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Buying new fans

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Last response: in Components
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April 17, 2012 12:21:52 PM

I've got my tax refund coming in and I'm looking to buy some fans for my PC, but I'm getting pretty confused about fans with/without controllers.

I'm using a Xion Predator case
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) and was considering buying four Rosewill RFX-120BL 120mm 2 Ball Bearing Blue LED Case Fan with Fan Controller Set (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). Two for the side and two for the top.

Then I noticed the Rosewill RFA-120-BL 120mm 4 Blue LEDs LED Case Fan (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). It looks like the same thing but without the Controller part.

So should I get the four of the ones with controllers, four of the ones without controllers, or some combination of the two?

Thanks for helping out a newbie!

More about : buying fans

April 17, 2012 1:33:17 PM

A fan controller can make adjusting the speed of the fans easier, if you do not have suficient fan headders on the mobo and/or the mobo does not provide for fan control. So if you want your rig to run quieter without a lot of fuss the ones with the controller are preferrable.

I prefer Cougar fans because they are just about the quietest for the air-flow and they are quality. I also prefer my fans to be led free, as my computer is in my bedroom and I like it dark.

I recommend that you look at the dba and cfm output of your fans and compare with competitors before you buy. You want lots of cfm and little of dba.
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April 17, 2012 1:55:24 PM

Well, my Mobo doesn't seem to have fan control, so i guess that means I want the fans with controllers?

Is there any additional hardware I need to buy to control the fans?

Also, would this type of fan be compatible with a front panel controller?

Again, sorry for the dumb questions. I just haven't been able to find this info anywhere else. What seemed like an easy upgrade is turning into more confusion than I expected.
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April 17, 2012 2:56:30 PM

Ok, so I was able to figure out how the wiring on a front panel fan controller works. The main thing that I'm not sure about now is whether a front panel fan controller will work with either of the fans I linked above, or if I need to buy the ones that include their own controllers.

I definitely don't want (and probably don't have enough room for) 4 individual fan controllers on the back panel of my tower. The thing is, the RFA-120 item details give a static 2000rpm speed, where the RFX-120 says speeds are 1200-2200rpm. Does this mean that the RFA-120 cannot be controlled at all and I need to buy the RFX-120, or should the RFA-120 still be able to be controlled.

TL;DR: Can I use a front panel fan controller with the RFA-120 or do I need to buy the RFX-120 to use a front panel fan controller?
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Best solution

April 17, 2012 3:34:37 PM

There are PWM fans and "normal" fans. Generally PWM fans have 4 pins, while the rest has just 3 pins.

PWM fans don't go well with some fan controls and are best left alone and to be controlled by the motherboard, anyway.

So you're looking at fans with 3 pins and "one speed" to be controlled by a fan control. There are a very few fans out there that have a little control attached to them. Normally you get something like a front panel controller where you can attache the fans to. They have several "channels" (aka connectors) to attach fans to. Normally about 4-5, but there are some with 16.

With an adapter you can attach more than one fan to each connector (channel), if the controller can handle this (depends on the maximum wattage the controller supplies).

Which means you need just one front panel controller like the "NZXT Sentry Mesh", which has 5 channels, aka can control 5 separate fans at once (or more if you use more than one fan per channel). It also comes with relatively long cable connectors to leave you some room with wiring in your case.

You could use the RFA-120, but it's out of stock @newegg and not really a good fan. Even though it's dirty cheap, it's also really noisy. The RFX-120 is even worse. A case fan doesn't need to run at high RPM, anyway.
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April 17, 2012 3:43:09 PM

Got it. So what would you suggest as an alternative fan? I am looking for something on the cheap, if possible.
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April 17, 2012 3:49:54 PM

Well cheap is a bit of a problem, but the COOLER MASTER R4 fans seem to be ok.

like this one with blue LEDs: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note, that I haven't tested this one myself. But judging from the maximum of 19dBA, it should be quite quiet. At least if they don't make things up. Just read through the comments/reviews of a fan to get some idea about it's performance.

I'd rather spent some money on good and quiet fans and not have my ears bleed than the other way around. ;) 
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April 17, 2012 5:15:09 PM

I have 3 of the Rosewill RFX-120 fans. I like them and they are good fans for my case. However, they do get noisy >1500 rpms; but, turned down low to about 1100 rpms using the included controller, they are nice and quite and move air as needed.

I'd get the Rosewill fans and use either the included controllers, or a seperate front panel controller and turn the fans to low. Since the side fans are intake, and the top fans are exhaust, they don't need to be fast; low speed is enough to move the air in/out of the case. These fans will work with a front panel control. Any 3-pin fan should with no problem. Also, that molex splitter should be no problem, either in powering the controller, or the fans directly.
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April 19, 2012 2:24:09 PM

You can runn several fans off the same molex. The power draw is minimal and a single molex can power 6 fans without any problem.
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April 19, 2012 3:55:21 PM

whatsthatnoise said:
Well cheap is a bit of a problem, but the COOLER MASTER R4 fans seem to be ok.

like this one with blue LEDs: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note, that I haven't tested this one myself. But judging from the maximum of 19dBA, it should be quite quiet. At least if they don't make things up. Just read through the comments/reviews of a fan to get some idea about it's performance.

I'd rather spent some money on good and quiet fans and not have my ears bleed than the other way around. ;) 


Yeah those are basically sickleflow 120's, I use them in my case and on my 212+ in push pull and they work great and quiet !
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April 29, 2012 5:22:39 AM

Best answer selected by SlayrAbraxas.
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