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How do fan controllers work?

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April 6, 2007 9:11:50 PM

How do fan controllers work?

I'm assuming you plug power into the controller and then plug all the fans into the controller? What type of power plugs do the controllers take from the fans? The four pin molex, the small kind that plugs into mobo's, or both? I've looked at a bunch of fan controllers for sale on different websites and I never see them list what type of fan plugs they accept.

For example, I have an Antec Nine Hundred case and the four fans it comes with all have 4 pin molex connectors...but they also have a cable coming off of them which has a switch to choose high, medium, or low. I'm assuming I can find a controller that will accept 4 fans with 4 pin molex's. Then just turn the built in fan switches to high and use the controller to set the speeds...

I need the fans turned to medium to keep it cool while playing games...but it would be nice to turn it down while I was just web browsing or leaving it on to download stuff...

Thanks

More about : fan controllers work

April 7, 2007 12:01:15 AM

Depending on the model, the controller typically takes one 4 pin molex cable from the PSU. From there, depending on the model (perhaps different to fit in different bays), is where you hook up the fans.

Like this one:

Vantec Aluminum Multi-fan controller



Though you may have to buy adapters for the power for your fans, depending on what you get.
April 7, 2007 12:53:37 AM

Yeah, 4-pin molex for power and then connect the fans with 3-pin power and if you have molex fans then some fan controllers includes molex-to-3-pin adapters. I'm using fan controller from Vantec.
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April 7, 2007 1:46:24 AM

Quote:
How do fan controllers work?


They use the designer's method of controlling voltage by linear or pulse width limiting, or current limiting, to result in less power through the fan motor windings, resulting in lower RPM.

Quote:
I'm assuming you plug power into the controller and then plug all the fans into the controller? What type of power plugs do the controllers take from the fans?


Yes, and it depends on how the controller was designed. Most often, the controller output pin header is a 0.1" spaced, 3 pin type like used on motherboard fan headers. Rather than assuming any particular controller follows this, you should investigate any being considered, prior to purchase.

Quote:
The four pin molex, the small kind that plugs into mobo's, or both? I've looked at a bunch of fan controllers for sale on different websites and I never see them list what type of fan plugs they accept.
Email the seller, search for the product elsewhere, visit the controller manufacturer's website, or buy something/somewhere else if they can't even bother to provide the specs necessary to know what you're getting.

Quote:
For example, I have an Antec Nine Hundred case and the four fans it comes with all have 4 pin molex connectors...but they also have a cable coming off of them which has a switch to choose high, medium, or low.


If you already have fan control then why get an addt'l fan controller? A large 4 pin molex is compatible with the smaller mobo-pin-header connectors if you buy inexpensive adapters, or some fan controllers come with them. It's helpful when a shop like Newegg.com, for example, shows pictures of everything that's included with product.

Quote:
I'm assuming I can find a controller that will accept 4 fans with 4 pin molex's. Then just turn the built in fan switches to high and use the controller to set the speeds...


I'm sure there are some out there somewhere, but it is more common to find the smaller 3 pin connectors on controllers, and if your controller is mounted in an bay so you always see it, most important may be if you like how it looks, matches case, etc.

I still wonder why you would set the fans to high then use a controller, instead of just setting fans lower, or buying the fans with the speed you want instead - that is the best solution really, a more reliable solution that gets rid of the extra cabling, and some fan controllers (those with PWM control like the one another poster linked to a pic) make a whining sound from their inductors, or make a ticking sound from the fans if turned down very low.

Quote:
I need the fans turned to medium to keep it cool while playing games...but it would be nice to turn it down while I was just web browsing or leaving it on to download stuff...


I think you have a more fundamental cooling problem. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to keep the system at a constant temp. It only needs stay cool enough. With optimal chassis setup, fans can run at a low to low-medium speed and provide enough cooling, while being negligably louder during other period of use.

The truth is, gaming vs non-gaming is not so much of a difference in total system heat production percentage wise. Changing from slow to medium fan speed is a significant difference in airflow.

A matching change in airflow corresponding to change in system heat production (remembering that just because you aren't gaming, doesn't mean you wouldn't ever be putting any load on the system, it can't always be completely idle) would be fairly small, hardly worth the bother. Further, if the cooling was barely faster than needed for light use, it brings the average temp of the system down which is not necessary but a little desirable- but you won't want to constantly be adjusting the fan manually as that would be tiresome, and you won't want it varying constantly with temp because modern CPU/etc change temp quite often and rapidly, having a change in tone of fans is as distracting as a constant background noise if only very low in magnitude.

It's not that I'm trying to talk you out of the fan controller, but it is puzzling you want to add one. If you are in the US, and your choice of controller doens't include adapter cables, http://www.svc.com has about the lowest prices on adapter cables, under $1 each and very low USPS shipping if you buy only those so it's a lightweight first class package.
April 7, 2007 2:33:21 AM

Quote:


For example, I have an Antec Nine Hundred case and the four fans it comes with all have 4 pin molex connectors...but they also have a cable coming off of them which has a switch to choose high, medium, or low. I'm assuming I can find a controller that will accept 4 fans with 4 pin molex's. Then just turn the built in fan switches to high and use the controller to set the speeds...

Thanks


I also have an antec 900 and still felt the need for a controller. Though the included fans have the Antec tri-cool switches they are inside the case.

I settled on the Vantec that was already mentioned by chuckhissle. Here is a link from Tiger Direct. I don't know if it is the best price but I purchased mine there because i was passing one of their stores one day.

After googling fan controllers for a couple of days I settled on the Vantec because:

It matches the Antec 900. Black with blue lighting.
Included the molex connectors where most include 3 pin.(I know the cost is peanuts but it is convenient).
Has 4 separate controls.
I liked the voltage range; no stalling fans or whining or ticking as suggested by the previous poster.
Vantec rhymes with Antec. :wink:


It was a bit of a pain to fit Antec's 3.5" adaptor but it worked with that controller. I placed it in the bottom most position in the case and bumped the two drive cages up one slot. This seemed to work best for cable management.

I have one control for the front two 120 fans. One for the rear 120. One for the 200 mm blowhole and one for an additional 120 on the side panel.
!