Help me choose a fan controller

Control: management of fans, temp/rpm monitoring via soft/hardware

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arsenal
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Help me choose a fan controller

Post by arsenal » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:47 pm

Any suggestions?

I've heard PWM is a bad idea, any truth to that?
-arse

sthayashi
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Post by sthayashi » Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:00 pm

PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller. Some have had some success with the mCubed T-Balancer, but I've never played with it myself.

I myself just use the cheap linear regulated fan controller that was reviewed on SPCR.

EDIT: I forgot to put in the word "DOESN'T" :oops:
Last edited by sthayashi on Thu Dec 16, 2004 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by acaurora » Thu Dec 16, 2004 10:00 pm

Personally I have no clue about the difference between PWM and the "other" kind of fan controller, but I have the Nexus NXP-305 from Vantec, and it does the job very nicely. While it does not have any numeric markings to show the specific "Standard" voltages to set it at, it already includes 2 CCFLs, controls 3 fans via 3 pin / 4 pin and has pass throughs so that you can still monitor the fan speed. Personally I love it.
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arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:28 pm

there's no way to turn the light tube off on that crontoller is there?

I'm trying to make all my light mods with an off switch.
-arse

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Post by acaurora » Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:30 pm

You can turn off the CCFL. the 4th knob is either @ ...
1. Off
2. Sound activated via built in mic - pretty fun to play with
3. COnstant on.
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meglamaniac
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Post by meglamaniac » Fri Dec 17, 2004 1:48 am

Akasa AK-FC-03

http://www.akasa.co.uk/spec/fan_control ... _fc_03.htm

Uses v-reg instead of PWM so no fan clicking.

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Post by acaurora » Fri Dec 17, 2004 1:50 am

i'm not sure if mine is voltage regulated or PWM.
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scara
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Post by scara » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:08 am

The Vantec ones are all PWM i think.

Another vote for the Akasa AK-FC-03. Can't fault it.

teejay
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Post by teejay » Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:59 am

PWM is not all bad but it does have some shortcomings. The biggest one is that is can lead to extra noise emanating from a fan due to resonance effects, which becomes more apparent at lower rpms. The amount of resonance depends on various factors: the particular fan used, the PWM frequency of the controller and the PWM wave shape. Advantages of PWM circuitry is that is generates next to no heat and that is can be more easily controlled electronically. That is why "smart" controllers like the T-Balancer and the fan controllers on newer graphics cards are more likely to use PWM.

So in a way it's a trade-off. Personally, I avoid PWM for anything where I have manual control. However, the T-Balancer is really great feature-wise, especially with the new software and additional analog sensors, so in that case I happily swapped all my Papst fans for Nexus since those hardly resonate with PWM. My VGA silencer is back to straight voltage though... there is a thread floating around here that focuses on the T-Bal but contains quite a few experiences with fan brands and PWM.

If you can still find it, the Sunbeam Rheobus is a nice product too, allowing you to set any voltage from 0 to 12V.
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Post by Krispy » Fri Dec 17, 2004 7:21 am

By coincidence, I recently tested the output voltages on my Akasa AK-FC-03. They were:

..Lowest: 6.44v

...........1: 7.03v

...........2: 9.32v

..........3: 12.07v

Highest: 12.13v
(Which exactly matched MBM5's Highest Av. Volt Reading)


Note:1,2 & 3 relate to dots around fan control knobs. I expect 6.44v lowest setting is to avoid non starting fans, a decision I would prefer to make myself.

I would agree with meglamaniac & scara, it has been a very good unit, however, if I was buying today I would seriously consider a T-Balancer for the extra $ & flexibility. It very much depends on your budget?
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Chang
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Post by Chang » Fri Dec 17, 2004 7:51 am

sthayashi wrote:PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller.
I've never heard this before. Speedfan uses PWM to control fan speeds. Speedfan controls the two Panaflos in my rig without any problems. I haven't heard anyone complaining about Speedfan not playing nicely with Panaflo fans.

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Post by sthayashi » Fri Dec 17, 2004 8:05 am

Chang wrote:
sthayashi wrote:PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller.
I've never heard this before. Speedfan uses PWM to control fan speeds. Speedfan controls the two Panaflos in my rig without any problems. I haven't heard anyone complaining about Speedfan not playing nicely with Panaflo fans.
I had serious problems using an otherwise quiet Panaflo L1A on my Aopen board, which uses SilentTek fan regulation. The noise stopped when I switched to a linear-regulated fan controller. To a lesser extent (my memory is fading on this one), I had noise coming from an M1A that was regulated by my Shuttle's fan regulator. That's now being controlled by a Fanmate and a 3pin to 4pin connecotr.
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arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Fri Dec 17, 2004 8:19 am

Do 120mm nexus fans have any known problems with PWM? I'm using all 120mm fans in my case.
-arse

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:01 pm

Chang wrote:
sthayashi wrote:PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller.
I've never heard this before. Speedfan uses PWM to control fan speeds. Speedfan controls the two Panaflos in my rig without any problems. I haven't heard anyone complaining about Speedfan not playing nicely with Panaflo fans.
Well, you're certainly in the minority then. Do some searches for "PWM" here at SPCR and see what comes up. The surprising thing is that a number of "silence challenged" folks on a lot of the overclocking sites have noticed this exact same issue. Their typical comment is "the more I turn it down, the buzzier it gets".
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MagnusT
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Post by MagnusT » Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:01 pm

I know two guys who had noise coming from Papst and ADDA fans when using Mitrons PWM fanbus when turning the fan speeds down.

I sent them each a T-Balancer attenuator which is a simple electrical LCR-filter and Y-splitter all in one (it's like 6-7 dollars or something max). All their odd fan buzzing noises went away! I also use it on my own Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer (the first version) and I was really surpirised how it totally took away the small buzz it was emitting when running slow. Now I'm partial since I sell these in Sweden. But totally honestly, I didn't expect the attenuator to work so extremely well.


Now, my case has a 120mm papst in front, 80mm papst in the back, the Arctic Cooling, a Zalman 7000A CU (on a 3200+ Barton) and a Qtechnology PSU with a 120mm papst. At night just surfing and stuff the Zalman running only at 30% of max speed is what I hear! And the case is a heavy, well insulated old school case that is the most quiet I've ever had. (The Antec Sonata I had for a while was rubbish in comparison...)


You don't always find silence where you'd expect :mrgreen:



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Post by Aleksi » Sat Dec 18, 2004 3:27 am

Chang wrote:
sthayashi wrote:PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller.
I've never heard this before. Speedfan uses PWM to control fan speeds. Speedfan controls the two Panaflos in my rig without any problems. I haven't heard anyone complaining about Speedfan not playing nicely with Panaflo fans.
I'm not 100% sure, but here's what I think. Speedfan controls the fans through the motherboard fan headers. I think it's motherboard dependant how the fans are controlled. Some mobos have current controlled fan headers, some have PWM headers, some olders may even have voltage controlled(?). Anyways, I think the Speedfan controls the header through a registry setting, so that it only adjusts the output value to a certain level. The control method SHOULD be entirely motherboard dependant.

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Post by MagnusT » Sat Dec 18, 2004 4:25 am

Aleksi wrote:....The control method SHOULD be entirely motherboard dependant.
Absolutely 100% correct. But AFAIK motherboards currently on the market mostly use PWM. It's not always easy to find info on what method they use though....

And even if we talk only about PWM you can't put everything in one single pile. The PWM frequency and wave form shape can differ between both motherboard and fan controller brands and models. From standard 100% square, to rounded square, to rising or falling sawtooth, triangular and infinite variants. Some might theoretically even have square wave with overshoots, that'd be nice for the fans :roll:

There is at least one brand that markets their controller as not being PWM even though it is, but with a sawtooth shaped wave form. I'd say that's abusing semantics :wink:


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arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Sat Dec 18, 2004 11:59 am

Akasa AK-FC-03 isn't availible in north america as far as I can tell. it would cost me a fortune to inport it from the UK. any other suggestons?
-arse

mathias
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Post by mathias » Sat Dec 18, 2004 12:18 pm

Did you read the reviews on the main site?

teejay
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Post by teejay » Sun Dec 19, 2004 11:14 pm

arsenal wrote:Do 120mm nexus fans have any known problems with PWM? I'm using all 120mm fans in my case.
See this thread for some of my experiences with fans and PWM (from a T-Balancer). In short, Nexus fans are the smoothest fans I know with PWM (tried both the 80mm and the 120mm versions).

Totally agree with sthayashi, PWM and Panaflo's do not like each other very much (tried with 2 fans). Not as bad as Titan/Evercool IMO but still, not a recommended setup.
MagnusT wrote:I sent them each a T-Balancer attenuator (...) all their odd fan buzzing noises went away! I also use it on my own Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer (the first version) and I was really surpirised how it totally took away the small buzz it was emitting when running slow.
Perhaps this also depends on the PWM specifics: my Silencer (first version, revision 3) does resonate when connected to the T-Balancer no matter what setting I choose for PWM frequency, so I ended up feeding that one straight voltage. The attenuator is a nice gadget for many fans though.
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arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:57 am

man these tbalancers really sound sweet

... maybe I should just choke on it and import one.
-arse

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Post by burcakb » Mon Dec 20, 2004 1:32 am

I don't think the Vantec 305 is PWM. I've seen fans go into stall before it reached lowest settings and my cheapo voltmeter recorded changing voltages. No buzzing either. The fan controls aren't linear either so it gets a bit sensitive at the lower end.

The sound-activated CCFL is of no use though. My computer doesn't generate enough noise to activate it :) People walking outside my room on the uncarpeted hallway with solid heels did work though :)

It still is a nice controller if you must have one. Personally, I've grown out of the controller, I just splice a resistor and be done with it
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Post by Chang » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:23 am

Ralf Hutter wrote:
Chang wrote:
sthayashi wrote:PWM DOESN'T play nicely with Panaflo fans. If you have a Panaflo fan, I recommend against using a PWM-based fan controller.
Speedfan uses PWM to control fan speeds. . . I haven't heard anyone complaining about Speedfan not playing nicely with Panaflo fans.
Well, you're certainly in the minority then. Do some searches for "PWM" here at SPCR and see what comes up.
Once again, I hear of tons of people recommending and using Speedfan. I hear of tons of people recommend and using Panaflo fans. I haven't heard of tons of people complaining that Speedfan doesn't play nicely with Panaflo fans.

Search SPCR for "Speedfan and Panaflo" -- for the numbers of people using both, you'd expect to see at least a couple of problem threads, no? Failing to see tons of threads on the matter, or even more people saying they work fine than those with issues, I suspect instead I'm in the majority where Speedfan's PWM works fine with Panaflo fans.

[edit to fix quote blocks]
Last edited by Chang on Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by teejay » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:20 am

chang wrote:I'm in the majority where Speedfan's PWM works fine with Panaflo fans.
There is no such thing as Speedfan's PWM: the wave-shape of the pulses is determined in the motherboard hardware and can differ from board to board and from controller to controller, just like MagnusT commented:
MagnusT wrote:And even if we talk only about PWM you can't put everything in one single pile. The PWM frequency and wave form shape can differ between both motherboard and fan controller brands and models.
I've found this to be true as well: especially frequency (which is adjustable on the T-Balancer) can have a large impact on the amount of resonance. So just take this at face value: with PWM there is at least a chance you'll get a resonance effect in combination with Panaflo's. Some people do, some don't. I have read people controlling Evercool fans using Speedfan and those resonated so bad on my T-Balancer that they actually walked off the desk. My only advice to someone who wants to use Speedfan to control his fans would be to use fans that are known to work well with PWM, in order to avoid the chance of resonance effects.
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arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:46 am

I'm really looking for some kind of hardware fan controller... something with knobs preferably.
-arse

MagnusT
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Post by MagnusT » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:02 pm

arsenal wrote:I'm really looking for some kind of hardware fan controller... something with knobs preferably.
Ooops, we all went a bit overboard in this thread then didn't we :roll: :wink: Sorry.


My personal standpoint on knobs, switches and the 5 and 7 volt trick is that they're all ok but why run your fans too fast or to slow when you can have them run at the exact necessary speed at each given moment. Automatically. All the time.

Because even with knobs you'll always run your fans either to fast or too slow to what is necessary.

But thats IMHO :D


Cheers!


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Post by gabeyd » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:03 pm

arsenal wrote:Akasa AK-FC-03 isn't availible in north america as far as I can tell. it would cost me a fortune to inport it from the UK. any other suggestons?
I'm 99% certain that this is the same product:

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDe ... 001&depa=0

I bought one made by "Super Flower" from directron, and like it. They all seem to be made by the same company.

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Post by teejay » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:15 pm

MagnusT wrote:Ooops, we all went a bit overboard in this thread then didn't we
We did? Never noticed :D

Can't seem to find it for sale anywhere at the moment (haven't looked hard) but I've used the Sunbeam Rheobus for about a year and liked it a lot: that 0-12V range of control is great. Another option might be the Zalman ZM-MFC1 (Directron link). No personal experience with that one but it also features on-off switches for your CCFL's (well, off-5V-12V switches but still usable). Control range between 6.5 and 12V for the first 4 channels.
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Post by xxkrnxstylezxx » Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:27 pm

I am also looking for fan controllers for my Silverstone TJ06 case. I didn't read thru this whole thread, but which one would be the best??

The zalman ZM-MFC1 or the Akasa AK-FC-03 (newegg link - different name)?

Or any other one?

arsenal
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Post by arsenal » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:22 am

I'm leaning towards a ZM-MFC1 right now. I want a front control for my lights and it seems to have a nice clean look.

I'm using a zalman reserator for my CPU and a NV5 for the 6800GT. Basically while I'm gaming I'm going to turn my case fans up to 12V to keep all my RAM sinks cooled and turn everything to 5V while I'm surfing etc.
-arse

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