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120mm aluminium fan filter review.
Join the community - in the OCAU Forums!
Date 23th Febuary 2003
Author Whitey Ford
Editor Scott "Sciby" Eiby
Vendor PC Case Gear

With every air-cooled pc, circulation of case air is one of the most important aspects to consider. To aid in this, many people use case fans to either remove hot air, or to blow in cold air. The more air that flows through your case, the cooler it will operate, allowing for greater stability and bigger overclocks in comparison to a poorly ventilated case. The one drawback of pumping lots of air through a case is the amount of dust that comes with it. As amusing as it is watching two dust puppies fight it out around your PCI slots, dust is not a good thing to have floating around in your case as it retards cooling.

To aid in ventilation, I installed two fans in my case door that blow directly into the bottom half of my full tower case. Each of these 120mm Papst fans pumps 82 cubic feet of air per minute, which is 164CFM in total. This air carries a lot of dust with it as it comes rushing into the case, in order to reduce the amount of dust entering the case, most people install fan filters. Today I'm reviewing some 120mm black aluminium fan filters. Obviously these are designed for fans that are blowing air into the case, rather than fans that are removing hot air and exhausting out of the case. You could place fan filters over your exhaust fans, but it won’t achieve much apart from reducing your exhaust airflow.

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As you can see, these filters are composed of an aluminium frame that holds the filter material in place. The frame is sturdy enough as to not allow the filter to distort, despite the filter's minimal thickness. It has four holes drilled through raised corners of the filter to aid in mounting on your case side with some standard fan screws that will also hold your fan at the same time. The filter material is a wire type mesh that is like very stiff flyscreen, which has a 'grooved' texture across the surface. Of all the fan filters I have seen, this material presents itself as being the most permeable. Other filters usually use a foam style filter that is effective at keeping any dust from entering the case but this usually comes with the sacrafice of a severely throttled airflow. This doesn't seem to be an issue with the filter material used for the aluminium fan filters, which was no doubt the aim of their production.

Installation was a dream. After jig sawing out two 120mm holes for my fans and drilling the fan screw holes, all that was required was screwing four fan screws in each filter, through the filter's pre-drilled holes and into the fans on the other side of the case door. This held both the filter and the fan securely to the door and there is not rattling from the filter on the metal case. They require no assembly and are delivered ready to go, although other reviewers have mentioned that they are shipped with fan screws. Mine didn't come with any fan screws, this wasn't a major issue for me personally, but you should order some with the fan filters if you don't have any spare. They look pretty neat, possibly the best looking filters I've seen before, and especially once they're installed. The black filters really do suit a black case, I have seen the silver aluminium ones on Lianli cases before and they seem to suit the case. The slim nature of the filter lends itself to any case modding ventures. Here are some images of them in action:

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I have no accurate way of testing their airflow resistance, however, I can comment on their performance by saying that my case temps are the same as ambient. Of course, my fans are blowing directly onto my motherboard's case temp sensor, so this will not be a clear indication of the temps for the whole case. Despite this, the filter's are obviously not restricting the airflow of the two 120mm fans very much at all, or I would have noticed a higher than ambient temperature in my tower. As the dust builds up on the external side of the filter, the airflow will be reduced. Some people have had such dusty households that they have needed to clean their filters once a week, most people find it necessary to clean them once a month or more. As these have only been running overnight, I cannot personally comment on how quickly they get clogged or how often cleaning is required.

Judging from their design, cleaning would be an easy affair. Perhaps running a toothbrush up and down the grooves once a fortnight for standard maintenance and a more thorough cleaning with a heavier brush when they get really grubby. I don't know how it would react to water, but assuming it dries properly, I don't see why you couldn't remove them and put them through the dishwasher once every 6 months or so.

Click to Enlarge

These fan filters are a simple, well-constructed and well-designed product to keep dust out of your case. They come in various sizes and colours from 80mm to 120mm and are a good looking addition to any case without disrupting the airflow to any great extent. They are more expensive than other filters by quite a large amount, the 80mm filters are around twice the cost of an older style 'foam' fan filter and the 120mm grill is roughly three times more expensive than it's foam counterpart. The cost is easily the only downside to this product, but in reality it's a small price to pay for reducing the amount of dust that can enter a case. If you are serious about air-cooling and have intake fans, then you should consider filtering the incoming air with an aluminium fan filter.


All original content copyright James Rolfe.
All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.
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