Will My RGB Header Support this Strip?

Nov 21, 2018
I need a 2 meter addressable RGB strip which I want to run behind my desk and then connect to an RGB hub which then connects to one of the 5V 3-pin addressable RGB headers on my motherboard. I will be using an RGB strip similar to this one: https://www.pololu.com/product/2530
with 120 LED's. My motherboard is an Asus Maximus XI Formula. I looked into its manual and it looks like one header can support up to 120 LED's, but since this strip will be connected to a hub with 2-4 other smaller rgb strips connected to it, for a total LED count of well over 200, idk if it will work. The RGB hub I'm using is the XSPC 8 Way, 3Pin, 5V, Addressable RGB Splitter Hub - SATA Powered - Black and it says that it has a total output of 6.5A (32.5W) idk what that means. Can I connect all of my strip to the hub and then to the header on my motherboard? Does it mean 120 LED's per strip? Or 120 LED's total? If this doesn't work, do I have any other option of powering the strips but still syncing them with my motherboard.

P.S. I only have one of my addressable RGB headers on my motherboard available (the other will be taken up by a Thermaltake TT Sync Controller which splits up into 9 different connections which btw, totals to over 150 LED's because it will be connected to 4 Thermaltake trio fans, a w4 cpu water block or a w5 cpu water block depending on when Thermaltake releases it, and a Thermaltake iRGB 850w PSU) so will the header work for those too? Or is it too many LED's? Thermaltake's website doesn't say anything about a limit to how many of their products you have connected to the since controller so idk.

Sorry, not without a bunch more work. The problem lies with power consumption.

Your mobo has two ADDR RGB headers for this, each capable of supplying 5 VDC up to 3 A (see manual p. 1-25) OR 120 LED's, but the lower limit will apply. I was alerted to look closely by the description of your RGB strips in the link. It says, "can be individually addressed using a one-wire interface". That implies that they are concentrating on how the ADDRESSING and control functions are done. It does not say clearly the CURRENT required for these strips. By searching that site for data sheets and specs on similar strips, I found the the max current used is 40 mA PER RGB NODE or LED unit, and the strips you specify use 120 RGB nodes in a 2 m length for EACH strip. So ONE strip will have a max current consumption at full power of 4.8 Amps, MUCH more that your mobo's header can supply. And you want to use TWO strips.

Your COULD use shorter 1-metre strips that contain only 60 LED units each, and connect one such strip to EACH of your mobo's two ARGB headers. OR you could get the 2-metre long ones with lower LED density that contain only 60 LED units over the 2-metre length. Pushing the limits, you could buy the ones you specify and then cut each shorter to 1.25 m, thus reducing the LED unit count to 75 and the max current to exactly 3 A. (You can cut each strip shorter at particular points between the nodes.) For any of these options you still will need to do some small custom wiring adjustments to connect those strips to the headers of your mobo.

The strips you linked to were designed for people who are building their own systems. That usually includes providing a power supply matched to the total lighting system load and a custom control system. You MIGHT consider doing something like that. You would need to get a 5 VDC power supply unit heavy enough for the full 2 strips you want to use (10 A max load), then do some custom wiring so that the GROUND of that power supply is also connected to the GROUND of your computer mobo, and the control signal ONLY from one of your computer's ARGB headers is carried out to the control line of the RGB strips you buy. I do not know enough about the details of the control signals and circuitry to know whether the mobo's control line signals are the right type for that RGB strip, so you'd have to figure that out before committing to this path. Also consider whether doing this custom work would violate any warranty on your rmobo.
Nov 21, 2018

WOW! That's a lot! What I got from that is that I'm not getting enough power from my ARGB header (that's the pin on the header that transmits the 5V power, right?), so I will have to power the strip from somewhere else and then have to do custom wiring to get the data pin and the ground pin on the ARGB header to transmit a signal to sync all my LED's. So I know you said that you don't really know a lot about the custom wiring needed for the RGB strip to sync with the motherboard, do you know any place I could go to figure it out? Has anyone else done a similar thing? What about an ARGB header hub like this one: http://www.xs-pc.com/fans-radiator-accessories/8-way-3pin-5v-addressable-rgb-splitter-hub-sata-powered-black
Do those change anything in terms of power? Or are they only just dividing the power between however many strips are connected to them (aka, even with the splitter I would still only be able to connect 2 60 LED strips, not more)? Does this also mean that my Thermaltake sync controller won't work? I looked on their website: https://www.thermaltake.com/Cooler/Cooling_Accessory_/Fan_Controller/C_00003143/TT_Sync_Controller_TT_Premium_Edition/design.htm
and they say "*The max. rated current of the SATA port is 5A. To avoid causing damage to the port, the TT Sync Controller is allowed to be connected with:
1. Up to 4 Riing Trio fans while adding other PLUS series products.
2. Up to 5 Riing Trio fans without connecting other PLUS series products."

Since I have 4 Riing Trio Fans, does that mean I can connect an indefinite amount of other Thermaltake RGB Plus products to the controller? (that's what the website seems to imply). But because the fans themselves already have 120 LED's total, would it logically mean that just those 120 LED's are the max that I can connect to that controller? I was planning to still connect my Thermaltake iRGB 850W PSU to the controller which I'm pretty sure has another 12 LED's plus my CPU water block which could have up 16-20 LED's depending on which one I get. If I really am limited to a total of only 240 LED's to the entire mobo, then is there any other way that I can sync everything? What about the Asus Aura Terminal? That says that it can support up to 210 LED's total (90 LED's per channel). If the Asus Aura Terminal connects to one of the ARGB headers on the mobo which can only power 120 LED's, then where does the extra power to power an additional 90 LED's come from? And, if an ARGB hub like the Asus Aura Terminal can somehow increase the ARGB header's LED capacity, then are there other ARGB hubs which can do the same and maybe increase the LED capacity by even more? Or am I getting this all wrong and its some marketing scam from Asus, or is Asus wrong?
Thank you so much for helping me out btw!

In all of these systems there are limits expressed TWO ways: max number of LED's, and max current total to all items connected. Each of these can be for different reasons. And then understand: not all LED's consume the same current. Some high-brightness RGB LED modules will consume more current that lower-brightness ones.

I suspect that the max number of LED's spec has to do with the rate of data movement on the control lines of the ADDR RGB system. In that system, every node consists of one controller chip and three different-coloured LED lights. Combinations of which LEDs are lit, and of how bright each is, determine the brightness and exact colour of that one node. An ADDR RGB device (a strip or the lights in a fan chassis) has many nodes along it. It appears that the makers of that strip unit you linked to refer to what I have called a "node" of 3 LED's plus a control chip as one "LED" unit, so they call that item you linked a strip containing "120 LEDs". So if the master control system has to send out a series of 120 addressed instruction codes to all the LED units on ONE such string, the master system must be able to do this at a certain rate in order for the display to appear as constantly on and changing smoothly, AND the strip's electronics must be able to transmit that series of signals along the entire length without weakening it AND the controller chip in each LED unit must be able to respond quickly to the incoming signals. Ultimately the speed of all those electronic components will limit just how many of them can be hooked up together and controlled in long strip.

Quite separately there will always be limit on how many AMPS the power source (the mobo header or whatever) can supply to the entire strip to allow all those LED's to light up. For the strips you linked, 120 LED units at a max current pull of 40 mA each is 4.8 Amps. If you were using a different RGB strip or device with lower-power LED units in it the current max could be less. That's why some systems supplied for use in computer cases can have longer lengths or higher numbers of LED units - they use lower-power (and likely lower-brightness) LED units in their strip.

So bottom line, BOTH the max LED count limit and the max current limit apply, and often one of those two will be the final limiting factor.

Now, those RGB hub units MIGHT be a way to simplify the electrical details, but in each case you will need to consult their makers' Tech Support people to be sure. There are two questions to settle, and one of them might be tricky to get answers to.

1. For each of those hubs the max current they can supply to all devices connected is 5 A. Now, that IS enough to power ONE of those strips you linked to originally. So MAYBE you could use one of these hubs for EACH of the RGB strips you wanted, if you first arrange that the ADDR RGB control signal from one mobo header is split using a simple RGB splitter and sent to each of the two hubs for control purposes. The Hubs do not get their power from the mobo header, so this would not overload that header. BUT what is NOT clear for each of those Hubs is whether it can supply up to the full 5 A limit from ONE output port only, which is what you would need to do to get this to work as I hypothesize.

2. Each Hub gets all the power for its connected ADDR RGB devices from a direct connection to a SATA power output from the PSU, and the Hub spec pages say clearly THAT is where the 5 A limit comes from. A PSU SATA power output can only give you 5 A. Now, it is common on PSU's to have several SATA power output connectors on a single set of wires coming out of the PSU, and for most uses that is no issue. A typical SATA HDD, for example, can consume 1 to 2 A, so connecting several such devices to a single power bus is not problem. But for your purposes, you would be planning to pull the full max amperage for EACH of the two Hub / RGB strip units, and I am not at all sure that this can be done when both power connectors are fed from the SAME power bus coming out of the PSU. On top of that, you also have plans to add MORE ADDR RGB devices that also will need power, and those are all IN ADDITION to the "normal" things like HDD and SSD units. You would REALLY need to consult the makers of the PSU you plan to use to find out if all this is possible.

If you can get those issues answered, you still will have a small amount of custom wiring to do because the strips you linked to do not have the same types of connectors on their ends that are used on strips designed for use in computer cases. That's not a big deal. The pinouts for the "standard" ADDR RGB headers on a mobo are in the mobo manual, and the proper connection wires for the strips are also provided on the strip maker's website, so you could figure them out.

You are running into an issue I have seen before in a different form. There were a few threads a while back from people who wanted to build a system for high-performance use and use huge numbers of fans for cooling - no RGB stiff, but LOTS of fans and LOTS of drives. The question became how to power all those items when the commonly-available PSU's could not do the job.