Thermaltake Toughfan 14 Pro: Number one for radiators

Thermaltake Toughfan 14 Pro in detail

While the selection of high-end 140mm fans is quite narrow, there is one model that may be of interest to you. Especially if you want the “most effective” for your radiator, at low noise levels. Certain features of the high-end admittedly don’t appear on the Toughfan 14 Pro, but when it comes to cooling radiators, Thermaltake’s fan doesn’t have much competition in this discipline. It will defend its place in silent builds. Although…

The Toughfan 14 Pro is one of the few 140mm fans with an LCP impeller. The Toughfan 14 Pro is the successor to the non-Pro (Toughfan 14) variant, from which it differs mainly in the geometry of the impeller blades. The scythe-like curvature remains, but now (on the Toughfan 14 Pro) the blades are larger and thus the spacing between the blades has also been reduced. So it’s only natural that in addition to higher airflow, higher static pressure should also be achieved at the same speed.

With the specs Thermaltake lists, the Toughfan 14 should beat the vast majority of the competition on more restrictive obstacles. The TT fan promises significantly less airflow loss due to an obstacle than, for example, the BeQuiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 (BL099). The latter has two fewer blades, which makes it quieter at the same speed. Those fans with fewer blades usually are that way (quieter at the same speed), whether you take the Arctic P12 (5 blades) or the Phanteks T30 (7 blades) as an example.

   

Fewer blades also means less air cutting interactions and therefore less noise. That is, unless it (the noise) is increased by something else, which is typically the tonal peaks from vibrations on the overly long (and flexible) blades. The TF 14 Pro’s blades would be like that, too, as long as there were less than nine of them while keeping the gaps this small. Even so, Thermaltake’s fan blades are more flexible than most 120mm fans, which are also (like the TF 14 Pro) made of LCP with similar thickness in critical areas.

The gap between the blade tips and the frame tunnel is exceptionally narrow, only about 0.6 mm. That’s really rare for a 140mm fan, and especially with the recent difficulties of the new 140mm Noctua fan prototypes, you might wonder what is the situation with frame deformation when installing the fan on a radiator. This is naturally a more complex subject and we cannot write whether it never occurs (or whether it occurs to a degree where a collision of the impeller might occur), but the frame gives a sturdy impression even when high mounting pressure is applied. There is no indication that it would be prone to warping and undesirable blade interference in any situation.

The leading edges of the Toughfan 14 Pro blades are as long as 50 mm. The blade area (approx. 12040 mm2) is some 3.5% smaller, due to the larger rotor hub, than that of the Noctua NF-A14, but compared to the 140mm BeQuiet! Silent Wings Pro 4 (already with a slightly bulkier hub than the Toughfan 14 Pro), it’s again some 2% larger.

The weak point is the mechanical part with a below-average lifespan, Thermaltake lists the mean time between failures as “only” 40,000 hours. Additionally, multiple samples behave differently, the worse ones gently clacking. We’ve come across those as well. Meanwhile, the intensity of the clacking also varies depending on the position of the fan. Again, this is nothing unusual, but with high-end fans, as long as it is a new piece, such discoveries revealing lower tolerances are quite rare. These are more characteristic of cheap models, where the production costs are pushed down considerably. According to one of our readers, an underdimensioned fixation of the magnets inside the fan could be to blame. Obviously it’s always a bit different in terms of execution, though. With some pieces (hopefully most) in the same positions, these acoustic deficiencies don’t show up too much.

What is to be commended, however, is the very long cable. Together with the connector, it is approximately 90 cm long and thus reaches everywhere even in large cases. Perhaps it is a bit of a pity that in addition to its own connector (for connecting the motor), it does not have a second connector for connecting another fan. But maybe it’s also because Thermaltake doesn’t want to risk a situation where you plug three fans into one motherboard header, with which you could get to 1 A, i.e. above its load capacity.

For slowing down the speed (from ~2080 rpm to ~1535 rpm), a 20 ohm resistance adapter is included. And in addition to it, also radiator screws with M3 thread. These aren’t usually included in fan packages, but with this, Thermaltake also demonstrates where it sees the Toughfan 14 Pro, for what it’s optimized.

In addition to single packs marked CL-F140-PL14BL-A and a suggested retail price of 26 EUR, the Toughfan 14 Pro is also sold in pairs (CL-F160-PL14BL-A) with an MSRP of 45 EUR.

Note: The Specifications chart, which used to be in the following place, is now on the second page of the article. We have reserved a separate chapter for it because of its growing size and the resuting relatively large height. This separation should thus contribute to better user control, especially on mobile devices with smaller displays.

And one more thing: To navigate through the result graphs as easily as possible, you can sort the bars according to different criteria (via the button on the bottom left). By (non)presence of lighting, profile thickness, brand, bearings, price or value (with the option to change the sorting to descending or ascending). In the default settings, there is a preset “format” criterion that separates 120mm fans from 140mm fans.


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Comments (11) Add comment

  1. It’s a bit weird that the MTBF is 40000 hours, which translates to 4.6 years of non-stop use, but they offer a 5-year warranty. Are they expecting that a large number of fans will fail before the warranty period ends?

    If the clacking is indeed due to poor fitment of the magnet, is it something that can easily be fixed by the user?

    With that kind of price and such good performance, I wish they’d increase the price a bit and use better bearings. Spending money on LCP rotor with tight tolerances but skimping on the bearing is a bit weird.

    They are rapidly iterating on the design though. Just recently, they have released the EX Pro models which have magnetic connections and user-replacable rotors. Perhaps allowing you to service the bearing yourself is their answer to longevity concerns.

    1. I believe that most users do not have their computer turned on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and on this basis I assume that Thermaltake has a similar approach to the topic. Therefore i suppose, the MTBF is shorter than the warranty itself.

    2. There are too many question marks around the MTBF/MTTF values and personally they are abstract, ungraspable. Does the numerical value pertain to the maximum speed? Minimum? Or to some normalized speed? The lifetime of a fan is also dependent on its operating speed… only the operating temperature is always given at this value, but what about other characteristics of the surroundings? I guess it is calculated without dust? Or, on the contrary, strong pollution? These things will also have a big influence on the lifetime and probably the cheaper the fans, the bigger. Some bearings are better, others are worse insulated against dust and this leads to hardening of the lubricants typically due to the unclean environment (by mixing with dust particles), which with use reacts more to the increase in friction/power consumption of the fan, until it eventually grinds to a halt sooner or later, depending on the power of the motor.

      Even if we were clear on all the variables, I would be more interested in the variance than the mean time between failures. And if these values (MTBF/MTTF) are only the result of estimates under some operating conditions, I consider their informative value to be borderline close to zero. I have tried to shed more light on this also in communication with mechanical engineers, who are closer to these things thematically, but what I write is actually from them.

      It’s hard to say about the magnets, but it makes sense given the nature of the clacking sound depending on the position of the fan. And anyway, that clacking sound is not a typical motor sound, nor is it the sound of a bearing. So yes, it is hard to say with 100% certainty, but it is likely that the more or less pleasant sound of the fans is influenced by the workmanship of the magnets. This makes sense to me and that is why we have pulled this statement out of the discussion and into the text of the article as a possible cause. But maybe there is another explanation for the sound… it would be great if someone contributed here (to the discussion) with a more detailed analysis with proper data.

      PS: Well, the real number one for radiators is probably the EX14 Pro, if we take into account the mounting, or rather the practical magnetic installation with one cable to the motherboard/hub. Although I am a bit worried that the connector could be overloaded with a current higher than 1 A. Especially after some time of use, after which the power consumption of the fans will naturally increase a bit. It seems to me to be quite on the edge (the sustained peak load of the three new fans at max. speed is ~0.98 A). Perhaps it would be advisable for Thermaltake to recommend connecting a trio of Toughfan EX14 Pro to a 3-amp header (are there any with PWM support? As far as I vaguely remember, I’ve only seen overdimensioned 3-pin DC headers on boards, but I’m not very familiar with this… some PWM headers for pumps could perhaps handle loads up to 2.5 A)? It’s hard to say what the VRM margins are of regular, 1-amp fan headers. I can imagine that in some cases, three such fans will have, during spikes, at least over 1 A, for example when trying to reach higher speeds. The power of the TF (EX)14 Pro’s motor is really high.

  2. I am very happy that the article mentioned my previous comments. I often browse the reviews on your website, especially those about fans.
    I am in China, and because this fan is manufactured in China, I could buy it from the channel around May last year.
    After trying them out for a long time, I found that TOUGHFAN 12PO and TOUGHFAN 14PRO both have this problem. The impact of magnets causes occasional abnormal noises. Not only that, LIANLI P28 also has similar problems. These three fans are all my favorite among the new products released last year, but the magnet problem is regrettable.
    I have also released some fan noise audition videos in China and mentioned these issues, such as https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1Yu4y1H71G at 10:19

      1. Don’t underestimate yourself. 😉

        There are enough people who pretend to understand fans (and computer components in general)… but there are only a handful of people who really have something to say (and bring useful information with their work). And to this group you undoubtedly belong. Fingers crossed for your future work!

    1. Thanks for the comment! And I am glad that this knowledge comes from your own observations. Now I’m very sorry that I don’t speak a word of Chinese, because your acoustic analysis of fans is perfect. A lot of the information is clear from the excellent presentation in the graphs, but I would still very much appreciate understanding the verbal commentary. I’m sure more HWCooling readers would be interested. Are your tests also available in text form (easier to translate), or are there “only” videos available?

      Anyway, it is necessary to focus on these things and not to confuse them with the sound of the bearings, which is probably what some people will tend to do, even though bearings cannot technically produce such a sound at such a frequency.

  3. One interesting thing: Note that we measured a higher static pressure with the radiator than without it (without an obstacle). At first glance this may seem like a measurement error, but we can assure you that it is not. In the framework of repeatability of measurements we have focused on this unusual phenomenon and although it is difficult to make any big analysis from these results, one thing is certain. Namely, if one only works with P/Q curves where the airflow is measured at zero static pressure and the static pressure at zero airflow, one will not come to the conclusion about how dominant Toughfan 14 Pro really is on radiators.

    Here too, the seemingly meaningless measurements of “static pressure through obstacles” show remarkable correlations. Naturally, the radiators decrease the airflow of the Thermaltake fan, but the static pressure increases in this interaction. This can be attributed to the effective reduction of the “reactive” cross section in the inter-blade space. This is similar physics to what works with smaller fans. Their airflow decreases with the cross-sectional area, but the static pressure remains high. For this 40 mm model at 10,000 rpm, Alphacool quotes up to 11.92 mm H2O. And that, even if in reality it will be half, is still a lot. 🙂

    1. Arctic P14 Max fan tests will be coming, they’re up next. We’ll approach this in the form of a sort of “trilogy” that will start with the P12 PWM PST, continue with the P12 CO PWM PST, and end with the P14 Max. For a full evaluation of this latest Arctic fan (P14 Max), we consider the results of the P12 (CO) PWM PST to be important.

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