How to Connect RGB Fans to Motherboard: A Step by Step Guide

I’d totally understand if you feel nervous about connecting cables to sensitive hardware. Motherboards are the main bridges to all the components in your PC. It’s normal to feel cautious about it. But to be honest, you don’t need to be a hardware expert to connect RGB fans to your motherboard.

You just need a bit of knowledge. Rest assured, by the end of this write-up; you’ll be well equipped with the know-how of the whole thing. You won’t have any questions regarding how to connect RGB fans to a motherboard hopefully.

All you have to do is, follow the instructions and guidelines step by step. No point in waiting. Let’s begin!

Types of RGB Fan Connection

RGB fans can be of various types. Some come with the case, and there are some you have to get separately. However, there are three types of RGB fans in total that can be connected to a motherboard.

RGB fans with 3-pin connectors

RGB Fans with 3-Pin Connectors

These types of fans are commonly referred to as DC fans. These RGB fans are generally controlled by voltage. I wouldn’t bluntly say that they’re lower in the quality margin. However, they are simpler and cheaper in price. Take note; DC fans generally create more noise.

Connecting these fans are possible only when you have three cables in the connector. What I’m trying to get at is, a 3-pin RGB fan connector is smaller than a regular 4-pin fan connector. You’ll find three square-shaped holes on the front and three wires attached on the back.

The three pins have their own purposes. The black for ground, the red one is for power, and the yellow one is there for speed sensory purposes.

RGB fans with 4-pin connectors

RGB Fans With 4-Pin Connectors

These fans are commonly known as PWM or Pulse Width Modulation fans. This particular type has a higher RPM. In turn, they prove to be powerful performers when compared to DC fans. PWM fans like the Corsair LL Series LL120 RGB, don’t make much noise and don’t compromise in performance.

This type of fan will only be applicable for connection if you have specifically four cables in the connector. That’s why they’re called “4-pin RGB fans” to begin with. And no, you can’t put them in 3-pin connectors.

The connector has four holes of square shape on the front side and four wires in the back. Keep in mind, 4-pin fans can be connected to three-pin headers on your motherboard. It should still run at full speed. So, no worries there.

RGB fans that connect without MOBO headers

RGB fans that connect without MOBO headers

The first two types won’t require any other special type of tool or accessory. But if your motherboard doesn’t have headers for your RGB fans, then you’ll need some external stuff.

To make it happen, you’ll need all the proper tools in place. By tools, I’m specifically talking about an RGB fan controller. This should come with a 4-pin dual connector and a dedicated power cable.

Connection Procedure: RGB Fans with 3-Pin Connectors

  1. Disconnect all the cables that are connected to the case. Open the case side panels or any other enclosures necessary. This depends on the position you want to place the fans in.
  2. Read the manual. The instructions provided are meant to help you. There might be some additional info that you weren’t aware of, no matter how experienced you are.
  3. The slots or ports are usually pre-labeled. Look for the RGB mark; it should be written or indicated beforehand.
  4. Ready the RGB fans and the mounts that came with it. Now, you have to connect the RGB fan with two guides. Execute the connection with the fan headers of the Motherboard.
  5. Press it tightly, so it connects well (Don’t overdo it).
  6. Now, place the RGB fans in the case properly and mount them. Be it on the top, rear, or front, make sure to pack them properly.

Connection Procedure:RGB Fans With 4-Pin Connectors

  1. Separate the PC case just like the previous instruction set.
  2. Again, read the manual even if you’re an expert.
  3. Find the RGB mark. The manufacturers usually label the ports beforehand.
  4. Insert the fan connectors of the RGB fans to the fan header of the motherboard.
  5. Press tightly to ensure proper connection.

After placing the RGB fans in the case, make sure you close the case. The whole deal is pretty similar to the 3-pin RGB fans.

Connection Procedure: RGB Fans to a Motherboard Without Headers

  1. Open up the case.
  2. Get the 4-pin dual connector. You can’t do this without its help.
  3. Now, you have to connect the 4-pin dual connector to the RGB fan’s own pin slot cable.
  4. Insert the rest of the ends to the RGB fan’s controller. This is the way to connect the slot cable.
  5. On the other side of the controller, there’s a slot for power (Small) that’s meant to be connected to the power cable.
  6. Finally, connect the power cable’s other end to the power supply’s SATA cable. This is how the power for the RGB fans is generated.

Now, it’s time to place the fans inside the case to their rightful positions. After that, close the case, and you’re done.

Avoiding Mistakes and Preparing Well

Before you get started, let’s talk a bit about the preparations. I mean, there are a bunch of things you should know and do before you do your setup. Hold your horses and read the points one by one.

  • Secure the Fans

RGB fans can prove to be a bit fragile. Working with them might be a bit tricky. So, before you think about doing anything, place them in a secure surface area.

  • Avoid High Temperatures

RGB fans should never be kept near places with high temperatures. I’m talking about heaters or similar heat-generating machines. You wouldn’t want to cause damage to the plastic components.

  • No Liquids

Since we’re dealing with electrical devices, keep all sorts of liquids away. If you’re using an AIO, it’d still be a good idea to play safe.

  • Keep it Clean

It’s best to stay clean. Before installing any component in your PC, it’s wise to clean it up. A dirt-free PC case can actually be helpful.

  • Exterior mounting is a big NO!

Some users even consider mounting their fans outside the case. DON’T do that. It simply defeats the purpose of proper airflow.

  • Beware of the Impeller

Keep the RGB fans at a safe distance from the impeller. Trust me, you won’t want anything bad to happen.

  • Accurate Wiring

Keep the wiring precise. Experimenting is good, but not always. The right wire needs to go to the right place, otherwise, the whole thing won’t have a point.

  • Avoid Being Electrocuted

Keep the system’s power off until you’re done with the installation of the fans. A shocking experience isn’t always nice.


Are DC RGB fans worth it?

A: Yes, they are. If you’re ok with the subtle noise, they’re the best budget options. However, PWM fans are superior in every other sense.

Can I plug 3-pin fans into 4-pin slots?

A: Yes, you can. They should run just fine.

How do I know if my motherboard supports RGB fans?

A: The best way to figure that out is through the packaging. Usually, the manufacturers mark the box with their specific lighting system logo. But still, you can check the manual to be sure.

A Few Final Words

Be it with fans like the upHere Long Life 120mm or 4-pin PWM performers like the NZXT AER RGB 2, you’ll need to know how to install them properly. They won’t do much if they keep attached to your case without properly connecting to your motherboard.

I hope this article helped you in understanding how to connect RGB fans to a motherboard. I know you feel like it’s some DIY time! Go ahead, remember my tips and have fun!

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