Articles: Cooling

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Even though today’s mainboards come with several fan connectors and even offer some control over the connected fans in their BIOS or through Windows-based tools, many users, especially enthusiasts, find such control options deficient. They prefer standalone controllers that can be used not only to set a certain rotation speed but also monitor system temperatures and perhaps do something else.

In this review I will compare as many as nine fan controllers from three brands: Lamptron, NZXT and Scythe. All of these products are interesting in their own ways and I will try to explain why. This review is going to be a description rather than a test because there is nothing to test with such controllers. Anyway, I will check each controller out with four high-performance fans I have at hand (two Panaflo H1A and two Thermalright TR-FDB-2000 fans). Their combined power draw at maximum speed is over 20 watts, which is quite a heavy load for a fan controller. Besides, these fans can start up at a very low voltage so we can estimate the adjustment range supported by each controller.

Lamptron Controllers

Lamptron Electronics is a rather young company that specializes in modding accessories and noise reduction materials. It also offers a rather large range of fan controllers. I've taken three models which look interesting to me: FC5V2, FC8 and Touch.


The Lamptron FC5V2 comes in a small box that has a picture of the controller on its face side.

The box also contains 3-pin fan cables, one PATA power cable, thermocouple cables, mounting screws, a jumper, and a user manual.

The fan cables are 485 millimeters long; the thermal sensor cables are 670 millimeters long.

The FC5V2 is designed for 5.25-inch bays. It measures 148.5 x 42.5 x 77 millimeters; its weight is 199 grams.

Made of anodized aluminum, the controller’s faceplate has one LCD screen and four fan speed controls.

At the controller’s back you can find four 3-pin fan connectors, one power connector and four 2-pin connectors for thermal sensors. Besides, there are jumpers on the PCB for choosing the color of the display (7 modes) and temperature measurement unit (°C/°F) and for turning the alarm on/off.

The controller is only 77 millimeters long.

There are mounting holes in its sides for installation purposes. The control knobs are 11 millimeters long.

One FC5V2 can be used for up to four fans, each with a power draw of 30 watts, which is clearly redundant for any fan you may want to use in your computer. The speed of the connected fans is regulated by changing their supply voltage within a range of 0 to 12 volts. The operating range of the thermal sensors is not specified.

The controller’s display reports the speed of each connected fan together with its voltage or temperature (based on a thermal sensor).

The FC5V2 did everything it was supposed to do in my practical test. The four top-performance fans I connected to it worked without any problems through the entire speed range, from full stop to maximum speed at which the controller reported a max voltage of 12.1 volts. The regulation is very smooth rather than discrete, so you can choose any speed you want for your fans. The only downside I can see is that you have to open up your system case and get to the back of the controller every time you want to change the color of its highlighting. That's not convenient.

The Lamptron FC5V2 comes at a rather high recommended price of $59.99. It is also available in a silver-painted version.

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