Fractal Design Fan Controller Bricked HDD's

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May 20, 2011
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As the title says using the built in fan controller that came with a R5 I recently purchased resulted in both an SSD and HDD being fried. Here's what I sent to their CS that explains what happened:

I purchased a new R5 case about 2 weeks ago. PC install went great, very easy case to work with. A few days after installing the components and after everything had been working perfectly I opened the front panel and adjusted the 3 switch fan controller from high to low. Immediately after toggling the switch the PC lost power and required a reboot. After rebooting none of the two drives that were connected, a ssd and hdd, were showing up in the bios. I tried the 2 drives in a different PC and they were not detected on that PC as well. The drives are fried.

To replicate the issue I installed an old 80GB 2.5'' HDD and loaded up windows on it. Once Windows was running I again toggled the fan controller switch, this time from low to medium. The exact same thing happened, PC lost power immediately and after reboot the drive was no longer detected. The drive was fried exactly the same as the first two. Even without drives installed every time I toggle the switch it kills the power to the PC. I've redone the cabling 3 times now but I always get the same result.

Further testing using old components and a different power supply shows that the problem is with the medium setting (7v). System will power on fine if the switch is set to high(12v) or low(5V) but if the switch is left on the medium setting it will power on for a second and then shut off. Moving the switch from high or low to medium while the system is running also results in power failure. I've tested this with the original Corsair TX 850w power supply as well as an EVGA 600w unit. Both experience the same problem.

My question is how can a simple fan controller, connected by a sata power cable, cause this kind of issue? I have very little knowledge about these kinds of things but I'm guessing its some kind of short coming from the controller? Has anyone heard of something like this happening? Very frustrating to lose two expensive drives to a cheap controller that probably costs less then a buck. Drives lost was a Crucial M4 512GB and a WD 1TB Black, unfortunately both are no longer under warranty, just missed it on the WD Black by 4 months.

*I just heard back from Fractal CS and they are requesting the controller to be sent back for testing. Will update.
 
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Meeho

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Wow, I've just lost a 2TB Samsung drive a couple of hours ago. I've moved my components to an R5 a couple of days ago, but only really used the fan controller since yesterday and switched between 7V and 12V several times. This is either an amazing coincidence or really bad luck.

I will most definitely unplug it before it possibly kills my remaining drives :mad:

Oh, and I started having power on and shutdown problems since I've left it at 7V. Made me think my OC had gone bad. Damn, I hope nothing else was damaged. Should I be ok if all else apears to be functional at the moment?
 
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Wow, I've just lost a 2TB Samsung drive a couple of hours ago. I've moved my components to an R5 a couple of days ago, but only really used the fan controller since yesterday and switched between 7V and 12V several times. This is either an amazing coincidence or really bad luck.

I will most definitely unplug it before it possibly kills my remaining drives :mad:

Oh, and I started having power on and shutdown problems since I've left it at 7V. Made me think my OC had gone bad. Damn, I hope nothing else was damaged. Should I be ok if all else apears to be functional at the moment?

Defiantly unplug that thing, maybe even install it and throw it in the trash! Found this thread from a few years back: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1771794

Seems these controllers use the "7v mod" to achieve the medium 7v setting. I thought Fractal was a more quality company than to use cheap tricks like this. To me this is completely unsafe and it seems my old TX850w couldn't handle it. Maybe Meeho your using a newer or higher quality power supply that could handle it longer then my 5 year old TX.

On the bright side I bought this case to use as a home server with at least 4 2TB drives. Would have sucked to loose all of those, but still, that M4 512GB cost me a small fortune back in the day.
 

Meeho

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I have a new RM750i. I've used the 7V mod for ages in many computers and from the cheapest to best PSUs and I've never had a problem. If it is the fan controller, it must be messed up beyond that, though it definitely shouldn't use that trick to get 7V.
 
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I had a senior tech contact me today and he explained from what testing I had done it is probably some kind of defect on the controller causing a short. They are requesting I send in the fan controller and both drives that failed so that they can test them, if the controller is at fault they will replace both drives. I'm going to box up the controller and SSD and send them out today, but I had too much sensitive data stored on that HDD to be sending it off without wiping it. I'm sure most of that data would be easily recoverable and it is worth more to me then having an $80 HDD replaced. I'm going to send a picture of the HDD, if they replace that too then great, if not O'well at least I know my data is secure.

Must say this is great customer service so far, they are going above and beyond what I expected.
 

Meeho

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Yeah, I understand about the data. That's why I keep really private stuff encrypted, otherwise I would rather destroy it with a hammer myself :)

Fractal have been great to me in the past service wise. I've filled in a support ticket as well, referencing this thread too.

Keep us posted.


BTW, how exactly do you remove the controller? Is it screwed to the case? Will I have to remove the DVD in the upper bay to access it?
 
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Yeah, I understand about the data. That's why I keep really private stuff encrypted, otherwise I would rather destroy it with a hammer myself :)

Fractal have been great to me in the past service wise. I've filled in a support ticket as well, referencing this thread too.

Keep us posted.


BTW, how exactly do you remove the controller? Is it screwed to the case? Will I have to remove the DVD in the upper bay to access it?

Yep I'll be taking a hammer to the drive as soon as this is resolved:p Fortunately everything on it was backed up but I'm not going to risk sending out a drive that's loaded with old tax and medical records.

I think its above the DVD drive cage so it probably has to be removed to get access to it. Either that or removing the front panel, I'm wondering how the built in switch is connected to the controller. They didn't send any special instructions so I'm assuming it relatively straight forward, I'll be removing it tonight so I'll post back.

I agree great service from them so far, I only expected them refunding me the price of the case so replacing the drives is far beyond what I would of expected. Makes me shutter thinking about what would have happened if this involved another case manufacturer based overseas.
 

defaultluser

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It sounds like you're switching from:

12v -> GND

to

12v -> 5v

Is anyone really surprised that this causes stability issues when you switch it with the MACHINE ON?

The switching PSU is a constant-changing system when powered-on, and you just threw it a curve ball! Next time power the PC down before you do something like this.

That said, if the 7v trick is all Fractal Design is doing, they need to put a clear label on their fan controllers NOT TO SWITCH WHEN POWERED ON.

It still wouldn't save dead equipment caused by a faulty switch (like the OP's), it will still short when you power it back on. But it would help people reporting stability or crashes when flipping the switch.

I hope they replace your drives OP, or else they're not worth doing business with in the future.
 
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mnewxcv

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It sounds like you're switching from:

12v -> GND

to

12v -> 5v

Is anyone really surprised that this causes stability issues when you switch it with the MACHINE ON?

The switching PSU is a constant-changing system when powered-on, and you just threw it a curve ball! Next time power the PC down before you do something like this.

That said, if the 7v trick is all Fractal Design is doing, they need to put a clear label on their fan controllers NOT TO SWITCH WHEN POWERED ON.

It still wouldn't save dead equipment caused by a faulty switch (like the OP's), it will still short when you power it back on. But it would help people reporting stability or crashes when flipping the switch.

I hope they replace your drives OP, or else they're not worth doing business with in the future.

why would anyone want a fan controller that requires a shutdown to use?
 

Meeho

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why would anyone want a fan controller that requires a shutdown to use?


This. And it is not stated anywhere that that is how the controller operates. Also, MY stability issues weren't the result of switching, but from it being in constant middle position.
 
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