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Optimum connectivity for 12 Corsair fans


nnnkm
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Hi folks,

 

I've been reading the forums trying to understand the best way to configure my new system build from a cooling perspective. I read several articles and reviews and settled on the ML series of fans.

 

Here's my planned setup (relevant components only):

 

  • Case- Fractal Design Define 7 XL
  • PSU - Corsair AX1600i
  • Motherboard- Asus Zenith II Extreme
  • AIO Radiator - Corsair H150i RGB Pro XT
  • Radiator Fans - 6x Corsair ML120 Pro RGB (push+pull config)
  • Case Fans - 6x Corsair ML140 Pro RGB
  • Fan Controllers - 2x Corsair iCue Commander PRO Smart RGB Lighting and Fan Speed Controller
  • RGB Strip - 1x CORSAIR RGB LED Lighting PRO Expansion Kit (4 strips)

 

With the prices/multipacks of fans available for these fans in my country, I will end up with the following:

 

  • 2x Commander Pro
  • 5x Lighting Node Pro

 

Considering the selected Case, AIO and Fan types, what would be the optimal configuration to make the most of what I will have? Should I add or change anything for optimal setup? What's the best way to connect everything?

 

I would like to get all the fans and RGB LED components connected with the optimal configuration (including PWM mode for all fans, and most flexible configuration for the RGB). I am assuming there are too many Lightning Node Pros and I could sell them later if I don't need them.

 

Hopefully you guys are better than me and can suggest the best way to connect all this up. Last time I built a computer, RGB really wasn't up to much!

 

Thanks.

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Idk what you can fit into the case but on Corsair cooling stuff you're pretty much as loaded as it gets. ML's are basically a no brainer - you can use them for anything.

 

You might be able to shave off one of the commanders making cabling and syncronizing easier with some splitters going 2 fans per port. You'll be fine regarding current draw and you'll have your push/pull fans running at the same speed anyways. Your 6 ML140s would aswell be able to controlled in pairs, that would be the compromise you would need to make.

 

You will need 2 RGB LED hubs for your 12 RGB fans which will take up your commanders LED ports. Your LED strips are going to be connected to a lighting node pro which again connects to your commander via the usb passthrough. You should get everything you need with the ML fan multipacks.

 

with all that cabled up correctly, you can then configure everything in iCue - RGB, RPM, all that jazz.

This thread here might help you a little more:

https://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=173880&t=173880

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I think you can probably delete one of the Commanders. A lot of us are now using PWM fan hubs or PWM repeaters use one Commander header to control multiple other fans at the same speed. This is particularly useful for radiator use where there is no reason for independent fan control from one header to another. 12 fans is a bit much for 2 way splitters on every Commander fan port, although in terms of current that would work with ML fans. A small 6 or 8 fan PWM hub would occupy 1 fan header, while taking the 6 push pull fans off the Commander. Even for sets of three, I tend to favor this since the Commander does not always respond well to three way wire splitters.

 

AS for lighting, it's more straightforward. You will need two RGB Lighting Hubs, so make sure you get a least two multi-packs (either 140x2 or 120x3) to get those. They are hard to find otherwise. You will need 1 Lighting Node Pro and the strips will go on that. The two RGB hubs will go to the Commander's two RGB channels. Aside from making sure you get two multi-packs, you can purchase singles vs multi as the pricing dictates. It is nice to have an extra RGB hub or LNP lying around in case one fails or just for trying stuff out 5 might be more than necessary, but sometimes the pricing per fan is the same so it doesn't matter.

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Idk what you can fit into the case but on Corsair cooling stuff you're pretty much as loaded as it gets. ML's are basically a no brainer - you can use them for anything.

 

Yes, as I understand it, the ML's are a good hybrid between airflow and static pressure-focused fans. They also perform quite well compared to e.g. the QLs. I read a review which compared them to Corsair and other brands at different speeds and they came out looking like good performers.

 

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/corsair-ml120-pro-rgb/5.html

 

The same website reviewed the QLs and they didn't look great at all, so I'm comfortable that these can do the job as both radiator fans and case fans.

 

You might be able to shave off one of the commanders making cabling and syncronizing easier with some splitters going 2 fans per port. You'll be fine regarding current draw and you'll have your push/pull fans running at the same speed anyways. Your 6 ML140s would aswell be able to controlled in pairs, that would be the compromise you would need to make.

 

The idea would be to have:

 

  • 6x intake 120mm fans on the rad (in push+pull layout)
  • 2x intake 140mm fans on the bottom of the case
  • 1x exhaust 140mm fans on the rear of the case
  • 3x exhaust 140mm fans on the top of the case

 

I don't mind having the second Commander since it is supposed to do both RGB and PWM fans, but it's harder to understand how to connect everything up. I know that my Rad fans will be running at the same rate, but if having two commanders gives me flexibility over both Fan RPM and RGB then that is preferred from my point of view. Not that I'm likely to run differing speeds, but I'd to be able to make individual changes without recabling.

 

You will need 2 RGB LED hubs for your 12 RGB fans which will take up your commanders LED ports. Your LED strips are going to be connected to a lighting node pro which again connects to your commander via the usb passthrough. You should get everything you need with the ML fan multipacks.

 

So I need to buy 2x additional RGB LED hubs as well? I thought the Commander was a RGB Hub? I can see that there are not physically enough interfaces on it to handle 24 connections from 12 fans, of course. But I don't understand how these other components interact and what they are for.

 

with all that cabled up correctly, you can then configure everything in iCue - RGB, RPM, all that jazz.

This thread here might help you a little more:

https://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=173880&t=173880

 

Thanks, I read that before, I saw many different layouts but (because I'm an idiot) I found it hard to follow for my specific use case, especially when I'm not familiar with things like RGB channels, etc. I have gathered some general tips like going for PWM fans instead of voltage, designing the cooling for slightly positive pressure and so on.

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I think you can probably delete one of the Commanders. A lot of us are now using PWM fan hubs or PWM repeaters use one Commander header to control multiple other fans at the same speed. This is particularly useful for radiator use where there is no reason for independent fan control from one header to another. 12 fans is a bit much for 2 way splitters on every Commander fan port, although in terms of current that would work with ML fans. A small 6 or 8 fan PWM hub would occupy 1 fan header, while taking the 6 push pull fans off the Commander. Even for sets of three, I tend to favor this since the Commander does not always respond well to three way wire splitters.

 

Yes, I can see the usecase for a PWM fan hub but I am happy to buy whatever I need to get the best performance. This case comes with one (Fractal Nexus+ 2) but there are only 3x PWM connections. I'm paying a lot for this build so I'm not going to skimp on the fan control!

 

AS for lighting, it's more straightforward. You will need two RGB Lighting Hubs, so make sure you get a least two multi-packs (either 140x2 or 120x3) to get those. They are hard to find otherwise.

 

Okay, I'm confused. Is the Lighting Node Pro not an RGB Lighting Hub? I will have:

 

  • 2x 120mm 3-packs
  • 3x 140mm 2-packs

 

This will give me 5x Lighting Node Pros in total. They come with the fans anyway and it's not any cheaper to buy the fans individually.

 

My plan was to have:

 

  • 6x intake 120mm fans on the rad (in push+pull layout - the rad will be front mounted)
  • 2x intake 140mm fans on the bottom of the case
  • 1x exhaust 140mm fans on the rear of the case
  • 3x exhaust 140mm fans on the top of the case

 

Here's a picture from the Define 7 XL manual with possible fan locations:

 

https://imgur.com/a/j1AnAsg

 

You will need 1 Lighting Node Pro and the strips will go on that. The two RGB hubs will go to the Commander's two RGB channels.

 

Do you think you could explain in laymans terms what RGB channels means? Does it mean I have a group of RGB fans in one channel (say the front of the case) and another group of RGB fans (say the rear of my case)? Does a channel correspond to a connector on the Commander or the Lighting Node Pro?

 

Aside from making sure you get two multi-packs, you can purchase singles vs multi as the pricing dictates. It is nice to have an extra RGB hub or LNP lying around in case one fails or just for trying stuff out 5 might be more than necessary, but sometimes the pricing per fan is the same so it doesn't matter.

 

Yes that is what it is at the moment, individual fans are more expensive than the multipack with Lighting Node Pro included, so I should have a surplus of these after the build.

Edited by nnnkm
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Yes, as I understand it, the ML's are a good hybrid between airflow and static pressure-focused fans. They also perform quite well compared to e.g. the QLs. I read a review which compared them to Corsair and other brands at different speeds and they came out looking like good performers.

 

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/corsair-ml120-pro-rgb/5.html

 

The same website reviewed the QLs and they didn't look great at all, so I'm comfortable that these can do the job as both radiator fans and case fans.

 

 

 

The idea would be to have:

 

  • 6x intake 120mm fans on the rad (in push+pull layout)
  • 2x intake 140mm fans on the bottom of the case
  • 1x exhaust 140mm fans on the rear of the case
  • 3x exhaust 140mm fans on the top of the case

 

I don't mind having the second Commander since it is supposed to do both RGB and PWM fans, but it's harder to understand how to connect everything up. I know that my Rad fans will be running at the same rate, but if having two commanders gives me flexibility over both Fan RPM and RGB then that is preferred from my point of view. Not that I'm likely to run differing speeds, but I'd to be able to make individual changes without recabling.

 

 

 

So I need to buy 2x additional RGB LED hubs as well? I thought the Commander was a RGB Hub? I can see that there are not physically enough interfaces on it to handle 24 connections from 12 fans, of course. But I don't understand how these other components interact and what they are for.

 

 

 

Thanks, I read that before, I saw many different layouts but (because I'm an idiot) I found it hard to follow for my specific use case, especially when I'm not familiar with things like RGB channels, etc. I have gathered some general tips like going for PWM fans instead of voltage, designing the cooling for slightly positive pressure and so on.

 

 

Regarding PWM fan control:

you can do all of that with just one commander. as mentioned before, the compromise would be to be able to control your fans in pairs instead of each one individually but there is really no need to do that anyways. push/pull fans run the same rpm, your 2 bottom fans will run at the same rpm and your 3 top fans + the back fan will run the same rpm. and to be quite frank, i would probably run all of them at the same speed anyways. there is no need in min-maxing your fan speeds for each single fan. set them to where your temps are fine and you're comfortable with noise. but to have that said, you could actually 1:1 do the setup you've mentioned with the ML140's - one single port for back exhaust, one port with y-splitter for bottom intake and one port with the PWM hub c-attack mentioned hooking up 3 fans for top side exhaust. you really don't need a second commander and it makes things just unneccesarily complicated.

 

Regarding RGB:

you don't have to buy anything else but fan multipacks - the ML Packs include a RGB fan hub and a lighting node pro each. the RGB fan hubs are exactly what their name implies - a hub to distribute the RGB signal it receives from the commander to up to 6 fans. so for your 12 fans you need to run only 2 connections to the commander - coincidentally it has 2 LED ports. that's what those are for.

The RGB stripes have their own connector that fits into the lighting node pro and the node in turn again goes to the commander via USB.

 

to sum it up, you will have 2x LED connector from the hubs + 1x USB from the node + 6x PWM fans going into your commander.

Edited by Infin1tum
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Infin1tum,

 

Thank you for persisting on this. Would it be too much trouble to ask you to draw this out in Paint so I can see the connectivity you mean?

 

I don't mean to be a pain in the backside.

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no problem, glad if i can help. check my diagram, you have 2 alternatives basically:

1. work with splitters (top 6 fans in the diagram) - 2 fans each on one port on the commander. you can then control each pair individually

2. work with powered fan hubs (bottom 6 fans in the diagram) - all fans go to that device and that is then connected to the commander. you can control the rpm of all fans simultaneosly but not individially per fan. but as i mentioned before, there is not really a need for that.

 

you can choose either or for your case and your radiator fans. since your rad fans run at the same rpm, getting a hub there would make sense. working with splitters on your case fans might give you the controlability you're looking for - you can set rpm for your intakes and exhausts seperately for example. make sure you don't connect more than 2 fans per commander port with a splitter or you'll run into problems though.

 

RGB setup is pretty much straight forward, but if you still got any questions feel free to ask anytime.

gfadgfdagdfagad.thumb.jpg.8f12f4acbdbe014b65b4209ea61e6c56.jpg

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Hey,

 

Thank you so much for this, now it's clear. So I would need to buy 6x splitters for each pair of PWM fans to do it as per the top set in your diagram. I don't have these but I am sure they can be purchased locally.

 

I also checked the contents of the motherboard I'm buying and I found that it actually has a Fan Extension Card with 6x PWM interfaces, so I have that as an option (it says it can be controlled by Asus Aura but I could connect it to the Commander Pro). I will therefore probably remove the fan controller inside my case as it looks like I won't need it.

 

So the only thing that needs to attach to my motherboard with your design at this point is the USB connection from the Commander Pro to any free USB header. Everything else is connected ultimately to the Commander Pro, which can support all of my ML120/140 fans. And this way everything is controllable from iCUE.

 

And for RGB, I don't need any more ports that what is there and I doubt I'll be adding any more RGB, that's plenty, so a single LNP will be enough. I will have a bunch of spare LNPs that can just be spares.

 

For SATA Power, I should have plenty of spare cables/ports for this.

 

Thanks for doing that. I did not know that the RGB Fan LED Hub came in the box along with the Lighting Node Pro, so I was misunderstanding the description here. I didn't see that on the product description.

 

Just one more question:

 

LED Channels - What are these? Do these display as separate entries in iCUE? Is each one of these channels corresponding to the 2x ports on the Commander Pro that the RGB Fan LED Hubs connect to?

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That's it - everything leads to the commander. it's the centerpiece, hence the commander. I really like that about Corsair's naming scheme.

 

the LED channels or RGB channels as c-attack called are the two ports labelled on the commander (and LNP) as "LED". They are the interface from which the commander and the LNP sends out the signals of your RGB configuration in iCue. you can configure these in the respective tabs in iCue - see pics attached. you'll just need to make sure to pick the correct devices and you can make all the rainbow puke you've ever wanted :)

1.jpg.4d2fd6fc6430c30390c9d1402c7cb9f7.jpg

2.jpg.97a3c6d74635e36efe688969dba00030.jpg

3.jpg.6b186ee7c8a0e4dfab24f80a961df731.jpg

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One issue to be be aware of with using 2 way PWM splitters x 6 for the 12 fans is it assumes all fans can be nicely paired as couples. If your case has 2 front intake fans, 2 top exhaust, etc. then this works fine. However, if you have a lot of 3x120 panels or radiators, then you can get into issues where you have odd fans. 1 left over on the front intake, 1 rear exhaust, 1 radiator fan that then need to be paired at cross purposes. While it physically works, you would rather not pair a bottom front intake fan with a rear exhaust fan. The powered PWM hub would clear the 6 radiator fans and limit it to 1 commander header. That gives you 5 remaining headers to manage 6 fans - a much easier proportion.

 

Also, the H150i XT has three fan channels of its own. The question is whether or not it can handle 6 ML fans on its controller without exceeding the current allowance. I would say yes for ML, but some people prefer to err on the side of caution. Once again, the PWM hub could take all six and link to one of the AIO control headers leaving all 6 Commander fan headers free and all fans are still software controllable.

 

A Lighting Node Pro (or Commander Pro) is a software interface for fans/strips to iCUE. It will connect to the system via USB 2. The RGB Lighting Hub is the actual power delivery for the lighting. It will need its own SATA connection for power and then connect into the Node Pro or Commander for lighting control. Both are required. Both are in the multi-pack. However, in your case you would be better off using the Commander's 2 RGB channels for each 6 fan RGB hub. Otherwise you need another USB 2 port for each Node Pro. The Commander has to be connected anyway. The one LNP for the strips can plug into the USB passthrough on that.

 

The RGB channels are the groups or sets of lighting devices. Each channel (RGB Hub) can take up to 6 fans or some number of LEDs on strips (120?). Each channel acts like a group. You have 12 fans on 2 channels. You will need to program each group of 6.

Edited by c-attack
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One issue to be be aware of with using 2 way PWM splitters x 6 for the 12 fans is it assumes all fans can be nicely paired as couples. If your case has 2 front intake fans, 2 top exhaust, etc. then this works fine. However, if you have a lot of 3x120 panels or radiators, then you can get into issues where you have odd fans. 1 left over on the front intake, 1 rear exhaust, 1 radiator fan that then need to be paired at cross purposes. While it physically works, you would rather not pair a bottom front intake fan with a rear exhaust fan. The powered PWM hub would clear the 6 radiator fans and limit it to 1 commander header. That gives you 5 remaining headers to manage 6 fans - a much easier proportion.

 

Hi there. Yes, so I was wondering about this and assuming I use 6x PWM splitters, I would group the fans into pairs as sensibly as possible, like this:

 

  • Top 2 Rad Fans (120mm intake)
  • Middle 2 Rad Fans (120mm intake)
  • Bottom 2 Rad Fans (120mm intake)
  • Bottom 2 Case Fans (140mm intake)
  • Top Frontmost 2 Case Fans (140mm exhaust)
  • Top Rearmost + Rear Case Fans (140mm exhaust)

 

This seems the best way to group the fans together and the configuration I am thinking of should result in slightly positive pressure inside the case, assuming all fan RPMs are equal. I can check this after the build and make sure I can feel the air flowing in the right direction throughout the case.

 

Also, the H150i XT has three fan channels of its own. The question is whether or not it can handle 6 ML fans on its controller without exceeding the current allowance. I would say yes for ML, but some people prefer to err on the side of caution. Once again, the PWM hub could take all six and link to one of the AIO control headers leaving all 6 Commander fan headers free and all fans are still software controllable.

 

So yes, I was intended to the RTFM when I get the cooler I mentioned (H150i Pro RGB XT) to make sure that the important connections to the motherboard are still there. But I don't know for certain if it can do it or not. It may be safer to make sure that the cooler controls these fans (or at least say 3 of them), in case of failure. I read DevBikers FAQ where it says this:

 

A4. Should I connect the fans to the cooler, the motherboard or a Commander Pro?

 

Ideally, you should have the fans connected to the cooler itself. The cooler has a integrated fan controller that will control the fans based on the coolant temperature, even if Link or iCue isn't running. As discussed above, the coolant is the best and most appropriate temperature to use for fan control.

 

If you have a Commander Pro, you can create a fan curve based on the cooler temperature. However this fan curve will require software (Link or iCue) to run; when this software is not active, the fans will run at 100%. Again, as mentioned above, an alternative is to have one of the Commander Pro's thermistors in the exhaust air flow. On my system, the radiator exhaust is pretty reliably 0.5C above the reported H115i PRO's temperature.

 

If you connect your cooler's fans to the motherboard, you only have the CPU temperature to use as a basis for fan speed control. As mentioned above, this is not ideal for a number of reasons.

 

So as you say, I suppose the question is can that optimal setup that DevBiker describes be done with 6 fans? I dunno. Still looking for someone who tried it already.

 

A Lighting Node Pro (or Commander Pro) is a software interface for fans/strips to iCUE. It will connect to the system via USB 2. The RGB Lighting Hub is the actual power delivery for the lighting. It will need its own SATA connection for power and then connect into the Node Pro or Commander for lighting control. Both are required. Both are in the multi-pack. However, in your case you would be better off using the Commander's 2 RGB channels for each 6 fan RGB hub. Otherwise you need another USB 2 port for each Node Pro. The Commander has to be connected anyway. The one LNP for the strips can plug into the USB passthrough on that.

 

The RGB channels are the groups or sets of lighting devices. Each channel (RGB Hub) can take up to 6 fans or some number of LEDs on strips (120?). Each channel acts like a group. You have 12 fans on 2 channels. You will need to program each group of 6.

 

Thank you that's super helpful. It was roughly what I thought, so most likely I'm going to try to have my 6 Rad fans on one RGB channel and the 6 remaining fans on the other RGB channel. From what I can imagine, that seems the most 'organised' way to set it up.

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That's it - everything leads to the commander. it's the centerpiece, hence the commander. I really like that about Corsair's naming scheme.

 

the LED channels or RGB channels as c-attack called are the two ports labelled on the commander (and LNP) as "LED". They are the interface from which the commander and the LNP sends out the signals of your RGB configuration in iCue. you can configure these in the respective tabs in iCue - see pics attached. you'll just need to make sure to pick the correct devices and you can make all the rainbow puke you've ever wanted :)

 

Perfect!

 

Believe it or not I won't be going for super aggressive multicolour RGB puke ;) I will have plenty of RGB available across my motherboard, RAM, GPU, fans etc but I will go for something relatively stylish and stick to static blue and white I think. I may try some gaming profiles just to see how it works, but I'm pretty certain I'll get tired of it fast, especially if the case is on my desk.

 

At the end of the day, since I'm going to the effort of buying top spec components and making sure they belong to a single ecosystem as much as possible, I might as well get it right on the RGB/cooling side as well.

 

Thank you for all your help.

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I'm just doing the maths on this idea of powering all six fans from the cooler:

 

I found this again from DevBiker:

 

A10. Can I power all of the fans from the cooler in a push/pull scenario using splitters?

 

It depends. If your cooler is powered from the fan header, no. You do not have enough current to adequately power more than 2 fans. If your cooler is SATA powered, you may be able to. You will have a 2A limit on the current used by the pump and the fans. Of those 2 amps, the cooler will need up to 450mA (0.45A). So if your push/pull set up is less then 1.55A, you should be good to go.

 

ML120 Tech Specs

 

Doing the math, it would see that even at max power draw on the cooler and the 6 fans, I would still be under the 2A limit.

 

Fan Power 0.225A x 6 = 1.35A

Cooler Power 0.45A

Total 0.45 + 1.35 = 1.8A

 

Do you think that 10% headroom is sufficient?

 

I don't like the idea that the fans will run at 100% if iCue is not running, assuming the coolers fan controller is not used to control fan RPM based on coolant temp. I assume that this means the fans will run at 100% until I land on my desktop after logging in? Doesn't seem ideal to me.

Edited by nnnkm
typo, clarity
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