Question RGB fans and strips???

ingeborgdot

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I just upgraded my computer with some new parts. I added a little bit of fun with the Wraith Prism fan for my Ryzen CPU. I also got some good Corsair memory with some RGB. Well, my wife saw it and really liked it and wants me to get some more for the fans and a strip or two. Who knew she would like something like this so much.
Well, to please the wife, I'm going to be adding at least 2 140mm RGB fans. I have 2 front fans also but they are covered up, although a little RGB light may get out of the side panel so, maybe 2 more either 120 or 140mm fans there too.
I don't know a lot about the RGB scene, other than it is just a novelty, and doesn't do much for the computer other than add a little fun. What is your recommendation of places to watch or read about the RGB devices.
What are your recommendations for fans and strips?
I have an Asus ASUS ROG STRIX B550-A GAMING
It has 3 RGB headers. One is an addressable Gen 2, 3 pin header and the other two are just RGB headers. How can I hook up 2 to 4 fans to RGB? Also, I am using a fan controller, but nothing associated with RGB type fan controller.
Can someone at least steer me in the right direction?
Thanks.
 

BradHP

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I don't know a lot about the RGB scene, other than it is just a novelty, and doesn't do much for the computer other than add a little fun.
Not true. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who said his dog told him that RGB adds about 10% to your processer speed. Just like painting flames on the side of your car increases horse power.

For a serious answer, I think Cooler Master makes some hubs that handle both fans and RGB, plus some basic splitters.
https://www.coolermaster.com/catalog/coolers/?filter=50055/#!/Cooler Type=RGB Accessories

If you're looking for some more RGB, I was also just checking out some GPU supports that have RGB in them and look pretty cool.
 

Paperdoc

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A few basics to get you started.

There are two common lighting systems widely used now, plus a few odd ones. (This does not include the older LED Fan units that have a single colour of LED in the frame, and only ONE cable from the fan motor to the mobo header.) RGB Fans are really two devices in one unit - a fan, and a set of lights. RGB Fans feature two separate cables from the unit to the mobo. One is strictly for the motor and ends in a female (with holes) standard fan connector (may have 3 holes or, more commonly now, 4) that plugs into a mobo male fan header. The other cable has a wider different female connector that plugs into a mobo RGB header (or one from a separate RGB controller).

The plain RGB system uses a 4-pin connector that supplies a common 12 VDC power line plus three separate Ground lines, one for each of the three LED colours in the lighting device. Along the light strip (or in the fan frame) all the Red LED's are connected to one ground line, all the Greens to another, all the Blues to the third. The controller manipulates those three ground lines to create thousands of colours, changing them over time. But at any one moment, the entire strip is one single colour. When making connections with this system, you must look carefully at the connector. It has the hole on one end marked as the +12 VDC line, and you must match that up to the correct pin on the other connector.

The more complex Addressable RGB (or ADDR RGB or ARGB, or some say Digital RGB) uses a similar connector with only three holes - looks like the 4-hole one with a hole blocked off. This supplies common +5 VDC and Ground lines to the strip, plus a third Control Line. Along the strip, all the LED's are grouped into Nodes. Each Node contains one each of the three LED colours (R,G,B) plus one control chip for those three in the Node. The control chip listens to the Control Line which carries from the Controller a series of addressed data packets with instructions. The chip in each node has its own unique address and does whatever it is told when its correct packet of instructions arrives. Thus all along the strip, every Node can be doing a different colour at the same time, and the resulting displays can be more complex, like a rainbow that can chase itself down the strip.

Because the Voltage supplied and the method of display control is VERY different between these two systems, they are incompatible. That is, you cannot mix them on the same controller output, although some mobos have separate controllers and outputs from separate headers for both systems. So you MUST match the lighting devices you buy to the type of mobo header your mobo has available. And the NAME of the lighting control system does NOT tell you that! Each mobo manufacturer has their own proprietary utility they supply with their board (e.g., ASUS Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light, Gigabyte RGB Fusion), and these each are able to control BOTH types of header, depending on which is on the particular mobo. The difference is identified by the number of pins on the output header, the Voltage supplied, and the lighting system name. Plain RGB uses a 4-pin connector and a 12 VDC power line. Addressable RGB (ADDR RGB, ARGB, or Digital RGB) uses a 3-pin connector and a 5 VDC power line. So you need to check the hardware type, not the mobo maker's utility name.

NOTE a great opportunity for confusion in RGB Fans. The MOTORS of fans come in the older 3-pin system and the new 4-pin PWM system. At the same time, the LIGHTS in the fan frames come in the plain 4-pin RGB system or the more advanced 3-pin ARGB system. So the terms "3-pin" and "4-pin" are used for BOTH fan motors and lights, BUT these two types of devices are completely different.

The most common lighting strips and fans now use one "standard" 3-pin (ARGB) or 4-pin (plain RGB) connector for lights, but there are still some around that began with and continue to use a different connector style even if the electrical signals are the same, so watch for those. Sometimes you can get (some even come with) simple adapters to convert the connector type. But be aware that there is NO simple way to "adapt" one lighting system to the other.

As you say, OP, your mobo has one ARGB header, and two plain RGB headers. Connecting many lighting units to these often can be done with RGB Splitters of the correct type. You may be familiar with Fan MOTOR Splitters and Hubs. Splitters are simpler and merely connect all their fans in parallel to the mobo header, and all the fans powerd that way draw their power from the header. This imposes a limit on the max current they can draw, which often is NOT a problem with a modest number of new fans. A fan HUB, on the other hand, gets power from the PSU and avoids that limit, but usually works only with 4-pin fans. Rather similarly, you can get a Splitter for the LIGHTS part. It may be a 3-pin or a 4-pin RGB system Splitter, and it just connects your several lighting devices in parallel to the mobo RGB header and draws all lighting power from that header. As you may expect, there is a limit on max current that header can provide, detailed in your mobo manual. The tricky part, too often, is getting the specs for the fan. There ought to be SEPARATE specs for max current drawn by the MOTOR and by the LIGHTS, since they are connected and powered separately at the mobo. You need those specs to check the load from items in parallel using a Splitter, whether it is for the motors or the lights. But I find too often that the separate specs are not there.

If you have a LOT of RGB fans, you might need both a fan motor HUB to power them from the PSU, and a similar device for the RGB lights - an RGB Hub or ARGB Hub. They exist, but you probably will not need that, OP, since your plans don't appear to involve huge numbers of fans and light strips.
 
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ingeborgdot

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Thanks guys. Pretty funny BradHP. ;)
So, Paperdoc, thanks for the great explanation. You went above and beyond for sure.
If I were to start with 2 fans and stay with that for a little while, how would you go about that?
What 2 fans would you use? Quiet is the key.
I will use a fan controller to control and power my fans. That helps keep it neat inside and nice for control.
What would I then do to power the RGB?
Would you use a splitter and go into to ARGB header with the two? Or would you use the standard RGB headers?
I'm running my Wraith Prism AMD cooling fan with the Coolermaster software that was recommended by someone?
So, for the cost of what I am seeing, I will just stick with 2 new fans for now. How can I set this up?
Thanks again.
 
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Paperdoc

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The Wraith Prism cooler contains a plain RGB lighting system. So that must plug into a 4-pin plain RGB mobo header, and you use a software utility to control its displays. I know that AMD worked with CoolerMaster to set up their software for this purpose, and designed it so it can work on most mobos, no matter who makes them. I suspect, but can NOT say from experience, that if you use the ASUS Aura Sync software instead, it also will control the Wraith Spire display.

Now, what about added RGB fans? You could buy fans with that same plain RGB lighting system in them. Since you'll add more than one, you will need at least one RGB Splitter to connect them. If you buy 4 such fans, you'll need a Splitter with at least 4 outputs. With a 5-output 4-pin plain RGB Splitter you could plug all 4 fans plus the Wraith unit into one plain RGB header, and they will all do exactly the same patterns (synchronized). Or you could leave the Wraith unit on one header and put the 4 fans on the other plain RGB header using a Splitter. I am not sure how Aura Sync does a detail here. Some utilities send the same signals out of all the available headers so they are all synched. Others allow you to choose (an option) to have different patterns sent out of the two headers for variety, so you might have all your fans do the same thing on one header while the Wraith unit does something else. One thing I am sure of, though. You can only use ONE software utility to control lights through the pair of plain RGB headers. That is, you cannot use the CoolerMaster tool you are using now AND the Aura Sync tool supplied by ASUS.

Here's an example of a 4-pin plain RGB Splitter with 5 outputs

https://www.amazon.com/RGB-LED-Light-Strip-Splitter/dp/B071DHPXDT/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=RGB+Splitter&qid=1602727768&sr=8-8&th=1

You will note that, like many such units, this comes with ALL of the connectors as female (with holes). Then it included gender-changing adapters to convert its five outputs to males (with pins). If you get a Splitter with too many outputs, make sure the unused ones do not short out on something. Either do not install the adapters, or tape over the exposed pins.

Alternatively you could get fans with the ARGB lighting system in them, and connect their lighting cables using a 3-pin ARGB Splitter to the one ARGB header you have. Then for certain you would be using the Aura Sync tool from ASUS to run that header, and I expect it also would want to have control over the plain RGB header, too. Perhaps you should check with ASUS Tech Support for this detail: can the Aura Sync software control both plain RGB headers PLUS the ARGB header all at the same time?

Here's an example of a 3-pin ARGB Splitter with 4 outputs and including the gender-changer adapters.

https://www.amazon.com/MICRO-CONNECTORS-3-Pin-Addressable-Splitter/dp/B07Z122WPT/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=RGB+Splitter&qid=1602728066&sr=8-5

CoolerMaster also makes a 5-output unit.
 
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Paperdoc

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No, that was MY mistake. I looked up the Spire first and wondered because it has no lights. Then I re-read you post and discovered you said Prism, which does have plain RGB lights. Then I forgot to correct the start of my last reply! I just edited it to fix that.

I also realized I made another error. I assumed the Prism cooler unit was plugged into one of your mobo's plain RGB headers. BUT that unit has two options. One is to do that and use the mobo's control tool - in your case, Aura Sync. The other is a different cable connection to a mobo USB2 header, and THAT is how the CoolerMaster software tool communicates with the Wraith cooler's lights. I believe you are supposed to use one way or the other, but not connect them both.

SO, that means that you can leave the Prism unit connected to a USB2 header and use the CoolerMaster tool to control its lights, and then use whichever mobo header is correct for the fans you buy, and use the Aura Sync tool for the fan lights. This will NOT sync the fan lights with the Prism lights, but I suspect that is OK.
 
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ingeborgdot

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I will probably go with ARGB fans.
I'll get a hold of Asus tomorrow and see what they say about this scenario.
So, I won't need a separate controller? Many have told me I would need one, but I didn't see why.
 

ingeborgdot

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Okay, Paperdoc, see if you can help me with this.
My Wraith Prism can be controlled with Aura Sync, my Corsair memory can be controlled with Aura Sync, I guess I should get fans that can be controlled with Aura Sync and just use Aura Sync. That way they are all synced under one piece of software instead of cooler master for the prism, corsair for the memory and whatever other software for the fans.
Does that make sense?
 

Paperdoc

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First, your post about which software for which device. I have read that the CoolerMaster software for the Wraith Prism unit can do better controls of its display because it has three lighting parts - a ring, a logo, and the overall colours. The custom software using the USB interface can deal with these three, whereas any mobo RGB header (of either type) can deal with only one type of lighting unit in a device. So doing this for the Wraith, and having Aura Sync do the other stuff would take advantage of that. BUT that means the Wraith unit's three lighting parts cannot be synchronized to the others. See also below!

ARGB fan vs RGB fan? That depends entirely on your wishes. Some find the possible more complex displays of the ARGB system compelling, and some do not. But that's only the LIGHTS part. Whether the fan motor and its whole cooling design is different has nothing to do with the type of lights built into the frame.

Now, the Corsair RAM - I'm assuming it is their Vengeance RGB Pro stuff - gets us into different territory. ARGB lights in a RAM module very often do NOT connect to any mobo ARGB header for power and control. Instead their lighting is controlled using contacts in the RAM socket. For this purpose, Corsair intends that you will download and run their iCue software utility that can work with all kinds of Corsair products, including RAM modules. If you do that, I do not know whether that software will want to take over control of the mobo plain RGB and / or ARGB headers, too. If it does, then your fans' lights will be under the same controls as your RAM, and probably synchronized. But if not, then you will also run the ASUS Aura Sync utility to control the mobo headers. Then you would have three separate lighting control systems operating, each using a separate method of connecting of its devices, and you would not be able to synchonize them all. The other possibility - call ASUS Tech Support for this! - is maybe Aura Sync can control both the mobo headers AND the lighing of RAM modules by Corsair. I don't know about that.
 

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