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 Post subject: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:30 pm
Posts: 43
Location: FL
I'm building my first PC ever and I'm confused with some issues regarding case fans.

I want to replace the 2 stock fans that come with the Fractal R4 case with Noctua NF-A14 fans. However, I have some questions:

1) My plan is to put 2 in the front as intake and one in the back as exhaust. Is this an efficient use of the fans? I will have a SSD and one or two hard drives. Thus, I'm wondering if the bottom intake fan will just be blowing into the bottom hard drive tray?

2) I don't know if I should plug them into a a Swiftech 8 way splitter and that to the motherboard or just to the R4 fan controller. Is one way recommended over the other?

3) What Noctua fans do I get and why: the NF-A14PWM or the NF-A14FLX?

Here's some of the key components I have already:
I5 3570k (not overclocked)
Fractal R4 case
Seasonic SS-660XP2 PSU
Asus Z77 Sabertooth motherboard
EVGA GeForce GTX 670 FTW (not overclocked)
Hyper 212 EVO
SSD
one or two hard drives


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:20 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 3:29 am
Posts: 1178
Location: UK
The best combination in terms of low idle speeds and higher fan rpms if needed under gaming stress would be pairing the Noctua NF-A14 PWM with motherboard fan control. The manual for the Asus Z77 Sabertooth will show what resources you have for motherboard PWM control. I think it is one of the boards where there is both a PWM CPU header and a CPU_OPT PWM header. The CPU_OPT runs PWM fans attached to it at exactly the same setting as the CPU header. The Z77 Sabertooth offers a choice of BIOS CPU PWM fan profiles, one of which is Silent. This will run fans at around 20% PWM duty cycle if the fan goes that low (and the NF-A14 PWM does), or at the lowest PWM setting if otherwise. It will hold fans at the lowest speeds at idle and low system stress until CPU temperature exceeds around 40C. It will then ramp up speeds progressively.

Motherboard chassis fan headers have been somewhat of a vexed issue with Asus boards. Some motherboards have 4 pin headers but 4 pin PWM fans plugged into them behave as 3 pin fans. Other chassis headers are genuinely 4 pin PWM but do not allow the duty cycle to run below 60%. If quietness at idle and low system stress is a priority the best option is to chain PWM fans off the CPU header and/or CPU_OPT header. Noctua supply a PWM Y splitter and an extender cable with the NF-A14. So to run three of these fans using this motherboard you could use the Y splitter to run 2 fans (including the CPU cooler fan) from the CPU PWM header, and use another Y splitter for two fans from the CPU_OPT header.

The Sabertooth boards have their own version of Fan Xpert, called Thermal Radar, and this is included in ASUS AI Suite II which can be downloaded from Asus. Thermal Radar may enable you to improve on the idle speeds provided by the BIOS Silent setting.


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:33 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Posts: 1876
Location: Guatemala
Since you already chose Asus as your motherboard, my suggestion is first decide if you mind having control of all your fans individually or you don't care if all fans run the same rpms given a load or if you dont mind they running at a stable rpm with the included fan controller.

1) Individually = PWM + Voltage control fans
Asus AI SUITE / FanXpert, should allow you to control all fans as long as you chose the proper fan for each header, for CPU_FAN (real PWM header) run a PWM fan, fans included on most coolers now a days are PWM (some exceptions like Noctua NH-D14), but cooler for example like Noctua NH-U14S or Scythe Mugen 4 or Thermalright HR02 Macho, all have decent PWM fans that you will be able to control via FanXpert. Now on the case fans connect them to CHA_FAN 1,2,3, this are not true PWM headers although they are 4pin physically, so the correct fan for you to get control will be a 3pin fan, of what you are considering would be the FLX version, but there are other options that might be better, recommended you read First 140 mm Fan Roundup: Noctua, Phanteks, Xigmatek and Second 140 mm Fan Roundup: Antec, bequiet!, Corsair, Scythe, you will see a lot of fans tested there even compared to the Noctuas you are considering.

In this setup i would probably go something like Scythe Mugen 4 + 3x Antec True Quiet 140

2) As a Group = PWM + Splitter
On asus there is only 1 true pwm header, CPU_FAN, so connect the splitter to this header, and get all PWM fans, preferable the same or close on the range of PWM operation, for example if i were going like this i would go with a cooler like NH-U14S that comes with a special NF-A15 PWM that has the same range of PWM operation than the NF-A14 PWM, so all should run fine on the splitter. The drawback of this is that although you do have control of all the fans, this is as a group, all fans will run the same rpms depending on the graph and cpu temps.

In this setup i would probably go with Noctua NH-U14S + 3x Noctua NF-A14 PWM.

3) Fan Controller
Another viable option, the R4 comes with built in fan controller that runs 12, 7 and 5v, if you go this route just go with 3pin fans for case fans and avoid PWM fan (at least for the case fans).

_________________
GameMi >> MSI Z87-GD65 | Intel Core i7-4790K | Thermalright Silver Arrow IBE + 3x Noctua NF-A15 PWM @500rpms| Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB DDR3 1600 | nVidia GTX780 + ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme IV | Samsung SA850 27'' 2560x1440 | Samsung 840pro 512GB | Hitachi 7K1000 1TB | Fractal Design Define R4 + 4x Noctua NF-A14 PWM @450rpm | SeaSonic SS-860XP2
Other builds ---> ServeMi | CamMi | MiniMi | HTPCMi


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:30 pm
Posts: 43
Location: FL
Thanks for the information. So, I have three options from everything I've read. However, which option should I pick? I've never messed with fan settings before and this is my 1st PC build. I'm having a hard time even understanding all the technical jargon I've been reading. I've heard there can be issues with clicking noises when using PWM fans so that leads me to option 3, using the R4's fan control. I'm just not sure though. Any advice would be appreciated.

What I would really like to do is have the fans at auto so that as temps heat up inside the case, the fans adjust themselves. Is that possible through any of the 3 options?

It seems like options 2 and 3 both control the fans as a group, one just uses PWM and one uses voltage, is that correct? Is one preferable to the other?


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Posts: 1876
Location: Guatemala
majax79 wrote:
I've heard there can be issues with clicking noises when using PWM fans so that leads me to option 3, using the R4's fan control. I'm just not sure though. Any advice would be appreciated.
While clicking can happen, it can happen with all fans, i have had TY140 that click others dont at the same rpms and pwm, its hard to generalize. I can tell you that all 7x NF-A14 PWM that i bought and a NF-A15 PWM none i have percieved any clicking, if there is, i cant hear it, but this is not a guarantee that none will. PWM fans are not better or worst than 3pin fans, i personally prefer them as when i moved on from ASUS was with the mind of not depending on software to control them, so MSI bios works pretty good with them, but if i were on ASUS i would probably wouldnt have chosen PWM fans for all spots (just the cpu).

majax79 wrote:
What I would really like to do is have the fans at auto so that as temps heat up inside the case, the fans adjust themselves. Is that possible through any of the 3 options?
No option 3 the only one that will vary is the CPU fan, the others will be binded to the fan controller on the case meaning they will run steady at certain rpms no matter the cpu temperature. So chose either option 1 or 2, depending on what you are aiming.

majax79 wrote:
It seems like options 2 and 3 both control the fans as a group, one just uses PWM and one uses voltage, is that correct? Is one preferable to the other?
Only option 1 can be controlled individually (all dependant on the CPU temp on the ramping, but you can define for each fan), option 2 all are dynamically controlled, but all binded to the same signal, so if the fans are the same will be the same rpms (varying depending the CPU temp), option 3 is only the cpu fan controllable and the rest are on the 3pin fan contoller on the case.

My suggestion, as you already went with Asus motherboard, is to go with 3pin fans for the case fans, and only use 4pin PWM fan on the CPU, connect the case fans to headers CHA_FAN 1,2,3, and connect the cpu fan to CPU_FAN, and run AI SUITE / FanXpert, run the tuning and check the graphs for each fan, if they are to your liking in terms of noise and temperature, else change them. Now if all this fail and you cant or dont like what you are seeing, its simple, just connect all the case fans to the Define R4 Fan controller, and just use the 3 setup switch to see what you want. I would only recommend PWM fans if you were going into another brand of motherboard or if you were using all your fans the same, but for practical purposes, i think its better in your case to go with 3pin fans, more options to play with and no restrictions.

I do recommend you read the SPCR reviews that i linked you in my above post, the best sound fan was the Antec True Quiet 140, and if you want a little more cooling the Phantek 140 and Antec TwoCool 140 are also good options, all better than Noctua according to the SPCR reviews. But i also recommend you before buying fans, test the Fractal fans in both the CHA_FAN 1,2,3 FAN headers and on the Fan Controller, and play with it and see if you really want to invest on quieter fans. And if after playing with the included fans, you feel you need something better, consider antec true quiet 140 seems like good option out the SPCR review, and specially as they are very cheap compare to Noctua or Noiseblocker, im about to buy 3 for my server.

_________________
GameMi >> MSI Z87-GD65 | Intel Core i7-4790K | Thermalright Silver Arrow IBE + 3x Noctua NF-A15 PWM @500rpms| Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB DDR3 1600 | nVidia GTX780 + ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme IV | Samsung SA850 27'' 2560x1440 | Samsung 840pro 512GB | Hitachi 7K1000 1TB | Fractal Design Define R4 + 4x Noctua NF-A14 PWM @450rpm | SeaSonic SS-860XP2
Other builds ---> ServeMi | CamMi | MiniMi | HTPCMi


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:16 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
Posts: 2995
Location: ITALY
majax79 wrote:
2) I don't know if I should plug them into a a Swiftech 8 way splitter and that to the motherboard or just to the R4 fan controller. Is one way recommended over the other?


Just an overabundant note: even if no one adviced you to use voltage controlled fans in such a setup, please take note that if you go with that Swiftech splitter, you must connect it only to a true PWM header (beware on ASUS boards) AND use only PWM fans (so the Noctua FLX, Fractal ones and the likes are plainly ruled out).
That is because even if some PWM header may do voltage control also (I've some MSI AMD boards which do so, I don't know about your Sabertooth), anyway that Swiftech splitter will run any 3-pins fan just at full speed.

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Regards,
Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:19 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 3:29 am
Posts: 1178
Location: UK
quest_for_silence wrote:
...you must connect it only to a true PWM header (beware on ASUS boards)...

The CPU_OPT header on Asus boards operates just like a normal CPU header and reports the rpm of a fan connected to independently of the main CPU header. A PWM splitter cable or a powered PWM hub like the Swiftech 8 can be connected to CPU_OPT and will work perfectly OK. The only difference is that CPU_OPT mirrors the PWM control signal setting of the CPU header. It's a form of PWM chaining at motherboard level which is why CPU_OPT is not configured separately.


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 685
Location: Gefle, Sweden
1+2 ) Two front and single exhaust will do fine with your build. In fact unless you have a very hot room you could even have three fans with equivalent airflow to the original Fractal Design Silent Series R2 140mm hooked up to the built in controller set to low(5V). That will cool well enough and remain very quiet. Connecting to a motherboard with good fan control options like some newer have, would really only be interesting if you want the fans to run even more slowly at low loads. (I'm experimenting with case fans off at really low load myself, but that requires some initial oversight.)

The CPU and graphics card fans will take care of the heat spikes on their own and the case fans will be efficient enough to transport the heat out of the system. The harddrives will have cool weather in the front since ther's always cool air coming in there, with the fans constantly running on low. The drive cage is not so restrictive that it could cause any problems with this setup.

If you want a simple solution it's right in front of you. :)

_________________
i5-3570K at 4 GHz Turbo, HR-02 Macho w/o fan, MSI R9 290 Gaming, Fractal Design Define R4, 2 front fans, 1 exhaust. 2 SSD's and a quiet Seagate 4TB (ST4000DM000) HDD, Seasonic P-460FL (no squealing).


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:47 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:30 pm
Posts: 43
Location: FL
Thanks for all the help so far. So, is there any benefit for me to be able to individually control the case fans? I mean, I would think the two front intake and rear outtake should always be running at whatever speed, in unison? If that's the case, then a splitter connected to CPU_FAN would be the best bet. Although, if I did that, where would the heatsink fan connect to? If I put it on CPU_OPT, it would have the same settings as the case fans.

1) Is there any recommended alternative software that I could consider using?

2) I need to connect a NF-F12PWM to the Hyper 212 EVO. However, it is my understanding that the CPU_OPT will be controlled in the same way as the CPU_FAN header. That doesn't seem like that will work at all. Wouldn't the 120MM fan on the Hyper 212 EVO need to ramp up more than the two front and one back case fans?


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:24 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:01 pm
Posts: 167
Location: Slovenia
1) You have Asus motherboard, so most likely have the most flexible fan speed control software available. Use it, and if you don't like it, search for alternatives (bios or fixed voltage).

2) Every recommended CPU heatsink comes with PWM fan, so you will connect it on CPU fan header. PWM provides very flexible fan control, so you can lower your fan speeds much more than with voltage control. Ether you use BIOS for PWM control, or Fan Xpert. Use your CPU fan on PWM (CPU and CPU opt)!

2) With R4, you get some pretty good sounding fans. If you cannot imagine how loud they are, use them for some time.

a) First, try them with fan controller in the case. If you can set them so they are quiet enough and they provide enough cooling, call it a day.
b) If you want dynamic control, based on your PC's temperatures, plug them in on motherboard and let Fan Xpert analyze them (starting voltage). Then, draw your own fan speed curve. For example, intake fans don't have to react as much as exhaust fan.
c) If you cannot slow down Fractal fans low enough with Fan Xpert, it is time to buy PWM case fans and run all your fans from CPU fan headers (CPU and CPU_opt).

The last option is used by many people here (and companies, like Puget) to achieve VERY slow fan speeds, without risking overheating on higher loads. Depending on your environment, that might not even be necessary. So first use what you have, planning in advance won't do you much good without some experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Case Fans - Fractal R4
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:30 pm
Posts: 43
Location: FL
Thanks, makes sense to me. I'm going with three Noctua FLX fans. I don't have a lot of money so hopefully ASUS software can get them to a relatively quiet level.


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