What you don’t know about your motherboard’s fan connectors

Fan connector: CPU_FAN, CPU_OPT, CHA_FAN, AIO_PUMP

Cooling in our PC is very important, whether it is the choice of heat sink for the CPU as well as the connectors for the different fans or for the pumping motors of the radiators for liquid cooling. In any case, it is relevant to differentiate between the difference between a fan connector on the motherboard.

Originally, each 3 or 4-pin connector that was used to connect a fan or a radiator to the motherboard of our PC had a specific function, each of which depended on the correct functioning of the system. Nowadays, however, everything is more automated, with advanced telemetry and control systems that allow a greater number of configurations and, therefore, with a greater number of possibilities for each connector.

In addition, each board incorporates a series of connectors, which in many cases are common, but in others they may be specific to the model by including a greater number of these or duplicating others, so it is interesting to get to know them more closely:

Which fan connector to use?

The first element to cool in a computer or computer is its central processing unit, which carries out the execution of all the programs and coordinates the different components and peripherals in an organized manner. Today we have processors that can go beyond 100 W of consumption and generate high temperatures, which is why it is necessary when assembling a PC to know the ports to which to connect the heatsink or the radiator that cools the core processor.

The vast majority of boards already allow configurations aptly named UPPER and LOWER, where we can set parameters based on the temperature, in its ranges, and even how we want the board to control the fan or pump, if for 3 pins or by PWM

CPU_FAN, connector for the CPU fan

This fan connector was already in the first PCs, however it has been updated over time to support PWM and range control. Its name tells us that it is the connector where we must connect the heatsink fan for the processor or, failing that, the radiator fans if we have mounted an AIO system on our PC. The reason for this is none other than the CPU temperature measurement systems.

Keep in mind that when you reach high clock speeds, the heat generated by the central processing unit increases and therefore it is important that the system can turn on the fan of the AIO radiator or heat sink, in order to expel towards get the hot air out and keep our CPU’s cooling system cool, let’s use which one we use.

CPU_OPT (OPTIONAL)

Some motherboards have an additional connector to the one on the CPU_FAN, however, it lacks the ability to regulate the temperature of the CPU, since they share voltage due to the latter. This is a bit controversial in certain models of motherboards, since for both connectors many BIOSes allow temperature regulation in ranges, especially in the high ranges. So it is used to connect AIO fans or radiators that use two fans instead of one.

CHA_FAN or CPU_SYS

cha-fan fan connector

These are connectors that are used to connect the rest of the fans distributed throughout the box, and, therefore, they are used to connect the top, rear or front fans. In the beginning they could only be regulated by voltage, but today they have evolved to the capabilities of the CPU_FAN connectors, but lacking the temperature control system. Because we are going to be able to place several fans on our PC, we will find several of them on any motherboard.

H_AMP

To finish with the connectors for fans, we have the H_AMP, which is designed to power high-power fans, since it can triple the energy of a normal connector. The problem it brought is that it didn’t get along with the standard PC rehobuses, a peripheral that was used to control the speed of the different fans in the PC.

Dedicated ports for water pumps

W_PUMP radiator fan connector

If you have a liquid cooling system, you should know that it requires a water pump to circulate the coolant in a closed circuit. Not all motherboards are designed to place a cooling of this type, so you should see if these are detailed in their technical characteristics.

AIO_PUMP

As its name suggests, this is where you should connect the AIO water block pump. In the event that we use an air cooling system, we can connect it to a common fan. Actually, it does not differ much from the fan connectors, however, with a crucial difference and that is that many motherboards include a system that allows the revolutions to be lowered to a minimum to prevent the pump from stopping and with it the temperature from rising. Depending on the plate model we have, from the BIOS we can adjust a curve or, on the other hand, to configure the voltage jumps by RPM.

W_PUMP

The most advanced and high-end motherboards usually have this connector, which can give the water pump more power. However, care must be taken when using this connector, since it can triple the power and energy supplied, so a reading error and we can burn the fan on duty. The reason for this is that it is designed for high performance pumps for custom liquid cooling.

So if what you are looking for is to build a computer with an extreme cooling system that goes beyond the capabilities that the classic AIO radiator allows you, then this is the option that you should choose, since its greater power will allow you to make use of a more powerful water pump and sustain high clock speeds for a longer amount of time.