Phanteks T30-120 Fan Review – Silent Speed Demon
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The Phanteks T30 comes in a discreet gray box with the rather bold statement “the ultimate fan” printed on it. At about $30 per fan (or slightly less when buying in packs of three), the 120mm T30 fan is not cheap either. It will have to compete with other premium fans from the likes of Noctua and Corsair.
So, does the T30 live up to Phantek’s claims, and is it worth the price compared to similar competitors? We will do our best to find out on this page.
If you are an RGB enthusiast, the Phanteks T30-120 probably didn’t make the shortlist of fans for your next PC build. Design-wise, this fan is as low-key as its packaging, with a dark gray frame and fan blades in a lighter gray.
What makes the fan stand out (in a literal sense) is that it has a depth of 30 mm instead of the standard 25 mm. As a result, standard radiator screws are usually too short to mount the T30 properly, but thankfully Phanteks has included a number of suitable screws in the box.
Like some other premium, high-rpm fans, the Phanteks T30 comes with a physical switch that lets you put a cap on the fan speed.
Advanced mode allows it to run unrestricted up to 3000 rpm, whereas Performance and Hybrid mode will limit the fan to 2000 rpm or 1200 rpm, respectively, with the PWM signal at 100%. Hybrid mode switches the fan off entirely at PWM signals below 50%.
As is evident from the first picture, the T30 is also ready for daisy-chaining without having to use a separate splitter, which is a useful feature that isn’t necessarily present on other premium fans.
For testing 120 mm radiator fans, we currently mount the (single) fan on a Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L V2. Noise level readings are collected using a Voltcraft SL-451, and a Unit-T UT363S anemometer is used for measuring air velocity directly behind the radiator. PWM levels are adjusted via the BIOS of an MSI Z790 Carbon motherboard.
Disclaimers are in order as this setup is not the most accurate. It’s sufficient for comparing the general characteristics of different fans, but please keep in mind that the error bars are quite large.
We do not do thermal testing, as this would only add unnecessary confounders like properties of the AIO and the CPU itself. What matters for a PC fan at the end of the day is how much air it moves. Also, what sort of noise levels you have to endure to get your desired level of cooling performance is also hugely important for most users.
Performance at 1000 RPM
The PWM switch on the Phanteks T30 is set to ‘Advanced’ for these tests, which linearly scales the fan speed with the PWM signal up to 3000 RPM (or actually slightly above 3000 RPM according to the motherboard).
We start measuring at 1000 RPM, as this is close to the ambient noise level floor for the quietest fans. The T30 is indeed one of the least noisy fans here along with the Asus ROG Strix XF120. Unlike the Strix fan, however, the Phanteks T30 moves more air than all tested fans except the Noctua NF-F12 iPPC-3000, which pushes more a bit air through the radiator at the cost of additional noise.
Performance at 1400 RPM
At 1400 RPM, the Phanteks T30 moves past its Noctua competitor and moves the most air through the radiator. It’s also one of the least noisy fans, second only to the Arctic P12 Max.
Performance at 1800 RPM
1800 RPM is the upper limit for the low-RPM fans included in this comparison. Again, the Phanteks T30 is still a clear winner if you value high airflow at a moderate noise level. At 1800 RPM and above 40 dB, all fans are quite noisy, but the difference between 41 and 49 dB is significant.
Performance at Max. RPM
At maximum speed (where we leave out the low-RPM models), you would rather not be in the same room as any of these high-speed fans. The Noctua NF-F12 iPPC-3000 is very powerful but also extremely noisy at this level (note that Noctua makes it abundantly clear that this is not one of its silence-focused models). Both the Arctic P12 Max and Be Quiet’s Silent Wings Pro 4 are also high-end fans that move a lot of air at reasonable noise levels. However, although the Phanteks T30 is slightly louder, it pushes the most air through the radiator by a sizeable margin.
Conclusion: Quite Possibly the Ultimate Radiator Fan
Phanteks markets the T30 as ‘the ultimate fan for every scenario‘ and not specifically as a radiator fan. The fan’s static pressure is not even mentioned on the box. But although a full set of Phanteks T30s would make excellent case fans at low PWM settings, it would also be overkill in most scenarios.
Where the Phanteks T30 really shines – and where you get your money’s worth – is on a radiator. Even on our single-fan AIO, it managed to boost the Cinebench R23 score by about 1,300 points. Putting two or three of them on a 360 mm CPU AIO (or why not a 4090 AIO) would be an interesting experiment, but we’ll save that for another day.
The closest thing to a perfect fan that we have seen to date
- Moves a ton of air
- Surprisingly quiet
- Solid upgrade for almost any radiator
- Thicker than standard
- Not cheap