Question RGB Cooling Fans

gpbarth

Honorable
Nov 4, 2015
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Not sure if this is the correct forum for this, and the last time I queried this "problem" I think I got too far off-base, so I'll try to make this a bit more simple:

I have 2 aRGB cooling fans on my CPU radiator (and for simplicity sake, no brand name) and they are supposed to be hooked to a connector on the MOBO for color control. I, of course, do not have that style MOBO (it always figures), so I want to find an external aRGB controller for these fans.

SO - does anyone have any suggestions for where I could find such a device? RGB controllers are all over Amazon, but they are all 4-pin, and these are 3-pin 5v, not 4-pin 12v.

P.S. - I do not want anything that has to connect to my SATA bus in the process. The aRGB portion of the fans has nothing to do with the temp control function (separate lines). The fans are functioning properly right now, just unlit.

-= Gary =-
 
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Paperdoc

Polypheme
Ambassador
I'm not sure why you are concerned about connecting to a "SATA bus". Many peripherals (including an ARGB Controller) require a power supply, and there really are only two types readily available from any PSU. The older ones are the 4-pin Molex females used for older devices; the newer ones are SATA power output connectors. These are NOT involved in the SATA data transfer systems - they are solely to provide power from the PSU for devices that have SATA inputs - typically SATA storage devices, but other items, too.

You are not looking for an ARGB Splitter (connects many lights to one ARGB header, with no external power added) or an ARGB Hub (connects to that signal source, but requires power fed from the PSU). You are looking for a third-party ARGB Controller. It provides power AND control of the lighting devices attached to it, and it will require a power connection from the PSU. These come with three possible means of setting the display patterns. One type has buttons on the Controller box for manual settings, so you need to be able to place it where you can reach it. A second type comes with a separate battery-powered hand-held remote control box with multiple buttons, and it communicates with the actual Controller inside your computer case by radio signals. The third type requires an additional connection from the Controller to a mobo USB2 header, plus use of a free software utility you download and run. That utility communicates with the Controller via the USB2 connection, so you use on-screen menus to set up your displays.

The most common types of lighted fans these days contain a fan motor and some lights in the frame. Each of these is separate electrically. So the unit has one cable from it ending in a 3- or 4-hole fan connector that plugs into a mobo fan header for power and control of the MOTOR only. Then it has another cable ending in a wider connector for the lights in the frame. In your case, since you have ARGB lights, this should look like it had 4 holes in a row, but the third hole is blocked off. That normally connects to a male ARGB header on the mobo or to some other separate Controller.

Now, you have fans that were part of an AIO cooler system. You have not told us what system, but we may need to know that to be sure we give you the right advice. IF that is a complete AIO system with pump, rad, and fans containing ARGB lights, such kits usually also include some basic lighting Controller for people just like you who have NO ARGB header on the mobo. So, do you have that? The maker and model of that AIO kit would help us advise. BUT if you don't have that Controller, OR you don't like the way it operates, OR you have a custom system from separate components, you will need a third-party ARGB Controller that has STANDARD ARGB lighting ports. That ASSUMES that the lighting cables from your fans ARE standard. However, if your fans use non-standard connectors, you will have special needs. That is another reason we need to know what you really do have.

This Controller from Cooler Master


has several options. It has buttons on itself for manual settings. It includes a port where you can plug in the cable from your case's front panel Reset switch to let that be your lighting setting control. It can accept an ARGB signal from a mobo header, but you don't have that. It has a port and cable to connect to a mobo USB2 header that is a MAYBE situation. The web page merely says that can be used for updating the Controller firmware. But Cooler Master Tech Support told me that this also can be used with their proprietary software utility MasterPlus+ for software control of the system. If that interests you, make sure to contact Cooler Master yourself directly and get their assurances that this really does work. This Controller DOES use standard 3-pin ARGB male output ports so can he used with any standard lighting unit.

This Razer Chroma Addressable RGB Controller

https://www.razer.com/gaming-pc-accessories/razer-chroma-addressable-rgb-controller/RZ34-02140600-R3U1

has six standard ARGB ports and comes with cables for connection to a power supply and a mobo USB2 header. You download and run their proprietary utility Synapse 3 for software control.
 
Last edited:

gpbarth

Honorable
Nov 4, 2015
18
0
10,510
0
I'm not sure why you are concerned about connecting to a "SATA bus". Many peripherals (including an ARGB Controller) require a power supply, and there really are only two types readily available from any PSU. The older ones are the 4-pin Molex females used for older devices; the newer ones are SATA power output connectors. These are NOT involved in the SATA data transfer systems - they are solely to provide power from the PSU for devices that have SATA inputs - typically SATA storage devices, but other items, too.

You are not looking for an ARGB Splitter (connects many lights to one ARGB header, with no external power added) or an ARGB Hub (connects to that signal source, but requires power fed from the PSU). You are looking for a third-party ARGB Controller. It provides power AND control of the lighting devices attached to it, and it will require a power connection from the PSU. These come with three possible means of setting the display patterns. One type has buttons on the Controller box for manual settings, so you need to be able to place it where you can reach it. A second type comes with a separate battery-powered hand-held remote control box with multiple buttons, and it communicates with the actual Controller inside your computer case by radio signals. The third type requires an additional connection from the Controller to a mobo USB2 header, plus use of a free software utility you download and run. That utility communicates with the Controller via the USB2 connection, so you use on-screen menus to set up your displays.

The most common types of lighted fans these days contain a fan motor and some lights in the frame. Each of these is separate electrically. So the unit has one cable from it ending in a 3- or 4-hole fan connector that plugs into a mobo fan header for power and control of the MOTOR only. Then it has another cable ending in a wider connector for the lights in the frame. In your case, since you have ARGB lights, this should look like it had 4 holes in a row, but the third hole is blocked off. That normally connects to a male ARGB header on the mobo or to some other separate Controller.

Now, you have fans that were part of an AIO cooler system. You have not told us what system, but we may need to know that to be sure we give you the right advice. IF that is a complete AIO system with pump, rad, and fans containing ARGB lights, such kits usually also include some basic lighting Controller for people just like you who have NO ARGB header on the mobo. So, do you have that? The maker and model of that AIO kit would help us advise. BUT if you don't have that Controller, OR you don't like the way it operates, OR you have a custom system from separate components, you will need a third-party ARGB Controller that has STANDARD ARGB lighting ports. That ASSUMES that the lighting cables from your fans ARE standard. However, if your fans use non-standard connectors, you will have special needs. That is another reason we need to know what you really do have.

This Controller from Cooler Master


has several options. It has buttons on itself for manual settings. It includes a port where you can plug in the cable from your case's front panel Reset switch to let that be your lighting setting control. It can accept an ARGB signal from a mobo header, but you don't have that. It has a port and cable to connect to a mobo USB2 header that is a MAYBE situation. The web page merely says that can be used for updating the Controller firmware. But Cooler Master Tech Support told me that this also can be used with their proprietary software utility MasterPlus+ for software control of the system. If that interests you, make sure to contact Cooler Master yourself directly and get their assurances that this really does work. This Controller DOES use standard 3-pin ARGB male output ports so can he used with any standard lighting unit.

This Razer Chroma Addressable RGB Controller

https://www.razer.com/gaming-pc-accessories/razer-chroma-addressable-rgb-controller/RZ34-02140600-R3U1

has six standard ARGB ports and comes with cables for connection to a power supply and a mobo USB2 header. You download and run their proprietary utility Synapse 3 for software control.
I have an ASUS ROG Strix LC 240 RGB cooler. It has no controller for the fan lighting. The fans have separate plugs for power and RGB lighting. Al lfans are working fine, although without lighting. The pump lighting is handled by the only USB port I had left on my mobo, and it's working fine. I had bought what I thought was a fix for the fans, that came with a power supply that plugged into an AC outlet, and had a wireless controller. Unfortunately, it was an RGB (4-pin) system.

I guess I could go into my system and find a spare SATA bus - I'm only running 2 hard drives, so I'm sure there are several more. Just checked and I have at least 4 extra SATA power supply cables.
 
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Paperdoc

Polypheme
Ambassador
Connecting anything to a SATA power output from the PSU does NOT get you lights powered AND controlled. The SATA connector can supply only POWER for the lights, and you cannot plug a fan's lighting cable into a SATA power output connector, anyway.

Now, as you have said, the Controller system you got is the wrong type - you need one for ARGB lights. I suggested a couple above. You should understand that the lights in the fans need BOTH a power source and a set of signals to control their display. BOTH of those are provided by a Controller. The controller, in turn, requires a power source (very often a SATA output from the PSU) and some form if input so the user can make display settings. For example, the system you got by mistake uses a hand-held remote control box for user input. Many other systems (including the two I cited) use a software utility supplied by its maker and a connection to a mobo USB2 header for communication between the utility and the Controller software.

Your problem is that you have no empty USB2 header to use for that. I suggest you get a USB2 header Splitter for that, like this

https://www.amazon.com/Header-Extension-Splitter-Connector-Adapter/dp/B076Q8685Y/ref=sr_1_3?crid=9MHI6PSGWWI7&keywords=usb+2+header+splitter&qid=1642533612&sprefix=usb+2+header+splitter,aps,81&sr=8-3

Note that that unit splits the existing mobo header into two headers you can use; there is another model that can split one header into four. All standard mobo USB 2 headers actually contain TWO standard USB2 ports from a Controller chip. It appears that basically these units work like USB2 Hubs, using their own active circuits to create two new USB2 ports to share one original port's capacity. As long as the devices being plugged in are not very high-data-rate devices, this works just fine. For example, the software utility for the lighting Controller would really use that communication channel only infrequently when you are making changes to the settings. Keyboards and mice also are low-data-rate devices.
 

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