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Question USB Fan controller with 2+ amp support per head?

ItsFlybye

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Apr 30, 2018
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Anyone know of such?

I keep seeing controllers like the Corsair Commander Pro only support 1 amp or less.
 

Paperdoc

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Aug 17, 2006
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I've never seen one. Basically they appear to use the same chips that most mobos use for their fan headers, and those can provide up to 1.0 A per header. There are SOME mobos that have included one or two headers capable of 2 A or 3 A, but that requires a different chip (more cost) and board design, so it's not attractive for a small volume of very specialized third-party controllers.

In the context of using mobo fan headers, one CAN evade the 1.0 A per port restriction IF you use the right type of HUB. Remember that a Hub gets all of its fan power from the PSU directly by a connection to the PSU. BUT almost all Hubs MUST be powering 4-pin PWM-type fans if you expect to actually control their speed, AND they MUST be fed a PWM control signal from a mobo header. Further, the Hub design that is basically a circuit board will be limited by its board traces for current per port. But if you get a Hub that looks like just a collection of cable "arms", then the wire gauge in those "arms" is the limit, so a good one probably can deliver 2 A or more per output. There still would be a limit imposed by the type of connection the Hub makes with the PSU. IF it uses a SATA power output connector, that limits it to 4.5 A TOTAL load on the Hub, just in case you are hoping to feed more than one 2 A device from a single Hub. Here's an example of a Hub of "arms" that uses a 4-pin Molex connector to the PSU output (more than 4.5 A max)


NOTE that this as sold a a "Splitter". It is NOT. A Splitter does NOT have any way to connect to the PSU for power - it relies solely on the mobo header. This unit DOES get power form the PSU via a Molex, and it does have one "arm" with a female fan connector to plug into a mobo fan header. That arm has two functions - it picks up from the header the PWM signal from Pin #4 required to control fan speeds, and it returns to the header the speed of ONLY one fan - whichever is plugged into the only output that has all four pins. Remember that any mobo header can handle the speed signal of only one fan, so a Hub or Splitter will send back only one and ignore all the others.

I am not clear why you want a "Fan Controller" with a USB connection, rather than using a mobo header. But as long as the Controller unit you use outputs the full 4-pin PWM signal set on its ports, you can plug a Hub of this type into one of those ports and use it just like mobo header. But using specifically this type of Hub of "arms" you probably CAN use 2 A max power from one output port at least, and probably a couple of ports. It does NOT use any chips or circuit board traces, so its power limit is only in the gauge of its wires.
 

Paperdoc

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Aug 17, 2006
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The FC5 Fan Controller linked above appears to be a good example of a third-party stand-alone Fan Controller, and it shares all of the limitations of such devices. Control of each fan involved is strictly manual - that is, YOU decide when to change any fans speed, and what the new setting should be. Although it has temperature sensors included so that it can SHOW you those temps, it does NOT appear to be able to use them for automatically adjusting the fan speeds. (Even if it had that capability, YOU would have to figure out what temp to sense, and what fan speeds to set.) It is designed only to work in the older Voltage Control Mode for 3-pin fans, not 4-pin PWM type. Now, the design of 4-pin fans means their speed CAN be controlled this way, although it is not optimal, so this Controller CAN be used with either fan type.

Again, if we knew what your purpose is in this, we could offer better advice. It also would hepl if you tell us the maker and exact model number of your mobo, the maker and model of all the fans (or pump, or whatever else) you are trying to connect, and whether you need those items to be under some control.
 

ItsFlybye

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Apr 30, 2018
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So the reason for looking for a USB "controlled" not USB "powered" fan controller is because I am making the transition to a case with no 5.25" bays. I currently have an old beefy 5.25" bay fan controller like aigomorla mentioned controlling non-PWM fans, but I won't be able to use this controller in my new case which has no 5.25" bays.

The first thing I was considering is the Corsair Commander Pro:

It distributes power via the SATA power connector, and it connects to a USB port on the MB which allows you to control fan speed via software. It can connect regular and PMW fans. The problem is all the USB controlled fan controllers I have come across seem to only be able to support 1 amp or less for each fan, and that is a problem since I am considering 2 or 3 of this fan which each requires 1.52 amps.

Since I figured any USB controlled fan controller distributes power via a molex or sata connector, I didn't bother to specifically state a "USB controlled molex/sata powered controller" because I thought every internal USB controlled fan controller didn't draw power from the USB port. :)

So that Gelid cable is VERY interesting! I could get this cable and really connect any high CFM PWM fan without worrying about exceeding the controller's amp draw. I could probably get a PWM fan like this.

My purpose: Control 3 regular or PWM (2 at same speed and 1 at its own speed) high speed, high cfm, high amp fans that I don't own yet via a software controlled fan controller that can support at least 2 amps per fan. But that PWM Gelid cable might simplify things with the controller's amp draw if I go the PWM fan route! :)
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
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Sep 28, 2005
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your looking for something like a aquacomputers aquero. You can leave the plate inside.
Its a software controlled fan controller so to speak.


You need the Aquabus option for the 2.5A header ports.
But this should be what you are wanting.
Its very pricey, and also very complicated, and somewhat annoying when it doesn't.

I had one, but don't use it anymore, as its far too much work, then just doubling up on quiet fans.
 
Last edited:

ItsFlybye

Member
Apr 30, 2018
84
11
41
your looking for something like a aquacomputers aquero. You can leave the plate inside.
Its a software controlled fan controller so to speak.


You need the Aquabus option for the 2.5A header ports.
But this should be what you are wanting.
Its very pricey, and also very complicated, and somewhat annoying when it doesn't.

I had one, but don't use it anymore, as its far too much work, then just doubling up on quiet fans.
Trust me I've always wanted a graphical controller like that, but my new case does not have 5.25" bays.
 

ItsFlybye

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Apr 30, 2018
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The LT version doesn't need a 5.25 bay. Still pricey.
Ok. You have shown me the world of Aquacomputer! They have this smaller version which supports 2 amps per fan channel called the Octo for less than half the price!

This is EXACTLY what I was looking for, and it shows to have some very nice controlling software. The Pro controller supports 2.5 amps while the Octo supports 2 amps which is fine. I am seeing some great fans at the cfm range that I want just under 2 amps draw. Thanks! :D
 

Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
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Just to clarify, the term "USB controlled" as you use it means a Controller that has a connection cable to a mobo USB2 header, allowing it to communicate with some software utility running under Windows. That software takes over control of fans connected to this Controller. MANY such units do NOT have any way to input the info from a mobo fan header, so you do NOT usually have the option to let the mobo's fan control system take over control. That may be what you want - I don't know. Doing it this way does give YOU control of the fans - perhaps just manual control as your older Controller did, or perhaps some form of automatic temperature-based control, depends on what the software is designed to do.

Note that the Aquacomputer OCTO unit has only 3-pin outputs - it uses Voltage Control Mode only - so it IS suitable for your first choice of the Bgears fan. And since it can output 2 A per port, you do NOT need a Hub to get that power.

I will comment that the Corsair Commander Pro does not provide one piece of info - you might get this by contacting their Tech Support people. It does not tell us whether its output ports use the older 3-pin voltage control Mode, or the newer 4-pin PWM Mode. The fact that the ports have 4 pins tells us nothing. It MAY use only the 3-pin Mode which CAN control the speed of either fan type, but does NOT provide any PWM signal that a HUB might require. Alternatively, it may operate only in 4-pin PWM Mode and provide that signal, but then it could NOT control the speed of any 3-pin fan. Some device makers say "supports 3-pin and 4-pin fans", when then mean that a 3-pin fan WILL work, just at constant full speed. Third alternative: the Commander Pro MAY be able to be used in either Mode, with that choice being made by the user in the iCUE software tool. None of that detail is apparent on their web pages.

You have not been using mobo fan control in the past, so in case you're not fully familiar with that, here's a brief bit concentrating on CASE ventilation fans, and ignoring the CPU cooler for now. The CHA_FAN or SYS_FAN headers on a mobo are really TEMPERATURE control systems. There is a temperature sensor built into the mobo (in some mobos, additional ones for particular components) with a target temperature for that sensor. The default automatic control will constantly adjust the speed setting for the header's fan to whatever it takes to hold that temperature at the sensor - it really does NOT care what the speed is, and does not even need to know the speed. Usually you have three other options for each header. One is to fix the fan at full speed all the time, one is to fix it at a reduced speed for lower noise and reduced cooling, and one it to allow you to specify your own version of the fan "curve" of what speed to run the fan versus measured sensor temperature. SOME mobos offer a choice to fix the fan speed at a particular speed you can set manually, similar to what a third-party Fan Controller (such as your old one) did. HOW the speed is decided is the Fan Profile, and it is separate from HOW the decision is implemented by the MODE setting for that header. The header can output signals as a Voltage on Pin #2 (that is Called Voltage Control Mode) for 3-pin older fans, or as a PWM signal on Pin #4 for the newer PWM-type 4-pin fans.

A mobo fan header also has a secondary function. It monitors the speed signal sent back to it from the fan on Pin #3. If it gets NO signal (or, in some mobos, a speed less than a minimum setting) it puts up an alarm on your screen so you know the fan has FAILED and will need attention soon.

IF you would like to let the headers on your mobo control the speed of your case fans as they are designed to do, (AND assuming that they CAN use the new 4-pin PWM Mode), then you can use a HUB as I outlined earlier (that Gelid cable "arms" item) with a 4-pin PWM-type fan like the 1st Player one you linked to. The Hub unit will get fan power from the PSU via Molex, and the PWM control signal from a mobo header. But you cannot use a 3-pin fan like the Bgears unit with a Hub like that.

IF you want to control the fan yourself as you are used to, but using a software interface rather than a front panel then the Aquacomputer OCTO unit probably will do that job. It works best with 3-pin fans like the Bgears, so don't bother with a 4-pin fan for that Controller.
 

ItsFlybye

Member
Apr 30, 2018
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Correct on the manual control. I wanted full control of the fans via software, and I never intended the motherboard's fan control system to come into play.

Are you certain the fan outputs of the Octo are 3 pin? I just looked at the pic again, and I see 4 pins per fan header.

I've always preferred manual control because what one can consider "noise" can be very subjective. I have always preferred to manually dial in my fans to the point just below tolerable while still maintaining good temperatures.
 

Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
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You are right, I was wrong. I misunderstood the specs on the items' web page that say "Output Voltage 5 -12 V" and "Number of Outputs 4 x 3-pin". BUT if you go to the Aquacomputer home page for the OCTO here


then click on "Support" at upper right, then "Downloads", then "Anleitungen" at upper left, you get a long list of manuals. About 80% down find the item for "OCTO, (1.216.7 kB)" with an English description. Click on that and you can download the full English manual for this unit. It makes it clear that all of its eight fan outputs ARE the new 4-pin PWM style. In fact, there is no indication that this can deal properly with 3-pin fans, so you MUST use a 4-pin fan with the OCTO as I read it. It also confirms that each fan output can deliver up to 2 A current, but there is a limit of 8 A total for ALL fan outputs together.

The manual describes features of their Aquasuite software utility to be used with the OCTO, and that seems capable of a lot. I'll just mention three items.

1. Communication with the OCTO is by connection using a supplied cable to a mobo USB2 header. Such mobo headers actually contain contacts for TWO USB 2 ports, but the connector involved will use only one of those for this purpose and block off access to the other port of this header. So, you actually "tie up" two USB2 ports this way. That is NORMAL for this kind of connection.
2. On p. 16 under "10.4 General Fan settings" it speaks of items relevant to fan start-up. A fan fed with an instruction to start up VERY slowly often cannot do that, so there is a minimum "speed" setting required to start a fan that is already stopped. There are three ways to deal with that. One is to set the system so that the minimum speed to be used is always enough to start the stalled fan. Another is to use an option to never let the fans stop, just run at minimum speed until more speed is needed. The third is their "start boost" feature that mimics what all mobo fan headers do. With that, any time a stopped fan is to be started, the system automatically gives it a signal to start at full speed for a few seconds, then lets it slow down to the pre-set minimum speed.
3. IF you are interested in configuring the system to do automatic control of the fan speed according to your own "fan curve", it needs to get a temperature sensor reading. Using the single temp sensor supplied probably does not give you reliable values to use. But the software is designed to access data acquired from the mobo sensors by other software, then use that info for its purposes. See p. 14 under "9.3 Software Sensors". It is NOT clear to me whether Aquasuite itself can access the mobo sensor data directly. But it DOES say it can get that info from a few specified other third-party software utilities.
 

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