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The Ultimate MSI Z270 Gaming M7 Motherboard Build Guide (Page 6)

By Steven Bassiri from Mar 7, 2017 @ 18:47 CST

Fan Control

I prefer setting up my fans in the UEFI because that way there is no need to install Windows-based software to control fans. However, Windows-based fan control software can also be advantageous because Windows programs have more capabilities than the constricted UEFI. I will now show you both on MSI's Z270 Gaming M7.


MSI's motherboard has six fan headers, and while all of them can operate in either PWM or DC mode, the two at the top-center of the motherboard (CPU_FAN1/PUMP_FAN1) automatically detect the type of fan used and adjust their mode accordingly. MSI's manual does a decent job of explaining the difference between PWM and DC/Voltage mode headers/fans. However, more simply, in DC mode the motherboard controls the fan speed by regulating the power to the fan while in PWM mode the motherboard feeds the fan the maximum voltage level and a PWM signal and the fan self-regulates.

DC/Voltage mode headers can control both DC and PWM fans, but PWM headers can only control PWM fans while DC fans in PWM headers will always run at 100%. MSI's six fan headers can accept and control both types of fans. The benefit to PWM fans is that they operate much smoother at low speeds and avoid the "clicking" noise that voltage mode fans experience when they aren't given enough power to get started. That is because PWM fans are designed to self-regulate, so they know their motors' characteristics better. However, DC/voltage mode fans (always 3-pins) are typically the included case fans, and PWM fans are typically more expensive. To make use of all fans, you need a motherboard with headers that support both types of fans, such as MSI's Z270 Gaming M7.


MSI's fan control GUI is setup in an easy to comprehend fashion. Each of the six fans has its own tab, and each can reference either the CPU or system temperature for Smart Fan Mode curve control points. You can manually select between PWM and DC mode. The vertical (y-axis) of the graph is a voltage level for DC/voltage mode fans (image on the left) or a percentage/PWM value for PWM mode fans (image on the right). The horizontal axis (x-axis) is always temperature.

To move a point of the curve, you just click and drag the point. For instance, if you want the fans to stay quiet until the CPU temperature reaches a critical level, you can take the first three points down, with the third at 30%/4v at 65C, and the fourth point at 100%/12v at 80C. The temperature/speed point list is located to the right of the graph. MSI's GUI also offers real-time temperature and RPM monitoring.

To make things more interesting, you can also choose the step-up and step-down time interval between points. Increasing this value allows the fan to more slowly ramp up or down, so if your load (and temperature) is fluctuating rapidly, fan noise doesn't need to necessarily follow suite.


MSI's Command Center fan control is not much different from UEFI's GUI. However, it does have an auto-tuning feature, where the motherboard will calibrate the fans based on their minimum and maximum RPMs at different voltage levels to determine optimal operating range. A nifty motherboard diagram is also available and shows where the system temperature sensor is located (near the audio section and below the GPUs), as well as what fan headers are plugged in.

RGB LED Control


MSI's Gaming App has a LED section where you can control the RGB LEDs built into the motherboard and connected to the motherboard's RGB LED header, and the RGB LEDs built into the GTX 1080 Gaming X GPU.

MSI's RGB LED lighting scheme is called MYSTIC LIGHT, and you can find many vendors of RGB LED strips that specifically support MSI's technology. There are currently six modes of operation; off, static, breathing, flashing, double flashing, and random. If you are connected to the same local network as your phone, MSI has an application for your phone that allows you to control the RGB LEDs directly from there. MSI also offers MYSTIC LIGHT SYNC, that allows you to sync the RGBs in other supported products from other brands (such as a keyboard or CPU cooler).


I placed a magnetic RGB LED strip at the top of the case shining down on the system, and the light diffused really well. One thing I have to admit is that MSI's built-in RGB LED lighting is tastefully done, and the light is evenly distributed.

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