Regarding the high performance fans from noctua what would be THE best fan for silently pushing air through a heatsink? Not necesarily from noctua as I would like to explore other brands. I've seen several videos about noctua fans and I was wondering if there are any other brands that compete with them (please don't mention corsair).
Look for some commercial fan companys (often you will have never heard of them) and contact them to see if someone on there end has any reccomendations. Typically High Static Pressure fans require higher RPM, which means silence is likely not possible while maintaining a high CFM rate. Also dedicated computer fans are expensive... a very nice fan can cost nearly $50.
Personally I game with headphones so I use some PSU 120mm fans that spin at 4500 rpm making 55dcB of noise on my Hyper 212 Evo. In all honesty I dont even notice the fans... They just make a white noise, sort of half high pitched, about a high E string on a guitar. I have an odd talent for white noise filtering however, I lived in the bush and few years back and there was always a chainsaw being operated once a day, I no longer hear chainsaws... My neigbour had Hydro cut a tree down and I didnt know it was happening until I saw the tree branch fall.
Fan noise is one of the most easily cancelable noises via noise cancelling headphones. I dont understand the idea of quiet PCs but whatever to each his own.
cougars vortex competes with corsair. Has a little lower sp rating but also is quieter. But remember i have a case full of cougars and other then a airy noise its quiet. My h100 pump is louder than 12 of these fans at low speed.Yes, i over build the case with the fans but it runs very cool at idle speeds :)
Deltas ar the best, hands down. For quiet fans go with Scythe Gentle Typhoons. Many swear by Nocturas, but they are ugly.
I just picked up some Corsair SP fans for my rad. They are often on sale and the most cost effective. Deltas have two ball bearings and litterally run forever. They come up ot 5500 RPM and 250 CFM. Even the high RPM ones are quiet with a fan controller (far more quiet than so-called quiet fans at the same CFM). Also, people swear by Sanyo and Denki fans, but I have never used them. I have used old deltas that had been running in an old server for a decade, and to hte best of my knolwedge they are still runnig years later. They are the bst.
Interestng article critiquing typical fan evaluation metrics: