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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

Air Penetrator Detailed Features

I'm comparing the AP181 fan to the 180mm fans used as the stock fans in an SilverStone Fortress FT02 case. These seem to be modified versions of the FM181 fan SilverStone sells separately. Since SilverStone doesn't sell a stand-alone version of the FT02 fan, I'll simply call it "the FT02 fan". The chart below compares the specifications of the three fans.

FT02 fan FM181 fan AP181 fan
Speed controller two speed switch continuously variable two speed switch
Low speed 700 RPM 500 RPM 700 RPM
High speed 1000 RPM 1300 RPM 1200 RPM
Amps 0.30 0.45 0.45
Airflow 100 - 130CFM 65 - 150CFM 80 - 130 CFM
Noise 18 - 27dB(A) 17 - 36dB(A) 18 - 34dB(A)
Static pressure 0.98 - 1.6mm H20 0.48 - 2.38mm H20 1.1 - 2.45mm H20

Compared to the FT02 fan, the AP181 seems very similar. The only visual difference is the integrated grille of the AP181. The FM181 sold separately has no grille, but the FT02 fan has a honeycomb grille (removed for this photo) that SilverStone makes available as an option for those buying the FM181 fan.


Given the amperage these fans draw, it's probably a good idea to run them directly from your power supply rather than from a motherboard header. But looking at the comparative specs of the FT02 fan and the AP181, there doesn't seem to be much difference: the latter draws significantly more power at maximum, but is specified to deliver the same 130CFM airflow. Your first clue might be the higher static pressures (especially at the high speed), but if you missed that, SilverStone provides a hint on the back of the box.


SilverStone claims the "Air Penetrator" design provides (for lack of a better term) a more "focussed" column of air from the fan. They've even prepared an interesting YouTube video showing the difference.

SilverStone Air Penetrator AP121 Fan Demonstration

It looks like the Air Penetrator blows a much more coherent column of air than ordinary fans. But will this translate into better performance? Let's see...



# 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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