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Since PCs have advanced so much, they are dissipating more heat than ever before. If a PC is missing an appropriately built cooling system, chances of its motherboard burning are very high. This is usually done with the help of fans. However, if fans are allowed to run at their maximum speed all the time, they will consume more energy and create unnecessary noise.
This is where fan controllers come to the rescue. With these devices, a user can control every fan on his PC. This is a very simple device, and its market has become quite competitive in a very short time. The question is no longer “do you need a fan controller” but rather “which one will suit you the most”.
Therefore, we have decided to answer all your queries regarding fan controllers so that you can quickly buy one.
What is a fan controller and what does it do?
A fan controller is a device that helps you modulate the fans in your PC. This is a compact device that can mount within your PC. Each fan in your PC is connected to a port on the fan controller’s hub. Some of them have modulators for each port that allows you to adjust the speed of a fan. This helps users save energy, avoid unnecessary noise and use these fans at full potential when needed.
Powerful PCs these days contain 4 to 5 fans in different corners, but not all of them are required to run at full speed all the time. With a fan controller, you get to decide how many you want to run at a given time. This will help you save energy as well as reduce the noise that all the fans can cause while running simultaneously.
Now there are different types of fan controllers
This type of fan control can be set to turn on/off automatically, detecting a change in the temperature. This not only does the job of maintaining a low temperature in different parts of the CPU but also does it without the user directing it. This is quite useful because users can often forget to turn their fans on/off, either consuming energy when not needed or not dissipating the heat when required.
2. Manual fan speed controller
These are the most commonly used fan controllers. They are shaped like a desktop drive and therefore can be mounted in the drive bay. They have a switch or a knob for every fan in the CPU, usually up to 4. A user can manually turn any fan on or off as he pleases.
3. Pulse-width modulation
Pulse width modulation (PWM) is a growing piece of technology in the fan controller industry. Fan controller hubs have either 3 pin connectors or 4 pin connectors. The first two connectors are for current and grounding, while the third is for informing the user about the RPM of the fans. In the case of a 4th pin connector, the 4th connector allows the user to modify the speed of the fans by using its fan controller software.
PWM is a highly efficient method of saving energy and controlling the temperature in your PC. However, they can only be installed on 3 pin connectors. Although some users connect them backward with 3 pin connectors, it works, but it loses the speed modulation option.
What Does A Fan Controller Do?
A fan controller allows users to control the fans in a CPU. This has several benefits:
1. Save energy
No matter how powerful a PC you own or what your use of it is like, you are not always using it at its peak capacity. Sometimes you’re simply browsing the internet or typing in a word doc. Such activities do not extract higher processing power and therefore do not need fans in the CPU to run at their full pace.
Fan controllers allow users to reduce the speed of the fans in their PCs or turn them off. This helps save energy when the fans are not required to run at their maximum speed or run at all.
2. Reduce noise
When all PC fans are running at their full potential simultaneously, they make significant noise. Since not all of them are required to function like that always, this noise becomes unnecessary. Fan controllers help us reduce this noise by either reducing their speed or turning them off when unnecessary.
3. Increase the Lifespan of the fans
When PC fans are running at their full speed at all times, they age early. The grease in their motor starts to diminish, and the motor itself starts to wear out. This was the case for PCs of the previous generation as their fans used to die out frequently. However, with the advent of fan controllers, this trend has changed. PC fans today last a lot longer than they used to.
How’ll You Know If You Need A Fan Controller or Not?
So, often our readers ask us if they need a fan controller or do without one. Well, the answer is different for every user because their usage of their PC varies. Choosing between a pc fan controller or motherboard for your fans is different for everyone. However, we can simplify this diversity by categorizing certain factors. Such as
If you are a professional video editor, graphics designer, or someone who requires quite a high level of processing power from their computer, then you’ll need several fans on your PC. These professionals use software that can derive a lot of power, causing the motherboard and other parts to get hot.
However, there are times where they don’t need their fans to function as fast. When they need to give the extra fans a break, fan controllers are devices that can help them do that. You might want to read our article on “does overclocking GPU increase fps”
Another sub-category of users who fall into this category is gamers. Higher graphics games can cause a lot of heat inside the CPU. This is why most gamers install several fans and also a fan controller into their PCs. If you are a heavy gamer, you definitely need a fan controller.
As powerful PCs are equipped with several fans, the sound they make can often become irritating. A lot of the time, these fans aren’t required to run at their full speed, and therefore, the noise they make is quite unnecessary. This is where fan controllers come in. They can turn off these unwanted fans or reduce their speed to a level that isn’t audible.
Therefore, if you have a PC that makes a lot of noise due to its fans, you should install a fan controller. This will greatly diminish this problem for you.
Since PC fans extract power from the battery, they will consume your battery. If it’s a desktop then, it will extract electricity, costing you a higher bill. If you believe that a lot of the time, these fans run for nothing, then you can control them by installing a fan controller. This will allow you to save the energy these fans cost when they are running all the time.
If you want to learn about overclocking, you can read our articles “how to reset overclock” and “does overclocking GPU increase fps”.
What to Do In Case of Insufficient Ports on The Board to Plug All Fans In
It’s very common for users to find that their motherboard has insufficient ports for the number of fans they want to plugin. To novice users, this seems like an insurmountable hurdle because changing the board is too costly.
Well, there are some easy ways you can plug in more fans when the ports aren’t enough.
1. Use a splitter
A splitter can accommodate two or more wires. So, you can plug in two or more fans into a splitter and connect that splitter to a motherboard. However, there’s one catch to this method. This can cause an overload on the motherboard, possibly leading to a breakdown.
2. Make a circuit
This is not as difficult as it seems. You can utilize the LM7809 regulator IC. A 12V rail connected to its input will give a 9V output. This can easily support up to 5 100–120mm fans. Make sure to add a small heat sink. Some might find this confusing, and that’s where the third option comes in.
3. Connect a fan controller
Fan controllers are the best option amongst the three. It allows you to control every fan’s speed individually without overloading the motherboard. Fan controllers are also not that costly.
BIOS Fan Speed Control vs Fan Controller: Which is Better?
Often PCs come with an option for adjusting the speed of their fans, which is accessed through the BIOS. However, there’s only an option for either enabling the fans or disabling them in some cases. This is called BIOS fan control.
To see how they compare with fan controllers, we will review them one by one.
BIOS Fan speed control
Currently, three big motherboard makers are offering BIOS fan speed control. These are MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus. While MSI’s BIOS offers automatic fan speed control, temperature targets, and minimum fan speed, it’s only limited to its processor’s fan. MSI’s BIOS cannot control the other fans in your PC that you might have added.
On the other hand, Asus offers fan speed control for all fans connected to its board but offers only three preset profiles that a user cannot modify. Gigabyte offers the least control when it comes to fan speed, limiting the options to only on/off. This is quite disappointing for these motherboard makers given their popularity and their advancement in other aspects.
Abit offered the best fan control with their uGuru but the brand shut down a few years ago and no other brand has tried to take its place.
Fan controllers, on the other hand, can offer a variety of options. From Pulse Width Modulation to temperature control, fan controllers provide users with a greater degree of control. A user can reduce the speed as low as 20 % of the rated speed, thereby increasing the life of the fan. This also helps reduce noise significantly.
All these qualities make fan controllers quite a better option compared to BIOS fan speed control.
5 Tips While Buying A New Fan Controller
It’s possible that after all that we’ve described fan controllers, you’re feeling overwhelmed with the information. Therefore, we would like to leave you with 5 tips to keep in mind while you buy a fan controller.
Since you are getting a fan controller to accommodate all the fans you need, you should make sure it has enough ports for all of them.
2. Control knobs
Control knobs on a fan controller hub make it way easier for users to control their fan’s speed. It does not mean that the fan controller will not be accessible by a fan controller software, it will be. However, it’s much easier to change the fan speed with your hand.
3. Temperature control
Having temperature control in your fan controller will make your life quite easier for you. You won’t have to keep an eye on your PC’s temperature and fans.
The fan controller market is becoming more and more competitive. Markets are filled with brands users have never heard of, and yet newcomers are joining this industry. Therefore, brands are offering the flashiest features on one hand and making their products cheaper. Novice users are lured by such gimmicks and end up buying unreliable fan controllers. Only to find them malfunctioning in a matter of months or even weeks.
This is why we recommend our readers to buy reliable products. How to know if a product is reliable? You can read our reviews, or any other websites for that matter, on that product.
5. Aesthetically pleasing
While it may sound silly to common users but workstation enthusiasts, especially gamers love to have the most aesthetically pleasing product, they can get their hand on. Even if you are a normal user who isn’t obsessed with shiny workstations, you will still like your PC to look cool. If so, then you’ll find a lot of fan controllers that add can beautify your PCs.
You’ll find LED-lit knobs and colorful LCDs on fan controllers; they will make your workstation look like a plane’s cockpit.
1. Do you need a fan controller for RGB?
You don’t necessarily need a fan controller for RGB lighting, but having one will allow a greater degree of control.
2. Do I need a PWM fan controller?
If you want to have a greater degree of control over your fans, you’ll need a PWM fan controller. Also, a PWM fan controller can regulate the voltage preventing the fan motors from burning out.
3. Do you need an NZXT fan controller?
If you have NZXT lighting strips or NZXT fans, you’ll need an NZXT fan controller to power them. If you have other RGB lights and fans brands, they will not work with an NZXT fan controller.
4. Does the NZXT h510 come with a fan controller?
The NZXT H510 comes with a Smart Device V2 controller that offers fan control and LED lighting settings.
We hope this article has answered all your queries regarding fan controllers. In case we have missed something or you have the experience to share, let us know. We would gladly respond to that. Besides that, we hope you are fully informed to make your mind regarding fan controllers.