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Thermaltake Hardcano 8 VR: Fanbuses are nothing new, but more and more are being released by manufacturers with aesthetics in mind.
 
 
Date: February 26, 2003
Catagory: Cases & Cooling
Manufacturer:
Written By:

Introduction

As PC technology progresses with a need for faster components, so too does the need for good cooling. Over the years, manufacturers have been increasing the speed of fans in an attempt to stave off troublesome heat that can be both damaging and counter productive to overclocked components. Times are changing however, and with fans needing to spin at faster speeds and subsequently producing more noise, there's has been a move towards a need for a quieter system. A fan controller can help in this respect in that being able to control a fans speed can give you the best of both worlds. A lot of manufacturers are producing an all in one solution lately, and whilst the idea of a fan speed controller is nothing new, there aim is to bring it to a more mass market. idea for this is the , a 4 port fan controller that fits in a 5 ¼ bay, which is what we shall be looking at today.

Specifications

4-Channel Specification
Fan 1 Fan 2~Fan 4
Input Voltage 12 V ± 10% 12 V ± 10%
Output Voltage 7 V ± 20% ~
12 V ± 5% 7 V ± 20% ~
12 V ± 5%
Output Current 0.35 A ~ 1 A 0 A ~ 0.35 A
Input Connector Pitch 2.54 mm, 3 Pin Pitch 2.54 mm, 3 Pin
Output Connector Pitch 2.54 mm, 3 Pin Pitch 2.54 mm, 3 Pin

Adjust case fans manually
Aluminium "U" type housing
4 channel VR adjustable knob

Contents

1x 4 channel Fan Controller
4x 3pin to 4pin fan leads
1x 4pin Molex to 4 3pin fan leads
1x 3pin speed sensing adaptor cable
4x mounting screws
2x mounting rails
1x Instruction Leaflet

First Looks


Click To Enlarge

The packaging is another "see and want" affair, with pretty much all the contents on display. On the rear of the packaging you can see some of the specifications and some rudimentary install instructions. Opening the packet you can see that quite a lot has been included here.


Click To Enlarge

Let's take a closer look at the main unit. The entire unit is constructed from aluminium and anodized or painted blue. The front of the Hardcano 8 is where the 4 dials or knobs are mounted. Each of the dials are labelled underneath with fan1-4 respectively. Across the top of the dials in a semi circular fashion are some yellow lines to indicate the turning pattern, with min and max labelled at the appropriate places.


Click To Enlarge

Top left we have the unit's label; "Thermaltake Hardcano 8 VR". The top and bottom of the front of the unit have been styled with a curving nature with the apex of the curve being at it's fullest on the left hand side about a third of the way along. Moving to the sides there are mounting holes for the drive rails which mount the unit into a 5 ¼ bay (more on that later).


Click To Enlarge

The rear of the unit is where all the connections are made and the electronics are kept. On the far left (fan 1) we can see a heatsink. The Fan 1 position can handle more power than the other 3 fans, dishing out a maximum of 1 A, hence the need for the extra cooling. It's at the rear of the unit where things get messy. I stated that the electronics are at the rear of the unit, but I use that term loosely since there isn't anything 'fancy' going on back here at all.


Click To Enlarge

Each port has both an input and an output, making for a total of 8 connections. I don't understand why there wasn't one singular input for power, but there isn't; there is a single 3 pin connector jack for each port. Next to each power input for each port there is an output, again of the 3 pin connector type. Using the supplied leads, you attach the 4 power inputs to a single 4 pin standard Molex from your PSU as well as attaching the 4 outputs with the supplied leads to the fans in your system. Although there is nothing wrong operational wise in such a setup, it does create quite a mess of wires at the rear of the unit. Ok, once it's installed you won't see it but still &..


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The leads supplied are industry standard and will simply plug in without modification. One thing to be aware of however is that the output leads are designed for 4 pin Molex connections, so if you have 3 pin fans you will need to either extend there leads to reach the back of the unit or get some adaptors for the Molex connections. Each of the output leads will take more than one fan (although bear in mind the power specifications of each port) thanks to each of the 4 pin Molex connectors being of the pass through variety.

What no flashy lights? Nope, you won't find any here, the unit is a simple affair built for function rather than flashy looks.

Installation and In Use


Following the instructions is a simple enough affair, and to be honest this isn't brain surgery. However, the instructions don't once mention the drive mounting rails included. My first thought was that perhaps they are only needed in certain cases, but after trying the unit out on 3 different cases, in each instance I was required to use them. Anyone new to something like this may have to make a few attempts at installing the drive mounts as there is more than one way to attach them, hence the need for instructions. The included screws are for attaching the drive mounting rails and there are no screws for attaching the completed unit to the case, so make sure you have some of these before you buy.


Click To Enlarge

After installing the unit and connecting all the leads up we fired up the system. I've connected the first port to my 120mm Titan fan on the radiator of my Water-cooling setup, and the other 3 ports to some CoolerMaster 80mm 3000rpm fans. Whilst the Titan fan barely makes a whisper anyway, once the rest of the system's noise level is reduced you can still hear it. But once the front dial is turned down a bit, it too becomes silent. The other 3 fans are a lot noisier and being able to control there speed goes a long way into creating a quiet but easily balanced system. The dials themselves turn easily but slowly and although the min and max are marked on the front, each of the dials will turn further than the maximum marked whilst at the same time not actually increasing the speed of the fans anymore than the maximum marked on the unit. All in all, the unit simply works, reducing the fan speed and noise or increasing at the turn of a dial as required by the user.


Click To Enlarge

Final Words


Thermaltake's idea is not a unique one, but one we are seeing a lot more of in the market just recently. The unit's looks are nothing to write home about but will appeal to some looking for a simple blue aesthetic to go with there themed system. There are no flashy lights or LED's so if this is something you are looking for, look elsewhere; the unit is designed to be functional and simple above all else. The wiring you will need is all included, but the way in which the wires connect at the back of the unit, whilst very simple and quick, is messy with a total of 8 connections required if utilizing all 4 ports. More than one fan can be controlled from each of the ports (subject to power requirements) thanks to a pass through 4 pin Molex connector, but if you wanted to control a 3 pin fan you would need to do some modifications or obtain a 4 to 3 pin adaptor of some sort. The mounting system works well, but some assembly is required for which no instruction is provided. The drive mounting rails whilst being pretty obviously mounted in a certain way can be mounted more than one way which for those new to this sort of thing could provide a bit of frustration during installation.

Once installed the unit performs as advertised, allowing you to control a fans speed and noise with the turn of a dial. This can be a great addition to a system with a lot of noisy fans as you can simply turn down the speed and the noise whilst surfing and conversely turn up the speed if gaming or performing some other system heating task.

Pros
Instant manual control of your system fans
Can put more than one fan per port
1 port for heavy duty purposes
Simple 3 pin and 4 pin Molex connections
Easy to setup
Function over aesthetics?

Cons
Messy wiring
Lacking in full instructions
Assumed to be using 4 pin Molex tailed fans
3 pin fans will require extending of there leads
Poor mounting system
Function over aesthetics?

Bottom Line
The unit is built for simple operation over aesthetics, so if you want flashy lights, go elsewhere. The rear wiring is messy, and the half finished instructions could make for a frustrating install.

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