Noctua Cooling fans.

OP_Chief

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I'm using this case http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146088
At first I was going to put 2 Corsair SP fans on my radiator, 2 as intake in front of my drive cages, and 2 on the other side of the drive cages, but I noticed that the fans don't have high RPM (Doesn't even exceed 1500RPM) So I've been doing a little research, and I found this little guy. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608048 Now givin the fact that it's a $30 fan, it does crank up to 3000RPM which I assume would be a better option for getting the hot air out of the case than the Corsair AF140 fan, AND it is static pressure optimized therefore better than the Corsair SP140. Would the Noctua be my best option for a static pressure fan (Intake/Drive Cage/Radiator) while also cranking it up to 3000rpm and being an airflow exhaust fan (Roof of case/rear exhaust)?
 

larkspur

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With computer fans there are two basic types. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) fans vs. Conventional voltage regulated (VR) Fans. If your motherboard has PWM fan headers (most do these days) and/or if you are using a PWM fan controller then PWM fans make sense. This is because PWM fans have a greater range of rpm than VR fans. It's not that PWM fans can spin faster - it's that PWM fans can spin more slowly (like when the system is idling the fans can spin much more slowly than VR fans). VR fan speed is controlled by varying the voltage supplied to the fan. A VR fan has a minimum voltage (called the "starting" voltage) in which it can be run. This limits how slowly the fan can run because you don't want to run the fan at a voltage that is less than the minimum (starting) voltage. If you do then you risk the fan stopping and not being able to start spinning again and burning out.

PWM fans do not vary their voltage - the motherboard (or fan controller) sends a signal to the fan that tells the fan how fast it should spin. A microchip on the fan itself interprets that signal and then controls the fan's speed by pulsing the fan. In summary, neither PWM nor VR fans spin faster - but PWM fans can spin a lot slower and thus reduce fan noise when the system is idling or at low load.

I use Noctua fans in my builds but I use the 1200rpm and 1500rpm versions. The 3000rpm fan seems a bit overkill but it looks like it would work pretty well with a radiator or CPU heatsink where you wanted maximum fan performance. They are going to be super-loud at max. It's kind of up to you. I read your other thread - I think its good to go with high-static pressure fans on the front since there will always be some dust build-up. But I'd use PWM fans. As far as exactly which fans you use are going to depend on your hardware and your noise preference. If you are planning to do SLI or Crossfire then you'll be best-served by getting plenty of airflow through that case. If it's just a single-gpu system then you'll be ok with less airflow. For a rad or a conventional heatsink then lots of airflow is good but you are going to hit a point of diminishing returns.
 

OP_Chief

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First off thank's for taking the time to write all of that. 2nd, Your post made me feel a little bit better towards the 3000rpm fan. I think I might deck my who case out with these, and just keep them on like 50% load and see how it sounds. If it's not too bad, and If I actually need it, I'll boost them up. This fan is more of a "I'd rather have the extra RPM and not need it, than need the RPM and not have it.
EDIT: If I wanted to change the RPM of the fans, would I need to purchase a fan controller? That would be the easiest correct?
 

larkspur

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They are pretty pricey though! I will say, I've never had a Noctua fan die or start squeaking or give me any trouble. They spin fine year after year and usually have the best noise/performance ratio. The fan you are looking at will spin as low as 800rpm whereas the 1200 or 1500rpm units I use go down to 300rpm. Anyway, here's Noctua's specs on that fan: http://noctua.at/en/nf-a14-industrialppc-3000-pwm.html

PS - I really love that case you have there - looks great and has nice features. Have fun with it!
 

OP_Chief

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One last question mate. How would I control the fans RPM?
 

larkspur

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Unless you opt to get some kind of PWM fan controller (with knobs and whatnot) then you would be connecting the fans to a PWM-capable fan header on your motherboard. You can use a PWM splitting cable (a 4-pin Y cable) to connect two or more fans to a single header. Most motherboards have at least a PWM-capable CPU fan header but most fan headers can only support one or two amps max - so plan accordingly. Those 3000rpm beasts use maximum 0.55 amps each. If the header supports 2 amps max then you could plug a maximum of 3 of those beasts to that header. Don't exceed the header's amperage rating (that rating is usually found in the mobo's manual).

Not sure what mobo you are using or plan to use but if you don't have one yet then look for one that has several PWM-capable "chassis" or "system" fan headers. Higher-end mobos usually have them. PWM fans are 4-pins. Two pins are for power, one pin is a tachometer and the fourth pin is the PWM signal. A PWM fan-header on a motherboard will also be a four-pin connector obviously. It is important to note that a PWM fan can be plugged into a 3-pin VR fan header and still be controlled by using VR though it will not spin as slowly as it could with a 4-pin PWM fan header. Likewise, a 3-pin VR fan can be plugged into a 4-pin PWM header and still be controlled by voltage (assuming the mobo has a VR setting). To actually control the speed you can enter the mobo's BIOS and setup a fan profile for each fan header and also many motherboards nowadays have software that will allow you to setup and change fan profiles within your OS.
 

OP_Chief

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This is the motherboard that I have right now http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130801&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-PCPartPicker,%20LLC-_-na-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=&AID=10446076&PID=3938566&SID=
I was looking at this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811992012&cm_re=nzxt_sentry-_-11-992-012-_-Product
Would that fan controller work for all the fans?
(Btw here is my complete build. I have not finished it yet, but this is an idea of what I want. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Kgd93C I may have forgot to mention, I'm going to be purchasing around 8-10 fans. 6 will go on the actual Case, and the other 2-4 will be used on my CPU Rad (May do push pull for total of 4 fans on CPU Cooler)
If the Fan controller will work, I will have to buy 2 of them, seeings how you can only use 6 fans per controller.
 

larkspur

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Right, so on your motherboard despite the System/chassis fan headers being 4-pin they are only VR controlled. MSI doesn't specify the max amperage for each fan header - very annoying MSI. Only the CPU_1 and CPU_2 headers are capable of PWM control even though the other headers have four pins (the 4th pin on the other headers is not functional and just serves to make people feel better about plugging in a 4-pin fan).

What this means:

1) Your CPU radiator/heatsink fans will need to connect to the CPU_1 header. If you use four of those 3000rpm Noctuas then you must use a POWERED PWM fan hub.
2) Your case fans will connect to the CPU_2 header. Again, you will need a POWERED PWM fan hub.
3) I assume that MSI allows you to SEPARATELY control the CPU_1 and CPU_2 fan headers but they aren't very clear on that. Maybe somebody who has experience with that board knows. It'll be pretty annoying if ALL of your fans spin-up and slow-down every time your CPU is loaded/unloaded.
4) There are a lot of fan hubs that are marked PWM fan hubs that accept a PWM signal but they actually just use VR when controlling the fans - you don't want one of those so beware.
5) There are lots of UNPOWERED PWM splitters that wouldn't work for you since all those fans are too much current draw for a single fan header so don't use them.
6) This POWERED PWM fan hub is actually the real-deal and not only provides supplemental power for powering the fans, but also passes the PWM signal to each of the fans thus taking advantage of the PWM capabilities of the fan (I'd use that and let the mobo control the fan speed according to a fan profile that I'd set up with it). With all those fans you'd probably want two of those - one for the radiator/heatsink fans and one for the case fans: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=526&area=en

If you really want a knob-style fan controller that does actual PWM then there are some out there, but I'm not seeing anything specific with a quick google search. You just need to make sure that the controller's channels can handle multiple of those 12v 0.55amp (6.6 watts each) fans using a real PWM signal and not VR.

Also - you really don't have to go massive overkill - maybe just use the 3000rpm fans for the rad and get some lower-power fans for the case. Those 3000rpm fans are like 6.6 watts each at max rpm which is really high and limits your fan control choices. Anyway, hope all that helped!
 

OP_Chief

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I do like the Silverstone fan controller you mentioned. That is actually the exact 1 I was looking at a few days ago. But I stumbled on this one. https://www.nzxt.com/products/SENTRY-Mix-2 Could I control the RPM of every fan manually with this one?
Btw, you have been such an amazing help today! :p
 

larkspur

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Yes you could control all the fans with that but it's a VR controller - it has 4-pin connectors to make people feel better about plugging PWM fans into it.

I think we're gettin a little crazy with all the fans and PWM vs. VR and all that. The reality is, if you choose the right fans for your case then VR is just fine. Having 6 case fans all running @3000rpm is going to be like a jet-engine and I just don't see a need for it. Most people use PWM fans for their rads/heatsinks since CPU usage fluctuates so much that having that low-rpm range is nice to keep the system quieter. The internal case temp doesn't fluctuate as much as the CPU, therefore you don't necessarily need the broad dynamic range of a PWM fan for case cooling. A case with the right case fans can still be plenty quiet when the system is idling - but if you use super-high-rpm VR fans then it's always going to be loud because they can only spin so slowly.

So to keep things uncomplicated with your motherboard and system you should seriously consider just using the CPU fan headers with PWM fans (like those Noctuas) for your radiator/heatsink and some lower-rpm (like 1500 or 1200ish) regular VR fans with your sys/chassis headers on your mobo. The nice thing about all that is that the mobo will control the fanspeed automatically based on temperature and/or cpu load and you can adjust the fan profiles yourself. Or you can always use a fan controller like you linked there to manually and individually control your case fans. I want to stress that VR fans are just fine and as long as you don't get super-high-rpm fans then they should be both quiet-enough and still move enough air for your needs.
 

larkspur

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One more thing - if you are into flashy fan controllers there are those that not only have knobs to control fan speed but they also have temperature sensors that can be placed wherever you like in your computer system (motherboard's vrm, outside of your rad, outside of the case to see your ambient temp, etc). They have LCD screens that will display the temps from those sensors as well as fan rpms. I have a Lamptron FC5 (it uses VR fan control) that I use when building a new system to test certain temps and to figure out specifically what rpm I need to run the fans to achieve my temperature goals. While I only use it during my initial building phase it still looks pretty cool in one of the drive bays and can provide peace-of-mind and individual fan control. The LCD screen will also change colors to suit your preference. Anyway, yes I'm a fan junkie - there I said it :) Here's the FC5: http://www.lamptron.com/product/controllers/fc5-v2/
 

OP_Chief

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You may have already answered this, sorry for all the questions :( but say I put a noctua fan in every fan slot on my case (Or mix and match fans, I just don't know what other one to use), and then hook all of them up to the silverstone thingy http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=526&area=en , would I then hook the silverstone controller up to my motherboard fan header? And at that point, would I be able to take advantage of the PWM thing? (Just to be clear, PWM means that the computer will change the rpm for me based on pc temps?)
 

larkspur

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Yes, the silverstone thing is just a powered PWM fan hub - not really a controller. It takes the PWM signal that would come from the motherboard header and it would pass that signal to each of the fans connected to the hub. It also provides the supplementary power that would be necessary to run the six fans because the motherboard fan header cannot supply enough power for all six fans. The actual speed control comes from the motherboard's PWM fan header (either CPU_1 or CPU_2). The problem I see with that on your motherboard is that the CPU fan headers are dependent on CPU temperature or CPU load. So when the load/temp on the CPU goes up, the fans spin faster. With your case fans controlled by the CPU fan header, your CASE fans will be speeding up every time your cpu comes under load and spinning down when it comes off load. CPUs go up and down in temp and load a lot (especially in games). What this means is that you will hear your computer case fans spinning up and down a lot and that can be very annoying.

I obviously confused you about PWM vs. regular fans. Both PWM fans and regular fans can have their rpm change based on pc temps. The difference is that PWM fans can have their rpm lowered FURTHER than regular fans.

I'm going to link two Noctua fans. They are identical except one is a regular fan and the other is a PWM fan.

The first is a regular fan. It reaches a maximum of 2000rpm. They don't specifically list it but I'll give you an experienced estimate that the lowest rpm it can spin safely is ~1000rpm: http://noctua.at/en/catalog/product/view/id/92/s/nf-a14-industrialppc-2000/category/14/

The second is the same as the first except it has PWM. It reaches a maximum of 2000rpm but Noctua lists it as capable of spinning at only 500rpm: http://noctua.at/en/catalog/product/view/id/89/s/nf-a14-industrialppc-2000-pwm/category/14/

Do you see the difference? Same exact fan but the one with PWM control can spin slower as long as it is connected to a PWM fan header or controller. Anyway, I'm starting to think that maybe a nice fan controller on the front of that baby would look nice. My concern is that the only PWM headers on your motherboard are the CPU_1 and CPU_2 headers and trust me, it will be very annoying if your case fans are spinning up and spinning down every time your cpu gets loaded and unloaded. Consider going with a controller or the simplest thing would be to use the chassis/system headers on the mobo with regular case fans.
 

OP_Chief

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Ok. I think you cleared it up. I see what you mean about the CPU temps affecting the rpm. In that case, I just searched Newegg, and the ONLY fan controller I could Find that was a 4 pin connector, was this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811992012 The one we agreed on earlier XD So Now after all the explanations and all the parts of me not knowing what's going on, is that the thing I should go with?
EDIT: I just read another thread on here and I think it was what you were saying. It said that if you plug a 4 pin fan into a 3 pin header, the fan will work, but will constantly run at 100% because it's not using the 4th pin. With that being said, can you plug the noctuas (4pin) into a fan bay controller say like this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811992007 , and adjust the fan speeds with that? In other words plugging the fans into a 3pin controller vs a 4 pin controller does the same thing?
 

larkspur

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Sure you can go with that one. But browse around a bit - There are lots of other fan controllers to choose from, go check out frozencpu's selection of them which seems a lot better than newegg's selection: http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l3/g47/c17/s286/list/p1/Fan_Accessories-Fan_Controllers-525_Controllers-Page1.html

That site has a lot of nice components and modding parts. I'm thinking you should use 1200rpm or 1500rpm or 2000rpm (at the most) case fans since I really can't imagine the need (and noise) that those 3000rpm fans will create. Even the 2000rpm case fans are pretty loud. I'm not sure how much noise you want to tolerate but I've found that 1200rpm 140mm case fans do just fine when you have a nice big case like that with so many fan ports. It's a nice spacious case with lots of ports, I doubt you'll have problems with airflow.
 

larkspur

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A PWM (4-pin) fan can still be RPM-controlled using voltage regulation when it is plugged into a 3-pin port. If the 3-pin port can regulate the fan RPM by lowering or raising its voltage (7volts - 12volts) then the fan's speed can be controlled. So yes, a PWM (4-pin) fan (like the PWM noctua fans we've spoken of) can have its rpm lowered and raised by using the knob on fan controller that only has 3-pin ports. The fourth pin (PWM signal pin) is not connected so the fan isn't using PWM to regulate its rpm, but the rpm can still be adjusted by the controller by varying the voltage (If you turn down the knob then the voltage lowers and therefor the rpm lowers. If you turn up the knob then the voltage raises and therefor the rpm raises). More voltage = more rpm. Less voltage = less rpm. The voltage range for a typical computer fan is 7v (starting voltage) to 12v (max voltage).
 

OP_Chief

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So at this point, the fan controller mainly comes down to personal taste? (Aside from having the capable voltage's and power)
UPDATE: I was looking on the website you gave me, and I kind of like it. They have a lot more options than Newegg. I've browsed around for some fan controllers, and I found a few that I think will work. Plus, I found some white ones that will match my case :D Let me know which one you think is my best option.
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8481/bus-180/Lamptron_High_Wattage_6_Channel_Rheobus_-_Silver_FC-2.html?tl=g47c17s286
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/6135/bus-108/Zalman_ZM-MFC1_Plus_Multi_Fan_Controller_-_Silver.html?tl=g47c17s286
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/22297/bus-371/Bitfenix_Recon_Five_Channel_Fan_Controller_w_Internet_Connected_Control_-_White_BFA-RCN-WS-RP.html?tl=g47c17s286&id=VLXVGrP6
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/11217/bus-227/Lamptron_20W_-_4_Channel_Aluminum_Rheobus_w_Multi_Color_LED_Display_-_Silver_FC-6.html?tl=g47c17s286
I'm siding towards the last 2. Especially the last one. From what I can tell, the controller shows fan speeds, AND temps. I'm not a huge fan of touchscreen controllers, but this one has a screen display, AND toggles. If that one works out with my fans, I think I'll get 2 of these. Will have to find new fans for case tho.
 

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