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Aquaero USB 4.0 controller review

This device lets you control fans in reference with temperatures in control points, as well as it can be used to create supervision and control complex for watercooling systems (WCS), that can eve shut down PC in case of a system crash

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Fan control

First, I′d like to note that it is impossible to set the fan control in reference with CPU, GPU, etc. temperatures; Aquaero can′t work with external data, however, there is need for it — data collected form the sensor located outside the rad output will be use for control.

Working with this device showed that for better tune-up, sensors tab should be fully set first:

Aquasuite: Sensor settings

The ability to change sensor names results in more comfortable device usage — sensor confusion can be avoided. Almost all parameters concerning fan control are located in sensor settings tab.

Different settings are used when later different control mode is chosen.

Temperature limits determine the fan speed range. The minimum temperature refers to minimum fan speed. The maximum temperature refers to maximum fan speed.

Additional settings allow you to set WC system inertia and fan speed change step. The last isn′t available for other two modes. In case of other two modes, fan control is determined by the temperature range which can be set by limits.

By changing the hysteresis value the controller can subtract environment temperature fluctuation from the temperature data used for fan controlling.

“Max Limit” — control range upper limit in °С. In other words, the maximum temperature value of the heat carrier.

“Reference Value” — temperature value in °С, which needs to be kept.

“Min limit” — temperature value in °С referred to control range lower limit. This temperature corresponds to minimum fan speed.

“Hysteresis” — environment temperature fluctuation in °С. For “Adjust to progressive” and “Adjust to linearly” control modes it makes “Min limit” value range wider by the value specified For “Adjust to temperature” control mode it makes “Reference Value” value range wider. Value range is 0 to 25 with a 0.5 step.

“Controller delay in sec.” — time, in seconds, used to determine how fast controller reacts to sensor readings change.

“Controller factor” — the higher the value the faster controller changes fan speed. The lower the value — the more smooth fan speed change is.

“Alarm threshold” — temperature value considered as critical for the whole system.

Next tab, “assign to fans”, allows to assign fans to a selected sensor:

Aquasuite: fan selection

“Sensor calibration” tab gives you tools to adjust sensor readings.

Aquasuite: sensor calibration

Two values are available for adjustment — “Sensor offset” and “Sensor factor”.

Derived temperature sensor readings are calculated using the following formula:

t°C = 237 + Offset — (44.15 — Factor) × (sensor data)

Parameter calibration change leads to derived temperature value change. To make things clearer there is calibration result graph.

Calibration features in this tab can make sensor readings very accurate. But the problem is that this calibration can be done only in special conditions when comparing calibrated sensor readings to reference sensor readings. That is why for most users these calibration features will seem useless. Besides, controller uses integrated table values to convert measured thermistors resistance into temperature values — not accurate enough. But if you use temp sensor with specification other than TTF-103 then you can compare readings of a native temp sensor with readings of “foreign” one easily.

In the last tab, “Trace settings”, you can see temperature change graph:

Aquasuite: sensor history data

By right clicking in the graph area it (graph) can be saved as a picture. It is worthy of note that graph is automatically scales within the value range.

This completes the sensor settings overview. Let get on to fan settings on the appropriate tab. For easy navigation one can assign own names in the appropriate fields to a desired fan:

Aquasuite: fan settings

Aquaero provides two preset algorithms of automatic fan speed control, one of them is dedicated to keeping the temperature at a specified level and setting fans′ fixed speed:

  • While changing the fan speed, controller in “Adjust to temperature” mode tends to keep temperature level at specified value, “Reference Value”, in temp sensor setting. Control algorithm uses following sensor settings: “Reference Value”, “Min limit”, “Max limit”, “Hysteresis”, “Controller delay in sec.” and “Controller factor”.
  • “Adjust to linearly” — preset algorithm, when speed of the fans changes proportionally to temperature readings. “Min Limit” value is referred to fan start speed, while “Max Limit” is referred to maximum fan speed. Sensor settings in use: “Min limit”, “Max limit” and “Hysteresis”.
  • “Adjust to progressively” — another preset algorithm. This is different from “Adjust to linearly” mode because fan RPM changes smoothly and only when very close to temperature “Max Limit” value, controller changes fan speed rapidly. Sensor settings in use: “Min limit”, “Max limit” and “Hysteresis”.
  • You can set fixed fan speed in RPMs or in percents from maximum available speed. You can determine current fan speed by clicking the “test” button.

Pulse count setup is useful for device polling in case you have 2 flow sensors connected — the second one is connected instead of the fourth fan channel, or when a fan with atypical speed control design is connected.

After studying all fan control settings we now can see how well it works.

Testing configuration:

  • Core i7 920@4200MHz HT=ON Vcore=1.31V, Uncore@3200MHz CPU_VTT=1.31V, VDroop=Disabled
  • DFI LANParty UT X58-T3eH8
  • 3x2Gb G.Skill F3-16000CL9-2GBTDDDR3@1600MHz 7-7-7-19 Vdimm=1.60V
  • Asus EAH4770@1000MHz/1000MHz
  • WCS: Laing DDC 3.25 + XSPC Top Res -> In-line temp sensor -> XSPC RX360 + 3 × GenthleTyphoon AP-15 (in pull mode) ->In-line temp sensor -> Flow senor -> Enzotech Sapphire (CPU waterblock) -> Swiftech MCW30 (NB waterblock)-> Watercool SW-16 (Digital VRM cooling) -> MCW60 (GPU waterblock)
  • Maximum fan speed is 1850RPM

I used the following method to determine the temperature level of my system:

  • I manually set the fans at full speed and used OCCT — Power Supply stress test for 30 min. This test loads both CPU and GPU and heats all the system in general
  • With fans speed set to 800RPM I collected temperature data while running Office-like software
  • The air temperature in the room was 22.7°C ±0.5°C

During tests I’ve collected the following data:

Fan Speed [PRM]Fan Speed [%]Heat carrier temperature, idle [°C]Heat carrier temperature, load [°C]
8004628.5
175010031.7

“Adjust to temperature”

After setup wizard started, the specified mode was selected and its settings were chosen as recommended ones. Heat carrier temperature sensor located before the rad input in the WC loop was selected as responsible for fan controlling.

Adjust to temperature — recommended settings

Algorithm work result of system at idle:

Adjust to temperature — control of system at idle

It was controller′s job to keep temperature at 35°C. Fans started rotating from time to time, therefore, their work graph is pulse like. There is nothing worse than changing noise level for silence followers. To make things better you can turn on the “Hold Minimum Power” function (set the minimum fan speed). Temp control range, Δ20°C, is too big for fans to operate at recommended settings, so they (fans) ran at full speed. CPU temperature was very close to critical. I considered these settings to be dangerous for further testing. This mode is perfect for office-like applications, however, one should be very careful when choosing “recommended” settings. I tried to make the system as quite as possible while working with Office-like software and as powerful as possible at full load by changing “recommended” settings — maintained temperature level was set to 28°C, the upper limit decreased to 32°C, hysteresis value changed from ±2.5 to ±0.5°C:

Adjust to temperature — my settings

Algorithm work result:

Adjust to temperature — my settings

While idle (without OCCT — Linpack load) I was satisfied with algorithm results, however, as the temperature level raised the fan noise level changed randomly. After heat carrier′s temperature decreased to the level it had before the load, the fans continued spinning for approximately 45 minutes at almost full speed. Maybe it was not enough time for the controller to get acquainted with my system, but from all that I saw I can say that “Adjust to temperature” mode is of little avail in system which has a small heat carrier′s temperature change range.

“Adjust to progressively”

Once again we start the setup wizard and agree with the recommended settings. Now they seem to be safer for my system:

Adjust to progressively — recommended settings

Now I could easily test fan control by not only using office-like software but also by running a 30 minute stress test:

Adjust to progressively — recommended settings

That is an excellent control mode, suitable both for office-like and more resource-intensive software. I thought it was not enough to run fans at 70% of speed at full system load. So I changed the minimum and maximum temperature levels in sensor settings, making them look close to the ones I had in preliminary WCS parameter test. The minimum fan operating level moved from 35% (recommended) to 30%. Here are my modified settings:

adjust to progressively — my settings

Result:

adjust to progressively — my settings

When using office-like software fans were spinning at about 850 RPM, thereby, keeping the heat carrier temperature at 28.5°С. As its temperature rose to 31.5°С the fans speed increased to 1550RPM thus stopped the temperature growth. This fan control mode has no problem in keeping the system silent in idle and effective cooling at full load.

“Adjust to linearly”

Choose the third mode in setup wizard and agree with the recommended setting provided by a setup wizard.

Adjust to linearly — recommended setting

Adjust to linearly — recommended setting

This fan control mode is very similar to “Adjust to progressively”, but there is a slight difference in fan speed and temperature levels. And it is hard to figure out what that difference really is.
Now it is time to sum everything up concerning fan controlling. “Adjust to temperature” mode will be suitable in systems with a wide heat carrier temperature range i.e. from idle temps to ones at full load. The ability to change inertia value in this mode allows the fan control to be suitable in the best way possible in case sensors are located not in the WC loop but directly on the cooling target. “Adjust to linearly” and “Adjust to progressively” modes let the fan control to be set flexibly in reference to temp sensors that follows-up the heat carrier′s temperature level. All modes need correct Hysteresis setup to avoid additional readjustment in case of environment temperature change. The fastest way to determine the settings — preliminary WCS test providing temperature readings range limits. In my case the following settings were selected:

My fan settings

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