Make no mistake, component flexibility is a very important aspect. With technology changing as it is, you want your components to have the ability to adapt and remain useful as your system changes and grows. It only makes sense, as you don’t want to run into a scenario of something like needing to change your case in order to do a GPU upgrade. Ideally, you want to purchase components that will grow with you, alleviating the need to purchase a replacement component with each upgrade. However, many times this type of flexibility does come at a cost.
The problem is, when you see something that is “one size fits all”, it actually tends to fit almost nothing correctly. Components are the same. There are some that can do many things adequately, but really can’t do anything well. The reason is simple, when you attempt to make a component perform more tasks, it is typically at the expense of quality in singular tasks. This is why we see so many highly specialized items available. Even in something as simple as fans this holds true. If you attempt to make the fan quieter, it will be at the expense of airflow. However, if the air could be channeled to the area you are trying to cool rather than blowing randomly, it would actually take less airflow to accomplish the same result and still keep the noise down. A seemingly simple concept, but one Silverstone shook up the fan world with when they introduced the Air Penetrator series of fans.
Silverstone AP Series (Air Penetrator) fans do exactly what the name implies. Silverstone AP Series fans use air channeling design to direct the flow of air in a cylindrical pattern, making for far more efficient use of the fan’s airflow. With this air channeling, Silverstone AP Series fans can be aimed directly at the area requiring air and cooling more effectively while still keeping fan noise at a minimum. The lineup features the AP121/121L 120mm, AP141 140mm, AP181 180mm and the monster AP182 2000rpm 170cfm 180mm. The AP121L adds LED to the AP121, and is available in red, green, blue and white for those looking to add a little bling to their build in a 1500rpm fan. The AP121 and 141 include three speed cable for 700~1500rpm operation and feature fluid dynamic bearings. The AP181 is selectable 700/1500rpm and includes a built in speed switch and utilizes a sleeve bearing. While the AP121/121L, AP141 and AP181 all come with manual speed selection devices, they are all fully compatible with BIOS/software controls when plugged into the MB, as well as hardware fan controllers. The AP182 is a 700~2000rpm powerhouse using dual ball bearings for quiet operation and long life. The AP182 includes a continuously variable analog fan speed controller. With current draw of 1.3A and over 15 watts, it is highly recommended to use a 4-pin PSU lead to power it rather attempting to use a fan header on the motherboard.