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XPS 8930, GPU and CPU Liquid Cooler, PSU, Case Swap, Upgrade

Computer:  Dell XPS 8930

CPU:  i7 8700

CPU Cooler:  UPGRADE: Corsair H60 (2018 Model) Hydro Series AIO Liquid CPU Cooler

Graphic card manufacturer / model number:  UPGRADE: Liquid cooled MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK X 8GB 256-Bit  GDDR5X  PCI Express 3.0 x16  ATX Video Card  

Bios:  1.0.12

Operating System:  Windows 10 Home  v.1803

Power supply:  UPGRADE: Seasonic Focus Plus Gold, SSR-850FX, 850W Compact  Modular Power Supply

Monitor:  Samsung S34E790C - 34-Inch Curved WQHD (3440 x 1440) LED Monitor using Displayport.   

Edit: 06/06/19

Case fan upgrades here
PSU upgrades here
Non-Dell GPU upgrades here

Phanteks case swap summary here
Case swap rather than case mod for more cooling options here and here and here
Motherboard connections for case swap here
Full liquid cooling with waterblock here



Tests slim 15mm fans with HWInfo.

Idle CPU Temps 32C. 
Idle fan speeds intake 450-500 RPM
CPU FAN and TOP FAN = motherboard headers 

***Prime 95 v2.66 CPU Torture Test, Small FFT, 12 cycles.  60 minutes:    

CPU temps 66-70C.  Max temp 75C (boost)
Clock speeds 3492 mHz (~10% overclock @ 65W TDP), max 4490 mHz
Voltage stable at 1.022, max was 1.3

Upper Intake Fan (CPU FAN) CPU cooler max RPM 1078
Lower Intake fan (TOP FAN) GPU cooler max RPM 1019
Upper exhaust fan fixed 1500 RPM. 

Prime 95. initial boost of CPU 100% load at 4490 mHz at 110 W / 1.3v.  Then tests at stable ~10% overclock 3492-3589 mHz at ~65W at 1.022 volts, temps 66-70C.

***3d Mark Fire Strike Test for system 1080P, ~ 7min.:

CPU Temps: Max 75C
Clock speeds max 4388 mHz
Voltage max was 1.31

Upper Intake Fan (CPU FAN) CPU cooler max RPM 906
Lower Intake fan (TOP FAN) GPU cooler max RPM 869 
Upper exhaust fan fixed 1500 RPM. 

GPU Temps: Max 79C
GPU Fan speed, 1100 RPM idle, max RPM 2822
GPU Clock max 1961 mHz

So far, CPU temps okay.  But GPU temps high, will check bezel airflow.....

***3d Mark Fire Strike Test 1080P, ~ 7min
(front bezel off to test airflow restriction)

CPU Temps: Max 72
Clock speeds max 4388 mHz.
Voltage max 1.31

Upper Intake Fan (CPU FAN) CPU cooler max RPM 853
Lower Intake fan (TOP FAN) GPU cooler max RPM 1183
Upper exhaust fan fixed 1500 RPM. 

GPU Temps: Max 72C
GPU Fan speed, 1100 RPM idle, max RPM 2611
GPU Clock max at 1965  mHz

Changes with front bezel off:

CPU temps dropped by 3C 
GPU temps dropped by 8-10C 

CPU temps acceptable through bezel.  GPU airflow through bezel needs tweaking!

The install:


Tasks for upgrade in new XPS 8930: 
1) Install Corsair H60 (2018 Model) Hydro Series AIO Liquid CPU Cooler 
2) Install lower front intake fan/radiator with liquid cooled MSI Sea Hawk GTX 1080 HYBRID GPU
3) Upgrade PSU to Seasonic Focus Plus Gold, 850W Compact Power Supply

I need to accomplish this keeping in mind the following:
-Run the Corsair CPU cooler pump at constant 100% speed
-Requires fans connected to both 4 pin fan headers (CPU FAN) and (TOP FAN) to avoid startup error.  

Installing Corsair Liquid CPU Cooler:
New 2018 Corsair Hydro Series H60 has 157 x 120 x 27mm radiator and SP120 PWM fan.  Pump has rotating barbs for hose placement to avoid the swinging PSU.  Pump connects to a PSU SATA cable for 100% power and the radiator PWM fan to the CPU FAN motherboard 4 pin header.  Optional tach cable to monitor pump speed and provide a signal to the fan header to prevent startup errors.  Fan specs: SP120 PWM, 1700 RPM, 28.3 dBA, 57.2CFM.

Slim fan for tight location: Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM, 1850 RPM  23.9 dBA  55.44 CFM / 1400 RPM 16.8 dBA  41.67 CFM

The 3 pin version is a good option at fixed speed to noise tolerance for constant airflow.

Review below posted 60C temps with i7 8700K CPU  30 min stress test at stock clocks.



Nice installation guide here:

The XPS 8930 chassis is similar to the Alienware R5/R6/R7, but the Alienware allows for CPU liquid cooling by having an opening to mount the fan/radiator through the top of the chassis, an installation bracket, and a top cover to house the unit.   

With no such space in the XPS 8930, I saw two possible locations a liquid cooler could be installed:  Upper exhaust and front intake.

1) Tried the upper exhaust position first without success with the radiator in the top exhaust fan location. The problem is that the rigid hose fittings protrude into the case 20mm.  The PSU bracket is not able to close. 

I also tried the radiator upside down with the hoses above the motherboard.  But with the radiator lined up with the top exhaust opening, a CPU power connector, capacitor and fan header block the area at the hose fittings. 

2) Next the front upper intake position at the hard drive location. With intake cooling, cool air enters the radiator but warm air exits into the case.  Should not be a problem if CPU temps are ok.

I found that the radiator can install with hoses up or down.  With the radiator upside down, the hoses can spread on either side of the motherboard ATX connector.  

Picture bottom install location:

PSU B3.jpg

Flipping the radiator upright, the swinging PSU bracket negates any liquid cooling in that location with the hoses up as the bracket cross bar crushes the hoses when lowered. 

Radiator up.jpg

However, I found that by removing the cross bar off the bracket and a small corner off the bracket support leg it would work.    

So I chose having the hoses up as the installation path.

1)  Flatten the wire holders in that location.


2)  Remove the two support legs and the swinging PSU bracket by removing screws at the leg supports and a few at the rear. 

3) Used dremel reinforced cutting wheel to do about 5 minutes worth of cutting, then deburring the cut edges.

Picture dremel cuts. (Additional recommended cut to use 25mm fan here)



4)  Then placed the radiator up with the hoses at the front of the chassis. The bottom of the radiator fits between the two screws that hold down the supports of the PSU bracket.

5) Attach the 15mm fan with the model label showing for pull orientation and use 4 - 1” or 1 ¼” 6-32 machine screws to attach the radiator.  NOTE:  The 6-32 screws used for the radiator have a different thread than the 6-32 hex head screws being used in the case.  Big box stores have these screws.

Pic of screws



6)  Carefully mark the location of the holes in the radiator and drill four holes to mount the radiator to the front of the chassis. 

How I did this was place the radiator, then use tape on the front of the chassis to mark the sides of the radiator position.

Then put another piece of blue tape across the front of the radiator at the middle of the top holes. 



With the radiator in position inside the chassis and the sides lined up with the tape, look through the rear grill at the blue tape and mark the height of that tape on the front chassis.  Marks represent the height of the radiator holes. 

Mark the height of the holes with another piece of tape across the front of the chassis.


You now have the height of the top holes.


7) Place a fan on the chassis between the two pieces of tape at the sides and line the two top holes with the radiator mark.  Mark all four holes .  Again tape off the case well to make sure you don’t get metal filings anywhere. 

Mount the radiator with fan to the chassis using ¾” 6-32 machine screws.  


9) Installing the pump head:


Clean CPU with alcohol.  You see the 4 mounting holes here


Using th 4 double sided pins, put the lower pins into the mounting holes.  No modifications needed, the unit is set up for the Dell motherboard LGA1151 CPU socket.  Mount the cooler pump by placing the corner attachment brackets on the upper pins and tighten the thumb screws.  You can’t overtighten these, they just won’t turn any further when tight. 


10) Connect radiator fan to the 4 pin CPU FAN header. 

11) Attach pump SATA power to the PSU. 

12) With no cross bracket on the PSU swinging bracket, there is room for the pump hoses to flex under the PSU.  There is a smooth rounded edge where the bracket contacts the hoses when closed.  As an additional precaution install braid wrap on the upper part of the hose for protection at that point.


Picture again from top, note no bar on the PSU bracket and the edge of the lower part of the PSU bracket that will contact the hoses when down.



Installing MSI GTX 1080 Hybrid GPU:  The 151mm high radiator is installed in a sideways position with the hoses in front.  The GPU is 10.5” long leaving little room for both fan and radiator at the lower intake position.

With little space to put a fan on the radiator inside the case, the slim 15mm fan was mounted in front of the chassis and under the front bezel.  The front bezel is over 20 mm deep so the fan is able to still pull air from the bezel front side vents.

Picture front bezel


1) The only problem encountered was a large raised hole in the middle of the front of the chassis which interfered with fan placement.  Keep turning the fan to the position centered to the radiator where the fan frame doesn't hit that large bump. 

2)  Check that the side of the radiator is clear of the swinging arm of the PSU bracket.   Important!.

3)  Drill 4 holes, attach the fan to radiator using 4- 1 ¼” 6-32 machine screws. 


I also used a10mm foam compressible Phoyba radiator gasket on the radiator due to the 1" wide flange at the rear of the front chassis.


It supports the Alienware R5/6/7 front intake fan bracket that snaps in at this location.  That piece of metal prevents the radiator from sitting flush.  The gasket took up that space.  It has adhesive on one side to attach to the radiator.  


Note: In the picture of the front bezel a large plastic hollow pin sticks up that would hit the fan in that location.  Trim with the dremel cutting wheel.


Picture front install, note no bar on the PSU swinging bracket.



4) Connect the slim fan on the AIO radiator to the 4 pin header (TOP FAN).   (Noctua NF-A12x15 FLX  1850 RPM  23.9 dBA  55.44 CFM / 1400 RPM 16.8 dBA  41.67 CFM)


Protect the radiator fins with a piece of cardboard taking the GPU in/out.  They are bent easily by the corner of the GPU.


Edit 9/18/18  GPU temps resolved here: (must read prior to installing, grillwork is removed)

Edit 02/23/19  Recommended cuts to use 25mm fan on CPU radiator here and here

Edit 03/15/19  Fixed speed radiator fan CPU temps 55°C range here


**This thread edited for accuracy, add'l pics and current information.



Replies (290)

No pictures showing.

Dell XPS 8920 silver edition
7th gen i7 Intel CPU
Samsung 850 evo SSD for boot
Added front fan
16gb of memory
AMD video/graphic card
I buy a new Dell every 4 years for the last 25 years

Upgrade PSU:  Installed a Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 850w Modular Compact PSU.   Power supply is standard ATX 5.9” x 3.4” PSU but is 5.5” long, and the same size as the OEM PSU.  It is an ATX PSU but it is ¾” to 1.5” shorter than a typical PSU.  PSU has gotten several favorable reviews and offers great bang for the buck.  Easy install by removing and reinstalling four screws .  I followed the tip of buying a mini-SATA power for the DVD optical drive ahead of time.  Thank you! 

I did notice that with all the sleeves covering the cables, they take up a lot of room and actually reduce airflow through the case vs bare oem cables. 

This PSU comes with 2 CPU (8/4pin) connectors so can be used on Alienware R7/R8/R9 machines as well to power the CPU and GPU headers on that motherboard.

Seasonic PSU:


Mini-SATA cable required for optical drive with PSU upgrade:



Picture PSU for size comparison


The EVGA Supernova G3 80 Plus Gold Compact PSU is also compact.  It is about 3/8" longer than the Seasonic. 


The Corsair RMX Series RM850X 850W 80 PLUS Gold Certified Fully Modular PSU also works fine and the modular cables are a mix of braided round and flat cables.   It is 3/4" longer than the other compact PSU units at 6.25" vs 5.5" long.  Unit has a mix of round braided and flat modular cables.  Quiet model with great reviews and is usually available locally.


The size of the PSU is important in this case for airflow and cable management.  Both the Seasonic and EVGA are quality compact units. 

-When installing, there is a pinch point on the chassis when you are lifting the PSU bracket here:


There is a curved flange on the swinging bracket that protrudes enough to catch the sheet metal at this location.  Can bend the sheet metal there.  If you feel like the PSU bracket is stuck when raising it, it is hung up there.   Always lift the bracket from under the power supply at the rear of the case, there is a fingerhold there.

-There are just 4 screws holding the PSU into the bracket.  Take pictures of the connectors if you are unsure, but there are only 2 PSU connections to the motherboard  which are shown here.  The 24 pin ATX connector on the upper right and the 4 pin CPU power connector on the upper left.  The only other SATA power connectors are to one to the hard drive and to the optical drive.  I would be careful when removing the SATA power connector to the optical drive as the connector is very flimsy and easily broken.

-The 4 pin CPU power cable is typically a 8 pin cable out of the box.  It is usually called a EPS/ATX12V 8 pin (4+4) connector.  You need to split the connector in half to two 4 pin connectors. Just pull them apart from each other. Connect one 4 pin connector to the CPU power connector in the upper left hand corner and fold the other one out of the way unconnected.  This one will get you confused.........till you see that it splits in half.

-Remember there is a power button on the new PSU.  So if you plug the unit in and get no power, flip the switch y'all.

-If you have the SE edition with the turbo CPU cooler and heat sink, you will have to remove it to get to the fan headers.   The CPU 4 pin power cable is also under that CPU cooler as well.  See Dell630i post to see how he did this.  Nice cable management there as well.

-If you have to remove and replace the SE edition cooler, this is an easy way to re-apply the thermal paste.

**06/06/19 Edited with pics, updates

About 30 pictures not showing above unless I am missing something...……...

Dell XPS 8920 silver edition
7th gen i7 Intel CPU
Samsung 850 evo SSD for boot
Added front fan
16gb of memory
AMD video/graphic card
I buy a new Dell every 4 years for the last 25 years

@546insp wrote:

About 30 pictures not showing above unless I am missing something...……...

Pics (all go to moderation queue) ... don't normally get approved on weekends.

Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
7 Thorium

Good work.

Especially since in the other XPS threads, the modders kept saying that the newer XPS cases could not handle a Liquid-Cooler because there was no-where to install the radiator.

What even funnier is you not only installed one  :Yes: 
but two actually. :Cool:


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.

I made some changes tonite based on my testing last night.

Upper Front Intake CPU Liquid Cooler: 

CPU temps with the Corsair H60 CPU cooler installed have been fine. 

Just out of curiosity I wanted to see how much it would change temps by adding a fan to the radiator in push/pull configuration.

I added a slim PWM fan in front of the chassis to a push position on the CPU cooler.  I used a Y cable connected to the CPU FAN header along with the other fan in the configuration.  Both fans spin at same RPM.




Ran 3D Mark Fire Strike with this combination of fans and got an improvement of -3C with change to two push/pull fans

After adding the additional fan on the Corsair cooler, I don't think it's necessary. The temps with the single fan on the Corsair CPU cooler are fine.



Front Intake GPU Liquid Cooler:  Changed radiator fan to fixed speed

GPU temps were a little high and as the conservative motherboard TOP FAN header fan curve never ran the radiator cooler fan more than ~1000 RPM as overall temps and voltage on the motherboard remained stable even at high CPU load.   That fan is capable of 1850 RPM. I wanted a little more cooling so changed from a PWM fan controlled by the TOP FAN header to a fixed speed fan on the front GPU radiator

I changed to a Noctua 120 FLX 3 pin fan running at fixed 1400 RPM 100% using the LNA that came with the fan.   (Noctua NF-A12x15 FLX 1850 RPM  23.9 dBA  55.44 CFM / 1400 RPM 16.8 dBA  41.67 CFM)


Temps 3D Mark Fire Strike 

Temps dropped -3C with change to a fixed speed fan even with the increase in RPM's from 1000 to 1400 RPM.  GPU temps still higher than I would like....onboard GPU fan really working hard at 2400 RPM to manage temps even with liquid cooling.   Restricted airflow through the front bezel or the metal chassis grill is likely the issue.


@Tesla1856 wrote:

Good work.

Especially since in the other XPS threads, the modders kept saying that the newer XPS cases could not handle a Liquid-Cooler because there was no-where to install the radiator.

What even funnier is you not only installed one  :Yes: 
but two actually. :Cool:


Thanks!  Just took a little thinking outside of the box (haha).  

FYI I looked at some other coolers and I know that on the Alienware side there are some putting in aftermarket coolers.  I did make a list of the slim versions:

Slim AIO Liquid Coolers:

-Corsair Hydro Series H75 Dual Fan 2018 (25mm radiator)      120 x 152 x 25 mm radiator. 
-Corsair Hydro Series H60 2018 (27mm radiator)                      120 x 157 x 27 mm radiator
-Corsair Hydro Series H55 (27mm radiator)                               120 x 152 x 27 mm radiator 
-Coolermaster MasterLiquid Lite 120 (27mm radiator)               119.6 x 157 x 27mm radiator
-Coolermaster MasterLiquid 120 (27mm radiator)                      119.6 x 157 x 27mm radiator
-EVGA CLC 120 CL11 (28mm radiator)                                      122 x 156 x 28 mm radiator
-EVGA CLC 120 RGB (28mm radiator)                                       122 x 156 x 28 mm radiator

The Corsair H75 is the slimmest unit with nice braided tubing. But it has a little less radiator cooling capacity and you will be paying for two fans you won’t be using if installed in the XPS 8930.  You could certainly use the fans in the Alienware and for other locations inside the case of both machines.

The length of the radiator in the Corsair H60 is 157mm.  It is longer than some of the others and a shorter radiator like on the H75 would make the install in the XPS 8930 upper front intake position a little easier.  Not sure if it makes a difference in the bracket on the Alienware R5/R6.

Almost forgot:  EVGA and Corsair have 5 year warranty.  Coolermaster 2 years only.



I also had a little help along the way from some pictures I saw.  

Bigheadgreyshor on this thread had the right idea about where to put the radiator in a Aurora R6 for the GPU cooler and had a good picture as well.





There was LittleBear84 with his mad fan pics....more food for thought as showed every conceivable location for a fan from this thread:



Mad fan.jpgMad fan 2.jpg




Summary of fan upgrades to reduce noise and improve temps:

The stock Dell case by design is a negative pressure case with no intake fans. The single top exhaust fan cools the components by pulling air into the case from any openings in the case: front, back, side and bottom.  Unfortunately there are obstructions in the upper compartment and heated air is also pulled into the case at the back of the machine where the blower type GPU exhausts heated air.  Adding any intake fans help change the case to a balanced pressure state which directs the airflow where you want it across key components and reduces the airflow coming in from the back of the case.  

-The upper exhaust fan is the most important fan in the case.  Exhaust fans are more efficient than intake fans and pulling air out of the case is easier than trying to push air through.   Using fixed speeds on this fan, while balancing the noise levels, is the first step in managing the temps and noise in this case.  

-Adding the lower front intake fan increases airflow to the lower compartment and the GPU.  It also helps to balance case pressures.  This is the second step in managing the temps and noise in this case.

-Adding an upper front intake fan helps get cooler air to the upper compartment and will further decrease CPU, GPU and overall case temps.


Great post by Dell630i with pics showing all three fan location upgrades:

Upper exhaust fan

Upper intake fan

Lower intake fan

XPS 8930 SE Fan upgrades

How to add a lower intake fan for $15.00:

 Alienware Aurora R5/R6/R7 Fan with bracket, available on the big auction site.  Search "Alienware front case fan".   Same fan with bracket installs in the XPS 8910/ 8920/ 8930 models.  Make sure it comes with the bracket, not just the fan itself.

1 OEM Front fan.jpg


Fits in the lower front position of the XPS 8930 chassis without modifications.  Just snaps in. The Aurora R5/R6/R7 have a similar chassis as the XPS 8910/8920/8930 and these intake fans are stock in the Alienware machines.  There is a mounting location on the XPS 8930 not being used.

Dell630i pic shows the bracket installed at the lower front intake position of the chassis.  Easy upgrade.

From Dell630iFrom Dell630i

OEM fan is a 12V 1.02A fan and is 4 pin PWM. (Check your fan to see if is a 1.02A or 1.5A version)

From Dell630i picFrom Dell630i pic

Fan has its own motherboard header on the Alienware models and uses the designed rated amperage limit of a single header.  So if you have the TOP FAN header already used by the stock Dell top exhaust fan, you really shouldn't connect both high amperage Dell fans to a single header.  It may work, but you are testing the rated limits of the header and may cause motherboard failure.  Best to change the fan in this bracket to another quieter, slower turning fan and connect it directly to the PSU. .Shown in the Dell630i pics with the Noctua NF-SA12 FLX fan. 

For power to the upgraded fan, use the 3 x 4 pin SATA fan cable adapter and connect the front intake fan directly to the PSU.  This would be the easiest way to power the fan.  Fan comes with a LNA if you have case temps managed and want to drop the RPM slightly.  

If using that SATA fan cable adapter on the PSU, you can connect both 3 pin and 4 PWM pin fans to its three 16" legs.  All fans connected run at 100% fixed speed. 

Using Y-adapters:
-If using a stock Dell fan and want to add the very low amperage Noctua fan connected to the same fan header on the motherboard, connect them both using a Y adapter to the TOP FAN header. The Dell fan will vary speed due to the PWM function (will likely be noisy at higher RPM under loads) and the other non-PWM Noctua 3 pin fan will run at fixed speed.

-If you upgraded the top fan already,  you can connect both Noctua fans using the Y adapter as well to the TOP FAN headers.  Both are 3 pin fans and will run fixed at full speed. You will see the RPM of one of the fans with any fan monitor software.  Remember you need to have at least one fan on the TOP FAN header to prevent a startup error. 

Why not use the motherboard to control the PWM fan speeds vs fixed speeds?  Connecting two low amperage PWM fans (like Noctua PWN fans) to a fan header using a Y connector would work.   The motherboard would control the fan speeds depending on temps.  This is fine if your CPU temps are managed and your goal at that point is a quiet build.  Otherwise, you would see CPU temp issues under gaming type loads with the stock CPU cooler. This is due to the conservative motherboard fan curves.  Fixed speed fans are better for overall case temp here.  

Pic of Noctua fan upgrade in bracket.

From Dell630iFrom Dell630iThis Noctua NF-SA12 FLX 3 pin fan at fixed 1200 RPM connected to your PSU would be a good fan to put at the front intake location.  The molex adapter, low noise adapters and extension cable are in the package.  Nice balance of airflow/noise for the lower compartment to create airflow.  The PWM version of this fan has the same specs. Again, using the 3 x 4 pin SATA fan cable adapter is the easiest way to connect the fan to the PSU if you don't have a molex cable in your case.  

Ideally if gaming or with intensive CPU load tasks, you would have both the top exhaust fan and lower intake fan changed to the Noctua NF-SA12 FLX fan and run them both fixed at 1200 RPM   You will have constant airflow through the case at acceptable noise levels.

Fixed speed fans in the case, especially in the upper exhaust position, help a lot with overall case temps. The conservative motherboard fan curves allow the heat to build up in the case and leads to a rise in temps that is difficult to overcome.  Be aware that the biggest problem in this case are the CPU temps under gaming and video editing loads and that adding/changing fans is typically not enough to overcome this issue. Liquid cooling the hot i7 8700 CPU should be considered as an option.  

You should also remove any unused hard drive brackets in the lower compartment and also the metal pci tabs at the back of the case.


Upgrade fan summary:.

For one upgraded fan at upper exhaust at fixed speed:

Use fixed speed Noctua S12A FLX 3 pin fan at the top exhaust.  That fan is really important to have airflow at a constant rate with a fan that is reasonably quiet. Connect it to the TOP FAN header to run at 1200 RPM.  You can use the Low Noise Adapter to decrease speed to 900 RPM if your case temps are okay.

If upgrading both upper exhaust and lower intake fans to fixed speeds:

Easiest way is to use the 3 x 4 pin SATA fan cable adapter  to connect the lower intake fan.   This SATA power adapter is a neater way of getting power to fix the RPM of either 3 pin or 4 pin fans than having to add a molex connector cable to your modular PSU limited to connecting only 3 pin fans.

You can also use the TOP FAN header, with both NF-SF12A FLX 3 pin fans fixed using a 4 pin Y adapter.  Both 3 pin fans will run at a fixed speed.  You will see the speed of the fan with any fan speed software.

If you add an upper intake fan to the other two upgraded fans:

If you add another 120mm fixed speed fan at the upper hard disc drive intake position, connect the additional fan to another leg of the 3 x 4 pin SATA fan cable adapter.  Just run both front fans off this adapter.

92mm fan discussed here.  The 120mm fan would still be preferred in that upper intake position.


If upgrading upper exhaust and/or lower intake fans to run at varying speeds using the motherboard PWM function:

Works fine if you have CPU temps under control.  You can upgrade fans to Noctua NF-S12A PWM fans and connect them to the TOP FAN header or use the Y connector that comes with the fans if changing both fans.  Both fans will run at the same speed depending on case temps.   However, fixed speed fans will give you better airflow in this case due to the conservative fan curve of the motherboard headers.  That would be the better option.

If you decide to fix the fan speed of the CPU cooler:

Connect the fixed speed CPU radiator fan to the PSU using to the 3 x 4 pin SATA fan cable adapter.  That will result in an open CPU fan header and a fan startup error, so connect the pump tach cable to the the open motherboard header. You can also.attach the upper front intake fan or lower front intake fan to the header as well.

Ideally with a CPU cooler, you will use the single wire pump tach cable on one of the motherboard headers to monitor pump speed and with a pump failure, you will see a startup error.  


Links to adapters:

CRJ SATA 3 x 4 Pin PWM Power Adapter

Noctua NA-SYC1, 4 Pin Y Cable


Fan headers:  Left is black TOP FAN header, right is white CPU FAN header.  Both are 4 pin PWM.   3 pin fans can be connected to them but they will run at full speeds.

Fan headers.JPG


Final connections with stock CPU cooler and upgrade fans

Upper Exhaust fan:  Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed speed 1200 RPM to TOP FAN header

Upper Intake fan:  Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed speed 1200 RPM to PSU 

Lower intake fan: Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed speed 1200 RPM  to PSU

Pictures of Dell630i fan upgrades, with connections as above.  Top pic is Upper Exhaust fan to TOP FAN header.  Bottom pic shows the 3 to 4 pin SATA Fan Adapter cable being used to connect both the two front intake fans.  Nice cable management as he coiled that cable up next to the PSU.  Good job!


From Dell 630iFrom Dell 630i


Final connections with H60 CPU cooler (using PWM fan on radiator)

Corsair H60 CPU cooler pump power to SATA connector from PSU, 3 pin tach cable to TOP FAN Header

CPU cooler radiator fan:  Corsair OEM SP120 PWM 4 pin fan connected to CPU FAN header on motherboard  

Upper Exhaust fan:  Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed 1200 RPM to PSU

Lower intake fan: Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed 1200 RPM  to PSU


Final connections with H60 CPU cooler (using fixed speed fan on radiator for lower temps)

Corsair H60 CPU cooler pump power to SATA connector from PSU, 3 pin tach cable to CPU FAN Header

CPU cooler radiator fan:  Noctua NF-F12 PWM 4 pin fan with NA-SRC7 LNA at fixed ~1200 RPM to PSU

Upper Exhaust fan:  Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed 1200 RPM to TOP FAN header

Lower intake fan: Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan at fixed 1200 RPM  to PSU


Specific fan notes:

-If you got stuck with a 92mm fan in the upper exhaust position, change to a 120mm fan.  You will need to get a top fan bracket off the big auction site,  The same bracket is used for the XPS 8910/20/30. 

-If you have the SE edition with the turbo CPU cooler and heat sink, you need to remove it to get to the fan headers.   The CPU 4 pin power cable is also under that CPU cooler as well.  Use the Dell630i link at the beginning of the post to see how he did this.  

-There are reports of two OEM Dell fans working on a single header.  It's better to change any high amperage Dell 120mm fans connected to a motherboard fan header if their power draw exceeds the 12V fan header ratings.  The fans would work as the PWM regulated voltage is lower at idle RPM's but as the fan speed increases with temps the fans would draw more power (watts) as more voltage is applied.   

The stock exhaust/intake Dell fans are 12V fans rated 1.5A or 1.02A.  The SE Version CPU cooler turbo fan is 1.4A.  If the headers are rated to use 1.5A fans you can safely use any other fans in combination on these headers up to the 1.5A limit.   For example, the often mentioned Noctua NF-S12A FLX 3 pin fan is a 12V 0.12A fan so it would be fine to use them on a Y adapter to a single header. (0.12A + 0.12A = 0.24 amps)

-Fan hubs allow you to go above rated amperage limits of the motherboard fan heade as the hubs are typically powered by a 12V SATA cable from the PSU.  One port is connected to a 4 pin PWM header on the motherboard and that port passes thru to a designated port on the fan hub.  It then reports the fan speed on that one fan only.  The other 4 pin PWM fans on the fan hub would be controlled by the PWM header but you wouldn't see the speeds of the other fans.  Any 3 pin fans would be fixed speeds running at 100%.  More discussion here

-Noctua NF-S12A PWM (Regular or Chromax) is an all-around fan that can be used as a 4 pin PWM to a fan header or fixed speed fan to the PSU. Note the PWM version has the same specs as the recommended 3 pin fan.

It'a a good fan to use PWM if you have your CPU temps and GPU temps under control and want a quieter system..  As a PWM 4 pin fan spins at 320 RPM at idle. The PWM version comes with a Y splitter as additional accessory.

It can also be run fixed speed using the 3 to 4 pin SATA Fan Power adapter to the PSU.   Fixed speed using a LNA would be the best way to use this fan if you want a quieter system with better airflow.. 

-Noctua NF-F12 PWM Chromax (black) static pressure fan on a radiator is fine for direct connect to the PSU if you fix the speed of this fan on the CPU cooler radiator..  But it will give you a erroneous fan speed reading (8700 RPM) if you connect it to the CPU FAN header on the motherboard to utilize it as a PWM fan.  Likely works fine, but can't monitor the fan speed.  

-The Noctua NA-SRC7 Low Noise Adapter is a 4 pin 50 ohm resistor adapter that reduces fan speeds by 25%.  If you have CPU and case temps under control you can drop any 4 pin fan RPM's to a quieter noise level.  It should work also with 3 pin fans.  The Noctua NA-SRC10 is a 3 pin 50 ohm resistor adapter specifically made for 3 pin fans.

-Newer Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM fans will work on these motherboard headers. Nice all around fan that can be a radiator or case fan.  Great airflow at target dba noise levels.  Are expensive like the ML120-Pro.

-Corsair ML120 Series (non-PRO) fans with the H100i Pro CPU cooler when connected to the CPU fan header on a cold boot will not spin at startup giving a CPU FAN error.  They require more startup voltage than is provided by the CPU fan header when the machine is first booted up.  Error is not present on restart.  They spin at ~315 RPM at idle once running.   ML120-Pro fans are nice fans and will not cause a start-up error.  They are static pressure fans but move a lot of air and make decent case fans.  They will get a little noisy above 1500RPM.

-Arctic fans are a decent bang for the buck fan and do look nicer than Noctua fans.  4 pin PWM,  3 PIN Case Fan,  Silent version. It does come with a fan splitter built in to attach more than one fan to a header.  

-The Noctua slim 15mm fans are great. 4 pin PWM and 3 pin FLX.  Black version 4 pin PWM.  Used in lot of ITX small form factor builds.  They can hold their own vs well regarded 25mm fans.  The Prolimatech slim fan is a quiet fan as well and pushes about the same amount of air through a radiator at target dBA noise levels.  

**01/05/20 Edited with pics, fan connection summaries and fan notes updates

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