentioning that the fans should respond to a 30%–100% PWM duty cycle. The relatively short PWM range is thus not great, but all three fans also tested near identical to each other, which is nice to see, as is the fairly linear RPM response.

Context is needed to talk more about the fan's performance and noise, so I have below comparison charts for some fans tested so far at set RPM values (or as near as they can get to those).

I have included fans in charts where the rated RPM is within 50 RPM of the chart cutoff point, and have also removed fans either too old or simply redundant with the introduction of an updated version. In addition, I have removed fans that only appear once or twice in the charts above since they are not good for comparison as more entries get added into the test database. The specific RPM values chosen reflect usage scenarios most popular with watercooling even though some fans (the Noctua NF-A12x25, for instance) go higher. The charts are to be considered for comparison within this result set only and are not to be compared with results from another test elsewhere owing to different testing conditions.

If you are wondering why the chart for airflow at 750 RPM is missing, it is because the QL120 RGB did not push enough air to hit a confident measurement on my anemometer. That in and of itself says a lot, as does the QL120 RGB occupying the currently worst spot in the other three airflow charts. This is a result of the fan being developed first and foremost with RGB and aesthetics in mind, with the various LED rings resulting in shorter blades that are just not pushing enough air even before the rest of the fan design comes up against airflow restriction from a radiator. It is also quieter than most fans as a result—there are definitely other fans here that offer more if you are looking for a performance-oriented fan.
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