Fan Controller Recommendations 2012 . . .
I have spent A LOT of time scouring the net trying to find a very reliable fan controller for my new build, but have not found much written recently (2012). I have read horror stories of contollers smoking, controllers failing un-noticed (so fans stop spinning) leading to serious system damage from excessive heat . . . I have read some say to stay away from the touch screen controllers bkz they are unreliable. I have been reviewing fan contollers that are very simply and inexpensive and others that seem to require an advanced degree and quite a few dollars (ex. Aquaero 5 PRO USB fan controller).
This is going to be an expensive build, and my greatest concern is keeping my system cool. Although, bkz it will sit at my desk and I spend a great deal of time next to it (sometimes 8-12 hours--combination work/video editing), I would like to be able to dial back the distracting and tiresome fan noise when I can. For this reason, I liked some of the programable units bkz I thought I might be able to reduce the fan noise and yet the controller would watch over the system and automatically adjust fan speed as needed for heat keeping things safe (and thus reducing temp. monitoring distractions). (Some of the basic knob controllers definitely have a lot of things going for them in terms of reliability, but few give temperature data and none I saw automatically adjusted fan speed for temperature fluctuation). To this end I looked at a number of controllers . . . the Aquaero 5 PRO, although expensive, sounded really great. A quality German built controller that appeared dependable and rock solid. However, some of the Youtube reviews and other things I read made the controller sound extremely complicated and perhaps beyond the scope of my needs (true?).
Next, after reviewing several other touch screen controllers, it seemed the Lamptron FC Touch might fill the bill (the Lamptron FC5 looked good especially bkz gave temp. readings and used knobs, however, just does not have auto adjust capability. My concern is that I would dial back back the fans, get engrossed with work and overheat my system). However, I have read some discouraging Touch build quality issues and it appears that customer service is quite complicated given the need to correspond outside the U.S. (China) . . . and I thought Germany seemed a bit complicated (I spent a year in China, great place just aware that conducting bzns in regards to returns and shipping can be complicated).
Aesthetically, I would prefer a black face plate to match my Corsair 650D case . . . but not imperative. Primary concern is finding a rock solid, dependable controller to watch over my system. Does such a controller exist or am I better off just dealing with fan noise and not using a controller?
I would really appreciate help with this (recommendations, advice) . . . thank you very much.
I have this one from NZXT. Its simple, well built and reliable. Its also fairly cheap to. I think I price matched it to $21 when I bought it.
NZXT :: Unique. Unprecendented. Inspired - Sentry Mesh Product Detail
One suggestion I do have though is not to put your cpu related fans on a fan controller. Leave those plugged into the board and control them in the bios, with speedfan or something similar just in case of failure, or in my case young kids who like to push buttons.
In all honesty, if you're controlling your CPU fan using the motherboard / bios, a temp sensing auto-adjusting fan controller probably isn't going to make much of a difference so therefore you can just go with a manual one and select your own fanspeed which won't need to be changed.
You didn't mention how many fans you intend to run. Finding out how many fans you need to gang together / channel is the first step in being able to make a reasonable recommendation. If it's going to be a max of one or two fans / channel then just about any decent quality fan controller will do, if you plan on ganging together more than 2, then you'll have to look at beefier units with the ability to run higher than the standard 1A / channel.
My 2yr old and 4yr old love to play with the sliders on mine. You wouldn't believe how many pennys I find in my card reader, and dinkies in my subwoofer too. If I lose my keys, they always end up in the sub.
I personally wouldn't set my cpu fans to Auto in speedfan or bios but rather set them to a value that I was comfortable with but you're right SSwilson.
The most important thing that SSwilson touched on in this is how many fans are you going to be using. And which ones are they?
Fan controllers can be hit or miss. THe best 3 makes so far in order are Lamptron, NZXT and Scythe for the plug and pray designs.
I've never delved too far into the other kinds like that Aquero so I'm not sure what to suggest there.
As for controllers smoking out, it happens no matter who builds them. The Mission critical stuff I would keep with a MB control if at all possible. They are usually the most reliable.
I own a Lamptron FCT and the Bitfenix recon .
When I read up on the Lamptron it looked to be a good controller 30 watts a channel 6 channels and has 2 auto modes that works well . my only complaints about this unit is that the touch is really hard to manipulate the touch screen (which I knew going into it )and the build quality was not as good as I would have thought , the LCD bled a lot of light and the PCB was kinda sloppy and that my LCD failed within the first month . The RMA took a couple of weeks and a few emails in broken English then a month to be shipped from China, The replacement looked to be a better build and came with sleeved cables .
I have not reinstalled the FCT because while I was waiting for the RMA I went by CC and seen the Recon( I did not do any research) I just bought it after reading the box it stated it was 30 watts a channel and 5 channels well as you know its only 10 watts but it does have 3 auto settings that work good and the build quality looks much nicer then the FCT and the screen has almost no light bleeding .
My complaints about the Recon are the GUI is kinda clunky and the red /green/ white wire that is just long enough to reach my usb header stretched across my MOBO in my full tower case ( LOL real ugly ) so I had to buy the $15 extension or cut the usb and extend it my self ..
so far I have not switched back to the Lamptron not sure if I will the Recon seems to be working and does what I need that and the touch screen is not finicky like the FCT .
I have a corsair link system being shipped here, thought I would play with the system a bit and see if it lives up to the hype. same thing though I want it to "dial" back when its just running light loads and not flip back and forth all the time like some of the programmable ones. The constant up and down is more distracting then a constant hum, so that's what I am hoping to avoid.
If its a consideration I can let you know if I think its crap or not, since I have seen very little on it really. The only reviews I have seen seem to be Corsair sponsored or fan boys and pretty much a product walk through vs a objective is it crap review.
Thank you everyone for your ongoing help, I REALLY appreciate it!
I will be using the controller in a Corsair 650D case with the onboard 2x200mm and 1x120mm fans, and a CPU liquid cooler to start. I plan to swap out some of the OEM fans with ultra silent fans and if needed, add a 4th fan later.
I really appreciate everyones' suggestions. I have been leaning towards the Lamptron Touch and BitFenix Recon, but with all that has been said here and elsewhere I still have concerns and questions and would seriously appreciate hearing people's experiences with these and other FCs.
As pointed out by Bloodystumps, I have heard several mixed reviews on the Lamptron Touch regarding quality and function. While some seem to have had great experiences, others have complained about quality issues, screen gaps, screen sensitivity problems as far as making adjustments, the unit not being "long enough on the sides" to install the face plate flush with case (extra drilling needed) and unit failure. This is disconcerting especially given customer service appears based in China making things a bit complicated. Many of these reviews are older however, and as Bloodstumps said, his returned unit seemed to be better so maybe bkz the Touch has been out for a while quality and performance is better? Thoughts? One additional positive thing I heard however is that the Touch runs very cool.
The BitFenix Recon has only 10W per channel--given my needs this might not be as much an issue, although on some fans used in reviews (particularly some with LEDs-ex. Enermax fan used in one review) there was not enough power to run them at full capacity in terms of rpms and LED capabilities. But assuming wattage not currently an issue, it still doesn't leave much overhead room for future fans as say the Lamptron Touch at 30W/channel. Bloody stumps here also mentioned the "GUI is kinda clunky" . . . and I have heard some complain (and saw in one video review) about the delay between fan screen setting change and actual fan speed change. Does Recon run cool like the Touch supposedly does?
The Sunbeamtech Rheosmart 6 appears to be a rheostat knob type that has no touch or information screen, but it has PWM Control, you connect it to the CPU fan port in your mobo (PWM cable comes with it) enable PWM controll in bios and it claims it can adjust the speed of the fans as the CPU gets hotter/cooler. I have read mixed things about how effectively this PWM control actually works-some say it does NOT work while others say it works well. In theory, it seems like this method would be the most accurate way to monitor and adjust fan speeds (as opposed to 3 or so sensors strategically placed--yes/no?) . . . but if it doesn't work . . . ? The other concern I have with this type of controller is that I would imagine that as a rheostat the Sunbeam Rheosmart 6 must generate quite a bit of heat, yes(?) (the aluminum heat sinks on the back would also suggest this).
Yes, BlueByte, would very much appreciate hearing about your Corsair Link experience. I too did an online search for reviews and experiences and as you said I found very little--surprising given the unit was supposed to have been released in August 2011 according to one press release I came across.
As far as the Lamptron Touch and BitFenix Recon . . . can anyone please tell me . . . if you set auto settings to alert to a temperature threshold, example 41 degrees, if the temperature rises to this level . . . apart from an alert/alarm sounding . . . do both of these FCs then automatically increase the fan speed to cool the case down? And if so, does it then decrease the fans rpms once it then drops below that set 41 degrees? (If it does drop rpms below 41 degrees, how far below?) For my needs, I would hope the auto setting does adjust fan rpms at threshold temps, but I can also see envision a constant fan/temp yo-yoing effect if the temp. was merely set back to the threshold temp each time.
So yes, I am still really struggling with this decision and I very much appreciate hearing peoples' thoughts and experiences--thank you.
I have had the link since last Friday installed. The hardware is pretty straight forward to what you see in the pictures. It takes some time getting setup since everything has firmware and they all needed updating a few times since their software downloads are a mess. Honestly if anyone goes with the link system go to their forums and search for all the firmware updates and beta software(link 2.x). I installed the Link software 3 times Friday night :S.
The Fan controller is only pwm controlled, so if you had any goals of some fans shutting off completely under light load then this will not help you. Plus side it looks like its just voltage pass through so no heat worries on the controller. It will monitor GPU and CPU temps outside the software but will not try to control any system or cpu fans. If you want it controlled it has to be through their fan header. I have one fan too many and had hoped to be able to control and monitor the fans all in one spot.
The wires they send could be a bit longer, especially the temp sensors that might be 6" long if that.
Past that, its good. If they cleaned up their software download section that would be 90% of the fix right there and maybe a download newest firmware right in the software.
Here is a pic of my system, I have heard with multi GPUs the first link had issues reading values. I will find out how the 2nd one does when I get my 2nd GPU, just waiting on shipping.
Downsizing kind of made the text look like crap, but this one is the power readings from the 1200i power supply hooked up to the link system. Only grip is that I can't label the bottom "PCIe" feeds, funny since the CPU 8 pin plugs into those and you have to stress test to see if its gpu or cpu, or what GPU it is in a multi GPU setup.
These are the groups you can create based on temps. Each fan, not group can then be customized past that. So in my case light loads my top fans spin down to 800rpm while the rear fan stays at 1000-ish. Only when my exhaust air reaches a certain temp will they start to ramp up on a sliding scale and match the rear fan for RPMS. Its all drag and drop with drop down menus. Still wish I could cut certain fans completely down to no power.
The link will not work with 2 pin fans, so if that is what you have its a no go right from the beginning. if they are at least 3 pin or 4 then the link system is pretty decent so far. It is hidden in my case and programmed to ramp up under air temps within the case giving me a more quiet day to day operation while letting me plop down and start up a game, video encode or VM testing without having to touch a knob to speed things up. The biggest bonus in my opinion is the fail safes you can put in, if any fan fails there are options like running all fans at 100%, email a giant oh crap email to yourself, auto shut down the PC and a few other things. So say my H100 stops reading I can auto shut down the PC, while a case fans might send a email.
I would recommend it to people who have corsair products already vs a stand alone unit to get the most out of it. Unless they allow monitoring and controlling motherboard fans as well then I think anyone would benefit from this.
wich fan do you have with the corsair link???
i have corsair link 2.0.16
and i will remove it until corsair release a new version
i have 2 issue
the first one is lightning node profile, not able to boot on the right color or theme
second and why i will wait for a fix
all my fan are new Corsair Sp120 high performance edition and AF120 quiet edition
if i reduce speed of the fan at under 100% speed, they produce a buzzing sound
18 sp120 fan at 1400 make a lot of buzzz
corsair work on this issue
if they fix that, i think it will be the best monitor/controller at this price
now im using Lamptron FC-Touch (the G-Vans Copy) and its work very well, no buzzing sound
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