Case fans are strategically placed inside a gaming PC to ensure that every component receives ample airflow. Heat can seriously cripple your gaming PC’s performance by a significant amount without proper ventilation.
Control your case fan speed and lightning with a fan controller, a smart module that has the necessary ports to power and control multiple fans in an integrated compact solution. More than maximizing airflow inside your case, having one of the best fan controllers can also be used to slow down your fan speeds, which is quite useful if you are just doing light work such as web browsing or editing documents – as these applications do not really push your hardware to the limit, ergo, lesser heat produced. This will also mean that your gaming PC can operate more silently due to the fans running at lower RPMs.
What is a Fan Controller?
A fan controller is an intuitive module that you can plug your gaming PC’s case fans into, as it offers multiple points of connection in a single package – taking care of power and data supply in a simple and compact solution. With a fan controller, you can effectively manage your fan’s performance either automatically or manually by way of setting thresholds or activating preset buttons that supply the fans with the necessary voltage for the required speed.
With a fan controller, you can conveniently control all of your case fans in one place – benefitting from lower overall fan noise and optimized airflow depending on the PC’s internal temperature. Check out our best pc fan controller list of 2021 below.
Best PC Fan Controllers 2021: Reviews & Recommendations
|Product||Fan Limit||Our Rating|
|NZXT Sentry 3||Up to 5 fans||4.6|
|Noctua NA-FC1||Up to 3 fans||4.7|
|Corsair RGB LED Fan HUB HD/SP RGB||Up to 6 fans||4.6|
|Thermaltake Commander F6||Up to 6 fans||4.2|
|Silverstone 8-Port PWM Fan Hub||Up to 8 fans||4.5|
|Phanteks Universal Fan Controller||Up to 8 fans||4.2|
|Nzxt Grid+ V3||Up to 6 fans||4.0|
|DEEPCOOL FH-10 Integrated Fan Hub||Up to 10 fans||4.2|
|Aerocool Cooltouch E||Up to 4 fans||4.5|
If you sport a standard ATX full tower case that has drive bays, a solution like the NZXT Sentry 3 might be for you. This specific unit installs on a single 5.25-inch drive bay, which would usually host a DVD reader drive – sorry, no modern closed front panel compatibility here. That aside, the NZXT Sentry 3 offers a tangible way to control fan speeds via manual access. For this, the controller makes use of a 5.4” capacitive touch screen interface with the PowerSlide Bar to conveniently ramp up or slow down fan RPM on the go.
You get five channels that can supply 15 watts of power each channel to accommodate multiple 3-pin and 4-pin fans that can either be configured individually or link any of the five channels together for a unified control experience. You also have access to a temperature sensor that can be used to automatically control fan speed in case you don’t have the luxury to frequently keep tabs or manually tweak them.
The NZXT Sentry 3 also offers safety features like short circuit, overvoltage, and undervoltage protection in the event of circuit or power supply malfunction, protecting the system unit and its fans from further damage. If case/chassis compatibility isn’t an issue for you, the NZXT Sentry 3 is a great fan controller to add to your gaming rig.
If you want a no-nonsense solution for your fan controller needs, look no further, as the Noctua NA-FC1 provides a simple and compact design that’s fool-proof and easy to use. Even with its small size, the included 3-way splitter will allow you to hook up and control three fans simultaneously. The Noctua NA-FC1 is powered by a 12V SATA connector to improve safety rather than pulling power directly from the motherboard, which may overload the circuitry and cause fires.
As for controlling your fans, the Noctua NA-FC1 works in two ways: autonomously via a manual speed dial or in tandem with the motherboards PWM control. Using the dial, you can set the PWM duty cycle from 0 to 100% or filter and dampen the motherboard’s own PWM signal to allow the fans to run at slower RPMs than the motherboard would allow. The dial can also be pushed down to activate the ‘No Stop’ mode – which effectively limits the fan from falling below 300 RPM, ensuring continuous airflow while keeping things dead silent.
The Noctua NA-FC1 is designed to work with high RPM fans like its own line of Noctua Industrial PPC fans without running out of power to feed multiple units – which you can even expand further upon by using the fan splitters included with Noctua fans to maximize the level of control over your gaming PC’s fan setup.
In our opinion, this is the best computer fan controller on this list.
First on our list is the Corsair RGB LED Fan, from one of the biggest gaming peripheral brands in the market right now. If you need a minimalist fan controller solution, this particular model is a great choice thanks to its slim and compact design that you can stick anywhere inside your case thanks to the included adhesive lining. This controller can accommodate 6 fans – either 3-pin (DC) or 4-pin (PWM) – making it one of the most viable options if you have a full tower case. It also supports up to two RGB channels in case you need to control case lighting as well.
Apart from that, the Corsair iCUE Commander PRO has four temperature sensor connectors on which you can connect probes to monitor specific zones in your case, which you can use to further streamline RPM control. You also get two internal USB 2.0 headers to connect other compatible devices for a more comprehensive level of control. It is powered by a 12V SATA connection, while the PWM access and other necessary data transmission are taken care of the dedicated internal USB connection.
You are granted control of every function and feature digitally through the Corsair iCUE software – here you can easily set temperature thresholds, fan speed presets, RGB modes, and more. This intuitive fan control solution by Corsair has everything you need in an affordable package that makes it a no-brainer pick.
Once again, for traditional cases that have front-panel drive bays, a manual controller like the Thermaltake Commander F6 would work quite well. It adopts the classic cockpit knob overlay with an RGB LCD screen where you can choose from 16 colors to display fan stats and readouts. This intuitive display automatically shows the fan RPM, temperature (can be set to °C or °F), and operating voltage, while a warning/alarm tab is handy when temperature thresholds are reached.
Speaking of temperature, each fan channel has an individual temperature sensor that you can strategically place in key areas inside your PC’s case to monitor temperature and immediately act upon it by increasing or decreasing fan speed. Adjustment is easy as pie thanks to the precise voltage control via the vintage-style knobs. You can go from 0 to 12V with accurate 0.1V increments/steps so you can fine-tune fan speeds too for performance or noise adjustment.
The Thermaltake Commander F6 also comes with overvoltage, undervoltage, and short-circuit protection to keep your gaming PC and its vital components safe from damage in the event of a power supply malfunction or power surges. As for extra style points, the Thermaltake Commander F6 can accommodate up to 2 Lumi LED strips to add lighting bling into your gaming PC.
Need an ultra-affordable fan controller that can accommodate a decent number of fans in one sitting? The Silverstone 8-Port PWM Fan Hub is designed to allow up to 8 PWM fans to be controlled with one motherboard header. This fan controller feeds from the conventional 12V SATA connector from your power supply to provide ample juice to 8 individual fans, while PWM control is taken care of by the dedicated motherboard connector to supply the needed signal and ramp up or slow down fan speeds accordingly.
While it supports the attachment of both 3-pin and 4-pin fans, only 4-pin variants can be controlled, leaving 3-pins to run at maximum RPM at all times, so ensure that you have 4-pin fans if you wish to control your case fan’s speeds. Furthermore, the Silverstone 8-Port PWM Fan Hub is also equipped with a 2200μF capacitor that filters the power supply going to each individual fan for that clean, stable voltage, providing consistent airflow all throughout the case.
What makes the Silverstone 8-Port PWM Fan Hub so valuable is that it provides a convenient control process that you can leave entirely to your motherboard’s fan control software just by referring to system temperatures. The small package also conveniently tucks into any small space inside your gaming PC’s chassis via a durable adhesive so you can stick it there and forget it exists while keeping your fans in control at all times.
From a major PC case manufacturer, the Phanteks Universal Fan Controller takes ergonomic cues seriously, not just exclusive for Phanteks cases, but for any computer chassis that’s made of metal. This compact fan controller unit can accommodate up to 8 fans, with three ports dedicated for 3-pin fans and the rest making room for 4-pin ones. This is optimal when you have a mixture of 3-pin and 4-pin fans in your gaming PC, forgoing the need to purchase new 4-pin fans for the sole purpose of RPM control.
Speaking of controlling fan speeds, the Phanteks Universal Fan Controller offers two options: an automatic motherboard PWM control, and via a handy remote module. When you go with the motherboard route, you can set the fan’s RPM to a corresponding temperature, along with PWM readouts to keep track of fan speed, while going with the remote module offers you three speed presets: Silent, Balanced, and Performance. You can choose between these three options depending on your gaming PC’s current workload or temperature.
The Phanteks Universal Fan Controller takes power from a dedicated 12V SATA connector from your power supply so you won’t have to worry about lacking power for 8 individual fans. It also conveniently installs inside your gaming PC via a magnetic housing that automatically sticks to any metal panel so you won’t have to deal with the mess that adhesive solutions usually leave behind.
If you go a bit loco over the slightest rise in decibel levels as your gaming PC ramps up its performance, an intuitive and easy to use controller like the Nzxt Grid+ V3 proves to be a valuable pick in terms of features and functionality. It has six channels to accommodate 6 fans or even more when you use Y-splitter. It can host both 3 or 4-pin fans in any of the ports as it automatically detects the connector type when you plug it in, saving you the worry of being limited by options in the event that you only have 3-pin fans available.
The Nzxt Grid+ V3 offers a great level of customizability thanks to NZXT’s CAM software – a comprehensive control center for fan speeds, voltage, and more. This allows you to set each channel independently from each other with fan profiles like Silent, Performance, Fixed, and Custom. You can label each fan with a handy editor and plot custom fan curves to suit your cooling needs.
If you prefer to let the Nzxt Grid+ V3 take care of everything for you, the CAM software makes use of temperature readouts, system load, and even noise levels (thanks to a built-in microphone) to automatically push the fans at an optimal RPM without causing too much of a ruckus. Called Adaptive Noise Reduction, the software uses machine learning and active measurement to provide optimal airflow with up to an amazing 40% reduction in decibel levels.
For full tower systems that can hold a ton of fans, you might need a controller that has plenty of connections to offer. Worry not, as the DEEPCOOL FH-10 Integrated Fan Hub hosts up to 10 fan ports and can accommodate all of these simultaneously. Of course, due to this being a budget fan controller, this will have tradeoffs, but trust us when we say that the good outweighs the not-so-good.
The DEEPCOOL FH-10 Integrated Fan Hub can accommodate both 3-pin and 4-pin fans with its port configuration, but only 4-pins can take advantage of the PWM function to allow you to control fan speed automatically. Should you use 3-pin fans, they will run at full RPM at all times. Otherwise, you get full control of the connected 4-pin fans via a synchronized duty cycle, but not speed. Weigh your options between airflow performance and silence if you plan to get this particular controller first.
It is powered by a 12V SATA connection directly to the power supply, ensuring that the fans get enough juice to provide consistent performance while promoting safety at the same time – no overvoltage, undervoltage, or short-circuit issues are bound to happen anytime soon. For the PWM signal, the controller has a dedicated motherboard connector to hook it up to a system or CPU fan header and do all RPM control from there. This allows the case fans to ramp up or slow down accordingly with a temperature threshold set in place. Do note that only Fan 1’s speed can be identified by your system.
Installation is a breeze as well, as the DEEPCOOL FH-10 Integrated Fan Hub has a low-profile build that can be screwed onto the back of the motherboard tray or attached using a double-sided adhesive.
For PC modders or those who just want to breathe new life into their old-school computer cases, the Aerocool Cooltouch E fan controller has the right look and functions you need. More than just an aesthetic touch, it also provides a platform for your fans to be controlled with ease. It fits just right into your front panel’s 5.25” drive bay, replacing that blank slot with a dynamic touchscreen interface that hosts status readouts like speed, power, and fan channel.
The Aerocool Cooltouch E can control four fans on its lonesome, or you can extend connectivity via splitter cables that allow you to load more fans per channel. Each channel can provide up to 20W of power to ensure that you won’t run out of juice even if you load a single channel with multiple fans. You get to choose between three speed settings – Low, Medium, High – to fit your needs in terms of airflow or noise balancing.
Since there are no physical control dials to mess with, the Aerocool Cooltouch E relies on touchscreen capabilities to facilitate the adjustment of fan speed – you can even choose from seven backlight colors or completely turn off the display’s lighting without affecting fan performance.
Why Do You Need a Fan Controller?
For our PC enthusiasts out there, it is imperative to keep your gaming rig at optimal temperatures at all times. It is no secret now that almost every electronic device produces heat as it consumes electricity and turns it into processing power – computer components included. But because nothing is ever 100% efficient, your gaming PC produces a byproduct of this process, which is heat.
Luckily, fans are a thing, which when set up properly, can effectively channel heat away from your gaming PC’s components, improving overall performance and extending their service lifespan as well. Having a fan controller will streamline fan speeds, noise, and other important functions to keep your fan array performing at optimal levels at all times.
Factors To Consider When Getting a Fan Controller
In order to keep your fans running the way you intend them to, a fan controller should be compatible with your existing set of fans, can accommodate a specific number, and have the control features you need to achieve your desired level of performance.
Most computer fans nowadays either come as 3-pin or 4-pin variants, which are the widely-supported configuration by a lot of modern fan controllers. 3-pin fans often run at maximum RPM since they only have connections for powering the motors, while 4-pins are capable of PWM control. This depends on your motherboard or temperature sensor to determine at what speed to run your fans at.
Most gaming PCs sport somewhere between three to six fans at a time, although this may vary with cases that support a large number of fans. Ensure that the fan controller you will be getting can host your gaming PC’s fan count. Also, go for models that tap power from a dedicated source like a SATA cable instead of pulling it from the motherboard itself to improve consistency and promote safety.
Fan controllers can either manage RPM adjustment manually, automatically or both. For manual options, this can either come in the form of an included remote controller with speed/voltage presets that you can select, or, adjustment dials/touchscreen interfaces that provide a more precise way to tweak fan speeds.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of doing things manually, you can plug into your motherboard’s fan header/s so it can supply the needed PWM signal and tell your PC’s fans to run at a specified speed when it reaches a specific temperature. Some controllers also have their own sensors (temperature, noise, etc.) to dictate fans to run at certain RPMs depending on the set threshold values.