Connecting extra fans to your motherboard can help ensure that your system stays cool, even when under heavy load. Most motherboards will have a few extra fan headers, but if yours is lacking, there are a few ways to add more.
To connect more fans to your motherboard, you will either need a Y splitter that will allow you to connect more than one fan per header. Alternatively, you can use a fan hub that will allow you to connect many fans to a single header. (You will also need to connect it to the power supply unit).
It is very easy to connect more fans to your motherboard, and it is a great way to keep your system running cool. Keep reading because, in this article, I am going to show you how to connect extra fans to your motherboard, how to choose the right solution, and what to consider before you buy anything.
What is a fan header?
Before talking about how to connect extra fans to your motherboard, you should know what a fan header is. A fan header is a port on your motherboard that allows you to connect your cooling fans to it. They not only provide power to the fan but also allow you to control the speed of the fan through the BIOS.
Different Types Of Fan Headers
Now that you know what a motherboard fan header is, you should also be aware that there are different types of fan headers:
CPU Fan Headers
These are almost always 4-pin headers that provide both power and control to the CPU fan. You should not use it to connect a system fan.
Power Fan Headers
These are 3-pin headers that are used to monitor the fan speed of the power supply unit. Again, you should not use it to connect a system fan.
System Fan Headers
These are 3-pin or 4-pin headers that are used to install case fans. These are the headers you will be using to connect your extra fans.
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I Should Only Use The System Fan Header For My Case Fans?
You can use other headers too for your case fans, but it is not recommended as they are made for different purposes. For example, if you use the CPU fan header to connect your case fans, then where are you going to connect your CPU fan?
On the other hand, the power fan header is designed to monitor the fan speed of the power supply, so you will not be able to control the speed of your case fans if you use it.
The best way to connect extra fans to your motherboard is by using the system fan header cause this is the reason it is made for.
As I already mentioned, there are 3-pin and 4-pin fan headers. The main difference between them is that the extra pin on the 4-pin headers provides the PWM signal. The PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) signal allows your motherboard to control the speed of the fan.
There are different kinds of fans that connect to the 3-pin and 4-pin headers. The 3-pin fans are called DC fans and don’t have such great speed control. On the other hand, 4-pin fans are called PWM fans and have much better speed control and are quieter.
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How Many Fan Headers does my motherboard have?
Now that you know about the different types of fan headers, it is time to take a look at how many headers your motherboard has. The number of fan headers on your motherboard will determine if you are going to need extra fan headers.
The easiest way to find out how many fan headers your motherboard has is by looking at the specs. It should be something like this:
As you can see from the image above, this motherboard has 3 fan headers. One is the CPU fan header and two are system fan headers.
This is a pretty standard number of fan headers for most motherboards. However, some high-end motherboards can have up to 4 fan headers or more.
The second way to determine how many fan headers your motherboard has is by inspecting it. The fan headers will be located near the CPU socket, and they will have either 3 or 4 pins. They will be labeled as either CPU_FAN, PWR_FAN, or SYS_FAN.
Related Article: Sys Fan vs CPU Fan: ALL The Differences
How Many Cooling Fans Do I Need?
The number of cooling fans you need depends on the usage of your computer. You only need two fans if you are using your computer for basic tasks such as word processing, browsing the internet, and watching videos.
However, if you are doing intense gaming, video editing, or 3D rendering, you will need more fans to keep your system cool.
I suggest using at least two fans to create a good airflow inside the case. The front fan should be an intake fan that will bring cool air into the case, and the back fan should be an exhaust fan that will push the hot air out of the case.
If you are building a gaming PC, you should add more intake fans to create positive pressure inside the case. In simple terms, this means more cool air is coming into the case than going out.
Related Article: What Is CPU Throttling & Thermal Throttling?
What kind of fans should I buy?
While there is no definite answer, there are some general things you should keep in mind when choosing fans.
- The bigger, the better – In general, the bigger the fan, the better it is. Bigger fans can move more air with less motion, meaning they will be more effective and quieter.
- Airflow vs Static pressure – There are two types of fans, airflow fans and static pressure fans. The difference between them is that the static pressure fans are better at pushing air through tighter spaces such as CPU coolers and radiators, while the airflow fans are better at moving air across a large surface area.
- Choose a 4-pin PWM fan over a 3-pin DC fan – As I already mentioned, 4-pin PWM fans are better than 3-pin DC fans because they have better speed control and they are quieter.
- Make sure they fit – Fans come in different sizes, and you need to make sure that the fan you buy will fit into your case. The fan size is usually listed on the packaging or the fan itself.
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How to connect extra fans to the motherboard?
Now that you know everything about motherboard fan headers and the different types of fans, it’s time to learn how to connect them to the motherboard.
As already mentioned, there are three ways of adding extra fans to your motherboard by using Y-splitters, fan hubs, or fan controllers.
They are all pretty simple to use, and I will show you how to do it.
How To Connect Fans Using Y-Splitters
The first thing you need is a Y-splitter. The Y-splitter is a cable that has one female connector on one side and two or more male connectors on the other side. The female connector goes into the motherboard fan header while the male connectors go into the fans.
Once you have the Y-splitter, all you need to do is connect the female connector side to the fan header and then connect the fans to the male connectors.
This is the cheapest and easiest way to add extra fans to your motherboard, but there are things you need to keep in mind.
What you should pay attention to is the amperage of the header and the amperage of the fan. The header can only supply a certain amount of amperage (usually 1 Ampere) and if you exceed that limit, you could damage the header or the fan.
For example, if the header supplies 1 Ampere and you connect two fans that use 0.4 Amps each, you will be ok. However, if you connect two fans that use 0.6 Amps each, you will exceed the limit, and you could damage the header or the fan.
The other thing you should keep in mind is that when you use a Y-splitter, you can’t control the speed of each fan. The motherboard understands that there is one fan connected to the header, and it will control the speed of all fans as if they were one.
How To Connect Fans Using Fan Hubs
The second way to add extra fans to your motherboard is by using a fan hub. A fan hub is a small device where you can connect many fans. The good thing about a fan hub is that you won’t have to worry about the amperage because it can handle many fans as it draws the power from the power supply.
Connecting the fan hub and setting it up is a bit more complicated than using a Y-splitter, but it’s not too difficult.
The first thing you need to do is connect the fan hub to the motherboard. To do this, you need to find an unused 4-pin or 3-pin header on the motherboard. Once you have found one, connect the fan hub to it.
The next thing you need to do is to connect the power supply to the fan hub. The fan hub comes with a 15-pin SATA power connector, and you need to connect it to an available SATA power connector on the power supply.
Related Article: What Does A SATA Cable Look Like?
Now that the fan hub is connected to both the motherboard and the power supply, you must connect the fans to it. The fan hub will have many 4-pin or 3-pin connectors where you can connect the fans. Place the fan hub in a convenient location inside the case so that you can connect all the fans and make sure that all the cables are neatly arranged.
That’s it! You have now successfully connected extra fans to your motherboard using a fan hub.
At this point, I need to mention that just like the Y-splitter, the motherboard will control the speed of all the fans connected to the fan hub as if they were one fan.
Fan Hubs With RGB
If you are an RGB fan, then you will be happy to know that many fan hubs come with Addressable RGB headers.
Addressable RGB means that you can control the color of each LED on the fan and make them change colors.
To do so, your motherboard will need to have an RGB header, and you will also need to connect an RGB-capable fan.
Keep in mind that not all motherboards have Addressable RGB headers so before you buy a fan hub with Addressable RGB, make sure that your motherboard has the required header.
Bonus Tip: Connect Extra Fans Using Fan Controllers
Another way to add extra fans without using any of the headers on the motherboard is by using a fan controller unit. A fan controller is a device that you can use to add more fans to your system and control their speed.
To use a fan controller, you need to connect it to the power supply and then connect the fans to it. Most fan controllers have a Molex connector that you need to connect to the power supply.
After that, all you need to do is connect the fans to the controller using 3-pin or 4-pin connectors. They also support RGB fans, and you can connect them using the Addressable RGB header on the controller.
Once everything is connected, you can use the controller’s touch screen to control each fan’s speed.
They are way pricier than a fan hub or a Y-splitter, but they offer more control over the fans.
They are not suggested to first-time builders as you need to know what you want to control and how many fans you want to add.
These are all the ways to add extra fans to your motherboard. You have learned about the fan headers on the motherboard and how to use them; you have also learned about the different ways to connect extra fans without using the fan headers.
Use all the information in this article to choose the best way to connect extra fans for your needs.
Thanks for reading; if you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below, and I will be happy to answer them.
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building