Reusing salvaged PC fans for the connector-challenged
April 5, 2010 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Firstly, I apologize for asking about computer cooling, as I'm sure there are tons of questions about it, but my problem is with the specifics. The fans in my gaming computer have been running much more lately, probably due to the warmer weather making my room quite hot. (My current fans are adequate, the computer's never been above 128f, they're just loud and high-pitched) I salvaged 2 fans from older Dell desktops, but I'm pretty clueless about the many types of connectors involved. It looks like I'll be buying a fan controller, but first I need to know what connectors it needs to have. In addition, I want to make sure that the added fans won't be too much for my power supply In short, can you please give me advice on the best way to cool my computer, preferably with the fans I already have?

The Details:

The 2 fans I salvaged - Both made by NMB, one is 90mm and the other 120mm

My computer - Built it myself
Video Card - Radeon HD 5770
Processor - Phenom II X4 955BE
4gb DDR2 RAM
2 SATA hard drives, soon to be 3 (320gb, 160gb, and soon 1.5tb)
1 DVD-RW drive
585w PSU

Note: If power ends up being a problem, everything on the 320gb drive could be moved to the 1.5tb drive when I get it without hassle, as there are no operating system files on it

My current 2 fans
My 2 salvaged fans
Connector and plug for the CPU fan
Connector and plug for the SYS fan
Smaller salvaged fan and its plug
Plug for the larger salvaged fan

Rear fan mount (the current fan is 80mm)
Side vent (normally on the inside of the case)
I also have this large space in the front, home to 3 5.25" drive bays and a 3.5" drive bay.

The plugs unused on the PSU are 3 4-pin Molex, 1 SATA (soon to be used), and this (sorry that it's out of focus)
posted by N2O1138 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
You should leave the CPU and what you call the "sys" fan plugged into the motherboard, where they can be controlled by it.

If you can find a fan controller for the other two that has those types of connectors, get it. Otherwise, you're better off just getting some 90/120mm case fans online for less than what you'd pay for a controller, and plugging them into your power supply. They'd run full blast all the time, but very large fans like that mounted properly are essentially silent.

Your PSU should have no trouble powering all of that, if its wattage is properly labeled.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:10 PM on April 5, 2010

Fans cost nothing to run, powerwise. If the noise doesn't bother you, install as many and as large and as fast as you can. Generally, I'd toss the 80mm and get a 2nd 120mm, run the 120mm in both spots front to back with your CPU and GPU fans in the middle and toss the rest. As for the drive bays, just stuff cables in there or leave 'em be. NB Your CPU hs/fan could use an upgrade.
posted by rhizome at 8:24 PM on April 5, 2010

Seconding threeway's answer. Ask your question on the forums at if you need better answers. My experience: built 1 desktop a month ago.

If you're using a stock heatsink, switching to a good aftermarket one would help lower temps.
posted by sninctown at 8:32 PM on April 5, 2010

The best (cheapest) way to cool your computer without buying any extra junk is to ensure you have good airflow. Tuck wires behind the motherboard tray if you can. In general, try to visualize the path the air takes when it's coming in through your intake fans and out your exhaust fans, and be sure to leave that path as unobstructed as possible. Additionally, make sure you have the fans oriented correctly: fans on the front should be set to draw 'cool' air in, while fans on the back are oriented in the same direction, thus working to exhaust air out. While some people would like to sell you snake oil regarding "positive" or "negative pressure systems," It's generally best to try to match your CFM intake and outtake.

Like sninctown said, I think your money would be better spent on an aftermarket CPU cooler (Corsair H50 or Thermalright Venemous-X are both excellent) instead of a fan controller. If your fans are revving up, it's likely for the better. If the noise bothers you, you can invest in some quieter fans on the cheap. Check SPCR's fan review section for all the information about computer fans and noise you could ever hope to read.
posted by a sourceless light at 9:18 PM on April 5, 2010

Check out this test of different case fan configurations. Basically, top + rear fans will cool your system the most, but top + front cool fastest.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:44 PM on April 5, 2010

Also, have you cleaned the inside of the case recently? Even a very thin layer of particulates can increase heat in a system dramatically. Regularly opening the case and blasting it with compressed air is a good idea.
posted by oddman at 7:17 AM on April 6, 2010

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