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About to LOSE my mind - Bloody fans

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I've spent the past two days trying to learn about case fans and CPU air coolers and how to control them the way I want.

I have 2 questions which I can't seem to find answered anywhere and would appreciate your help!

1) I want to use a fan controller to control my case fans. It's a 4-Channel controller. Each channel has between 1 and 3 fans assigned to it. Each channel has a maximum tolerance of 1.0A and 12W. So I broke down which fans I wanted on which channel, and added up the amps and wattages to determine if a single channel can actually handle the load assigned to it.
For example:

CHANNEL 4 (1A/12W MAX)
2 x 200mm CM MegaFlow, TOP OF CASE, 220 CFM = 0.56A, 6.72W
1 x 140mm CM Silent, REAR, 70 CFM = 0.08A, 0.96W
TOTAL = 0.64A, 7.68W MAX


Firstly, am I doing this right? 0.64A and 7.68W are below the channel's max so it seems good to go... But will this stress the controller?

Second, if two or more fans share a channel, will they be able to operate at maximum RPM? Is this even possible? What are some solutions to get my fans which share channels to run at full speed?

2) The CPU cooler I am going to be using is the Thermaltake Frio. This has two 120mm fans running 0.5A and 6W. Can I hook this up to the motherboard's fan header using a Y-Adapter and have the mobo automatically run the fans? The fans on the Frio are apparently 3-pin and not a 4-pin so from what I read this is no good for PWM - whatever that means, I can't seem to figure it out. Please advise.

Further, can I alter when it's "gear changes" kick in i.e. at what temp it will go from quarter to half throttle, half to full, and so on in the BIOS? Any recommended MoBos to run such a CPU cooler?

I'm a newbie when it comes to this stuff so I'd really like some of you to point me in the right direction.

Big thanks!
Edited by lowfiwhiteguy - 2/26/11 at 7:59pm
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post #2 of 7
1) Most fan controllers should be able to handle daisy chained fans. The wattage of case fans is very low, it isn't going to blow out a fan controller.

2) Yes, you can daisy chain the two. You can hook the 3 pin into the 4 pin CPU_FAN header (there is a indicator which 3 pins to plug it in to). Even though it is 3 pin you can still control fan speed.
post #3 of 7
Hello fellow Canadian

1. You can add up the Amps/Watts as you did there, the controller is able to push 1A/12W per channel, if you push that amount you'll be fine, engineers that designed them kept some extra room in case of a situation where you'd go over that 1A/12W for different amounts of time.
ie. : your case (0.64a/7.68w MAX) will be fine, since you'll draw that amount only when the fans are at top speed.
There is probably an "all-time" 10-20% buffer, so you're probably fine running 1.1A/13W, although it's out of spec it'll run, but not recommended. I personally ran my fan controller with the +12v and +5v flipped for a few minutes... replugged the cables properly and it's fine now.

If your fans would go over that spec, you can make them operate at 75%/90%/whichever you want. I guess you bought a fan controller so they don't run at 100% all the time.

2. Yes and no. You can get a Y-Adapter, but since your fans are 3-pin, it won't control them via PWM (Defintion: Pulse Width Modulation is a way of simulating an analog output by varying HIGH and LOW signals at intervals proportional to the value).
3 pins are: +5v (red), ground (black), RPM report (yellow).
PWM would allow you to turn on/off the motor for X amount of time therefore giving you a (100-X)% fan speed and create what your fan controller is doing, but within the fan itself.
Since your fans don't have PWM in them, you can't control it via the mobo/bios.

I hope I answered all the questions!
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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hey shnur, you helped me out a lot!

Those were the answers I needed. So as I had assumed the fan controller alters actual voltage to have the fan's motor run whatever % I have on the knob, while PWM actually modulates steady power to alter speed? Cool.

Also, I went ahead and bought a Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B cooler which has a PWM fan. It got staggeringly good reviews, and beat out the Frio, although it is huge. I hear the Frio is loud as a mother so, I'll get both in my hands and whichever I don't like I'll refund.

So, in summary I'm going with the real deal PWM fans from the CPU cooler into the MoBo fan header with a y-splitter as this seems to offer the best control, and I'm going to stick with the 3-pin case fans daisy-chained to the Fan Controller. Anything more than that for case fans seems like over-complicating something pretty simple.
Edited by lowfiwhiteguy - 2/26/11 at 9:22pm
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post #5 of 7
The mobo is fine for powering you CPU fans. For either of those coolers it shouldn't be a problem.

The fans daisy-chained together will all run at full speed, assuming the fan controller is on full, since the fan rpm is controlled by voltage, not amperage. As long as you're within the capabilities of the controller you'll be fine. The overhead Shnur mentioned is for startup power on the fans. Motors draw a ton of power when starting from idle, and then level out at a much lower level when running. So the manufacturers have to allow for that extra power draw for a short amount of time. Don't run the controller over the rating.
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post #6 of 7
as long as your in the specs for amps "load" then your good to go.
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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowfiwhiteguy View Post
Hey shnur, you helped me out a lot!

Those were the answers I needed. So as I had assumed the fan controller alters actual voltage to have the fan's motor run whatever % I have on the knob, while PWM actually modulates steady power to alter speed? Cool.

Also, I went ahead and bought a Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B cooler which has a PWM fan. It got staggeringly good reviews, and beat out the Frio, although it is huge. I hear the Frio is loud as a mother so, I'll get both in my hands and whichever I don't like I'll refund.

So, in summary I'm going with the real deal PWM fans from the CPU cooler into the MoBo fan header with a y-splitter as this seems to offer the best control, and I'm going to stick with the 3-pin case fans daisy-chained to the Fan Controller. Anything more than that for case fans seems like over-complicating something pretty simple.
Glad it helped

I don't quite understand what do you mean by using a y-splitter to the mobo. You have 2 PWM (4-pin) fans with that cooler? Hooking up a 3-pin on the same connector than a PWM won't make the 3-pin one modulate. (Sorry if that's what you meant; I'm maybe just confused )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehawk View Post
The mobo is fine for powering you CPU fans. For either of those coolers it shouldn't be a problem.

The fans daisy-chained together will all run at full speed, assuming the fan controller is on full, since the fan rpm is controlled by voltage, not amperage. As long as you're within the capabilities of the controller you'll be fine. The overhead Shnur mentioned is for startup power on the fans. Motors draw a ton of power when starting from idle, and then level out at a much lower level when running. So the manufacturers have to allow for that extra power draw for a short amount of time. Don't run the controller over the rating.
I designed a few low end power supplies/electronics and part of the requirements/quality tests were that if the person puts on 50% more volts than it is specified, it should still work for a few hours. On the power supplies; it was required to be able to get drawn almost twice the wattage that power supply was rated for.

But you're right; don't do it.
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