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Antec 80mm LED Fan Review
By Bones (Ed T. Toton III)
September 23, 2002
Updated October 27, 2003
(Review unit not supplied; purchased for use)

DESCRIPTION

Several manufacturers have started to jump on the bandwagon of creating glitzy and flashy lihgt-up versions of otherwise very ordinary or boring products, realizing that they'll be eaten up by the case-modding community. In particular, there are at least four different manufacturers producing light-up fans, as of this writing.

Perhaps the most cost-effective and easy to obtain are the Antec LED fans. They come in four different configurations- Blue, Red, Green, and Tri-Color (which contains all three of the other colors). Originally only 80mm versions were introduced, but more recently other sizes have become available as well.

Essentially, the Antec LED Fan is just like any other 80mm case-fan. Similar specs in terms of power usage, speed, air throughput, and noise output. The only significant difference is that it has a slightly frosted clear plastic design, rather than the usual opaque black, and it has a wrap-around circuit to power three embedded LEDs.

Clearly these fans will grant you the greatest benefit if you use a window kit of some kind, but it is also possible to take advantage of their cool glowing effect through standard fan grills in your case. As you will see in the pictures below, even a fairly solid front bezel can let the light shine through.

Antec 80mm LED Fan Antec 80mm LED Fan Antec 80mm LED Fan Antec 80mm LED Fan Antec 80mm LED Fan Antec 80mm LED Fan

OBSERVATIONS

The original version of these fans in 2002 came equipped with two connectors- a standard 4-pin molex socket for power, and a 3-pin connector for monitoring. I have mixed feelings about doing it this way, since it means that devices such as the Digital Doc can't control the fan, only monitor it. On the other hand, it also means that you can power as many fans as you can fit in your case, since they can all be connected to the power supply and don't rely on you having 3-pin devices available. The newer versions of these fans use what is arguably a far better configuration, in that the fan uses a 3-pin connector for use on a fan-bus, and come with a 4-pin molex adapter to use if you don't have a fan-controller.

The only major issue I have regarding their power connectors is that the fan eats up an entire molex conector since it doesn't have a "pass-through" (assuming you're not using the 3-pin connection on the newer models). Using these fans may require you to make use of Y-splitters for your power cables. I minor hassle and additional cost, but not a real big issue.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the product, and it certainly is visually superior to many other LED fans on the market that simply have static or flashing LEDs in the center of the fan that don't do much in the way of illumination. These fans absolutely glow, depending on your ambient lighting conditions of course. Most case-modders and gamers will be very pleased with these fans.

One feature that these fans have that LED-fans from other manufacturers usually do not is the frosted plastic on the fan blades. Most manufacturers only use clear plastic, but Antec understands that by frosting the plastic, the entire fan glows much more evenly and brightly, instead of just refracting the light away.

UPDATE- After running four of these fans for approximately 13 months, we're starting to see some LEDs fail. Two tri-color fans are still running fine, but of the two blue fans, one is operating fine and the other has had two LEDs fail (see the picture below). This is probably a fault of the LED technology, and not shoddy workmanship on the part of Antec. Blue, Violet, and UV LEDs run with a higher core temperature, and are less stable than lower-frequency LEDs, and often have a shorter life-span as a result. Even so, one year is a short time for LEDs to fail. It may be that some of the earlier models may have used inexpensive low-quality LEDs.

Antec 80mm LED Fan

Features/Specifications:

  • 80 x 80 x 25.4 mm
  • 2,600 rpm average speed
  • 34 CFM
  • 30 dBA (at average rpm)

Pros:

  • (old model) Has 3-pin connector for speed monitoring, and a 4-pin power connector for compatability
  • (new model) Has 3-pin connector for speed monitoring and control, and a 4-pin adapter (more flexible)
  • Bright and vibrant color
  • Doesn't sacrifice functionality for flashy appearance.

Cons:

  • (old model) Powered strictly via a 4-pin molex connector, thus can't be speed-controlled by devices requiring 3-pin connectors.
  • (if using old model, or new model with 4-pin adapter) Doesn't have a "pass-through" design for the power connector, so it uses up a molex connector without allowing another device to plug into it.

Antec's "Han's Workshop" Page


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