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Good Quality Fan Controller?

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April 21, 2010 2:55:39 PM

Hello again everyone,
I have been looking for a good 5.25' front panel fan controller for my system.
I'll be brief and specific. I have a Koolance Metal Boned K7 with 2 intake front panel 12mm fans, and one 12mm exhaust fan from the back.
I'm running a core i7 920 with a megahalem on top of it. 6gb ddr3 kit with a corsair fan on top of them.

The problem is that i have a not so feature rich motherboard.
It's the foxconn flamingblade GTI, which i'm very pleased with it's performance so far but only has three fan outputs. One PWM and two 3 pin.

So After doing a long research and went through newegg and their customer reviews, i also read some expert reviews for many fan controllers.

So it came to this: I like the ZM-MFC3 for it's quality, power consumption measurement among other things, but it doesn't have the automatic fan control on temperature. That feature is important to me. I'm planning on hooking the sensors on key parts such as northbridge (can go up to 65 degs C), the VGA, and CPU. There are so many controllers such as the NZXT among others but i'm hearing alot about failing units, low quality builds, inaccurate measurements, and bad fan control.
I don't care if it's flashy, but would be nice if it has an nice LCD on it. I have no budget per se but anything below 70$ would be good (didn't find anything higher anyway).
So help is needed, basic features such as build quality, good measurement, auto fan control based on temp (custom if possible) and Good looks are important. Anything extra is welcome as long as the basics are there.
What would you recommend please? and thanks in advance.
April 21, 2010 3:47:32 PM

I am kinda in the same boat as you. I have been putting my own computers together for about the last 10 years but to be honest I know very little about the electrical conversions etc.
On SAAIELLO's post of the Scythe would the 1 ampere per lead be enough to power a lets say 240mm fan?
Guess you really have to check the power needs of your fans and make sure the controller unit can handle it, as well as good reviews of the product because you dont want something that controls your airflow going bad suddenly with no warning and your system burn up.
Related resources
a b ) Power supply
April 21, 2010 4:03:29 PM

The 1 amp per lead shouldn't be an issue The most powerful 250mm fan I could find only drew .9 amps so you should be fine.
April 21, 2010 4:31:57 PM

I will be using 120mm fans mostly and they usually are rated at 0.6A, i may be inclined to install multiple fans on a single line (for example front panel 2 fans having the same RPM or same controller). So power output is important per line and that is also another thing i didn't like in the Zalman ZM-MFC3, for it supports only 1 fan because of the 0.7A per line and 11v max so if your fan is rated at 1800 rpm it will never get there (if you need it).
I will be checking the scythe unit through reviews and naturally any extra opinion is welcome and appreciated, i'd like to gather as many options to make the best possible choice.
Thanks again.
April 21, 2010 5:24:11 PM

The Scythe KM03 doesn't cut it for me for it doesn't have auto mode. I'm checking the Aerocool touch 2000 and the V12XT, but i just don't know if this is just bling and no real performance, i'm reading reviews and it doesn't seem great. The NZXT Sentry LX has also a problem one review points out that it only can give 4W or 0.33A. So i'm a bit lost here. I have a fan that says 12V 0.08A which is a 120mm fan and another that says 12V 1.30A. I'm guessing the latter is used so 0.33A per channel is definitely not good enough. Help anyone?
April 21, 2010 7:28:53 PM

If you want the Scythe with auto mode I believe you have to go with the Kaze Server.
http://www.overclockers.com/scythe-kaze-server-fan-cont...

I'm considering that one, although it's pricey where I am. A lot of people seem to like their Sunbeams if you look, and maybe Silverstone has some models worth checking out. I think I recall some good reviews about the Thermaltake HardCano 12SE, if you feel like reading some more reviews. The controls seem to clumsy for me, I like the idea of direct knob controls of the Scythe and Zalmann models. The NesteQ FanMax 8 lets you control eight fans, in two groups of eight, that might keep you from needing to put two fans on one line.

I'll leave the researching up to you, I was just reading reviews last week and wanted to add some options for you. I probably won't buy for several days yet as I'm busy otherwise, so feel free to leave some feedback in my thread if you get something up before I do:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/280060-10-controlle...
April 21, 2010 7:31:30 PM

should say "in two groups of four" for some reason I can't edit my posts today
April 22, 2010 5:26:19 PM

debianos said:
If you want the Scythe with auto mode I believe you have to go with the Kaze Server.
http://www.overclockers.com/scythe-kaze-server-fan-cont...

I'm considering that one, although it's pricey where I am. A lot of people seem to like their Sunbeams if you look, and maybe Silverstone has some models worth checking out. I think I recall some good reviews about the Thermaltake HardCano 12SE, if you feel like reading some more reviews. The controls seem to clumsy for me, I like the idea of direct knob controls of the Scythe and Zalmann models. The NesteQ FanMax 8 lets you control eight fans, in two groups of eight, that might keep you from needing to put two fans on one line.

I'll leave the researching up to you, I was just reading reviews last week and wanted to add some options for you. I probably won't buy for several days yet as I'm busy otherwise, so feel free to leave some feedback in my thread if you get something up before I do:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/280060-10-controlle...


I couldn't find anything interesting from Silverstone on their website. They only seem to have some sort of ESA controller which only works with nvidia chipsets (RIP).
Regarding anything related to Aerocool, none of them seems powerful enough (0.33A per fan), and they look like cheap toys with flashy lights (i'm not reviewing it but just by looking at their pics). The ones i've read reviews of are the three 5.25' dual slot controllers.
Regarding Sunbeam, they seems to have a product named chromatic windmill, controls 7 fans with 10W for each channel, couldn't find it anywhere i could buy from though.
The NestQ FanMax 8 doesn't have auto mode, and i also couldn't find Thermaltake's HardCano 12SE or 13.
I know that automatic fan control through temperature may not be as accurate as having them onboard but i was actually hoping i could find a good product from a reputable company that has this feature.
I like Zalman and they products in general are top notch, but i still don't understand why they didn't introduce the automatic fan control on their MFC3.
The main point of having automatic fan control is when gaming the fans will rev up on their own and slow down to a silent point for normal usage.
The Scythe Kaze Server 5.25 looks like a good controller but i haven't read many consumer reviews online and none of the professional reviews are from Tom's Hardware :) 
I'm picky.

DebianOS, i've read the posts on your thread and there's a possibility i may end up buying a good ASUS motherboard with 5 fan controllers or more. the ASUS P6X58D Premium looks like a good contender. Throwing 70$ on a fan controller unless you have more than 5 fans is pointless when you can purchase a good motherboard and pay the extra for the features. At least that is what i'm leaning towards now.
April 24, 2010 12:45:17 PM

srasiroslayer said:
DebianOS, i've read the posts on your thread and there's a possibility i may end up buying a good ASUS motherboard with 5 fan controllers or more. the ASUS P6X58D Premium looks like a good contender. Throwing 70$ on a fan controller unless you have more than 5 fans is pointless when you can purchase a good motherboard and pay the extra for the features. At least that is what i'm leaning towards now.


That's definitely the way I'm going when I build my next machine. But replacing my current motherboard, which should kick for another five years, just for system fans wouldn't be economical, since I'd have to buy a new Windows license and reinstall my operating systems and all software. Plus, a quality fan controller should last years and years.

The auto feature is good because it lets you set it up and just forget about it—as long as it works properly! Of course, you should check temps once in a while to make sure everything stays kosher.

I was initially leaning towards the the ZM-MFC3 because of the ability to measure system Watts, but I've now discounted it due to its control interface (looks like it takes too long to adjust) and lack of auto control. It just seems pricey for what it does.

Now I find myself thinking that simple is better, but the Kaze Server is tempting. It has only four channels, but has got 1 A per channel (can connect two normal fans with a splitter), and the min 3.7 V is okay. I especially like the three control modes and having knobs. You can even turn off the the tweeter with a jumper setting. I'm not as picky about the name of the reviewer; it doesn't have to be Tom's, the comments just have to show understanding and some insight and neutrality. User reviews generally indicate good build quality and that it works as advertised; problems are related to readability of the LED and the odd non-functioning part. The only thing really missing is the ability to report values to the OS for logging, but for that I guess I'd need to use the mobo instead of a controller. It would be nicer if it were silver to match my Lian-Li case instead of black, but it's not like my case is highly visible anyway.

For my needs I guess this will do fine. Think I'm going to give it a go.
April 24, 2010 3:50:31 PM

To DebianOS:
From your standpoint i agree and it seems quite logical. The reason i insist on good reviews (Not just Tom's Hardware) is simply for in-depth reviews, and unbiased straight to the point facts. I've read many reviews for many controllers and most of them talk about how they look on the outside and how rad it may look on builds. After that they skip a bit on the features without pointing out how they really work or even the actual specs. Only 1 review pointed out that a controller has 0.33A per channel while others forgot to point out such important features (or lack of). The only way to go when buying products with no real professional reviews is customer reviews (newegg mainly and amazon).

Regarding the Kaze Server, i've read good customer reviews about it from newegg and i think it just may be the way to go for you. Regarding the Display, for me it's just an extra and the main purpose is to let it do it's job with the auto mode. The odd non-functioning part i think can be easily fixed. I've read somewhere that you need to install the fans, then reset the controller for it to redetect them, at least that makes sense.

Regarding functionality with the motherboard, it's a complicated issue. For logging purposes i think it can be achieved but at an extra cost for them and it's not such a huge feature in general unless you have a server room with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and well in that case, you'd go for a more expensive motherboard.
The problem with a controller to read temperatures from lm_sensors is mainly due to compatibility issues, and there are so many types of sensors that the controller will actually need an OS with drivers for each controller to read from then send voltage or PWM readings to the fan, and a windows software to send the readings through USB or serial(will probably cost more than a good motherboard). Nvidia though came up with a good system which is the ESA standard for it's nvidia boards and chipsets where controllers connected to the motherboard could read temperature sensors, control the fans and you could setup your own custom values from windows. However the concept fell with Nvidia withdrawing from the chipset race.

From my perspective, i'm sort of fed up with the lack of features of the Foxconn motherboard (long story, was planning on getting a good one but was DOA, then was stuck with this one). I can sell it for a good price where i live and pay the extra on a good future-proof motherboard with SATA 3, USB 3, good fan control, good quality heatsinks on the motherboard, and solid state japanese made capacitors (all in all lots of goodies, so not just fan control for the extra).

I say go for the Kaze Server, The thermaltake HardCano 12SE and 13 seem decent too, but i dislike a few things about thermaltake products (lots of plastic to start with).
Also please if you like do a review on it and post it here.
Good Luck.
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