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 Post subject: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:16 pm 
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Dear SPCR-readers

For the last weeks I've been thinking about a new case, a new PSU en a new way to control my fans. That last thing is what has given me a lot of headaches and doubts, lately. I can't decide what the best approach is: to control my fans via software (like Asus Fan Xpert 2) or via a good fan controller like the Scythe Kaze Master II?

What I like about fan Xpert 2: I can arrange all fans and everything becomes automated so I don't have to care about anything (IF all goes well). What I dislike about this kind of solutions is that I lack control, I can't take immediate action when needed. I have to trust my motherboard and I'm not too sure about the maximum amount of fans that can be connected to a typical motherboard.

What I like about a fan controller like the Kaze Master II is its simplicity, it's easy and straithforward. I can read temps, RPM and change all that within seconds. What I don't like about this type of fancontrollers is the installation (especially the temp sensors, you want those as accurate as possible) and the overall accuracy.

What do you guys think? What is in your opinion the best way to deal with 2/3 casefans, a CPU fan and perhaps a GPU fan as well?

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Welcome to spcr.


Personally i would see that my case fans run on fixed voltage like 7 or 9v. CPU fan should be RPM or pwm controlled by BIOS. Finally GPU, should also be equipped with a quiet fan solution and/or modded Isle RPM via BIOS hack.

I'm obviously no fan of Software (which could fail) or non automatic fan controllers. Or you simply forget to crank up the fans and cook your system.


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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:05 am 
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Location: Scandinavia
Asrock motherboards for Haswell chipsets (B85, H87, Z87) boast diversified BIOS fan control which essentially means multiple separate piecewise linear functions containing multiple breakpoints with respect to CPU temperature (X-axis). The function value (Y-axis) corresponds to % of duty cyle in case of PWM-controlled 4-pin fan and % of voltage in case of voltage-controlled 3-pin fan. It is by far the most versatile BIOS fan control with finest granularity ever. It is indeed an undeniable fact that BIOS control is the most robust & resilient way to control fans. I recommend you to have a look at the following sites:

SPCR: Quiet gaming setup

The Tech Report: ASRock's Z87E-ITX Mini-ITX motherboard reviewed

AnandTech: ASRock Z87M OC Formula Review

All the 3 fans in my rig (excluding two other fans cooling the graphic card) are adjusted within the range of 200-400 rpm in idle state and ramp up to 400-500 rpm in load state and I can't hear a thing with my ultrasonic noise-obsessed unnecessarily sensitive ears.

Nevertheless, I must concede that buying a new gear is far from a rational and cost-conscious process. It shouldn't be in this capitalistic world. It must be very intriguing to manually control fans with front panel fan controllers.

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Last edited by ggumdol on Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:36 am 
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Location: ITALY
Potenza wrote:
What is in your opinion the best way to deal with 2/3 casefans, a CPU fan and perhaps a GPU fan as well?

SpeedFan (Windows-only, and AMD-only with reference to GPUs).

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:26 am 
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Pappnaas wrote:
Welcome to spcr.


Personally i would see that my case fans run on fixed voltage like 7 or 9v. CPU fan should be RPM or pwm controlled by BIOS. Finally GPU, should also be equipped with a quiet fan solution and/or modded Isle RPM via BIOS hack.

I'm obviously no fan of Software (which could fail) or non automatic fan controllers. Or you simply forget to crank up the fans and cook your system.

+1

My take on the whole fan control thing is to set the fans at a constant voltage and forget about them. Then you don't have to worry about a software failure (speedfan and the likes) or a human failure (you forget to crank up the fans), and you reduce the number of hardware pieces in the rig, which reduces the likelihood of a hardware failure (controller and/or temp sensor can fail).
One last thing : when your computer makes a constant low volume white noise, no matter the load, it's easy to forget about it. When the fans ramp up and down depending on load, you'll notice it more in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:03 am 
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frenchie wrote:
When the fans ramp up and down depending on load, you'll notice it more in my opinion.

+1 : the most difficult task with SpeedFan (and similar approaches) is to build out some convenient fan curves which minimize those fan speed variations (both in frequency and amplitude).

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:38 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:00 am
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I prefer to use Speedfan. I have the speeds automated right now (based on temperature), but it's good to have the option for manual control when needed.


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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:40 am 
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The case for using fan control software is diminishing as BIOS fan controls improve. Just setting the Silent profile in the BIOS of Asus motherboards, the later GigaByte boards that have this feature or the recent Haswell models from Asrock is normally enough. The Silent profile works by holding the fan at a constant PWM duty cycle % until a CPU temperature of typically around 40C is reached. This gives the constant fan speed some people prefer at idle and low system stress conditions. Plugging 3 pin case fans into the motherboard will give a reasonable degree of automatic BIOS fan control generally in the 7V to 12V range. Again with Asus for example it is possible to select a BIOS Silent Profile for 3 pin case fans.

For PWM control the Silent Profile works best with PWM fans able to run at the 300 rpm level or less such as those from Noctua, Scythe and BeQuiet. Used as replacements for case fans the end result will be far lower fan speeds and noise levels than is realistically possible with 3 pin voltage controlled fans. Manual BIOS controls are not as well developed except maybe the Asrock Haswell models. There is also the issue that Asus Z87 ROG boards have a more aggressive Silent Profile setting, around 35% duty cycle instead of the normal 20%. So for more control than the BIOS allows it will have to be software such as Asus Fan Xpert 2.

For motherboards with minimal or non-existent BIOS fan controls and indifferent manufacturers fan control software then Speedfan is the only option.


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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:24 am 
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lodestar wrote:
The case for using fan control software is diminishing as BIOS fan controls improve.

For the average user, probably: I've never found a BIOS which is as rich and flexible as SpeedFan is.

And out of the blue (and off topic), lodestar: eventually did you find a way to lower Kepler's PWM fan settings below the 30% threshold?

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:46 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
For the average user, probably: I've never found a BIOS which is as rich and flexible as SpeedFan is.
I agree completely into speedfan being much more customizable, but at the same time for me never have worked perfect in terms of recognizing all sensor. For the average user, in my personal opinion, FanXpert2 is just very easy to setup and run, and its garantee that will work with the sensor the motherboard comes.

Now on pure bios, some manufactures are doing their homework, Asrock in haswell mobos is coming with 5 breakpoints and 5 temp thresholds, still small compared to 16 of speedfan, but i live with 2 on MSI Z87-GD65 and been great, i really like not having extra programs loaded on memory, even though i only use windows on my PCs, this is very practical for people running linux distros, or whatever other os.

What its missing is more PWM headers, its fine as PWM splitters makes working with PWM fan very easy and safe, but if more real PWM headers were included it will even give more control to the users.

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:42 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
And out of the blue (and off topic), lodestar: eventually did you find a way to lower Kepler's PWM fan settings below the 30% threshold?

Yes, saved the BIOS with GPU-Z, used a copy of the saved BIOS with Kepler BIOS Tweaker 1.25 to set the minimum fan duty cycle to 20% and flashed the card with the modified BIOS with NVFlash. Obviously all the usual safety precautions need to be taken and the standard warning applies: strictly at your own risk. If you are thinking of trying it, I would say don't go straight to 20% but take the default level of 30 or 35% and reduce it in 5% increments. This is to allow for the fact that for some cards may have fans that will not go down as low as 20%.


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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 3:29 am
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Abula wrote:
What its missing is more PWM headers...

The Asrock Haswell motherboards, certainly the Z87 models, appear to allow the CPU and chassis fan PWM headers to be configured independently in the BIOS (without the 60% restriction that Asus applies to chassis sockets for example) so that all the PWM headers can operate on different settings in terms of either a pre-set Profile or a manual setting. For Windows users the BIOS settings can be supplemented by Asrock's fan control software, from what I can see this seems to be closer to Fan Xpert 1 in terms of its capabilities.


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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:04 am 
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lodestar wrote:
This is to allow for the fact that for some cards may have fans that will not go down as low as 20%.


Have you ever seen any 80mm GPU fan which don't will to go lower than 1050rpm? Ok, it's completely off topic, don't mind at all...

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 Post subject: Re: Anno 2013 - fancontrol: hardware or software
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:49 am 
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There are 80mm size fans which can run under 1000 rpm. For example the Noctua NF-R8 80mm PWM case fan has a speed range of 300 to 1600 rpm. However graphics card fans may not respond to lower duty cycle settings for two reasons.

The first is the issue of PWM fan profiles. Some fans may allow for 0% duty cycle to equal 0 rpm; many have a profile where there is a minimum speed for typically the whole 0 to 30% range. If this is the case lowering the BIOS fan setting to under 30% will have no effect on fan speeds. In other words the card manufacturer has decided that a minimum fan speed will apply and nothing can be done apart from changing the graphics card fans and/or cooler.

The second reason is that as PWM fans are thermally controlled a 20% duty cycle may be set in the BIOS but the combination of GPU and ambient temperature will still run the fan at a much higher speed. The sensors tab of GPU-Z is a useful tool for checking this.


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