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Multi-channel fan controller for several PWM/Non-PWM fans Vs a decent MB?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
If one or some could offer their thoughts on the best direction to go here, I'd be most appreciative!

It seems my MB has the following:
1x CPU fan-header (PWM)
1x chasis fan-header_1 (PWM)
1x chasis fan-header_2 (3-pin)
1x Power fan-header (3-pin)
I was hoping there'd be more fan headers in-total, but at least there's my requisite minimum of 2 PWM headers.

I'm planning on 2->4 AP-15's for my Rad, & 4->6 AP-14's for the chassis.
Plus I'm ordering 1x >3000RPM Nidec PWM 120mm to experiment with (exact model YTBD, prolly 5400).
If testing goes well, I may order a second Nidec....

[proposed layout]
2x Nidec's, each sitting on their own PWM header, with their +/- going direct to the PSU.
Then I'd put up-to-4x AP-15's on one of the 3-pin headers, & up-to-6x AP-14's on the remaining 3-pin.
[/proposed layout]

Are 3-pin headers essentially linear voltage controllers (i.e. rheostat/bus) that can run 3-pin fans at 12v or less?
Or can they only run non-PWM fans at their rated top (12v) speed?
Would the 3-pin headers take the load, or would some of the GT's on them have to be rigged direct to the PSU?

Finally, is my MB's PWM likely to be high-frequency PWM?
How do I determine whether decent quality PWM has been implemented?
For instance this user's MB isn't able to regulate his fan down to 1000RPM via it's PWM header.
The lowest it can go is 2400, despite the fan being capable of 1000RPM.

Does this all sound too clumsy, is a dedicated controller looking to be imperative IYO?
I'd rather not have something that uses a bay, but would still like RPM/voltage feedback & at least auto-control if possible.

There does seem to be a few multi-channel controllers which do 3-pin, but also have at-least one channel for PWM fans.
Nothing I've seen that avoids using a bay, YTD if any offer 2x quality high-freq PWM channels*, w/high enough wattages for 2x 5400RPM PWM fans.
So hopefully no need for the self-build route, but I do get that some guys like doing that sort of thing for fun!

For the 2x 5400RPM 120x25mm fans I'm considering**, the options -as I see them- are:

(1)
Buy 2x D1225C12BBAP-31 & pair them with a controller that has at-least 2x LVC channels.

Granted I'd be using linear voltage control instead of PWM, but I'd still retain all the functionality of option (2) right?
e.g. RPM/voltage feedback, and speed control, just not the same power efficiency...

(2)
Buy 2x D1225C12BBZP-00 & feed +/- wires of 2x directly to the PSU (not sure how best to manage that), & then connect their PWM/RPM wires to the 2x PWM fan-headers on my mobo?

I haven't done the math but I suspect option (2) will be pricier than option (1), despite the latter not needing a discrete controller.
This is because the Nidec 5400RPM 25mm PWM fans, have to be imported at much greater expense than their Scythe equivalents.
This makes option (1) more attractive, because not only will it be cheaper, but I'd also own a muilti-channel PWM/Non-PWM fan controller!
Admittedly though I haven't done the maths, so I may be totally wrong...

I would prefer to start off with MB initially if do-able, hopefully saving $ + giving myself plenty of time to research the best controller.

*YTD how to ascertain if a quality PWM channel/circuit is being used.
**assuming that's the highest RPM 25mm fan from Nidec now?
Edited by jalyst - 1/2/11 at 8:49am
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for confirming the AP-14/15's aren't PWM, and do under-volt well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Conumdrum View Post
AP 15/14's etc are NOT PWM. 3 Pin.
So you need the standard Mosfet etc on the mobo or controller to handle the startup current of each. Yes, they are directly controlled by the raw voltage applied to the fan, they have no PWM hardware on the fan. And they do undervolt well. So for voltage control they have to be connected to the voltage control device, branching the power wires to the PSU will ensure 100% RPM all the time, no matter what you want to do with the RPM sensing wire.

I know the GT15's are about .3 amps on startup. Adjust accordingly for the 14's. Mobos have a higher amp CPU connector, some mobos are 3/4 pin and allow either type to be used. Most are PWM 4 pin I 'think' tho. 1 Amp is the common accepted CPU header max allowed, the others? .5 Amp.
According to Scythe's global site, peak draw for AP-15 is 0.083, & AP-14 is 0.049.
YTD the max. draw for each of my headers, but assuming you're right & the CPU_Fan PWM header is 1amp & the other 3 are 0.5...

Then that means one of the 3-pin headers will comfortably support up to 4x AP-15's at their top speed (0.332).
And the 2nd 3-pin will comfortably support up to 6x AP-14 at their top rated speed (0.294).

Quote:
Think of this.... Using the mobo and all the availible fan headers on the mobo makes a absolute mess of wiring.
Get a solid quality fan controller, make do with one less slot.
1-6 GT14s spread between two mobo headers? Nope....
Sorry I didn't read every bit of the post you made, but maybe this will help.
Actually it's 2-4 AP-15's for one header & 2-6 AP-14's for the other, so as many as 10x AP15/14's between the 2x 3-pin headers.
Then we've got up to 2x PWM fans >3000RPM (prolly the 5400's) sitting on the 2x PWM headers. So yeah, prolly quite a mess!

I probably will get a dedicated controller in the coming months.
I just want to make sure it's do-able with my MB only in the meantime.

It certainly did help, and was most appreciated!
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LennyRhys View Post
I think Conumdrum answered most of your questions.
I've since identified at least one flaw with the multi-channel PWM/LVC controllers I've seen so far:
They don't interface with our MB/BIOS/EFI & adjust LV/PWM of their channels independently, based on temp readings passed from the MB.
Plus RPM data of each fan can't be passed back to the MB....

Such a set-up would be close to 'Fan-control Nirvana' IMO....
This 'kinda' comes close, cept that it has manual control & hence requires a bay, which I don't need.
And the input 4-pin molex connection is only suited for 60-80W, so even running 2-ch at full capacity could get dangerous.

Quote:
Perhaps you can answer a question for us - why do you want control and RPM feedback of so many fans, motherboard or otherwise?
If it's do-able, why not?!

Quote:
I'm building my controller because I want my system to tick all the air cooling boxes - silence, efficiency, and raw performance. To claim all three with the same fans simply isn't possible without a controller. Silent cooling may be efficient but cannot provide raw performance; efficient cooling may be silent and may perform well but excels at neither; and performance cooling is highly efficient but never silent.
This is precisely what I'm aiming for, but in a pre-built controller device, if not possible via MB.

Quote:
As it stands, my silent rig is composed entirely of low speed fans; for efficient cooling (when stress testing etc) I have to swap out the CPU fan for something more powerful; and for raw performance during benching I have to set up several fans to cool the chipset, VRM, memory etc. in addition to swapping out the CPU fan again.
I don't envision needing to swap-out the chassis fans etc. very often...
But I may decide to get more heavily into OC, & hence need some stronger fans to cool chipset/vrm/mem etc.
And I may eventually replace the AP-15's on my Rad with 2x 5400RPM GT, if testing of 1x goes well.

Primarily the build isn't a 'hard-core' OC/gaming machine....
It's primary utility is HTPC/PVR (BE+FE), & to some extent initially, a NAS.
But I will play with mild OC's, & occasionally may want to go 'hard-core' (not to win benchmarking championships etc. though).
The majority of the time though it'll run at stock, or even slightly UC.
Edited by jalyst - 1/2/11 at 8:59am
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
anyone? thank-you.
post #5 of 10
That sunbeam should probably be a good low cost option when it becomes readily available. In essence, it's basically a MB PWM amplifier...takes one MB PWM header and amplifies that control to a good 4 channels. I've had one of the old sunbeam controllers running for amost two years strong now, they are built very well as is apparent by their heatsink, plus you can have manual control if you want for each channel.

I'm actually running 4 yate mediums per channel, but that's only 2 watts a piece, so a total of 8 watts per channel.

Also if you need more channels or power, you can always split that MB PWM sensor signal over to more than one of those sunbeam rheosmarts. Also nothing to say you HAVE to mount it in a bay. I don't have the one I use mounted in the bay.

For RPM sensing, you can take the RPM wire from each of your fans and run it down to however many fan headers you have. If you need more than that, you'll need a monitoring controller like the scythe kaze masters or something else. I just don't see the need to monitor more than one fan if they are controlled with the same voltage, but you could do that if you wanted to.
    
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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yeah I'm starting to think I don't "NEED" PWM fans...
So for 5400RPM (or maybe slightly less) I may just get the 3-pin Scythe GT's.

But you're right, another way is to get 1-2 rheosmarts & connect it to my PWM header/s.
I could strip em down & mount them internally, as I don't really care about manual control.
But no channels would have enough juice for these fans, so I'd have to combine some? (doubt that's do-able)

Then there's the issue that I'll have one other grouping of fans (pref. more), that I want to adjust independently.
But this device only ramps-up all the channels at the same time, unless you're manually adjusting.

Meh the device is just too simplistic/clunky....
I think I'd prefer something like some of t-balancer's offerings...
Independent channels available for auto-adjust, not just manual.
Edited by jalyst - 1/5/11 at 6:58am
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
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Edited by jalyst - 1/28/11 at 11:14am
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
...
Edited by jalyst - 1/28/11 at 11:14am
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
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Edited by jalyst - 2/1/11 at 4:02am
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Martin/anyone?

+ since come up with a few more ideas here & in subsequent posts.

Thanks guys!
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