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Managing 9 QL120 fans, H150i Elite Capellix with only 1 USB 2.0 header on motherboard


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Specifically for the Elite series AIOs, the former internal fan controller is now external -- that is the Commander Core.  It doesn't matter whether you make the fans 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 1-3-5 or whatever.  You will give them the cooling curve you want in CUE to match the fans numbers.  The critical aspect is the coolant temp data that serves as the control variable is native to the Commander Core.  In order to maintain that without the software running (including boot, shutdown, BIOS, etc) they need to be on the Com Core or they loose their data source.  You can set fans on the Commander Pro to coolant temp in CUE, but the software must be running to fetch the data from the hardware.

 

Ultimately you can choose how you want to set the case up.  This O11XL is my test box and I have used 30-40 different set-ups in it with radiators from 1-3, in different sizes, with different fans, and with every possible combination.  I am not going to pick apart that test too much and it is legitimate for when it was made.  However, there are a few things to consider.  Under no circumstances can you dissipate 300-400W from a full sized GPU into the case and not heat up the top radiator.  The test GPU is a reference 1070 blowing much of its heat directly out the back.  There are no more blower GPUs.  Its going to radiate heat in every direction.  The test CPU is 4 core 6700K.  It might be able to crack 100W at default settings.  This is nothing like what you will need to handle with a Intel 10900/11900 or AMD 5900X and up.  I am not sure what hardware you are planning to use, but I suspect not 6700/1070.  The last part is use always matters.  The "torture test" with both GPU and CPU maxed does not reflect the use of most people.  Someone building a number cruncher is going to be CPU heavy and GPU light.  A gamer is going to under 50% on the CPU most of the time and 100-120% of GPU power for long durations.  This drastically affects the balance of heat generated.  And balance is the key concept.  Something is going to be worse off, but for most people the shifts are small.  Regardless, the AIO radiator can be moved relatively easily.  If you start off with top exhaust and then see 45C coolant temps when gaming, you'll be able to change course.  

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Specifically for the Elite series AIOs, the former internal fan controller is now external -- that is the Commander Core.  It doesn't matter whether you make the fans 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 1-3-5 or whatever.  You will give them the cooling curve you want in CUE to match the fans numbers.  The critical aspect is the coolant temp data that serves as the control variable is native to the Commander Core.  In order to maintain that without the software running (including boot, shutdown, BIOS, etc) they need to be on the Com Core or they loose their data source.  You can set fans on the Commander Pro to coolant temp in CUE, but the software must be running to fetch the data from the hardware.

Gotcha, thanks for explaining. So hypothetically, one doesn't even need to have any PWM in the CoCore (assuming I had enough PWM slots), since I am going to be controlling the fan speeds in iCue regardless.  That doesn't apply to my setup, but just a hypothetical.

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Ultimately you can choose how you want to set the case up...There are no more blower GPUs...I am not sure what hardware you are planning to use, but I suspect not 6700/1070...A gamer is going to under 50% on the CPU most of the time and 100-120% of GPU power for long durations.

Thank you for your input here, great to discuss with someone who is familiar with this case and has tried many configs! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm running Ryzen 7 5800 + 3080TI mostly for GPU intensive tasks (gaming) but also sometimes CPU intensive tasks (certain poorly optimized games that I love to play that require lots of CPU).

I'm doing the build later today so I'm quite excited to get started and want to thank you for your input here! I think I'll try the intake AIO on the side strategy, then, based on your experience. And if it doesn't seem right, I'll switch it up.

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1 hour ago, harrisried said:

Oh! So the radiator in the H150i has its own fans and monitoring, all of the QL120 fans are the same in the eyes of iCue—it’s up to me to “know” which are associated with the AIO. Gotcha. I thought for some reason the fans connected to CoCore are “special” in that they have some kind of linkage to the AIO readings. 

The is a link to the AIO readings; the Commander Core will be able to control the fan speeds based on the coolant temperature without iCUE as long as the fans are connected to the Commander Core. While you can put them on the Commander Pro, they won't have a source sensor until iCUE is running. So the radiator fans should be on the Commander Core.

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2 hours ago, harrisried said:

Thank you for your input here, great to discuss with someone who is familiar with this case and has tried many configs! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm running Ryzen 7 5800 + 3080TI mostly for GPU intensive tasks (gaming) but also sometimes CPU intensive tasks (certain poorly optimized games that I love to play that require lots of CPU).

So GPU load is going to be consistently high, probably about 300W average.  When it comes to ambient temps, it's not the momentary peak wattage/temps that hurt, but the steady moderate to high loads.  The CPU may spike up to 70% or something on a loading screen, but it's for an instant in time and represents a small amount of watts to be dumped.  You are not going to have worry about that too much.  The GPU is going to be the main monitored item, but you really can only cool that with it's own fans.   

 

If you want to try doing top mount AIO exhaust, you can.  Theoretically, this is how it would need to work.  The radiator blocks about half of the airflow potential of a fan.  So a fan that moves 60 cfm of air at 1500 rpm will move something more like 30 cfm against the radiator.  This means your active exhaust through the top panel is about half of what it would be without the radiator.  This is OK because you don't really want the waste heat going through it anyway.  The goal is the blow the case waste heat out the back of the unit.  With 6 free intake fans (bottom and side), you have a big intake pressure surplus.  Again, this is good.  I think the trick is to use a bit more speed on the side intake and not quite as much on the bottom intake.  A potential drawback is I think you are going to need to keep a moderately high speed on the intake fans in order to push everything out the back.  Passive exhaust isn't going to work.  

 

The typical expected coolant temp rise for CPU only load on 5800X is probably about 6C.  You can test this by running the bench test from CPU-Z on the desktop for 5-10 min.  It's a nice linear test so you can see the CPU temp go +1 and the coolant temp goes +1.  So 6C for 100% max.  You would likely only see a +3-4C rise in H150i Temp (coolant temp) when gaming.  If you see something like +10C, you know you are taking a 6-7C penalty from the GPU heat.  On the other hand, if your CPU temps when gaming are 45-50C, then it doesn't really matter.  

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The radiator blocks about half of the airflow potential of a fan.  So a fan that moves 60 cfm of air at 1500 rpm will move something more like 30 cfm against the radiator.  This means your active exhaust through the top panel is about half of what it would be without the radiator.

Oh! Interesting, I didn't think about the radiator lowering the airflow. I suppose that's why the push/pull design is popular. For my initial build, I am going to do AIO on top as exhaust mainly because (and this is not a great reason), I prefer the aesthetic that way.  I will investigate putting it on the side at some point in the future.

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I think the trick is to use a bit more speed on the side intake and not quite as much on the bottom intake.  A potential drawback is I think you are going to need to keep a moderately high speed on the intake fans in order to push everything out the back.  Passive exhaust isn't going to work.

Interesting point, I will mess around with fan speeds and see what I can get once my build it put together. I'm somewhat certain my normal usage won't make much of a difference--it'll be interesting to see the temps at the end of a 4-6+ hour game session.

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10 minutes ago, harrisried said:

I prefer the aesthetic that way.

No, that is a good reason.  Very few people are pure performance orientated or solely interested in aesthetics.  Most of us want a nice measure of both.  Giving up 2-3C in a component temp is a good trade if the visual result is more appealing.  2-3C never matters for your hardware temps unless you are at the limit and you can't get there by layout alone.  

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Was unable to create a new thread so I’ll continue here.

I setup my configuration as shown in the diagram above—CoPro with 3 RGB through the rgb hub and 6 PWM through, H150i AIO going into CoCore with the other 6 fans.

I setup the NZXT USB 2.0 powered hub and had the CoCore connect to that. CoPro using the free header on my mobo. 

After finishing wiring everything and powering up, I do not post (not even bios). All RGBs and fans are working at this point (including AIO). I start to troubleshoot (my Asus mobo has a few LEDs to help) and I discover my graphics card is underpowered. So I fix that issue and restart. 

This time, however, the RGBs on the AIO and the 6 fans plugged into the CoCore are not turning on (note, all 9 fans are running). I get the PC to post, and receive a “CPU fan missing” error. I enter Bios and can see my CPU temp rising, and rising fast (from 80-90 C within 15 seconds). 

I turn everything off, remove the NZXT hub, and plus the CoCore directly into the USB 2.0. Still, no RGB on either the AIO or the 6 fans into CoCore. I turn off the machine and rearrange some of the LED cables and thankfully, I can see that the impacted fans RGBs seem to work when used on the CoPro. 

It seems to me as though the USB hub may have fried my H150i, or maybe it wasn’t set up in the first place correctly, I’m not sure. Do you have any suggestions for how to proceed? I am likely going to try and RMA the H150i but am wondering if you have some troubleshooting suggestions first. 

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I’m curious what it might mean that the fans are all spinning even though the RGB for 6 of the fans and the AIO pump head are not lit up? And although I have the AIO plugged into CPU_Fan, it doesn’t show up and appears to not be cooling the CPU?

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CPU fan error is the BIOS safety feature to keep you from booting up without a cooler in place. With an AIO you don’t need fans connected to CPU and OPT, but it still serves as a safety notification if the device doesn’t send a signal back on that tachometer line. If you didn’t connect the tach wire to cpu fan, then this normal and you disable the warning system in the bios by setting Monitor -> CPU fan RPM to “ignore”. However, I suspect you did and regardless if you are seeing the cpu temps skipping up the range 45…50…55..60.. ..80…85..etc., then the pump is not running. 
 

If the fans connected to the Commander Core are spinning, then the device has power. Pump and fans are 12v powered so if one works, then that voltage is getting to device. That would appear to clear the SATA cable supplying power, but you can try another SATA connection. 
 

Shut down and disconnect and reconnect that special wide cable on the side of the Commander Core. That supplies power to the pump. See if this gets the pump on. If not, there is either a problem with the power delivery on the Commander Core or the pump is DOA. Neither is something correctable by you. You can contact Corsair for a replacement but most likely fastest resolution is a replacement from the vendor. 
 

I do not think the usb hub is responsible for this. Half the people here are using one and I’ve never heard of that occurring. Even those that connect the usb to the wrong port on the MB might knock out device recognition, but not knock out the pump. If you don’t connect the usb at all, the entire system still works and runs from a native profile on the device. You just would not be able to see the device in the software or make changes. Some of the new devices have different first time power on RGB behavior than the old stuff that goes all rainbow. I cannot remember what my Com Core did on that first boot long ago. However, no RGB and no pump power suggests there is are multiple problems with the device. The 12v power splits on the way in and the RGB is 5v. The few Elite issues we have seen involve one element and we’ve seen 1-2 people blow the fan controller but the pump keeps on going. Bad pump is still the most likely underlying cause. 

Edited by c-attack
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There are only two things you can test and control for this:

 

1) Power delivery on the SATA line from the PSU. Beware of using 3rd party extensions, but not normally an issue for 12v. Either changing the SATA connection point corrects the issue or it does not and move on. 
 

2) Double check the special ribbon connection in the side of the Commander Core. This is power delivery to the pump. Again, the reconnect will work or it won’t. 
 

Those are the only two user correctable causes on this. Anything else is going to be internal and require replacement. 

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To confirm that it isn’t my motherboard acting up, I swapped the USB 2.0 headers for CoPro and CoCore. CoPro connected RGBs light up, no change in CoCore (so my mobo is fine).

Swapped around the SATA cables, no change in behavior. I unplugged and replugged in the CoCore special cable (to the pump), again, no change.

The fans all spin even though power for 3 of the fans is going through CoCore. So it may be that whatever circuitry provides that power through SATA is working, but the circuitry to the RGB and to control the fan is broken. Likewise, the AIO is properly connected to CPU_fan and I do get a message that it is not detected. 

 

I think it’s safe to confirm that the AIO is DOA. Will start an RMA. 

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I think we've seen bad one Elite pump fail and the fans and RGB continued on.  That was something I had been curious about and have cautioned others about overloading the PWM or RGB part of the controller because of the effect it could have on the power to the pump.  It seems these are separate circuits with some isolation from each other.  I don't know for sure if the RGB is faulty and you really need to be in CUE to test that.  However, the pump alone means the unit goes back and every piece of information suggests it was DOA.  Unfortunately, there are always going to be a few that come off the line that way.  

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