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Pros: Very fair price (under 10 bucks) when on sale. High airflow w/ respectable pressure. Soft & very red (not orange like some) LEDs. Quieter and greater CFM than the Antec Tri-cool fans I replaced.
(The only quieter 2000rpm, 80+ CFM fan I've personally used is a NoiseBlocker E-Loop, which costs 3- to 4-times as much as one of these.)
Cons: Some people may consider these a little noisy at full-blast (2000rpm), but it should be expected at that speed and airflow level. The sound is not from the fan's motor, but from the blades moving so much air.
Other Thoughts: I couldn't be happier with the price/performance ratio these fans offer.
I purchased 3 of these to use in an older Phenom II & HD4890 system within an Antec 300 case -- two intake, one rear-exhaust -- in combination with the stock Antec 140mm 'Tri-cool' mounted at the top of the case (set to low-speed). The side-panel has been modified with a sealed window installed, so the stock side-intake (or vent) no longer exists. The 2 intake fans manage to pull plenty of air into the case to keep its components cool, and the rear one pulls most of the hot air right out the back.
Pros: My card has very low idle temps (~30C) just a few degrees above ambient (~24C), and excellent load temps (55-60C) during games while using the stock fan profile. (Games include: FarCry3, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, and Metro 2033.)
Its performance has been impressive, even on my rather dated Phenom II-based system. It's an excellent improvement over my old HD4890. Framerates rarely dip below 40 in the aforementioned games at very high or maximum detail settings, even w/ 4x - 8x AA enabled. (1920x1080 resolution)
AMD's Never Settle Reloaded bundle is a definite Pro, and my card also came with a copy of 3D Mark. At the time of purchase, the combined software bundle value was roughly $150, and the addition of FarCry3 Blood Dragon has added even more value. I don't think I've gotten such a valuable amount of software w/ a video card since the mid-90's.
Cons: Aside from my "Other thoughts," I only have one minor issue - the side-mounted PCIe power connectors.
I would have preferred these connectors faced forward. Sure, side connections come in handy for cases that lack the capacity for long cards, but at 9-1/2 inches, this isn't a long card by any definition. (ATX motherboards are 9-1/2 inches wide.) Side connectors leave a wire loop when using a dual-connector (2x 6-pin or 2x 6+2-pin) PCIe power cable, which then sits fully exposed in windowed cases. Such a wire loop could potentially interfere with side fans, or even affect the side-panel fit of narrow-width cases, but would be completely out of harm's way and potentially hidden if on the edge of the card nearest a case's hard-drive cage.
Other Thoughts: MSI's warranty coverage is somewhat modder-friendly... MSI permits the installation and use of aftermarket cooling solutions as long as the owner of the card restores it to factory condition (translation: reinstall the stock HS/Fan) prior to shipment for warranty service.
I contacted MSI to inquire about removing the HS/Fan, then removing the fan shroud from the HS/Fan assembly in order to paint JUST the fan shroud to match my PC's case. MSI's reply stated removal of the HS/fan was fine, but painting the shroud "was not recommended and can void my warranty coverage." So, I would void my warranty coverage should I paint it, even if I were to paint over the two blue lines MSI placed on the card itself. That's... disappointing.
I understand what I proposed was an alteration to the stock configuration, but it's a very simple cosmetic alteration to a part that has little (if any) impact on the performance of the product. If the shroud were completely removed and properly masked, there would have been a layer of paint only few microns thick weighing but a few grams. I simply fail to see how that could be in any way detrimental to the card's performance, let alone prompt MSI to void the warranty. Overclocking through the use of MSI's Afterburner software is probably guilty of burning up more cards than a little bit of paint on the fan shroud could ever be...
For those concerned, FarCry3 Blood Dragon codes will be emailed to previously registered Never Settle Reloaded participants after the game's official release on May 1st. Anyone who registers after May 1st should receive codes for all three games at once.
Pros: The fan is quiet with excellent med/high-capacity airflow.
As opposed to a clear frame, this fan's dark, smoky frame does manage to ever-so-slightly hinder LED light bleed in all directions.
The fan will start at a 5V fan controller setting. (Tested on two 5V-12V controllers.)
Cons: While the frame of this fan is technically 25mm thick, mounting it as anintake results in a 26mm depth. If you look very closely at the mounting holes on the intake side, you will see that the hole has a slightly raised edge, or lip. It is this raised lip that makes this fan 26mm thick when used in intake applications.
The additional 1mm thickness affects the fan's ability to fit in slip-in/clip-in fan mounting frames, such as those found in the front-panel of Fractal Design's Define R4 case, or in the bottom panel of a Cooler Master CM-690. (I tested this fan in the slip-in/clip-in mounts of both cases, and it wouldn't fit in either one as an intake application, but fit just fine when flipped to an exhaust application.)
The raised holes on the intake side also means that this fan will not mount perfectly flush to any surface when used as an intake. Instead, a narrow gap always exists. The unfortunate side-effect to such a gap is that the fan could potentially draw some air from within the case. This effect would be compounded should it ever become easier for the fan to pull air through the gap than through a panel's opening if it were to become obstructed, such as if a filter were to clog.
Other Thoughts: The LEDs are white, but the blue fan blades give the lighting a blue tint. I'm not certain this is a plus or minus, but potential owners should be aware.
The wiring is tightly twisted, which allows easy routing. However, I would have preferred the wiring were sleeved. The multi-colored wiring simply isn't attractive if/when left exposed.
Due to the "Cons" I listed, I haven't decided if I'm going to keep the pair of these fans I purchased, or return/exchange them for something else.
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