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So RGB fans and cooling have got me confused - this thread is all about lighting

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Premium Member
May 17, 2003
So I gave in and decided to build a nice, high end gaming machine and I want to 'trick it out' with awesome looks as well as performance.

Don't ask me why, I just want to. I used to think RGB was stupid, but after getting a computer for my son with it, I DO actually kind of think it's neat. Just for my own fun and enjoyment.

So my system is going to be based on an ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero. Here on Asus' page it tells me it has "2x 3-pin Addressable Gen 2 RGB headers​" and "2 x 4-pin AURA RGB headers".

So for what I have now that has lighting:

Lian Li O11-Dynamic XL - no fans, single RGB strip on front of case
Crosshair VII motherboard - 2 RGB lights on the board, the "Hero" and the ROG logo
EK 360mm AIO D-RGB All-in-One Liquid CPU Cooler with EK-Vardar High-Performance PMW Fans (en route)
EVGA 3090 FTW3 Ultra Gaming - has ARGB

My plan eventually is also to add the Lian Li ARGB lighted cables for all the exposed wiring once I can find some.

I'd like to be able to get all my fans and lighting all matched and controllable through software or something... but I just don't understand. There's no accepted standard, I guess, and it looks like some are compatible with others, but they all use a different name or designation. I would like to be able to sync EVERYTHING up, ALL the same color or speed of flash/shift, etc. I've researched a ton of fans, too, trying to find those that will work with my Asus board seems the best bet, but I'd also like them to match the fans on my AIO EK cooler - the EK-Vardar fans are like $25 each - and I'm planning at least 6 more, I think, maybe 7 - 3 side, 3 bottom, 1 rear. That's ok, I don't mind too much doing so, but not if they won't match up with everything else and be controllable in sync. Will these do what I want? I realize they may not be THE TOP fans performance-wise, but they are nice, they do work, and they will match the AIO cooler fans, too.

Do I just use splitters to hook them all up to my 2 MB headers? I mean, do these all have to hook up to the 4-pin Aura RGB headers and will that allow me to control the speeds of them all, too? Do the 3-pin Addressable Gen 2 RGB headers not have PWM speed-control capability? I'd like to be able to change not just all the colors, but control speeds, as well. From my understanding PWM headers with 4-pins can control speed - are the 4-pin RGB headers the same, where 3-pin RGB only allow them to run full speed all the time?

God, this all makes my head spin. lol

Sorry for being such a novice to the RGB game, I am sure this is all simple talk to some of you. lol
be prepared for wires everywhere. I have 5 rgb fans, two strips of lights on the case and rgb on the pump and cpu water block and the back of the case is like spaghetti.

First of all, the fans have two wires. One for the powering of the fan itself which will connect to the motherboard fan headers. Then the fans have a separate cable for the rgb lights. This is so you can control the speed of the fans and the lighting separate.

Your best bet for the lighting is to buy a hub. I know EK have one so may be best to look at that. Hubs are great for having the best lighting effects, you can have the lights go in a wave of colours all in sync etc. Problems with that approach as you have identified is that if you have fan lights, case lights, pump lights often with different cable connect types. This causes problems, they really all need to standardise, but I doubt that will happen. But they may not all connect to the hub itself, so you may need some plugged into the hub and some to the motherboard.

If you can find a way to connect them all to the mother board headers then you can control all of the lighting affects through the motherboard software, which is good for syncing everything together. You can split loads of lights off of one motherboard header as the power requirements are very low. However with this approach you have less “cool” effects.

The best, but most expensive way is to have all of the lights from the same company and all plugged into one hub and controlled by one software. But that is often impractical. Basically because they all use separate types of connectors it can get messy unless you plan from the beginning.

Edit: something like this.


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Ok, thanks, that is helpful info. I wasn't really aware of the dual cable thing. AFAIK I think my case will allow me to hide cables very well, and I am willing to get a hub I can connect multiples to...

So you said you can have less "cool effects" with running splitters... can you expound on this? If I connect 3 fans or 6 fans all to the same MB header, since they're drawing power (and presumably speed control) from elsewhere, why would it affect my lighting or effect options? <edit> I assume these all connected in parallel would have to do the SAME things at one time, which is cool, I don't mind that.

I'm ok with not controlling things though the motherboard, although I think this would be easiest and most complete, given that 2 lights on the motherboard probably can't be synced with any off-board controllers or software. Of course, setting those to a static color or something isn't the end of the world.

I'm just trying to get much ducks in a row and order everything once, not having to swap parts out and duplicate my costs.
So you said you can have less "cool effects" with running splitters... can you expound on this? If I connect 3 fans or 6 fans all to the same MB header, since they're drawing power (and presumably speed control) from elsewhere, why would it affect my lighting or effect options? <edit> I assume these all connected in parallel would have to do the SAME things at one time, which is cool, I don't mind that.

Basically if you plug all your lights into the motherboard with a standard splitter, you mentioned that the board has 4 headers so you could in theory have 1-4 different lighting zones. You could have the front fans all green and flashing, the rear all blue and solid colour. Or you can have all the fans linked together and all flashing and all alternating colours. But all the colours will alternate the same on all the fans. I have my case sat up this way and I am more than happy with it.

With a hub you can have better control over the effects. You can have waves of colour going across the case, with each fan/light having a different colour etc.

Other fan hubs to look at are Corsair, cooler master, nzxt and I am sure there are others. I don’t really know what they all do as they all have their own software. May have to watch some YouTube videos of you want to know more.

So what is the functional difference between the hubs on the MB that Asus designates "3-pin Addressable Gen 2 RGB headers​" and "4-pin AURA RGB headers"?
Just what it says really. One is for use with addressable rgbs so you can use its functionality, the other non addressable units. :)
I don't know, reading the description of addressable and the Aura RGB description, it doesn't seem super clear to me, but I'll keep reading and researching.

Addressable RG - "You can have a strip of RGB LEDs, and the whole strip is programmable - all the LEDs adopt the same colour. ... Addressable LEDs on the other hand, can have the colour of each individual LED programmed separately."

Aura RGB - "Aura RGB provides a nearly endless spectrum of colors, patterns and even the ability to link lighting to music, in-game action, or CPU/GPU temperatures. ... ASUS Aura RGB products that can also synchronize lighting with other Aura Sync products, including motherboards, graphics cards, monitors and peripherals."
Ok, so looking at it again...

The regular RGB strips, all LEDs are one color. I assume you could get them to flash and/or light up in sequences and such to form patterns, but it might be somewhat limited choices, i.e., chasing lights, flashing in sequence, fading in and out, but all one color?

The A-RGB (same as D-RGB, right?), you can do all those same things, but the lights can all be different colors. So you could have colors chasing each other and such, but it's still relatively simple programmed patterns or what have you.

Then the Aura RGB, you could add in more functionality in terms of the 'millions' of colors, flashing to the music or in sequence or response to other programs, like it mentions, with games or such.

So then it seems the Aura RGB 4-pin is a higher-end or better type of A-RGB(D-RGB) and would be the better choice to use if your lighting is compatible with this.

So extrapolating....

If ALL of my system's components that have RGB are compatible with Aura, they can all be connected to those two RGB headers and I could at least have total control over them in 2 independent zones, probably? I'd like to have the individual functionality of being able to sync every component together, but also be able to control them all separately, too, but this isn't imperative.

Here is something I found - has anyone used this JackSync software? It says "Compatible with Corsair iCUE, Asus AURA, Razer Synapse, Logitech Gaming, Cooler Master Masterplus, MSI Mystic Light, and EVGA Precision X1." This sounds very promising and for a single $15 price you get lifetime usage. If it works like it says, it may be the answer to my issue, as long as I stick with all 'fairly' mainstream parts that are controlled by one of the above softwares.
Holy cripes... something just tripped for me when researching this.

3-pin A/D-RGB headers are 5V, 4-pin RGB headers are ANALOG 12V. So the Aura headers on my Crosshair MB are 4-pin which means they are plain RGB, NOT Digital RGB and NOT as good?

So the 3-pin digital RGB headers will give me more options and control over my lighting than the Aura headers?

This was counterintuitive to me, I wasn't grasping that.
You finally made it to the bottom of all the marketing mumbo jumbo. Aura is just a brand and it means the lights on your motherboard as well as any device plugged into it's headers will be controlled by the Aura software. Also important (at least for 3 pin) to ensure that the device is listed as compatible with Aura. As you say, the 4 pin is just Ground, Red, Green, Blue (not necessarily in that order / pinout), while the 3 pin has a ground, 5v and data.
Yeah it seems like the 3-pin D-RGB is 'better' in terms of control and programmable functions.

I decided to wait to order fans and such until I get the machine built and get to play a little with the fans and lighting on the EK AIO cooler. I THINK those 3 fans are going to be 3-pin D-RGB, but the EK Vardar EVO RGB fans come in either a 3-pin or a 4-pin version. Whichever it is, I will have a chance to play with them with the software and see what features I like or dislike and decide to buy more fans to match them, or change them out for other fans.

<edit> I have a ton of plain old non-RGB fans to choose from for the case for now to experiment a little with airflow, too.

I am still kind of up in the air about whether I should mount my video card horizontal or vertical for cooling, so I may play with that, also.