Fan controllers are nothing new, but recently there has been a plethora of models from different manufacturers to hit the market. Lots of different variations on the controller design have appeared to cater to end users needs, some of them adding to the functionality of the controller in other ways. Vantec have been releasing quite a few controllers lately under the Nexus line-up and in my opinion they have gotten better as the line continued.
The last controller I looked at, the NXP-205 had one major aspect of its design that I liked which was its size. Designed to fit in a 3.5 inch bay, it is a great controller to add to your system and use what has become a little used bay by many. However, Vantec continue to add to the line-up and today's review item also has an addition to the original design premise. Looks take a closer look at the Vantec Nexus NXP-301 Fan and Light Controller.
Product: Fan Controller
Input Voltage: 12V
Output Voltage: 0V~12V
Output Current: Up to 1.5A
Optimal Wattage: Up to 18 Watts
Outline Dimension: 149 x 90 x 43 mm
Weight: 200 gm
3 Channel Aluminium Fan Controller
Each channel supports up to 18watts
Control Voltage from 0-12V
Manually adjust from FULL SPEED to OFF
Great for Vantec Tornado Fans
Built-in Dual CCFL Inverter
Adjust to either ON,OFF or SOUND ACTIVATED
Compatible with Vantec Spectrum CCFL's
Stylish Aluminium Housing
Fits in a Standard 5.25" bay
1x Fan and Light Controller
2x Blue Cold Cathodes
There are a few things you will notice straight off from looking at the specifications. For one thing, it has 3 channels that each support up to 18watts of power, which is quite a lot when you consider your average fan. Also, each of those 3 channels, unlike the majority of controllers on the market, is able to go from 0V to 12V, or if you like from full speed to completely off. Also having a Dual CCFL Inverter onboard, as well as external control for it is a great design premise.
The box for the Vantec Nexus NXP-301 is themed in the usual manor of the Nexus line-up; a full colour box with lots of exciting imagery to show off the contents, along with the usual specifications and features. You'll notice that the box seems rather large for just a 5.25" bay sized controller, and this is because the NXP-301 package is a complete kit with 2 included blue CCFL's. The fact that the package includes 2 CCFL's is great, and whilst I have not seen any, hopefully Vantec will see fit to package the NXP-301 with different colour CCFL's as well. Vantec do manufacture different colour CCFL's being sold under the Spectrum monicker, of which Vantec were kind enough to send us 4 samples of.
Inside the box we find everything neatly packaged inside clear plastic, although considering the delicate nature of CCFL's I was a little surprised that more padding wasn't included. Ok enough chatter, lets get a good look at the controller itself.
The NXP-301 has 3 large dials mounted to the front to facilitate the control of fan speeds. They start on the left and move along to the right. Surrounding the dials is a green Perspex ring which as you will see later glows nicely to add to the aesthetics and indicate power to the controller. On the far right we find the dial to control the Dual CCFL Inverter. This dial is smaller to help distinguish it from the other dials and has 3 basic positions (although it will rotate freely without 'locking' into a position') which are from left to right - off, sound activated and on. Sitting next to the Light control dial you'll also see the microphone for the sound activated function of the inverter. Everything is labelled clearly here and won't pose any problems for anyone.
The sides are pretty much uneventful, simply the holes to allow you to attach the controller into a bay, and whilst the bottom is usually uneventful we do find one item of note; a plastic guard. Flipping the controller over we can see that the guard matches the location of the inverter, which is similarly covered on this side too.
You can also protruding from the rear the 2 outputs for your CCFL's to plug into, much like a 3 pin fan header. Moving to the right we find next to the CCFL headers the single 4 pin molex power input and moving right again we see the three 3 pin fan headers. The inside of the controller besides holding the inverter is also dotted with lots of capacitors and resistors to ensure you safely get 18watts of power per channel.
Looking at the front fascia from the rear we can see the 4 LED's, which coupled with the green Perspex are responsible for the green light on the front. Now I don't know if it's just my eyes, or perhaps the reflection from the blue PCB, but these LED's despite lighting the front green, appear to be a light shade of blue. Honestly, I've never dealt with white LED's before, which is what I expected them to be, and the front glows a solid green as it should, so I guess since this part won't be seen it doesn't matter, but I'm still curious as to what colour the LED's actually are.