Capsule Review: Review of the Sunon Maglev 120mm Fan

Established in 1980 and based in Taiwan, Sunonwealth Electric Machine Industry Co., Ltd., or simply Sunon, is recognized as a leading global manufacturer of fans, blowers, and cooling solutions. The company boasts a diverse range of products such as DC brushless fans, micro blowers, CPU coolers, along with other cooling technologies, making it one of the most respected and oldest fan producers worldwide. Sunon serves a variety of sectors including IT, automotive, and industrial, essentially catering to any application that requires cooling solutions smaller than a ceiling fan.

In the realm of personal computing, Sunon is famed for its proprietary MagLev (Magnetic Levitation) technology, which utilizes magnetic force to levitate the rotor shaft, significantly reducing friction and wear. This innovative approach enhances the fans’ durability and performance by lowering operational noise and boosting high-temperature efficiency. The pioneering MagLev technology and products were first introduced by Sunon in the 90s.

The Sunon MagLev fan model MFC0251V2-1Q02U-S99, a 120mm high-performance variant reviewed today, is designed predominantly for PC use, focusing on longevity and operational efficiency. It incorporates Sunon’s advanced Vapo-Bearing MagLev Engine promising quieter functionality and extended lifespan due to reduced friction. This fan achieves a top speed of 1900 RPM and includes features like a broad range PWM speed control (10-100%).

Featuring a distinct white color and a unique frame design, this fan targets PC builders seeking a sleek, modern look. The manufacturer’s “gaming” label indicates the primary audience for this product. By default, the fan includes a 4-pin connector and a Molex connector for direct PSU connection.

Fan Testing Approach

Our fan evaluation protocol involves the Extech HD350 differential manometer, the Extech AN200 velocity meter, and a tailored 3D printed setup. This setup is equipped with an efficient shutter mechanism that aids in testing a fan’s maximum volume flow (unrestricted) and maximum static pressure (fully restricted), alongside various intermediate points. These data points enable us to draft the actual performance curve for any fan. RPM readings are captured with the fan at maximum airflow, as fan speed fluctuates based on airflow impedance and blade design.

Noise levels are gauged using the Extech HD600 high-sensitivity sound pressure level meter from a distance of 15 centimeters, deviating from the one-meter distance standard of IEC certifications to accurately differentiate nearly inaudible products. It’s important to note that this setup assesses fan noise with unobstructed airflow and minimal environmental interaction. Additional factors like fan grills, cooler installation, or other obstructions will amplify noise output due to increased aerodynamic and vibrational noise.

Analysis & Conclusion

The Sunon MFC0251V2-1Q02U-S99 displays solid performance across the board. Peaking at 1900 RPM, it delivers an airflow of 58.9 CFM and a static pressure of 2.48 mmH2O. Despite its relatively high noise level of 41.3 dB(A), its performance is competitive, though not vastly superior to its peers. Against the Corsair ML120, which also features a magnetic levitation engine, the Sunon fan operates about 300 RPM higher with roughly equivalent noise levels.

Priced competitively at around $11, Sunon’s 120mm MagLev fan is an excellent choice for budget-conscious consumers seeking high-quality cooling solutions. Its performance rivals, and in many aspects exceeds, that of the top 120 mm fans currently on the market, provided it’s correctly utilized. Due to its MagLev engine, the fan’s orientation is critical; it’s not suitable for vertical installations where the engine faces upward, potentially compromising the Vapo mechanism. Hence, it’s best utilized for horizontal placements like front and back air intake/exhaust.

However, acquiring these fans might pose a challenge as Sunon primarily caters to the OEM bulk market, not selling individual retail units. Interested buyers should explore electronics and industrial distributors like Digikey and Mouser instead of mainstream retail platforms.

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