Tuesday, 29 October 2013

NZXT Sentry Mix 2: The best value fan controller out there?

It's a conundrum that many of us PC enthusiasts face these days. Building a performance system requires adequate cooling, and that can be quite loud at times where it doesn't need to be. 

However, there are solutions. 

Fan controllers that fit in a 5.25" bay at the front of your PC can give you full control over how loud you want your fans to be. Quieter during low-intensity tasks, faster for heavier applications.

The one that I chose for my system was the NZXT Sentry Mix 2, available for £25.99 at the time of reviewing (http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=BB-002-NX).

Lets get started with the review!


Appearance

One of the things that is immediately noticeable when viewing the Sentry's exterior is the use of sliders rather than knobs. Personally, I prefer this approach, as the protrusion of sliders is a lot less than that of the knobs, making them harder to accidentally snap off . It also makes it easier for you to have all of your fans at the same speed, as they are far easier to line up than knobs.
You may also note the illumination on the numbers, a feature which I like, considering my system is set to a black and red colour scheme. The colours can be set to red, white, green, orange and blue, and can also be set to turn off completely.



Functionality

The fan controller itself gains power from a pair of Molex 4-Pin connectors, and claims that each fan channel can handle up to 30W. In practice, this means that you could get more than one fan on each channel - I tested with 6 1350rpm LED fans on one channel and all seemed fine - so if you want to control more than 6 fans, don't be put off, all you need to do is invest in some fan splitter cables - these can be picked up for as little as £1 each. Be careful though, as you have to make sure all the fans that you daisy chain don't exceed the channel max. of 30W.
The controller also uses PWM sized fan connectors - so even PWM fans can be connected and controlled easily, although I recommend that you leave PWM control on CPU heatsinks to the motherboard. It can reduce fan power to as little as 40% - so there's no doubting that you can make your current fans a lot quieter. The unit itself is well built inside, with no inclination to think that something might disconnect if pulled too hard.



Conclusion

Overall, I really like the NZXT fan controller. Easy to connect and easy to use, it does the job of controlling your fans very well, and for that I have to give it a GOLD recommendation. Good job NZXT.

Scores:
Appearance: 9/10
Functionality: 9/10

HardwarePilot Score: 18/20 (90%)

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