Front Mounted Ports: Take a Joy Ride On The Fan Bus

Nexus Multi-function Panel - NXP-101 - Vantec, Continued

The NXP-101 offers control for mainly the CPU fan. While it is possible to connect this to another fan, the device is tailored toward high RPM CPU fans that you would want to turn down to reduce their noise level. The connection cables that are included with the NXP-101 do offer a back connection to the motherboard, so it is possible to still monitor the RPM of the fan using standard motherboard monitoring. The NXP-101 takes this one step farther than other units by allowing you to connect the three pin connector on the motherboard to the device: a nice feature that comparable devices don't offer. The large chrome knob on the front of the NXP-101 controls the fan speed. We found this knob to turn well, but it seemed wobbly and had a lot of play, which to us might indicate that it is not mounted very well to the unit.

The NXP-101 includes three temperature sensors; one for the CPU, one for the case and one for the hard drives. By using the mode button on the NXP-101 you can easily switch among the sensors to get readings from each.

A close-up of the NXP-101.

When looking at the NXP-101 front connections, the unit runs the cables out the rear of the PC and plugs them into the ports in the rear of the case. This is a weakness in the design, as most new motherboards offer internal connections that can be used for a cleaner look rather than running the cables out the back of the PC. Still, this external cable run does allow for maximum compatibility rather than depending on the motherboard to offer the USB 2.0 and 1394 connections. While it is possible to convert this connection to the motherboard, no details were provided as to how to make this change. We think Vantec should consider offering these cables at an additional charge for the NXP-101.

The back of the NXP-101.

The features that are offered with the NXP-101, such as the interchangeable front face plates (three of which are included) and the audio alarm temperature warning device make the NXP-101 an excellent product package. We also appreciated the quality of the included NXP-101 documentation. It was well written and one of the most comprehensive of the devices tested here.

For such a reasonable price ($29 US) the NXP-101 provides a good multi-function fan bus device. There is no flexibility to install additional fans, which may displease some users. Still, the additional ports are a nice feature, particularly if you own a case that supports front mounted USB, but not 1394. As with many of the devices presented here, each device has a particular user market they are targeting. The NXP-101 can be used in conjunction with some of the other Vantec devices to achieve a more robust fan bus solution, but as it is packaged you might be a little disappointed with some of the limits of the NXP-101.