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Arctic F12 PWM PST review

Oct 18, 2023

Arctic is a German brand that is especially known for coolers and fans. The focus is especially on an excellent price-performance ratio. So if you are looking for fans at the lower price end, you will come across Arctic relatively soon, including the two 120 mm fans F12 and the P12. The Arctic F12 in the PWM PST version is the focus of this review. This model is a bit more expensive than the cheapest version of the fan. Nevertheless, there won’t really be any change in the performance here, based on the achieved speed. In the Arctic F12 PWM PST test, we draw a comparison with other cheap fans and analyze them for performance and volume.

The packaging of the Arctic F12 PWM PST is – in accordance with the low price – reduced to the bare essentials. The blue cardboard box is barely larger than the fan and is completely unpadded. Apart from the fan, only the obligatory case fan screws and a card with a QR code displaying the link to Arctic’s support page are included.

First, let’s get to the name of the Arctic F12 PWM PST. The difference between this and the cheaper PWM model is the “PST”, which means “PWM Sharing Technology”. This is the fan connector socket that sits next to the PWM connector. With this, you can connect more fans (“daisy chaining”) and thus get by with fewer fan headers on the motherboard. If you have enough headers, which happens more often on more expensive motherboards than on cheaper ones, you could save a bit with the normal PWM version of the fan. The cable of the Artic F12 PWM PST is kept thin and black. This allows it to be routed easily and inconspicuously.

Otherwise, the Arctic F12 PWM PST is unspectacular. It corresponds to what one imagines under “inexpensive computer fan”. The frame is made of black plastic, as are the fan blades. There are no vibration-damping rubber surfaces in the corners and the impression is also emphasized by the low weight. However, the edges of the plastic are cleanly finished; there are no burrs or sharp spots. The distance between the fan blades and the frame is relatively large, but the rotation of the fan blades runs smoothly and feels solid.

Overall, the fan’s appearance is good, but unspectacular. Confidently, the warranty of 6 years is chosen. Such a warranty period is more likely to be found on expensive premium fans and, except for Arctic, rarely in the budget range.

Let’s move on to the most important area: performance. Fans from other brands that you might run across in this sub-$10 price range include the Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM, the be quiet! Pure Wings 2, and only slightly more expensive the Sharkoon Silent Storm BW120.

As case fans, the Arctic F12s definitely offer slightly better performance than these three competitors, especially at low volumes, with the Xilence and Sharkoon fans following very close behind and the be quiet! Pure Wings 2 with a larger gap.

The tide turns on the radiator. Here, the Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM and the Sharkoon Silent Storm BW120 pass the other fans and are largely tied at a low volume, while the Arctic F12 PWM PST slips and only finds itself on par with the be quiet! Pure Wings 2.

Here’s the Xilence XPF120X.B.PWM, the Sharkoon Silent Storm BW120 and the be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120mm:

When used on the air cooler, the comparison field is close, with the black Xilence fan tending to come out just ahead.

The biggest competition to the Arctic F12 PWM PST comes from within the company. The Arctic P12, which also comes in a PWM PST variant, costs largely the same and beats the F12 in all respects except build quality, where it is on par. It has a wider speed range and is stronger and quieter than the Arctic F12 PWM PST. And it does so in all applications – whether on a radiator, as a case fan, or on an air cooler. Thus, the P12 takes the overall victory – and in some cases clearly.

Here is the Arctic F12 PWM PST compared to the Arctic P12:

That’s not to say you should kick the Arctic F12 PWM PST out of your system if you already own it. But if you’re faced with a choice, there’s no reason to reach for the F12 instead of the P12. At this point, the Arctic F12 PWM PST doesn’t quite continue the triumphant march that the larger Arctic F14 PWM PST did.

In terms of pure performance and volume, we come to the point that is both the strength and weakness of the fan. In principle, the Arctic F12 PWM PST delivers quite solid performance and doesn’t get too loud either. The problem is supplied by Arctic itself: The version without PST costs – bought separately – not much more than half. And Arctic supplies the second problem with its in-house P12 model. The Arctic P12 is simply better than the F12 in all aspects and is also priced in the same range, so I can’t recommend purchasing an Arctic F12 PWM PST for that reason alone. Instead, I point very clearly to the Arctic P12, which is simply the better overall package. As I said, if you already have the Arctic F12 PWM PST in your computer, you have nothing to worry about. The fan is good. The P12 is just better.

The Arctic F12 PWM PST is definitely a good fan that can keep up with the similarly priced competition, but Arctic has a better fan on offer with the P12 itself for the same price.

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