Next up we have the Vantec Nexus Fan Controller. Do NOT mistake this for the Nexus Multi-Function panel as they are definitely not the same! When I first heard about the Nexus Fan Controller, I was psyched. Reviews and pictures from the web and Vantec's site made this controller sounded like one of a kind! I was so excited that I just had to get one of these in my hands, I ended up with two! Throughout the review we will be using pictures from both the aluminum and black anodized controllers. The Nexus Fan Controller is a 5.25" controller which can handle up to four fans, my choice being four 92mm Vantec Tornado Fans. To make sure that I did not ruin this controller before performing the tests, I checked Vantec's website. According to the product spec sheet the Nexus Fan Controller is, "Great for Tornado or Other High CFM Fans." With this in mind, we went no holds barred and loaded this beast up with four 92mm Tornado fans.
The Vantec Nexus Fan Controller is available in two different color schemes, natural aluminum or black anodized aluminum, and they both look slick! Both units have blue LED knob lighting. Included in each package is the Controller Unit itself, a 6.5" power extender, two 4-pin to 3-pin Fan Cables, two 3-pin to 3-pin Fan Cables as well as the mounting screws for installation. I was already overwhelmed with the quality of the product the instant I took it from the plastic packaging. The general construction of the unit is made entirely of one piece of aluminum, nothing is screwed together. This adds a great deal of stability to the product, as less parts usually means less things to go wrong. Although these controllers are composed of aluminum, I regret to tell you that it's not obvious upon first site due to the outer coating which Vantec has put on it. Rather than have brushed aluminum fronts like the grain on the popular LianLi chassis, Vantec has gave these a different texture, which I am unsure exactly what it is. It looks like a powder coating of some sort, or just untouched rough aluminum. The writing on the unit indicating the fan port number, high and low, and Vantec logos are in white screen printing on the black anodized version and black on the silver anodized version. The knobs on these units are very nice. They match the exact color and texture of the rest of the unit and do not wiggle around much like many other cheap rheobus'. After looking closely, at the base of each knob you can see a gap which is filled by clear acrylic. On the rear-side of the unit, each piece of clear acrylic is lit with one led to give the knobs a glowing blue effect - VERY cool! Around to the back side, I noticed a slight difference between the two color variations of this product. The PCB color in the black anodized controller was black, almost identical to the color of the SoundBlaster Audigy sound card. The PCB of the aluminum controller is a blue color almost identical to the color of most Gigabyte Motherboards. I thought this was great, finally a transition from the boring green PCB that everyone has! The last thing that I noticed around the back worth mentioning is the LEDs. On the back are five, 3mm blue LEDs which can easily be unsoldered and replaced with another color of your choice to change the color of each knob's glow. This is a VERY easy customized mod to match your case's current color scheme.
Since the Molex power connector to the unit is soldered to the board itself, Vantec has included a nice little six inch power cable to plug into the rear of the controller then into the power supply. This makes connection and disconnection simple and easy and you don't have to route your power supply cables all the way to the front of the case, just to power the unit! Since all fan connectors on the Nexus Fan controller are 3-pin, Vantec has also included cables which make converting any normal molex fan to a 3-pin connector for easy powering. Once again, this made installing the Vantec Tornado fans exceptionally easy since a molex connection is included. And also included with the package are two 3-pin to 3-pin cables so you are able to extend the length of a fan's cable located in the rear of the case for example. As I mentioned previously, this package also does include four screws to make mounting into any 5.25" bay easier. So far this kit seems to be one of a kind. It's the first fan controller kit that I have seen which is appealing, power providing and includes everything you need to install without any extra tools like a soldering iron.
Finally, I get to test the real output of this controller and test it to the most extreme extent possible. We previously saw how Vantec's other Nexus series Multi-Function Panel was able to conquer the 92mm Tornado fan and now we get to see if this controller can do the same, except with four times more fans. Installation of this controller was easy. I took off both side panels of my LianLi Pc-7 chassis and slipped the silver edition into the empty 5.25" bay. After screwing the unit in and replacing the right side panel, I hooked up the power extender into the unit. Then I connected the power supplies molex connector into the power extending cable. I was using four 92mm Tornado fans and each comes with a molex connector by default. I had to modify two of them using solder, but that was no biggie. Once all the Tornado fans had been plugged in, it was time to fire the unit up. Seeing as the same company that made the fans made this controller, I was not about to go easy. I went above and beyond the testing period of 48 hours and left this one running on the highest setting on all four fan ports for 96 hours! After returning to the room in which the fan controller had been tested, I could still hear that little PC-7 buzzing away like it was no bodies business. Once again, a Vantec controller was able to withstand the power consumption of having all ports filled with high demanding fans. We had yet another winner! Below are the RPM readings averaged between all four ports on both the highest and lowest settings. Keep in mind that if the controller can successfully hold the 92mm Tornado Fans, they CAN withstand the power necessities of the less consuming, everyday user fans as well.
Again, you can see that the Vantec product was more than worthy with the 92mm Tornado. I was VERY surprised to see that even though this controller was holding four fans rather than just one like the previously reviewed Vantec Nexus Multi-Function Panel, it was able to give the Tornado lower RPM on the lowest setting as well as a MUCH higher RPM reading on the highest setting. Just to offset the boring review format, since I found this texture much different than I have ever seen, I conducted a scratch test on the front face of the black anodized version. By pushing as hard as I could with my fingernail, I was unable to scratch it so I pulled out a penny. The finish on the controller was so tough that it actually scratched the penny! Ok maybe not, but with light pressure, it remained unscratched. When I applied a little heavier pressure with the penny, it did leave a thin scratch which was hardly noticeable.
Although this controller does not have the natural-brushed aluminum look which everyone is used to, these controllers only have one downside. The fact that they can not be installed in your own matching drive covers maybe be an issue for some modders. Even though this controller's lighting scheme is by default blue, it can easily be changed by using any other color 3mm LEDs and within 15 minutes you should have a custom looking controller. Not only can this unit handle the most demanding fans (electrically) for PC chassis' on today's market, but they are completely affordable at around $27.00. I would not have a problem at ALL recommending this controller to anyone, overclocking or not! This controller was able to pass our performance test without skipping a beat and has been running in my server's system ever since. This rheobus does not have a feature to turn the fan off!
I have heard from one reseller that a couple of these controllers have been returned due to transformer blow-outs. Since I am unable to confirm these claims and have not seen any sign of it during testing and to this day, this will not affect the score of this product.
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