Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Magnetic Modular Fans are the cable management solution you’ve been waiting for. Less spaghetti, more airflow.
  • Modern PCs demand more fans than ever before, but a magnetic connection system simplifies the process and reduces clutter in your case.
  • Other brands should consider adopting a magnetic connection system for their fans.


Case fans are one of the biggest headaches when it comes to cable management. Even if you daisy-chain them together, each fan still needs its own cable. At least, they did until now. MSI has created a unique and interesting magnetic connection system, that might remove cables from yet another computer component.


Fans Are a Cable Nightmare

Every fan needs power, and unless you’re on an extreme budget, some way to control their speed. In modern systems, this is usually handled by a 4-pin PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) connector. These in turn have to be connected to a motherboard header, or more likely in high-end systems, a dedicated fan controller. With each fan contributing its own cable, things quickly turn into spaghetti. Even if you have fans that allow daisy-chaining, there’s still a heap of cables around to deal with, and unless you’re not fussed about cable management, you’ll be pulling your hair out before long.


Modern PCs Have Way More Fans Now

A gaming PC with Kingston memory, RGB fans, lights, MSI CPU cooler, and GeForce RTX GPU.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

It also doesn’t help that computers have gone fan-crazy over the years. It’s not uncommon for a case to have a triple stack of fans at the front, and another triple stack in the back, with perhaps a few more thrown in at the top and bottom. This is why more and more enthusiast cases are coming with built-in fan controllers, since motherboards certainly aren’t suddenly festooned with fan headers.

The thing is, lots of modern PCs need this many fans. Either because they’re eating through hundreds of Watts and need to shift that heat, or the desire for less fan noise, or both. So this certainly smells like a problem worth solving.


Enter Cable-Free Magnetic Modular Fans

This is where MSI comes into the picture with their MPG EZ120 ARGB. These fans use a magnetic coupling system that transfers both power and data from one fan to the next. There are two different blocks for each fan, one to carry power and speed control signals, and another to carry RGB sync data.

MSI's magnetic fan connector blocks.
MSI

There is obviously one cable connecting the first fan in the chain to the motherboard or fan controller hub, but from there you can just stack them together like building blocks.

MSI EZ120 fan diagram.
MSI


You also have the option of connecting fans together with a special daisy-chain cable, so you can connect fans on opposite sides of the case together using the same fan header. Since many cases now have a special space to route cables under the motherboard tray, you can really use these fans to clear out a huge chunk of cables from your build.

MSI daisy-chain diagram.
MSI

In order to get the most out of these fans, you’ll want MSI’s fan hub, which supports up to 18 of these EZ120 fans, providing enough power to run them all.

MSI daisy-chain diagram.
MSI

Even with reliance on a hub, you’ll still have a major reduction in cabling. You should be able to go from the hub, to a stack of fans, then daisy-chain to the other side of the case and hook up another stack. Technically this will be a single continuous line by my estimation, and that’s just cool.


More Brands Should Get In on This

I’m really impressed by this idea, and I think more companies should (and probably will) follow MSI’s lead when it comes to this concept. Of course, right now it’s a proprietary solution, but it would be nice to have a shared standard for magnetically-stacked fans. The use of magnets in computers has grown over the years, and I love magnetic panels and covers on gadgets.

It’s a little funny, because for decades the idea of bringing any sort of powerful magnet near a computer was forbidden. However, now that we don’t use floppy disks or drives and components that are as sensitive to magnetism, it makes cool ideas like these possible.



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By John P.

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