Arctic P12 Max Showdown – Black (DBB) vs White (FDB)

Epilogue

The Arctic P12 Max is a remarkable fan, offering top performance (airflow and static pressure) at a highly affordable price. It comes in two colors, black and white, with the first having a double ball bearing (DBB) while the second has a fluid dynamic bearing (FDB). Normally, DBB fans are noisier than FDB ones. In this case, the differences between the DBB and FDB versions of the P12 Max in noise output throughout the frequency range are mostly at low rotation speeds: 10% and 25%. At 50%, the FDB fan has a slightly lower noise output; the difference gets smaller at 75%, and at full speed, both fans have almost identical noise output. The performance difference between the P12 Max versions is small in the normalized noise tests.

 

The White version is 45% more expensive than the black one (14.5 dollars vs. 10 dollars on Amazon), and given the small differences in performance and the not dramatic noise output differences overall, I strongly believe that the price difference is unjustified. Get the more affordable P12 Max version unless you are super sensitive to noise at low speeds and want the lowest possible noise. After all, 4.5 dollars more is not a crazy amount, and still, at $14.5, the P12 Max White achieves a high price per performance score.

The P12 Max loses only to the way more expensive Phanteks T30-120 at 35 dBA. It scores third (the White version) at 30 dBA, behind the same Phanteks fan and the Thermaltake Toughfan 12 Pro, which is among the best performers in the normalized noise tests at up to 30 dBA since its noise output is 30.7 dBA max.

The deviations in performance between the two P12 Max Black samples are within the expected limits, and to be frank, I expected a higher difference in performance between the FDB and DBB versions of this fan. At some point, I wondered where the bearings differ or if both fans use the same. In any case, Arctic has a strong product delivering a lot for its price tag. In the context of this review, I won’t give an Editor’s Choice for the White model but a recommendation since its price tag is heavily increased over the Black model.

A drawback that needs addressing in these fans is the lack of a daisy-chain option. Arctic states that this is in purpose because of the increased power consumption (3x fans in series consume close to 1A at full speed so that they could damage the header of a mainboard or a PWM controller). If the Arctic wanted to offer a daisy chain feature, they could use a special cable with a SATA header for power and a 4-pin PWM to control and monitor the fan’s speed. This way, there wouldn’t be any power issues. Something similar Super Flower does for its MegaCool fan, which is a power beast.

 

To check all alternative fan offerings, read my Best Cooling Fans article before investing in new cooling solutions. You help me a lot by using my affiliate links, which don’t increase the product’s price. I get a commission from Amazon every time you do it, which can make a difference for me, especially now that I am on my own, working exclusively for my media and not for someone else.

 

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Top performance
  • Noise optimized design
  • Decent build quality
  • PWM control
  • Rubber anti-vibration pads
  • Fluid Dynamic Bearing (which looks to be a Rifle one, though)
  • Long and flexible power cable
  • Six-year warranty
Cons:
  • No daisy-chain option
  • Increased power consumption at high speeds
  • Lack of RGB might be a problem for some users

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Arctic P12 Max Showdown – Black (DBB) vs White (FDB)

  1. First of all, many thanks Aris!
    Well, I was expecting bigger difference at lower RPMs. In the higher I expected very similar results, as it is, because the main source of noise, which covers other sounds, is created by a moving air mass that radiates a sound wave into the environment. And since the geometry of propeller is the same, there should be no major differences.
    This 2nd DBB fan is not so disturbing at 10% (although it’s very near) as the 1st DBB (spike at 5 kHz). However, at 25% it is even more annoying than 1st one because of the harmonics/resonance, which starts between 2nd and 3rd second in the recording.
    FDB has much nicer sound at 10% and 25% PWM level.
    One note: I have one hypothesis as to why the 1st DBB has higher power consumption than the 2nd. The spike at 5 kHz reminds me of grinding/scraping metal on metal. The bearings may not be sufficiently lubricated, or the tolerance of the bearing balls is not tight enough … but its only a guess 😀

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