SpeedFan: A Guide to Universal Motherboard Fan Control

Cooling | Fans|Controls
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Refining Fan Control Further

For most users, the configuration process we've outlined is satisfactory but if you want even more control, there are extra options available to customize fan behavior further.

By default SpeedFan alters fan speeds in increments of 10%, but this can cause jarring changes in the noise level when the fan ramps up. In the "Options" tab, changing the fan speed delta to a lower value will create a smoother ride but will also effectively reduce reaction speed. For example, setting it to 1% will create a very gradual ramp up in speed but it would take a few minutes for it to make its way from 0% all the way to 100%.

In the Fan Control tab, check the "Advanced fan control" box to create a customized profile with the ability to adjust the entire fan speed curve for each fan. Click "Add" and give your controller a name (in our case "Test"), select a fan from the drop down menu and add the temperature that you wish to define its speed. A fan speed/temperature graph will appear on the right side with numerous, movable data points. Note: using this feature will override any other settings that have been configured.

Issues

In order for SpeedFan to work properly, it has to recognize the chips used for fan control and the temperature and fan speed sensors. This means that SpeedFan might simply be incompatible with your motherboard, particularly if it's a newer model, at least for the moment. When we reviewed our test motherboard, the Asus P8P67 Pro, back in January of 2011, fan controls weren't even listed on the main screen. It took a few months before SpeedFan was updated with support for the P8P67 Pro.

As we mentioned earlier, SpeedFan gathers some data directly from components like the CPU, GPU, and hard drive. This information is refreshed every three seconds creating a problem for users who prefer to let their hard drives sleep when they're not being used. With SpeedFan running, this isn't possible as it is constantly polling each and every hard drive, keeping them awake.

Finally, in Windows 7 and Vista, loading SpeedFan causes Windows to issue a security notification before allowing it to run; the only way to get rid of this prompt is to disable UAC, one of Windows' biggest security features. It's not a huge issue if you only start SpeedFan once on boot-up and leave your system on, or put it to sleep rather than turning it off completely, but it's still rather annoying. Most other utilities, including those provided by motherboard manufacturers, don't have this issue unless used on an account without Administrative privileges.

Correction:
The UAC prompt can be bypassed by using the Task Scheduler to start SpeedFan at login with the "start with highest privileges" option enabled. Thanks to one of readers, sunrunner20, for the tip.

Final Thoughts

SpeedFan isn't the prettiest or easiest application to use, making it rather daunting for novice PC users. The biggest drawback is it often takes a lot of work to properly configure. However, once you invest the time (assuming you have a compatible motherboard), you'll wonder how you lived without its incredible functionality and flexibility for so long.

It pulls data from additional sources (CPUs, GPUs, hard drives) so you don't need extra monitoring programs running simultaneously to keep track of everything. Different fans can be configured to respond to different temperature sensors, something we've only seen on a handful of Intel boards like the DZ77GA-70K, and even then it's only at the BIOS/UEFI level. Its highly customizable and incredibly powerful nature is unmatched by the competition and as a bonus, it's also free, lightweight and regularly updated with more features and better motherboard support.

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Articles of Related Interest
Fan Roundup #6: Scythe, Noiseblocker, Antec, Nexus, Thermalright
Asus P8Z77-V Pro: Xpert Fan Control for LGA1155
Intel DZ77GA-70K Z77 Motherboard: Waiting for Ivy Bridge
Zalman CPU & VGA Power Consumption Meter
Fan Roundup #5: Attack of the 120 Scythes
Zalman ZM-MFC2: 4 x Fan Controller + Power Meter

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