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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by David Ramsey   
Monday, 09 August 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator Fan
Closer Look: SilverStone SST-AP181 Fan
Air Penetrator Detailed Features
Air Penetrator Fan Installation
Fan Testing and Results
Who needs a CPU fan?
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator Fan Review

SilverStone is a company that needs no introduction to most enthusiasts. Although they're best known for their extensive line of computer cases, the company also produces power supplies, fans, and other computer-related hardware. As high end computer components increasingly use more power and thus generate more heat, dealing with the increasing "thermal load" of an enthusiast-level systems becomes more and more difficult, especially if you don't want to resort to water cooling or even more exotic methods. Although simplified all-in-one water cooling systems like the CoolIT ECO A.L.C. have performance equal to some high-end air coolers, the vast majority of systems continue to be air cooled.

A systems builder or enthusiast must weigh a variety of factors when choosing fans for their air-cooled system. The main criteria when selecting fans are airflow, typically expressed in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and noise, measured in decibels (dB or db(A)). Some manufacturers will also specify the "static pressure" their fans can maintain when blowing air into an enclosed or obstructed area; this is useful information when a fan is blowing into an obstruction like a radiator, but less important when it's not.


One big different between fan specifications and other part specifications is that most users have no way to verify them, since measuring the air flow, noise, and static pressure of a fan is difficult or impossible without specialized equipment. What we can do is test the cooling performance, and in this test, Benchmark Reviews will compare the cooling performance of the SilverStone SST-AP181 "air penetrator" fan with the performance of SilverStone's stock 180mm fan in the Fortress FT02 computer case.

Manufacturer: SilverStone Technology
Product Name:Air Penetrator 180mm case fan
Model Number: SST-AP181
Price As Tested: $24.99

Full Disclosure:The product samples used in this article has been provided by SilverStone Technology.

Air Penetrator Features

  • Industry leading air channeling fan
  • Wide fan blades for reducing air resistance
  • Integrated air channeling grille double as fan guard to reduce overall size
  • Low power consumption

SST-AP181 Specifications

Model No.
12V DC
10.8V DC (in low rpm mode)
0.45 AMP
700 ; 1200 rpm
Effective airflow range
1.2 ; 3 Meter
80 ~ 130 CFM
Max 1.1~2.45mmH2O
Air flow
1.9m/s ; 3.1m/s (measured at fan exit)
18 / 34dB(A)
180mm (L) x 180mm (W) x 32mm (H)

Features and specifications provided by SilverStone Technology



# Quiet FT02Peter Hopewell 2010-08-10 12:24
I'm interested in running a quiet FT02 system and wondering if these fans offer any advantages. I want to run the 980X at stock with a Magahalem and quiet PWM fan and use a passive 5750 (e.g. Powercolor Go Green). Could these fans be run at lower RPM via a fan controller? Any thoughts on how stable a system at lower RPM might be?
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# RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanDavid Ramsey 2010-08-16 17:03
That's a good question, Peter. The fans are virtually silent at "low" RPM, so I don't see any real advantage to running them any more slowly (I wasn't clear in the article when I said that they were noisier than the stock fans, which I only noticed at the "high" speed setting).

You might be able to run the fans with a separate fan controller, leaving the attached switches set to "high", but not knowing how the attached switches are wired up, it's just a guess.

Since you'll be running the system at its stock clocks, why bother with a fan on the Megahalems at all? As my tests showed, a Megahalems will keep a 980X nice and cool with no attached fan, just using the airflow from the AP181s.
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# FT02 with Super Mega side panel closure?Harry 2010-09-11 16:15

I would like to know when you install the Prolimtech SM Cooler in FT02 your review, could the FT02 case side panel be closed? Isn't the spec for this cooler very tall and could touch the side panel case?

I am thinking of getting similar sized cooler for my RV02 like CM Hyper 212+ GP which is cheaper.

Your assistance is very much appreciated.

Thank you.


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# RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanDavid Ramsey 2010-09-11 17:13
Yes, the side panel fits on with no clearance problems. There's maybe 1/2" of clearance between the top of the Super Mega cooler and the side panel window.
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# RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanJiri 2010-11-25 03:10

thank you for the review. I was wondering, is it possible to thest the Thermalright HR-02 in the passive setup with the FT-02 case (AP-181 fan)?

That would be lovely :)

Take care
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# RE: RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanDavid Ramsey 2010-11-25 07:50
Sadly, I don't have a Thermoright HR-02 available, but I imagine it would work fine passively as long as you weren't over clocking too much.
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# RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanMike Cannon 2011-05-19 18:32
David, I have a Thermaltake 360 rad with standard fans.
They were noisy so I put a drop of sowing machine oil in the bearings.
I was going to ditch them for new fans and was considering the air penetrator. It is expensive in Aussie. Would this type of fan be a good radiator fan?
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# RE: RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanDavid Ramsey 2011-05-19 18:41
Mike, I don't know. Normally for a radiator fan you want a high static pressure to move air through the fins. You can see the official static pressure rating in the chart on the first page of this review, but I don't know how that compares to the fans you're using now.
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# RE: RE: RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanMike Cannon 2011-05-22 22:49
The fans on the rad are Thermaltake. TT-1225. A1225L 12S. I don't know what these model numbers mean. You might have a better idea. In the meantime I might try a search. Regards and thanks.
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# RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanAthlonite 2011-11-22 08:56
just a note if you buy FM181 fans to replace the fans in an RV02 or FT02 they don't come with the inbuilt speed controller they only run at 700rpm 100cfm
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# RE: RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanDavid Ramsey 2011-11-22 21:04
That's why you'd want to buy the AP181 fans, like the ones in this review, since they _do_ come with the speed control switches...
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# RE: RE: RE: SilverStone SST-AP181 Air Penetrator FanAthlonite 2011-11-23 06:50
Ufortunatley for me SilverStone hadn't yet started making the AP181 so I had to buy 3 FM181LED fans instead and assumed because it was stated that they ran 700~1000rpm they included the speed controller well was I ever wrong (grrrr)
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