[SOLVED] CIT Alpha case - fan and ARGB wiring

Jan 14, 2021
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Hi all,
Noob PC builder here so bear with! So I have a CIT alpha case and MSI x470 mobo with a Ryzen 3600. Although I'm OK with that part, my confusion is the RGB lights, now I have the fans sorted as they can connect to the tower hub (3 pinf to 4pinM) . My confusion is the requirement to connect the "hub" to the mobo - I have an rgb 4pin header on the mobo and the lights are 3 hole ones.
Can I still use the remote that came with the case to manually control the lights? If so how? pic of the hub attached.

Pic of hub

Case: https://www.scan.co.uk/products/cit-alpha-black-midi-tower-w-tempered-glass-window-3x-120mm-gamemax-velocity-argb-fans-1x-usb-30-atx
 

Paperdoc

Glorious
Ambassador
No. Sorry. Explanation follows.

Currently there are two dominant forms of lighting devices on the market. "Lighting devices" can include light strips, lighted fans. etc. Recognize that a lighted fan is really two devices in one unit - a fan motor, and a set of lights mounted in the frame - and the two are powered and controlled completely separately, so they have separate cables. The plain RGB lighting system uses a 4-pin connector (lighting device has a female connector with 4 holes) supplying a common +12 VDC power line and three Ground lines, one for each of the three colours (Red, Green, Blue) of LED's in the device. Along the strip all of the LED's of the same colour (say, Red) are connected to the Ground line for that colour, and so on for the other two colours. The lighting Controller (e.g, a 4-pin male header on the mobo, OR a separate third-party box) manipulates each of the Ground lines to change the colours, so it can change brightness, colour, and the speed of changes this way. But at any moment the entire light strip is all the same colour. In this system, each connector has the pin (or hole) on one end marked, and this is the +12 VDC line. At every connection point you MUST align those.

The more complex Addressable RGB (or ADDR RGB or ARGB or Digital RGB) system uses a 3-pin connector (looks like the 4-pin one with one pin missing from a blank space) that contains common +5 VDC and Ground lines and a Control Line. Along the strip the LED's are divided into Nodes. Each Node contains one LED of each of the three colours plus a Control chip. That chip listens to the Control Line and responds only to instruction packets addressed to it by manipulating only its three LED's. Thus at any moment every Node along the strip can display a different colour, and the display patterns can be much more complex. Because the connector pin arrangement is (4-1), there is only one way to make a connection between cables, etc.

Because the supply voltages and methods of display control are so different between these two designs, you cannot mix them in the same circuit. Your case came with the ADDR RGB type of lights in the fan frames. You say your mobo has only the 4-pin plain RGB type of header. So you cannot connect from that to the lighting control system included in your case. But, you have not told us exactly which MSI X470 mobo you have - there are several. On their mobo line MSI uses the labels JRGB for a plain RGB header, and JRAINBOW for an ADDR RGB header. So look closely for that latter type with 3 pins in case you have one without having noticed. Assuming you do not, your best option is to ignore any attempt to connect to your mobo. Just use the LIGHTING Hub to connect the case lights (and fan lighting cables), and then use the battery-powered hand-held control box to make manual selections of light displays. That control box offers a lot of choices.

You have not asked anything about FAN MOTOR power and control, so I have not posted anything about that here.
 
Reactions: edgarfr0gg

Mtop

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Nov 21, 2019
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Stated in the case description- Fans are argb!
Motherboard has a 4 pin rgb header!
STOP!!!
RGB and ARGB are not compatable - verify fans and MoBo before connecting hub.
So if you have a controller and a hub you don't need to connect to mobo. Use the remote to select colors if that is the system you have.
In short, Fans to hub or MoBo, leds from hub, Hub needs a connection to power supply usually Sata.
 
Reactions: edgarfr0gg

Paperdoc

Glorious
Ambassador
No. Sorry. Explanation follows.

Currently there are two dominant forms of lighting devices on the market. "Lighting devices" can include light strips, lighted fans. etc. Recognize that a lighted fan is really two devices in one unit - a fan motor, and a set of lights mounted in the frame - and the two are powered and controlled completely separately, so they have separate cables. The plain RGB lighting system uses a 4-pin connector (lighting device has a female connector with 4 holes) supplying a common +12 VDC power line and three Ground lines, one for each of the three colours (Red, Green, Blue) of LED's in the device. Along the strip all of the LED's of the same colour (say, Red) are connected to the Ground line for that colour, and so on for the other two colours. The lighting Controller (e.g, a 4-pin male header on the mobo, OR a separate third-party box) manipulates each of the Ground lines to change the colours, so it can change brightness, colour, and the speed of changes this way. But at any moment the entire light strip is all the same colour. In this system, each connector has the pin (or hole) on one end marked, and this is the +12 VDC line. At every connection point you MUST align those.

The more complex Addressable RGB (or ADDR RGB or ARGB or Digital RGB) system uses a 3-pin connector (looks like the 4-pin one with one pin missing from a blank space) that contains common +5 VDC and Ground lines and a Control Line. Along the strip the LED's are divided into Nodes. Each Node contains one LED of each of the three colours plus a Control chip. That chip listens to the Control Line and responds only to instruction packets addressed to it by manipulating only its three LED's. Thus at any moment every Node along the strip can display a different colour, and the display patterns can be much more complex. Because the connector pin arrangement is (4-1), there is only one way to make a connection between cables, etc.

Because the supply voltages and methods of display control are so different between these two designs, you cannot mix them in the same circuit. Your case came with the ADDR RGB type of lights in the fan frames. You say your mobo has only the 4-pin plain RGB type of header. So you cannot connect from that to the lighting control system included in your case. But, you have not told us exactly which MSI X470 mobo you have - there are several. On their mobo line MSI uses the labels JRGB for a plain RGB header, and JRAINBOW for an ADDR RGB header. So look closely for that latter type with 3 pins in case you have one without having noticed. Assuming you do not, your best option is to ignore any attempt to connect to your mobo. Just use the LIGHTING Hub to connect the case lights (and fan lighting cables), and then use the battery-powered hand-held control box to make manual selections of light displays. That control box offers a lot of choices.

You have not asked anything about FAN MOTOR power and control, so I have not posted anything about that here.
 
Reactions: edgarfr0gg
Jan 14, 2021
7
0
10
0
No. Sorry. Explanation follows.

Currently there are two dominant forms of lighting devices on the market. "Lighting devices" can include light strips, lighted fans. etc. Recognize that a lighted fan is really two devices in one unit - a fan motor, and a set of lights mounted in the frame - and the two are powered and controlled completely separately, so they have separate cables. The plain RGB lighting system uses a 4-pin connector (lighting device has a female connector with 4 holes) supplying a common +12 VDC power line and three Ground lines, one for each of the three colours (Red, Green, Blue) of LED's in the device. Along the strip all of the LED's of the same colour (say, Red) are connected to the Ground line for that colour, and so on for the other two colours. The lighting Controller (e.g, a 4-pin male header on the mobo, OR a separate third-party box) manipulates each of the Ground lines to change the colours, so it can change brightness, colour, and the speed of changes this way. But at any moment the entire light strip is all the same colour. In this system, each connector has the pin (or hole) on one end marked, and this is the +12 VDC line. At every connection point you MUST align those.

The more complex Addressable RGB (or ADDR RGB or ARGB or Digital RGB) system uses a 3-pin connector (looks like the 4-pin one with one pin missing from a blank space) that contains common +5 VDC and Ground lines and a Control Line. Along the strip the LED's are divided into Nodes. Each Node contains one LED of each of the three colours plus a Control chip. That chip listens to the Control Line and responds only to instruction packets addressed to it by manipulating only its three LED's. Thus at any moment every Node along the strip can display a different colour, and the display patterns can be much more complex. Because the connector pin arrangement is (4-1), there is only one way to make a connection between cables, etc.

Because the supply voltages and methods of display control are so different between these two designs, you cannot mix them in the same circuit. Your case came with the ADDR RGB type of lights in the fan frames. You say your mobo has only the 4-pin plain RGB type of header. So you cannot connect from that to the lighting control system included in your case. But, you have not told us exactly which MSI X470 mobo you have - there are several. On their mobo line MSI uses the labels JRGB for a plain RGB header, and JRAINBOW for an ADDR RGB header. So look closely for that latter type with 3 pins in case you have one without having noticed. Assuming you do not, your best option is to ignore any attempt to connect to your mobo. Just use the LIGHTING Hub to connect the case lights (and fan lighting cables), and then use the battery-powered hand-held control box to make manual selections of light displays. That control box offers a lot of choices.

You have not asked anything about FAN MOTOR power and control, so I have not posted anything about that here.
Thank you for your detailed response, it was very helpful. I realise my mistake and should have got a mobo with argb header (I love the case, I know essentially the mobo is a much more important component, but I like the way the case looks) . I did pore over the specs but missed this as was unaware of the difference between argb and rgb. I'm trying to teach myself so this sort of info is great and I won't make that mistake again.
Its fine to use the remote with no mobo connection, I'm happy with that :)

I'm good with the fans - they have molex and 3 pin connections and my understanding is that you can use the female 3 with the male 4 on the controller, failing that I can connect the fans to the mobo so have a backup option. I'm not fussed about controlling the fan speed - its my first build so I wnat it to work and then can look at some detailed options at a later point.
 
Jan 14, 2021
7
0
10
0
Stated in the case description- Fans are argb!
Motherboard has a 4 pin rgb header!
STOP!!!
RGB and ARGB are not compatable - verify fans and MoBo before connecting hub.
So if you have a controller and a hub you don't need to connect to mobo. Use the remote to select colors if that is the system you have.
In short, Fans to hub or MoBo, leds from hub, Hub needs a connection to power supply usually Sata.
Thanks for the answer. I realised my mistake, I did look over the spec and do a lot of research but didn't realise that ARGB and RGB are not the same thing, I live and learn , I'm new to this so learning as I go, its fun! Good news is that I can still use the lights, just not controlled by the mobi.
 

Paperdoc

Glorious
Ambassador
Your comments on the fan motors prompt further comments from me.

You indicate that the three supplied fans have motor cables ending in connectors with THREE holes. That's the older style motor called "Voltage Controlled", and the method of controlling their speed is different from the newer design 4-pin type called PWM. The trick here is that most HUBS are designed to work only with 4-pin fans as far as speed control is concerned because they only use the new PWM Mode of control. If you plug a 3-pin fan into most Hubs, the fan will only run full speed.

However, there is a good way to power those fans and control their speed if you do NOT use the Hub. Do not connect the fan motors to the Hub. Your mobo has one or two SYS_FAN headers for connecting case ventilation fans, but probably not three for all your fans. So buy a SPLITTER. That is a simple device that simply connects all the fans in parallel to a single mobo header. It has one "arm" with a female fan connector to plug into the mobo SYS_FAN header. It has two or more "arms" for plugging in your fans. It has NO other connection "arms", whereas a Hub normally has a third connection to plug into a power output from the PSU. For 3-pin fans you can use either 3-pin or 4-pin Splitters - it does not matter. Here's an example of a 2-pack of Splitters with three outputs

https://www.amazon.com/Splitter-Computer-Extension-Converter-TeamProfitcom/dp/B07F8LV1BY/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1C7SB9I631LBI&dchild=1&keywords=4-pin+fan+splitter&qid=1610731065&sprefix=4-pin+fan+splitter,aps,185&sr=8-4

And here's another with five outputs that looks like a circuit board you need to fasten down

https://www.amazon.com/Fancasee-Splitter-Internal-Motherboard-Extension/dp/B07BWFT253/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1C7SB9I631LBI&dchild=1&keywords=4-pin+fan+splitter&qid=1610731117&sprefix=4-pin+fan+splitter,aps,185&sr=8-7

Because of a design factor in the mobo headers, a Splitter or Hub can only send back to the host mobo header the speed signal of ONE fan. So you need to plug a fan into the one output that is able to do this. On the "three arms" style, you will find that only one of the outputs has all 4 pins in it - use that one. On the circuit board style, one output header is marked for the CPU. Use that for one of your case fans. Do NOT connect your actual CPU cooler to this Splitter - leave the CPU cooler system connected to the CPU_FAN header of the mobo.

In doing this you are limited to a max load of 1.0 A on the host header. The three fans you have will draw at max 0.1 to 0.25 A per fan, so all three on one header is quite all right. When you have this set up, go into BIOS Setup to where you configure the SYS_FAN header you are using. There will be a spot (probably top left) to choose between DC Mode and PWM Mode. Set it to DC Mode. Use Esc back to Main Menu, F10 to get to the Exit Menu, and choose SAVE and EXIT to save your setting and reboot.
 
Jan 14, 2021
7
0
10
0
Your comments on the fan motors prompt further comments from me.

You indicate that the three supplied fans have motor cables ending in connectors with THREE holes. That's the older style motor called "Voltage Controlled", and the method of controlling their speed is different from the newer design 4-pin type called PWM. The trick here is that most HUBS are designed to work only with 4-pin fans as far as speed control is concerned because they only use the new PWM Mode of control. If you plug a 3-pin fan into most Hubs, the fan will only run full speed.

However, there is a good way to power those fans and control their speed if you do NOT use the Hub. Do not connect the fan motors to the Hub. Your mobo has one or two SYS_FAN headers for connecting case ventilation fans, but probably not three for all your fans. So buy a SPLITTER. That is a simple device that simply connects all the fans in parallel to a single mobo header. It has one "arm" with a female fan connector to plug into the mobo SYS_FAN header. It has two or more "arms" for plugging in your fans. It has NO other connection "arms", whereas a Hub normally has a third connection to plug into a power output from the PSU. For 3-pin fans you can use either 3-pin or 4-pin Splitters - it does not matter. Here's an example of a 2-pack of Splitters with three outputs

https://www.amazon.com/Splitter-Computer-Extension-Converter-TeamProfitcom/dp/B07F8LV1BY/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1C7SB9I631LBI&dchild=1&keywords=4-pin+fan+splitter&qid=1610731065&sprefix=4-pin+fan+splitter,aps,185&sr=8-4

And here's another with five outputs that looks like a circuit board you need to fasten down

https://www.amazon.com/Fancasee-Splitter-Internal-Motherboard-Extension/dp/B07BWFT253/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1C7SB9I631LBI&dchild=1&keywords=4-pin+fan+splitter&qid=1610731117&sprefix=4-pin+fan+splitter,aps,185&sr=8-7

Because of a design factor in the mobo headers, a Splitter or Hub can only send back to the host mobo header the speed signal of ONE fan. So you need to plug a fan into the one output that is able to do this. On the "three arms" style, you will find that only one of the outputs has all 4 pins in it - use that one. On the circuit board style, one output header is marked for the CPU. Use that for one of your case fans. Do NOT connect your actual CPU cooler to this Splitter - leave the CPU cooler system connected to the CPU_FAN header of the mobo.

In doing this you are limited to a max load of 1.0 A on the host header. The three fans you have will draw at max 0.1 to 0.25 A per fan, so all three on one header is quite all right. When you have this set up, go into BIOS Setup to where you configure the SYS_FAN header you are using. There will be a spot (probably top left) to choose between DC Mode and PWM Mode. Set it to DC Mode. Use Esc back to Main Menu, F10 to get to the Exit Menu, and choose SAVE and EXIT to save your setting and reboot.
Haha what a legend you are. Thank you so much. This type of thing makes me love learning about PCs and the differnt ways they work
 
Jan 21, 2021
2
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10
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Hi all,
Noob PC builder here so bear with! So I have a CIT alpha case and MSI x470 mobo with a Ryzen 3600. Although I'm OK with that part, my confusion is the RGB lights, now I have the fans sorted as they can connect to the tower hub (3 pinf to 4pinM) . My confusion is the requirement to connect the "hub" to the mobo - I have an rgb 4pin header on the mobo and the lights are 3 hole ones.
Can I still use the remote that came with the case to manually control the lights? If so how? pic of the hub attached.

Pic of hub

Case: https://www.scan.co.uk/products/cit-alpha-black-midi-tower-w-tempered-glass-window-3x-120mm-gamemax-velocity-argb-fans-1x-usb-30-atx
I registered just to post this to help you as I was in the same boat.

This is the 4th case I've built up since December. I can confidently say this case is the biggest piece of crap I've assembled (internally), its nice looking externally and the fans/ventilation are great. So while I hate the interior I'm still glad I bought the case.

First things first its a shame they've wired the fan hub the way they have. Connected all the crappy molex so you get DC full fan speed option only, no install guide with the case either so its a case of googling and experimenting.

So disconnect all the molex with the attached 3 pin connector on them and each one goes to each fan 4 pin on the left side of the little daughter board (which is stuck down on the left edge of the case with a huge sticky pad that you'll need to be careful to leaver off because in mine at least it was tight up against the side of the case meaning no way you could connect the fan 3pin connectors. Then plug the loose 4 pin PWM connector (coming out the bottom connector that also has the 3pin argb connector on it) onto a spare mobo 4 pin PWM connector. Job done!
 
Jan 14, 2021
7
0
10
0
I registered just to post this to help you as I was in the same boat.

This is the 4th case I've built up since December. I can confidently say this case is the biggest piece of crap I've assembled (internally), its nice looking externally and the fans/ventilation are great. So while I hate the interior I'm still glad I bought the case.

First things first its a shame they've wired the fan hub the way they have. Connected all the crappy molex so you get DC full fan speed option only, no install guide with the case either so its a case of googling and experimenting.

So disconnect all the molex with the attached 3 pin connector on them and each one goes to each fan 4 pin on the left side of the little daughter board (which is stuck down on the left edge of the case with a huge sticky pad that you'll need to be careful to leaver off because in mine at least it was tight up against the side of the case meaning no way you could connect the fan 3pin connectors. Then plug the loose 4 pin PWM connector (coming out the bottom connector that also has the 3pin argb connector on it) onto a spare mobo 4 pin PWM connector. Job done!
Just revisiting this as I ended up getting a new motherboard with an argb header. The 4 pin fan connector that goes to the motherboard does not give control over the fans for some reason. However I got a splitter that when connected to sys fan 1 header DOES let you control the fans. The ARGB lights look great now they are all synced up with the ram and cpu cooler. Like you say the case looks great but internally is a mess.
 
Jan 21, 2021
2
0
10
0
Just revisiting this as I ended up getting a new motherboard with an argb header. The 4 pin fan connector that goes to the motherboard does not give control over the fans for some reason. However I got a splitter that when connected to sys fan 1 header DOES let you control the fans. The ARGB lights look great now they are all synced up with the ram and cpu cooler. Like you say the case looks great but internally is a mess.
I noticed the 4 pin fan connector doesn't register in my board BIOS, make sure you turn on PWM on in bios. It won't show the rpm but does work strangely.
 

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