Today we’re setting up some ARGB fans with a motherboard that doesn’t have any RGB or ARGB headers to see what’s involved. We’ll also be controlling these via software, so we can enjoy all the customisation options that come with the latest addressable RGB kits!
For this we’re going to be using our favourite Cooler Master ARGB 3x Fan Kitas it has a fan controller included, before we get stuck into the install we’ll just take a quick look at what comes inside the box.
– A-RGB LED Small Controller
– SATA & Thermal Detection Cable
– 1 to 3 A-RGB Cable & Cable to sync MB
– 1 to 3 Fan Power Cable Splitter
– Thermal Detector
– 3x 120mm A-RGB Fans
– 12 Fan Screws
– User Manual + Warranty Information Booklet
OK let’s get into it! (insert great pic from manual)
First, we connected the ARGB Cable (it’s got 3 pins, shown below) and the Fan Power Cable Splitter (ignoring the Asus and Gigabyte connectors) to the appropriate connectors on the fan cables. The ARGB and Fan Power connector types are clearly marked on the cables with white tags. The green arrows below show the little triangles that match up.
We then connected the ARGB Cable 5 pin connector and the SATA & Thermal Detection Cable 4 pin connector to the controller.
Finally, we connected the SATA & Thermal Detection Cable into the Thermal Detector and SATA power connector from the PSU.
When turning on the PC we had success, the fans were running fine and the LEDs lit up – able to be controlled through the buttons on the ARGB controller.
The ARGB controller is easy to mount into the case as it is magnetic, and with you’ll have a few effects and the beautiful ARGB rainbow mode
The Manual that comes in the box states you can download software on Cooler Master’s website. This is a fairly easy process but you’ll need to get your own MicroUSB cable and internal USB Header adapter for it to look super clean 😛 (cowboy mode plugging the micro USB cable into a USB port on the outside of your PC work though)
Once you’ve connected the Cooler Master ARGB controller via USB, head to the CM Download page to grab the latest (This will be newer than ones we’ve pictured below when we tested, which was v220.127.116.11)
Now, onto connecting the Fans and Controller through the software 🙂
Here we opened up the detected controller and then navigated to the configuration page.
Once on the configuration page, we added the single MasterFan ARGB option (indicated by the double light bulb icon) via the + symbol. (The MasterLiquid options also work but aren’t really needed since the controller only has one port to control.)
This will add the fan into the top left-hand corner, next, we click on the light bulb icon of the added fan.
Then connect that to the first controller port by clicking on the light bulb icon with the A1 next to it.
OK, now that tricky bit is done, we can begin changing the LED modes and individual LED colours! As we have our fans connected to the first port on our controller we can configure and customize through the overview tab.
From the overview tab, you can select the different patterns for the LEDs.
The USB connection is for the RGB controller. The fans would then plug into the controller. Power for the controller is likely to be separate, likely a SATA connection or possibly large 4-pin.
Not sure what you mean at the end there. Power is always going to come from the power supply. The concept of a fan controller, or even an RGB capable motherboard, is to send that power in deliberate ways to alter the fan speed and the voltage applied to each color of LED to achieve the desired color. Quite a few ways to do it, but it really comes down to how much you have to spend and what you want the end result to be.
I have no specific recommendation on which controller, it would depend a lot on the fans you want and the type of behavior. If you want software control look at products compatible with something like Aura Sync. Though there are a few major brands out there producing high end controllers with bundled software (NZXT would be a good example). The idea behind them is that the fans, motherboard, GPU, CPU cooler, etc are all on the same standard so they can all be controlled with a single piece of software.
If you just want an RGB controller module there are many out there that use a physical remote, and many that come with included fans. Just google RGB fan controller.
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How to RGB: A system builder’s guide to RGB PC lighting
Corsair has a lot to answer for.
In 2014, the PC parts specialist debuted the world's first mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX RGB switches. The idea, according to Corsair, was to provide the ultimate in keyboard customisation by individually lighting each key with an LED capable of displaying one of 16.8 million colours. Coupled with some bundled software, users could light up the WASD keys in a different colour for use with shooters, turn the number key row into a real-time cool-down timer, or turn the entire keyboard into a garish music visualiser. Unfortunately for Corsair, so bad was the bundled software that most people simply took to setting the keyboard up with the most eye-searing rainbow effect possible and called it a day.
Which brings us neatly onto the current state of the enthusiast PC. What started with a single keyboard has grown into an industry of RGB-capable components, peripherals, and cases designed for maximum levels of rainbow-coloured nonsense. Indeed, alongside the inclusion of tempered glass side panels, RBG lighting has been the de facto trend for 2017—so much so that it's harder to find components without the tech rather than with it.
Until recently, however, getting all those RGB components to work together has been a slog. There are proprietary standards like Corsair Cue, wacky connectors like those on Phanteks' RGB strips, and components that require special breakout boxes in order to function, like Thermaltake's eye-catching Riing fans. What has changed is that motherboard-makers have finally gotten 'round to integrating standardised RGB connectors and controllers into their motherboards, providing a central hub for all RGB components, and—with the help of software—a way to sync them all together for all manner of flashy visual effects.Advertisement
While I've personally never been a fan of the garish gamer aesthetic, in the spirit of trying something new as the industry hits peak RGB, I'm giving RGB a go. And not just any old RGB. I've assembled a collection of the biggest and best RGB components the industry has to offer, from motherboards and memory through to keyboards and monitors (yes, there are monitors with RGB lighting). And even if you're not into overblown desktops, as this tutorial should hopefully explain, there are ways to make tasteful RGB systems that don't descend into explosions of colourful unicorn vom.
Let's talk about standards
Contrary to what some component manufacturers might have you believe, there is something of a standard for RGB lighting, which originated from its use in home interiors rather than desktop computer systems. It's a simple four-wire connector with male and female ends, with the wires divided into red, green, and blue signals (hence, RGB), and a 12V line for power. Most LED strips for the home use the connector, which typically has an arrow to indicate which wire is the 12V wire. This matters, because some component manufacturers have decided to implement their own version of the RGB standard, which often changes the order of the wiring, even if the connector itself is identical.
|RGB System Specs|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-7900K @4.5GHz|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4 @ 3200MHz|
|HDD||Corsair MP500 480GB M.2 SSD|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Strix X299 Gaming-E|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1200i|
|Cooling||CoolerMaster MasterLiquid Pro 280|
|Fan||CoolerMaster MasterFan Pro RGB|
|Peripherals||Asus ROG Claymore Core keyboard, ROG Pugio mouse, ROG Strix XG27VQ monitor|
Motherboard vendors typically use the standard connection, although even then there are differences. Gigabyte uses a five-pin RGB connector, with the fifth pin reserved for use with LED strips that use a dedicated white LED, instead of blasting out all the colours together to simulate white. Fortunately, it uses the default 12V GRB order for wiring, which also features on Asus and MSI motherboards.Advertisement
The best way to tell if your RGB components will work together is to simply consult your preferred motherboard-maker's compatibility page, like Asus Aura. For the most part, all the listed components will either use the standard RGB connector or—like in the case of Phantek's RGB strips—can be converted to do so with a readily available adaptor.
At the time of writing, the Asus Aura list has expanded to cover dozens of different components and manufacturers, including the likes of InWin, CableMod, Bitfenix, CoolerMaster, and Akasa. There are multiple cases with built-in RGB lighting that work with Asus' Aura Sync software, along with RGB strips, case fans, coolers, and even memory and power supplies. Most components use a three-pin RGB connector to function, although some components like memory don't require it at all. Both G.Skill RGB memory and Corsair Vengeance RGB memory communicate directly with the motherboard, which makes for a clean installation (Geil memory, by contrast, requires you to run an unsightly cable to each memory stick).
Most motherboards come with two RGB headers, each supplying 12V of power. However, if you have a particularly large PC case that you plan on filling with multiple RGB fans, each requiring its own header, this quickly becomes a problem. Some fans, like In Win's Aurora range, can be daisy-chained together but require a separate breakout box to provide power and avoid overloading the 12V connection on the motherboard. Third-party solutions like Silverstone's LSB01 are also an option, which splits a single RGB header into eight while supplying extra power via a molex connector.
Unfortunately, the LSB01 costs a hefty $35/£35, but it does come with a pair of RGB LED strips. A cheaper option, should you have more modest needs, is to split the RGB headers in two. Cables like this four-pin splitter from Amazon, which costs a mere $5/£4 for two, work perfectly.
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Rgb motherboard add header to
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