Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

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

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samuelmorris
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Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:06 am

Hi all,

I'm looking for a viable method to control some fairly powerful (but not exactly extreme) fans in my 4U file server. Sadly the version of the case I own predates those that were supplied with built-in PWM fan control. The 120mm fans are around 2000rpm at max speed. I can potentially replace them but would want similarly powerful replacements as airflow is somewhat constricted due to a large amount of cabling running near the fan bay. I have no means to control these fans manually as there is no easily accessible external bay I could install a fan controller in, so I'm looking at an internal, either USB-header or PCI slot controlled device. Use of an additional molex to feed the power is fine.

Does anyone have any ideas what I should be looking for here? There seem precious few devices out there that fulfil this role, especially ones that are any good. I'd ideally like something that can either adjust fans manually through an interface, or better yet also adjust them based on temperature probes placed inside the case.
Ideally speaking I'd like to retain a fairly considerable amount of cooling capacity, but quieten the system down a bit when it's not under stress :)

Thanks

Sam
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
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quest_for_silence
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:54 am

samuelmorris wrote:Does anyone have any ideas what I should be looking for here?
Something like this?
Regards,
Luca

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samuelmorris
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:02 am

Yeah that looks great. I'm not sure how easily it'll fit into the 3.5" access bay at the top of the case, but I'm willing to try.

That said, looking at reviews, these things seem to have been around for several years, are they likely to be compatible with contemporary O/Ses like Windows 8? The fact that the manufacturer seems to have removed them (and indeed all fan control-related products) from their website, possibly several years ago, doesn't necessarily inspire confidence!
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
RMS-PRINCESS: i5 3470, Z68MX-UD2H, NZXT Lexa, Corsair CX V2 430W, X25-V, 750GB 7200.10
Dell UP3214Q, 3008WFP, 2x U2312HM, Logitech Z-5500, Pioneer VSX-922

quest_for_silence
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:21 am

samuelmorris wrote:The fact that the manufacturer seems to have removed them (and indeed all fan control-related products) from their website, possibly several years ago, doesn't necessarily inspire confidence!

Sorry, I can't help, you should try to write an email to their technical support: support@hfx.at
But IIRC the bigng was SpeedFan compatible, so whether Speedfan run on your system, it could be a suitable interface.

There's surely an external fan controller from NZXT, but I don't know it. Another option could be give a look to water cooling related website/e-tailer (maybe aquatuning, there in the UK? I guess their customer support might help you about an external fan controller).
Regards,
Luca

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samuelmorris
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:24 am

Yeah I've been in touch with KustomPCs about various bits before, so I might ask them about it.

On the speedfan front, sadly no - SpeedFan's not compatible with my server as it has too many disks in it - beyond about 10 disks speedfan will fail to launch as it crashes whilst trying to gather SMART data :(
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
RMS-PRINCESS: i5 3470, Z68MX-UD2H, NZXT Lexa, Corsair CX V2 430W, X25-V, 750GB 7200.10
Dell UP3214Q, 3008WFP, 2x U2312HM, Logitech Z-5500, Pioneer VSX-922

Ren0ir
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by Ren0ir » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:50 pm

The Grid+ from NZXT might be an option depending on the exact wattage you're looking at.

http://www.nzxt.com/product/detail/148- ... oller.html

samuelmorris
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:03 am

That looks really good actually, I can't see me breaking 5W per channel in practice as there are only 5 fans I'd want to control with it. It'd need a header-based USB cable which isn't evident from the product page, but apart from that looks perfect - I'll look into it, thank you :)
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
RMS-PRINCESS: i5 3470, Z68MX-UD2H, NZXT Lexa, Corsair CX V2 430W, X25-V, 750GB 7200.10
Dell UP3214Q, 3008WFP, 2x U2312HM, Logitech Z-5500, Pioneer VSX-922

quest_for_silence
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:33 am

samuelmorris wrote:It'd need a header-based USB cable which isn't evident from the product page

The Grid+ is meant to be installed internally, the fan wired to it, the USB cable connecting it to any suitable header.
Whether you want to mount it externally, you will need some fan extension cables.
Another option from NZXT is the LXE fan controller.
Regards,
Luca

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quest_for_silence
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:54 am

samuelmorris wrote:are they likely to be compatible with contemporary O/Ses like Windows 8?

http://www.hfx.at/forum/index.php?optio ... &Itemid=70
Regards,
Luca

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samuelmorris
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:02 am

Yeah the case in question has a top-mounted 3.5" bay spare on the inside, so I'm hoping to attach a controller like this to that somehow.
See here (same case but not my system): http://i.imgur.com/wmdNb.jpg
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
RMS-PRINCESS: i5 3470, Z68MX-UD2H, NZXT Lexa, Corsair CX V2 430W, X25-V, 750GB 7200.10
Dell UP3214Q, 3008WFP, 2x U2312HM, Logitech Z-5500, Pioneer VSX-922

quest_for_silence
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:36 am

samuelmorris wrote:See here (same case but not my system):

Image


A system with another relatively quiet (but electrically not that good) PSU... well, I think you're experienced, but anyway remember that any fan controller (set aside the BigNG, among the mentioned ones)) will rely solely upon its thermal probes.
Regards,
Luca

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samuelmorris
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Re: Best way to electronically control high-current fans?

Post by samuelmorris » Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:33 pm

OK, the NZXT Grid+ is in.

Installation was pretty straightforward, the 'click-in-place' velcro-style pads seem to work well, but time well tell how long the adhesive on the other side lasts! Ideally I'd have liked to see some screw-based mechanism where you could use a 3.5" or PCI slot, but no matter. The software install was moderately easy, I needed to manually do an 'update driver software' on the device in devmgmt to get the unit to be recognised by CAM, but once I did that up it came. Good job really - the link to the driver on the NZXT site is a 404!

Ideally speaking I think I'd have liked a unit with physical probes, but given the questionable accuracy of these in the past, as well as adding to cabling mess, I'm glad the software makes moderately decent use of internal sensors. Really, for a file server it'd be nice to be able to adjust fans on the temperature of the disks, but given CAM can't read the temperature values of the disks from my Adaptec controller, that's irrelevant I suppose. Two things disappoint me about the software that I'd like to see changed in a future release:

- All fans are controlled centrally. That's not really all that ideal when you want to target specific ventilation spots. Sure, the automatic sensor may be CPU-based, but I'd at least like to be able to manually control the fans independently.

- Automatic temperature control only works in 10ºC increments. That's pretty steep. Really I'd have liked to see at least 5ºC, if not 1ºC increments to make the fan noise change less abrupt. I have no need for anything but quiet mode up until 50ºC inclusive, but at 60, I want the fans going pretty fast to deal with that situation - I never want to see the temps reach 70 in the first place, so it stands to reason that should be 100%. This basically leaves me with quiet, noisy, and full speed as a 3-step process, with no gradual changes in between. I'm pleased I've managed to get something to control all 5 case fans at once automatically according to my preferences, that's leaps ahead of the motherboard fan controller, but it could be a lot better. Individual fan control per-degree per-fan might seem like overkill, but I don't see why it'd be so hard to implement, clearly a lot of time has gone into CAM's user interface, as although the 30 second loading time at startup is pretty painful, it's quite a well thought out bit of software I think.
RMS-VOYAGER: i5 6600, Z170 Gaming Pro, GTX970, HAF932, RM1000i, 6x SY1225SL12SH, 480GB M500, WD2002FAEX, WD40EZRX
RMS-INTREPID: i5 6500, Z170-HD3P, XCase RM420 4U, RM650, Samsung 830 128GB SSD, 18x WD Green/Red (60TB total), Adaptec 71605E
RMS-PRINCESS: i5 3470, Z68MX-UD2H, NZXT Lexa, Corsair CX V2 430W, X25-V, 750GB 7200.10
Dell UP3214Q, 3008WFP, 2x U2312HM, Logitech Z-5500, Pioneer VSX-922

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