Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

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Silent but deadly
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Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Silent but deadly » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:08 pm

I'm planning to build a Linux based HTPC / PVR and as such, SpeedFan is unfortunately a no go. But seen as though the HTPC will sometimes be on whilst I'm sleeping in the same room (due to it also serving as a PVR), low noise is a must... I want to have my cake and eat it too. Are there any manufacturers that offer BIOS level fan control that is even close to SpeedFan?

CA_Steve
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:05 pm

Asrock is the best but may limit you to PWM only chassis fans.

MSI is next.

Asus has greatly improved their BIOS fan control to provide some Fan Xpert features. Early BIOS versions kept messing with the minimum fan RPM it would recognize. If that's sorted out, it could be #1 or 2.

Abula
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Abula » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:09 pm

Linux based HTPC
I would go AsRock, you can still control 3pin voltage fans on CPU_FAN and in some cases CHA_FAN1 (but not all). The rest of headers are only PWM, they have no restrictions, so you can go as low as your fans allow.

WHat other components are you planning? like case and mobo?

Fire-Flare
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Fire-Flare » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:32 pm

I don't have ANY complaints about my Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2's BIOS fan control. IIRC I can individually control every header except the CPU OPT. (I haven't needed to change anything in over a year)

Silent but deadly
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Silent but deadly » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:15 pm

CA_Steve wrote:Asrock is the best but may limit you to PWM only chassis fans.

MSI is next.

Asus has greatly improved their BIOS fan control to provide some Fan Xpert features. Early BIOS versions kept messing with the minimum fan RPM it would recognize. If that's sorted out, it could be #1 or 2.
First of all, in regards to Asus, I am somewhat of an Asus fan (as they have invariably been the best choice at the time of my various builds) but I would have to confirm the lowest RPM settings before I make a purchase. So thank you for pointing that out or else I may have overlooked it. One of my big concerns with BIOS fan control is excessively high minimum RPMs and the lack of a zero RPM mode.

I don't have much experience with other brands and the same is true for BIOS fan control. If you could please elaborate on some of the fan control features that set MSI and ASRock apart, especially in regards to how they stack up against SpeedFan or Fan Xpert, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'd especially like to know if there's a 0 RPM setting, whether it's possible to set a given fan to respond to more than one or at least a different sensor reading and if there's a hysteresis setting.

Abula wrote:
Linux based HTPC
I would go AsRock, you can still control 3pin voltage fans on CPU_FAN and in some cases CHA_FAN1 (but not all). The rest of headers are only PWM, they have no restrictions, so you can go as low as your fans allow.

WHat other components are you planning? like case and mobo?
Thank you for the recommendations but I'd just like you to expand on one thing. You say that the other fan headers are PWM, which shouldn't be a major issues for me, and that "they have no restrictions, so you can go as low as your fans allow". Is it possible to stop the fans spinning entirely?

As for the other other components, that's kind of a difficult question to answer. Almost everything is still very much in the air. I am set on a few things though. It must be Intel based (including the NICs for compatibility reasons), if at all possible I'd like a mobo that's no larger than mATX, it must have 4 SATA ports plus one other storage interface (which could be another SATA port or mSATA, M.2 etc...), the PCIe slot must remain free for the tuner card (so no HBAs) and the case absolutely must have at a minimum two 5.25" bays or preferably three but other than that, nothing has been set in stone.

One concept spec I've been working on is an mITX based build in the Lian Li PC-Q35. I think a large part of it is that I've been itching to try a Lian Li case for a few years now and it also gives me the option of re-purposing it as a secondary FreeNAS system, complete with a couple of Icy Dock MB453SPF-B's that I have laying around. Finding an mITX board that I know will tick all the various boxes is proving to be a little bit difficult though.

If I was to go with the PC-Q35, I'd almost certainly use a Noctua NH-L12, remove the 120mm fan and use it in place of the stock Lian Li top fan.

Abula
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Abula » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:27 am

Silent but deadly wrote:Thank you for the recommendations but I'd just like you to expand on one thing. You say that the other fan headers are PWM, which shouldn't be a major issues for me, and that "they have no restrictions, so you can go as low as your fans allow". Is it possible to stop the fans spinning entirely?
Yes, i already tested it with my H170 Pro4, but not all PWM fans are design the same way, meaning that some fan can stop under certain PWM like Noctua NF-P14R PWM, and others can't like Noctua NF-S12B PWM. If you do want to stop certain fans, chose carefully that its a fan that can be stopped.
Silent but deadly wrote:If you could please elaborate on some of the fan control features that set MSI and ASRock apart
MSI has their own way they designed their bios, somewhat different to AsRock, specially on skylake. MSI can control PWM fans on CPU_FAN1 and CPU_FAN2, both are true PWM fan headers, but their range is not unlimited, they are binded to 12.5% increments, while asrock can vary 1%, on MSI your bottom limit is 12.5%, with AsRock you can go to 1% as the minimum (i havent seen a fan below 12% so its not a big deal), now where it differes is that with MSI your next breakpoint (as minimum) is 12.5 + 12.5 = 25%, with AsRock is whatever you want (cant be lower than your before breakpoint, but can be 1% higher if you wish). Now another thing that differs is that MSI in the past their CHA_FAN1,2,3 headers were voltage controlled, meaning you could undervolt 3pin fans easliy, just the range is different, was from 40% to 100% (in 10% increments), at the end was very good, but in skylake i did one build with MSI H170 Gaming3, and while i could undervolt the 40% fine or 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% or 100%, i coudlnt make it work dynamically with the CPU temp, every time i enable the smart feature (to make it dynamic) it went to 12volts and i couldnt control it, my guess is that it becomes a PWM header, but i never really tested it. With AsRock the CHA_FAN1 is most cases is autodetect, like the CPU_FAN, meaning it can control PWM or 3pin, the rest, like CHA_FAN2 are PWM, but there are certain headers like in my H170 Pro4, CHA_FAN3 is a 3pin none controllable, you do need to check the manual to see what the mobo will have, all headers can be stopped on the AsRock, as i said before, will more depend on the fan you chose.
Silent but deadly wrote:Especially in regards to how they stack up against SpeedFan or Fan Xpert, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'd especially like to know if there's a 0 RPM setting, whether it's possible to set a given fan to respond to more than one or at least a different sensor reading and if there's a hysteresis setting.
On Asus + FanXpert, under windows, you can run the tuning so FanXpert establishes the min max of each fan, here it will override any restrictions the bios has on each header, fanXpert takes full control of it. Here fans can be stopped under the FanXpert profile of Silent, all fans can be stopped with the exception of the CPU_FAN (asRock mobos do allow this on bios). With Speed fan i cant tell you much, its a very versitle fan control software, but i never been able to recognize all my sensors, and i personally prefer bios over software, so recently i haven't tried, i know many here in SPCR do like an have made Speed fan work wonderful, maybe someone else can vouch in to tell their experience.

mikeb
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by mikeb » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:45 pm

Just a heads up with the AsRock motherboards running linux. I am seeing constant excessive CPU usage(~12%) with the systemd journal(ie most ubuntu/redhat/debian distros) logging several thousand BIOS errors per second. This is with the latest AsRock BIOS and all updates applied. It appears to have been resolved for the matching ATX Boards BIOS months ago, but not yet in the MATX board I purchased, as they seem to get far less attention. You might want to carefully check the BIOS updates for the specific model before you purchase if you go with AsRock.

That said the AsRock BIOS is good, hopefully I don't need to return it. If I do I will be moving to an Asus.

Silent but deadly
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by Silent but deadly » Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:21 pm

I've been busy for the last few weeks, so please forgive the slow reply.
Abula wrote:Yes, i already tested it with my H170 Pro4, but not all PWM fans are design the same way, meaning that some fan can stop under certain PWM like Noctua NF-P14R PWM, and others can't like Noctua NF-S12B PWM. If you do want to stop certain fans, chose carefully that its a fan that can be stopped.
That's a valuable tip, thanks. My current plan is to have just the single 120mm Noctua fan from the NH-L12 positioned at the top of the case and the NH-L12 installed with the fins aligned vertically.
Abula wrote:MSI has their own way they designed their bios, somewhat different to AsRock, specially on skylake. MSI can control PWM fans on CPU_FAN1 and CPU_FAN2, both are true PWM fan headers, but their range is not unlimited, they are binded to 12.5% increments, while asrock can vary 1%,-
That's a serious win for ASRock in my eyes. I really want to push things as far as I can (in terms of reducing noise) so having 1% increments is a big plus.
Abula wrote: -on MSI your bottom limit is 12.5%, with AsRock you can go to 1% as the minimum (i havent seen a fan below 12% so its not a big deal), now where it differes is that with MSI your next breakpoint (as minimum) is 12.5 + 12.5 = 25%, with AsRock is whatever you want (cant be lower than your before breakpoint, but can be 1% higher if you wish).
I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by "breakpoint". Do you mean that you can have a fan curve that goes from high to low and back to high?
Abula wrote:Now another thing that differs is that MSI in the past their CHA_FAN1,2,3 headers were voltage controlled, meaning you could undervolt 3pin fans easliy, just the range is different, was from 40% to 100% (in 10% increments), at the end was very good, but in skylake i did one build with MSI H170 Gaming3, and while i could undervolt the 40% fine or 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% or 100%, i coudlnt make it work dynamically with the CPU temp, every time i enable the smart feature (to make it dynamic) it went to 12volts and i couldnt control it, my guess is that it becomes a PWM header, but i never really tested it. With AsRock the CHA_FAN1 is most cases is autodetect, like the CPU_FAN, meaning it can control PWM or 3pin, the rest, like CHA_FAN2 are PWM, but there are certain headers like in my H170 Pro4, CHA_FAN3 is a 3pin none controllable, you do need to check the manual to see what the mobo will have, all headers can be stopped on the AsRock, as i said before, will more depend on the fan you chose.
More great information, thanks. As I'm looking at mITX, I'm almost certainly limited to just the two fan headers but I will bare the above in mind when I'm looking more deeply into their specifications.
Abula wrote:On Asus + FanXpert, under windows, you can run the tuning so FanXpert establishes the min max of each fan, here it will override any restrictions the bios has on each header, fanXpert takes full control of it. Here fans can be stopped under the FanXpert profile of Silent, all fans can be stopped with the exception of the CPU_FAN (asRock mobos do allow this on bios). With Speed fan i cant tell you much, its a very versitle fan control software, but i never been able to recognize all my sensors, and i personally prefer bios over software, so recently i haven't tried, i know many here in SPCR do like an have made Speed fan work wonderful, maybe someone else can vouch in to tell their experience.
I think something may have got lost in translation so to speak. I actually use SpeedFan and have used Fan Xpert but I've yet to BIOS fan control on a modern mobo. I wanted to know how close modern, BIOS based control could get to SpeedFan. Non the less, thank you for the reply. It's a perfect example of what makes these forums so valuable for silence enthusiasts.
mikeb wrote:Just a heads up with the AsRock motherboards running linux. I am seeing constant excessive CPU usage(~12%) with the systemd journal(ie most ubuntu/redhat/debian distros) logging several thousand BIOS errors per second. This is with the latest AsRock BIOS and all updates applied. It appears to have been resolved for the matching ATX Boards BIOS months ago, but not yet in the MATX board I purchased, as they seem to get far less attention. You might want to carefully check the BIOS updates for the specific model before you purchase if you go with AsRock.

That said the AsRock BIOS is good, hopefully I don't need to return it. If I do I will be moving to an Asus.
That's something I'll keep an eye open for but I'm going to hazard a guess and say it's probably not as much of an issue with the current front runner motherboard I have my eyes on.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just a little update.

The possible spec of my built has changed slightly. Initially I had my eye on the ASRock H170M-ITX/ac as it ticks all the boxes I described in my original post. It's also (oddly) cheaper than the non-ac version in the UK. There is one issue though... well two technically. The additional storage interface on the board is an mSATA/mPCIe slot that's located about half way between the PCie slot and the CPU socket. This would almost certainly cause issues with clearance between the mSATA drive, which would stick up vertically from the board, and the NH-L12. One possible solution would be the find a somewhat rare half height mSATA SSD. But such drives are relatively hard to find and of questionable quality.

So my attention has turned to the Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac. It's complete overkill for a HTPC and there are cheaper option out there if clearance wasn't an issue but it'd end up costing me the same as the board above. The money it'd cost me to buy the half height mSATA drive would go the the mobo and I'd have the preferred option of using an SSD I already have thanks the the motherboard having 6x SATA ports. There's also another big plus with the Fatal1ty board. It has a HDMI 2.0 port. Which means it can theoretically output 4k @ 60hz (although I can't find any affordable CPUs that support it). It's not a feature I had on my list but it would represent a degree of future proofing... it could increase the lifetime of the system, so I think it makes sense to add HDMI 2.0 to the list of requirements.

Which all brings me to my current position. If I'm going to get the longest lifespan out of the HTPC, it makes a lot more sense to wait for the Kaby Lake CPUs to drop (fyi, Intel Developers Forum is the 18th-20th of August). They should support HDMI 2.0 along with HDCP 2.2 and a bunch of other stuff that should be a big plus for 4k HTPC users.

CA_Steve
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:15 pm

Intel started seeding Kaby Lake engineering units to device makers last month. I wouldn't expect desktop chips/chipsets/ motherboards to see retail until maybe November...and then..
- Intel tends to do a staggered desktop CPU release, with the big money SKUs out first (i5 and i7) followed by i3 and the rest months later.
- A good rule of thumb is to hold off buying a mobo until 3 months after release to let most of the horribly bad bugs work themselves out first.

So, call it Q1 2017.

whispercat
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by whispercat » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:55 pm

When do you think Kaby Lake Xeons will appear?

CA_Steve
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Re: Which manufacturer has the best BIOS fan control?

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:24 am

no idea.

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