Have lousy motherboard fan control? Install SpeedFan

As TR’s resident fan-control nerd, I’ve spent far too much time critiquing how motherboards go about adjusting fan speeds in response to system temperatures. Some boards offer plenty of fan control options in their firmware, while others use software found on the accompanying driver CD. Sometimes, and especially with older boards, neither of those options provides a sufficient level of fan control. What’s a noise-obsessed enthusiast to do?

Install SpeedFan. The free application has all kinds of neat monitoring and fan control functionality, although it can be a little cumbersome to configure. Fortunately, Silent PC Review has put together a SpeedFan setup guide to help get you started. The guide walks through the configuration process and details the various options available for intelligent fan speed control.

Most new motherboards do a passable job of regulating fan speeds, but few offer the level of control provided by SpeedFan. A recent version added advanced fan options, including adjustable response curves with user-defined hysteresis. Motherboard makers would do well to take notes, and it would be nice if they worked closely with SpeedFan’s developer to ensure the app correctly detects temperature sensors and fan controllers on new models.

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    • DarkUltra
    • 7 years ago

    Just turn the fans down to a silent speed and let the cpu and gpu throttle kick in if things get hot.

    • Xenolith
    • 7 years ago

    This App is old. I used it with my Shuttle SS51G when that first came out… so about 10 years ago.

    • crabjokeman
    • 7 years ago

    I found this SPCR trick (feed 5V to your fans instead of 12V) to work better for me: [url<]http://www.silentpcreview.com/article6-page1.html[/url<] The article goes into a non-ghetto method to implement the trick, but those of us who would rather buy a beer for $1.30 and/or don't have a soldering iron handy can just modify the fan's Molex connector. I've got a couple cheap, 120mm Yate Loon fans to cool my CPU and GPU.

    • mkygod
    • 7 years ago

    I thought by now that the days of manually controlling fan speeds all the time would be over and obselete, like the paper map to the GPS. It would have if major motherboard makers would follow the example set by Abit uGuru, where every fan header was controllable and fans are controlled based on the temperature of cpu, pwm, or case temp. Just set and forget.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Speedfan is neat, but I’ve had a lot of cases where it completely misreads info or doesn’t read it at all. That applies to temperature, voltages, and RPMs. There are also cases where you simply can’t control your fan speeds or it causes a hard lock on your system when using it.

    It most definitely is a beta application. This isn’t even looking at the terrible gui or usability.

    It’s a neat application if you want to find some temps on a motherboard without monitoring software, but I wouldn’t use it for anything more then that.

    • pragma
    • 7 years ago

    A noise-obsessed Linux enthusiast need no fan control app! Experiment and roll your own shell script to setup the fan controls. E.g.

    D=/sys/devices/platform/f71882fg.2560 # Fintek
    echo 55000 > $D/pwm1_auto_point1_temp
    echo 53000 > $D/pwm1_auto_point1_temp_hyst
    #…
    echo 40000 > $D/pwm1_auto_point4_temp
    echo 255 > $D/pwm1_auto_point1_pwm
    #…
    echo 100 > $D/pwm1_auto_point4_pwm
    echo 0 > $D/pwm1_auto_point5_pwm
    echo 1 > $D/pwm1_interpolate

    Motherboard makers would do well to take notes, and it would be nice if they worked closely with lm-sensors.org and posted configurations for all of their motherboards! (Voltage sensing in particular can be wired many ways.)

    But who needs fans anyway. Just set the mobo/cpu/ram/vga in a transparent vapochill enclosure (heatsinks removed of course), fill halfway with ethanol and vacuum. Hot spots will have a nice boiling effect in operation.

      • ermo
      • 7 years ago

      The Linux [url=http://lm-sensors.org/<]lm_sensors package[/url<] (which talks to the sensor hardware through the Linux kernel device drivers and takes care of formatting the values in human readable text) also includes a CLI based front-end to this functionality called pwmconfig, which is not quite as low-level as manipulating the /sys filesystem directly as you outline above. Pwmconfig configures the parameters used by the fancontrol binary, which is a userspace fan speed application also included in the lm_sensors package. On one of my systems, I replaced my Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU Fan with a PWM controlled low noise fan and drive it from a PWM header on the motherboard. The PSU and the CPU fan rotational speeds are tied to the CPU temperature and the response curves for both were configured with pwmconfig and are now controlled by fancontrol because the motherboard in question has a really crappy BIOS. So in spirit, this is very similar to what SpeedFan does, albeit it in a slightly closer to the metal fashion.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    I find the fan controls on that come with most new motherboards to be adequate for most scenarios. I just wish motherboards would come with more fan headers by default. Anything less than 3 chassis headers is just not enough, and the more the better.

    I have a water cooled PC with a pump that has a 3-pin plug that connects to a fan header to relay RPM. I thought I could use this to signal the computer to initiate shutdown in the event of a pump failure. I tried to use SpeedFan to accomplish this, and though it has the capability, the readings from the fan header are erratic in SpeedFan – and often indicate RPMs of 0 intermittently, even though the pump runs at a fairly constant RPM. The hardware monitor software that came with my motherboard, however, does not have this issue.

    Maybe SpeedFan has issues reading RPMs that are higher than that normally encountered with PC fans?

    • Captain Ned
    • 7 years ago

    I just keep slogging on with my LGA775 Abit IP35 Pro, which features individual controls for 6 fan headers based on 3 different temperature inputs.

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      RIP Abit <3

      • oldog
      • 7 years ago

      I still have a family room computer running that ancient Abit motherboard.

      It generally works well and the fan control is fantastic (pun intended) but it has the curious feature that only a PS2 keyboard will boot to the BIOS.

      Dumb, dumb, dumb. No way to use the built in fan controller with a modern USB keyboard.

        • Captain Ned
        • 7 years ago

        Nah, just use a Model M.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, I miss my Abit boards… After they went under I ended up purchasing a DFI board for 1155 before they went under too. 🙁

      • mkygod
      • 7 years ago

      I loved that motherboard. Great performing board and great for anyone that cares about a quiet pc. I was almost sad when i upgraded to an Asus mobo for sandybridge which had tons of features but only a measly 2 controllable fan headers.

      • colinstu12
      • 7 years ago

      I loved the voltage-based fan control of my IP35 pro. Pop in a 3-pin fan and I could control fan speeds with ease.

      Now I’ve paid over $300 for an Asus mobo… fan options are 100% useless in the BIOS and the software won’t even install on 7. TONS of people report this rubbish software not installing and saying “Just use a fan controller”.

      I didn’t wait 5 years and pay twice as much for a motherboard that can’t control fricking fan speeds out of the box.

      Whatever. I’m dealing with it. I made some 5V and 7V molex adapters for free and am dealing with it. Not going to pay $30+ for a controller that’s gonna burn out. Or screw around with speedfan and profiles.

      *rollseyes emoticon*

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]As TR's resident fan-control nerd, I've spent far too much time critiquing how motherboards go about adjusting fan speeds in response to system temperatures. Some boards offer plenty of fan control options in their firmware, while others use software found on the accompanying driver CD. Sometimes, and especially with older boards, neither of those options provides a sufficient level of fan control. What's a noise-obsessed enthusiast to do?[/quote<] Buy quiet fans from the get go?

    • barich
    • 7 years ago

    My Intel boards have basically an on/off switch in the BIOS for fan control. But my computers are quiet, and haven’t yet melted down, so I think I’m okay with that.

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      Hahahahahaha that is hilarious! It deserves a comic. On or Off, ha? Pffff rofl.

      Edit:
      Matter of fact
      [url<]https://techreport.com/r.x/2011_6_11_The_more_things_change/comic-20110613-big.jpg[/url<]

    • 5150
    • 7 years ago

    Anybody ever had much luck with a PWM splitter?

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812119248[/url<] I just ordered a few up, it would be nice to control my six identical fans off of the two fan-controlled headers on my motherboard.

      • UberGerbil
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve been wondering about that. Please report your results.

        • 5150
        • 7 years ago

        Will do. For the price I figure they’re worth a shot. I like the idea of my motherboard controlling the fans rather than having to manually turn them up/down.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      It will work fine. Just note that based on the wiring only one of the fans (labeled ‘CPU fan’) has an RPM sensor wire and that fan will have its RPM reported in BIOS or monitoring software for that header. The two plugs labeled ‘case fan’ simply receive PWM info from the header via the blue wire and 12V (which is then PWM’d so to speak) from the ‘connect to PSU’ plug.

      The only catch is that for it to work, all fans must be PWM fans…it will not change the basic input voltage of 12V.

      • ermo
      • 7 years ago

      [url=http://www.arctic.ac/en/p/cooling/case-fans/73/arctic-f-pwm.html?c=2183<]Arctic Cooling ship their PWM controlled fans[/url<] with PWM splitters out of the box (they call it PST). They're cheap, reasonably good and have a 6 year warranty.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      My experience is that they do not work well (especially on Asus boards using their ATK0110 device). Every one that I have tried on a asus board has given a RPM reading of 0.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I’m using a couple and they work.

      Just don’t go crazy daisy-chaining a bunch of them together. Fan headers can only handle a limited wattage and will burn out if pushed beyond these limits. Depending on the fans you are using, some fan headers may max out at as little as 3 fans each for safe operation. The info of how much wattage fan headers support can often not be found in motherboard manuals either. I had to open a support ticket to find out what the max recommended wattage was for my ASRock board (which I think was claimed to be 12W). I think ASUS boards are claimed to support a bit more… So this would seem to vary by manufacturer.

        • 5150
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t plan on hooking up more than three, but if I understand it correctly, it gets power from the Molex connector, not from the motherboard, so I don’t think power will be an issue.

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          Yes. Looks like you are right. The splitter cables I’m using don’t have the molex connector. I assume that the one you linked to could be used with or without the molex (using the motherboard headers for power) otherwise the plug going to the motherboard header would only have 2 wires.

          Kind of interesting as most motherboard headers should be fine with 3 fans as [url=http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/coolers/120mm-fan-roundup-1/155_diagr_pw-xbt.png<]most draw less than 2W[/url<]. As far as I know, most enthusiast motherboard fan headers support at least 1 amp (12W), though I suppose cheaper systems might not. Guess they figured better safe than sorry.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            The one he linked does get power solely from the Molex connector. The motherboard header only has connection for PWM signal and RPM sensor. Open the link and look at the pictures.

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            Yup. I did look at the link before but didn’t clue in to the color-coding. Looking at the picture full-size, you are right, it is clear that power comes from the molex only.

            My original comment about overloading the headers has now officially been rendered irrelevant. 😉

        • Zoomer
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, and you should load them to 1/3 of the max wattage due to the high current spike whenever the fan starts. So, a max of 4 watts of load on that 12 watt header.

      • faramir
      • 7 years ago

      Have you had any physics classes in your elementary school, mongoloid ? PWN control is a time-share kind of control, the voltage is kept at a certain level for a particular duration of every time slice. Into a simple resistive load (which your fan represents to a great extent) it will provide the same curent, averaged over time, causing the fan to rotate at certain speed.

      Now put your loads in parallel (your fans, that is), and you increase the current consumpton N-fold, where N is the number of fans you have now instead of the one you started with. Voltage remains the same but with resistance dropping with parallel loads the current goes up. If your motherboard (or whoever it is driving your fans – in your case it’s the motherboard since you stated as much) can supply sufficient current to all the fans, you’re no worse off with multiple fans than having a single fan that consumes just as much current to run (due to its size or inefficiency or whatever).

      So yeah, once you finish your elementary school education, you will understand that a sngle motherboard with only two fan headders and with PWM fan control can run 6 parallel fans (under specific ciscumstances). Until then have fun asking me whetver I’d prefer paper or plastic.

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        Am I missing a joke in this?

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          Joke? Whatever do you mean? I thought it was common knowledge that elementary schools have added pulse width modulation (PWM) switching power supply circuitry design to their electrical physics curriculum..

            • Xylker
            • 7 years ago

            faramir needs a hug.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            SSK will handle that.. but I personally don’t think he deserves one

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            He hasn’t been the same since Boromir died.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Maybe wherever he’s from, they focus on teaching people to be jerks and type badly

      • mkygod
      • 7 years ago

      Well the drawback is that the computer will only see one fan and RPM information will no longer be accurate.

      It makes me weary not knowing the RPM of my fans. This can be potentially be dangerous if a fan fails. Most modern motherboards have safety features that can shut down the PC, give warning message, or beep if it sees that the RPM is too low on the fan. Without this warning, you won’t know if something is wrong until your CPU is near the point of overheating.

    • nstuff
    • 7 years ago

    I think it would be a nice follow-up article directly comparing motherboard’s on-board fan control capabilities. I’ve recently upgraded from an older Gigabyte motherboard which had barely any fan control at all, to the wonderful Asus P8Z77 motherboard which has a wonderful amount of control over the fans within the bios, but also windows software that allows additional tweaking if you want. The same case is so much more quiet with the Asus mobo.

    • mwaschkowski
    • 7 years ago

    I found Speedfan to be very confusing, whereas HWiNFO also has fan sensor status and fan control built in, and was much easier to me to configure. It is rather detailed, so fairly easy to use and provides a lot of control…

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    Ever since SpeedFan dangerously misread a voltage level in one of my old-old computers (compared to the then-standard Everest, now AIDA64, and almost causing me to have the PC serviced unneeded), I have remained distrustful and will not recommend the software unless someone shoves some overwhelming proof of reliability in my face.

    • pogsnet1
    • 7 years ago

    This is very old trick, I think since Pentium 3 days.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    I generally just set my fans to a fixed speed that balances cooling and noise levels. Case fans ramping up and down isn’t something that I want nor is it necessary if temperatures are within an acceptable range. If it can’t be done by a motherboard’s fixed speed options then there are resistors, diodes or manual fan controllers.

    CPU fans that have PWM work fine, and that fan is buried in the case so speed changes don’t bother me. If I got a non-PWM fan for my CPU then I’d just do the same thing as for case fans – monitor load temperatures and find a speed that balances temperature and noise.

    • Ifalna
    • 7 years ago

    I can’t trust any Fan-Software as long as the temps that the Mobo reads are completely off.
    When my CPU is 60° and my Mobo says it’s 40° and adjusts the fans to that… eww…

      • Thatguy
      • 7 years ago

      I use this in combination with core temp to monitor and log temps. Pretty simple and lightweight. Much better than my motherboards offerings.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      How is the reading off? Did you measure the temperature of the motherboard?

        • Ifalna
        • 7 years ago

        I’m not talking about case fans, I’m talking about CPU Fans. Asus’ Mobo softwares readings are WAY off there. Personally I don’t get why the Software doesn’t use the CPUs internal sensor but rather reads some that’s on the board, so there has to be a difference.

        I can lock all case fans to their minimum at all times, in a normal case that’ll be enough for almost any scenario.

        Well in cold Germany it will be. ^_^

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