In some ways, Corsair Link is one of our best kept secrets. It had a very rocky start, but continued and continuing development has turned it into an extremely useful combination of hardware and software. It allows you to connect several products within our ecosystem to a software-based control panel, but there's so much more to it than that. Here's what it can do just with our products:
- Hydro Series H80i, H100i: Control fan speed, control RGB LED in waterblock
- AXi Series PSUs: Monitor fan speed, temperature, and efficiency, switch to multi-rail mode
- RM Series: Monitor fan speed and +12V load
Corsair Link is also a product unto itself, comprised of the Commander Unit, Lighting Node, Cooling Node, and GPU Node.
- Commander Unit: 3.5" bay unit that can be used to connect multiple nodes along with the above mentioned products
- Lighting Node: Connect and control the colors of two different channels of RGB LED strips
- Cooling Node: Connect and control up to five fans and four temperature sensors
- GPU Node: Monitor power consumption through PCIe power connectors
And this is all handled through a single USB header on your motherboard. In fact, the Hydro Series coolers all sport a Corsair Link port that can be used to connect an AXi power supply or one of the listed nodes, effectively working as a miniature Commander unit.
While I love the RGB lighting and the system monitoring features, the killer app for me has been using it to control the fans on my liquid cooling loop. I have six of our PWM SP120 fans on my front 360mm radiator in a push-pull configuration, another two on my top 240mm radiator, and then I also use the node to control the PWM header on my pump.
The net result is that you can set fixed speeds for all the fans in software to exactly your liking, or alternatively, have them respond to changes in CPU temperature or temperature off of one of the sensors. I prefer fixed speeds; I hate hearing fans ramp and am happier when the system is able to run efficiently at a constant, low noise level.
In order to get the most out of Corsair Link as a fan controller, though, you'll want to be using 4-pin PWM fans. Actually controlling voltage to 3-pin fans is surprisingly complicated, and if a 3-pin fan doesn't get enough voltage it may not even be able to start its motor just to get enough momentum to sustain a low speed. PWM fans don't have this issue, and are much easier to control (hence why so many motherboard fan headers are PWM.)
Corsair Link is great just for controlling the Hydro Series H80i and H100i coolers as well as getting the most out of your AXi power supply, but if you want to bling out your case with LEDs or control your fans from a single software panel, it's the only game in town. And if you're running a custom liquid cooling loop with a whole mess of fans, it's invaluable.