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Vantec Nexus Fan Speed Controller: Following up on their Multi-Function Panel, Vantec has released their Nexus Fan Speed Controller which has a feature not found on many other fan controllers.
 
 
Date: December 15, 2002
Catagory: Cases & Cooling
Manufacturer:
Written By:
 

Unless you're running a water cooling setup, most enthusiasts will have to resort to air cooling. We're not talking about a couple of fans either, as any form of overclocking will likely force one's hands to slap in a bunch of huge case fans. As you probably know, the more fans you install, the louder your system is going to get. Naturally, bigger fans will also contribute to the noise level, but that's the price many of us pay to keep things cool.

Fanbuses have been around for quite some time as a method of lowering the volume. By using a fanbus, a turn of a knob will slow down a fan, thus reducing noise. Of course, the airflow is reduced, but let's face it, if your computer is idling or you're doing something mundane like working on a school paper, you don't really need 4 fans running at 7000rpm. The problem with most fanbuses I've seen is they don't look all that great. The Nexus Multi-Function Panel and the Hardcano we've reviewed in the past look pretty sharp, but your fan options are still fairly limited.

The (NXP-201) is Vantec's entry into the fanbus market, and should be available very soon. It can control up to 4 fans, and will look very sharp if you're fortunent enough to own an aluminum case. Installation is easy as well, but we'll look more into that later on, as well as one feature that sets it apart from others.

Features

4 Channel Fan Controller
Adjustable Fan Speed Knob
Aluminum "U" Type Housing
Blue LED Light  
Each Channel Will Support 15 to 18 Watts
Fits In A Standard 5.25" Drive Bay.
No Need to Cut Wires Like Other Fan Controller. Just Plug The Cable In.
Great for Vantec Tornado or Other High CFM Fans.


Click to Enlarge

We've received a couple of units from Vantec, showcasing the two available colours. The Nexus Fan Controller is available in either black or silver, and are constructed out of aluminum. Whether you have a black or silver aluminum case, you now have a choice.


Click to Enlarge

There are four dials, clearly marked as to which fan you want to control. No more fumbling with "Fan 1/Fan 2" buttons. It's pretty self-explanitory, as "Lo" indicates a lower speed, and "Hi" to speed it up. What if you're in the dark? No problem, as each dial is backlit by a blue LED. Note: Much like their Multi-Function Panel, there is a bit of a lag when adjusting speeds. It isn't too long, about a second or so, but it is there.


Click to Enlarge

A standard 4-pin molex connection is required for powering the unit. Unless you're running some kind of enterprise server, you'll probably have the spare connection available. The unit itself can handle up to 72W of fans (up to 18 per channel). That actually should be plenty as even a 92mm Delta FFB0912SHE only requires about 9W of juice.

What separates the Nexus Fan Controller from other baybuses is ease of installation. An issue many baybuses face is having only 3-pin fan connections. This is an issue because only 60mm and 70mm fans (unless I forgot a larger fan) use these connections. It's great that you can plug these fans in, but in most cases, 60mm fans are only used for heatsinks. The majority of case fans are 80mm and up, and as far as I know, they only have 4-pin connectors. The solution of course, is to cut and splice cables, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Furthermore, since fanbuses are installed in the front of the case, splicing wires is required if you wish to reach the rear fan in the back of the case.

Although the Vantec only has 3-pin connections as well, the actual retail units will include two 4-pin to 3-pin fan power cables, two 3-pin to 3-pin extention cables, and a split power cable in case you're out of 4-pin molex connections. The 4-pin adapters will serve to connect most case fans into the fan controller. The 3-pin cables will act as extention cords for fans that normally would not be able to reach the unit. My only criticism is they should probably include at least one more 4-pin to 3-pin cable.

Unfortunently, these cables were not included with our engineering samples, but they will be there when you pick one of these up. In anycase, I was still able to test the unit since I have the cables leftover from our Nexus Multi-Function Panel review.

Final Words

It's pretty tough to "test" a fan controller, other than making sure it works, so I will present a few observations I've made while working with the Nexus.

Ease of Use: By far, the simplest fan controller on the market. The only tools you'll need is a screwdriver to install the Nexus into a spare bay. Using the 3-pin extention cables I have, it was no problem plugging in my Aeroflow heatsink TMD fan into the Nexus. Splicing cables is not required, and the retail unit will have the cables you need.

Quality: No doubt, aluminum looks great. The Nexus is light as well, and construction was pretty solid. I don't think it's really going to get much abuse anyways, other than the dials, but over the course of testing, the dials still have the same tightness to them. A year from now, I don't know, but it doesn't feel cheap, that's for sure.

Pricing: The MSRP is about 29$. Obviously, resellers may charge less (or more), but pricing seems competitive with similar products. You can check out , as Richard told me they're going to carry these there.

I would like to see an additional 4-pin to 3-pin adapter, but other than that, the Nexus Fan Controller does what it's advertised to do, and looks good doing it. Extreme cooling freaks may be a little dismayed by having control of only 4 fans, but you can always by two of these and stack them. :)

Pros: Nice aesthetics, easy to use, aluminum construction, extra cables do away the need to splice.

Cons: Could use one more 4-pin to 3-pin adapter.

Bottom Line: If you're shopping for a fanbus, this is one that you should consider above all others. Although I think control over 4 fans is enough, you may want to look at a fanbus with more fan options if you require them.

Ed. Note: A few of you have asked where to pickup this fan controller. I've already mentioned , but in the UK, carries both the and fan controllers. Coming back to North America, is also another supplier.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss it in our forums

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