The Four Types of Fan Headers and a Test Fan
There are four types of fan headers including PWM, DC/voltage, hybrid PWM/DC, and a 4-pin DC/voltage. When I say DC mode or voltage mode control I am talking about the same thing. The PWM header is a PWM-only header and won't be able to control a voltage mode fan. A voltage mode header is 3-pins and controls voltage mode fans and PWM fans that can detect they are being driven in voltage mode.
A hybrid PWM/DC header is the best of both worlds since it can be configured for each type of fan, there are even autosensing hybrid headers. Our last type of header is a four-pin DC mode fan, which basically tricks the PWM fan into thinking it's in PWM mode and running full speed, and that way the motherboard can increase or decrease the voltage. Four-pin DC header will control both types of fans, but won't offer true PWM control. There are a few other headers as well, such as full speed headers that max out both voltage and PWM fans or customized headers found in some OEM products, but since this guide is about consumer fan control, they weren't included in the chart above.
Before we begin, I will go and test out the calibration measurements of the motherboards that carry the feature. I will be using this Noctua Industrial PPC NF-F12 PWM fan. It maxes at around 2000RPM, uses 0.1A, 1.2W, and is super silent. According to PWM specifications, minimum RPM should be 30% of maximum RPM. In our case, minimum RPM should be around 600RPM, which should occur around 30% PWM duty cycle. That means we should see some moderate scaling depending on the maximum RPM found by each calibration.
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