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6 Fan Controller Roundup (First Half)

Page: 4/4
Manufacturer: SunBeam
Product Name: Rheobus
Provider: SunbeamTech.com

Thanks to

For Providing Us With This FINE Product to Review




The SunBeam Rheobus is one that I have personally been waiting to see for a while. I have read several reviews on this product about how great it was and I was very anxious to see for myself what this product was all about. SunBeam is a newly organized company based out of Taiwan specializing in cold cathode lighting as well as a new line of products including cold cathode fans, rheobus', clear cases and EL wire. My past experiences with this company have been a bit shaky as they are a bit slow on shipment and their first batch of cold cathodes to come out onto the market had a recall due to inverter blowouts. Today we bring to you, their new 5.25" Rheobus which can hold up to four fans total. When I first opened the box for this product, I could not help but notice a foul odor coming from the controller; one that nearly gave me a headache. As I continue to examine what came in the box and found the bare minimum; the rheobus, instructions, screws for mounting and a y-power splitter. Unlike the two previous examined rheobus' this one did not include any extras like the 3-pin to 4-pin converters and 3-pin to 3-pin fan power extenders. Later, this forced me to pull those components from the boxes of other rheobus' for testing purposes. For the modder, this might either have to go buy the converters or cut the connectors off your fans and solder them to a 3-pin connector, not too convenient. The Y-power splitter was included to be plugged into a power supply's molex connector then into the rear of the SunBeam Rheobus. Then the other male connector can be used for another device of your choice. This makes it so that you do not have to lose a molex connector, as you will still have one open with the other side of the Y. I usually do not examine instructions, but I was interested in seeing how SunBeam expected me to hook up my molex fans into the 3-pin connectors on the rear of the rheobus. I opened up the set of instructions and was kind of lost when I saw that the rheobus in the pictures did not match the one which I had whatsoever! To start off, the instructions had pictures of the front of the rheobus with a plain aluminum front whereas my rheobus was covered in light blue writing. Another thing I noticed is that the pictures in the instructions showed the fan connectors as screw-in jacks. In this case, our rheobus had four separate 3-pin ports to which you could simply plug a fan into (much easier). I am not certain why their instructions showed such pictures, but a good guess says that the pictures in the instructions were from an earlier generation of the rheobus. I guess we lucked out and got the better version!



When pulling the SunBeam Rheobus from the bubble wrap, I was surprised by the size of this unit. It was much bigger than any other Rheobus I had ever seen, but size doesn't matter:). Much like the Vantec Nexus Fan Controller, I was able to see that the SunBeam Rheobus was constructed of one simple piece of aluminum all the way around. I've said it once and I will say it again, that the less parts = less things to go wrong. Looking at the front, I did notice that it was a bit ugly. SunBeam had a great idea with the aluminum faceplate, but they really did ruin the effect when they laced it with all the light blue writing and design. I give them kudos however because they attempted to give the aluminum front a nice brushed grain look like the LianLi. However, it was brushed sideways and not up and down. On the front of the unit you will also notice the four aluminum rheobus knobs, a very nice size which fit my hands perfectly. These were also brushed to match the front aluminum faceplate. I was told by someone that these knobs were not real aluminum so to test their theory I gave the knob a soft yank and it came off. When I flipped the knob around, I could see that the knobs were nothing but a piece of silver painted plastic. Could have fooled me! If the thought of plastic knobs bothers you, feel free to head over to FrozenCPU.com for real aluminum knobs in replacement. To the upper-right of each knob, I did notice one 5mm LED which is actually two-tone! The led is RED at lower speeds and turns blue as the rheobus is turned past 7volts. This is the first time I have actually seen a dual color LED on a rheobus. Around the back, I noticed that the PCB of the entire unit was that boring green color which I am sure we are all familiar with. I also noticed four HUGE black "M" shaped heatsinks; one was connected to each transformer. This hinted to me that the SunBeam rheobus is ready to take a beating as far as power output goes, but we'll have to see for ourselves during the testing phase. From the instructions, I also noticed that this rheobus has a VERY cool feature. You can unscrew the PCB from the faceplate and actually drill a new template into a drive cover of your choice. For this mod, they usually include a drilling template, but they forgot to package that with our rheobus!

?????

Each of the four fans is plugged into the rear of the rheobus using a 3-pin connection and power is supplied to the unit through the onboard molex connector. Later, I found out that the previously mentioned foul odor was coming from the foam which they used on the bottom of the PCB to prevent any shocking to the user while it is plugged in. This is a GREAT safety precaution especially for newer users, but not as great for solder and unsoldering as trying to pull the foam from the bottom leaves a horrible residue.



One thing that I noticed as I was just getting ready to put this in my testing chassis is the little 3-pin sockets which each of the LEDs plugs into. Being a modder, I just had to see what this was all about. I quickly popped the LED from the front faceplate and pulled it straight out of the socket. Quick disconnecting LED sockets - AWESOME! No soldering is even required to make this unit custom! So, after I screwed the SunBeam 5.25" Rheobus into my empty 5.25" bay. I pulled out the "Y" power splitter and plugged it into the rear of the rheobus and then the power from the PSU went into the other end of the Y connector. Since I had the 3-pin to 4-pin converters from the Vantec Nexus Fan Controller, I was able to pull those out in order to test the unit with the four tornados. If the user does not have any 3-pin to 4-pin connectors however, they will be forced to solder, buy new fans or buy 3-pin to 4-pin converters online. Once I had all four 92mm Tornado Fans plugged into the unit, it was time to see if this baby fired up. When I first twisted the knob, I felt a CLICK and the LED lit red. Since the Tornado fans do not start to spin until a minimum of 7volts is supplied, I had to crank the knob all the way until the LED turned blue for the fan to start spinning. I looked at the fan RPM readings as I began to power up the other three 92mm Tornado fans, and I could see the previous fan drop rpm by 50. This is not a HUGE deal, but you can see the rheobus was being overloaded by the amount of power being required by all four fans. Below are the average RPM readings for each of the FOUR 92mm Vantec Tornado fans on both highest and lowest setting.

Vantec 92mm Tornado (4800rpm)

Highest Setting

Lowest Setting

4500 RPM

1850 RPM



After leaving the rheobus on for the standard 24hour test period, I came back into the test room to hear that beautiful tornado buzz being given off once again. You will notice that this rheobus did have the ability to turn the fans OFF as well. This is another feature most often OVERLOOKED in rheobus', but one of the biggest things I notice. I think that the point of controlling a fan is being able to turn it off and when the fan is running at even the lowest RPM, it can still be heard. Once again, kudos to sunbeam for their originality and idea. The HIGHEST setting on the Rheobus had these fans running somewhat lower than the previous rheobus, but it was still running airflow through the case. I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that this rheobus had the Tornado running at 1850rpm. This had the fans running EXTREMELY silent although they were barely pushing any air. Although this controller was able to control the four 92mm Tornado fans, I could see that it was being a bit overloaded by watching the RPM of each fan drop when another was turned on. Overall, this was a great performance for the SunBeam Rheobus.



The SunBeam Rheobus really had me fooled. When I first got this box, it did look a little bit on the "cheap" side, but I was blown out of the water to see the numerous addendins on this model compared to other brands. Although the instructions would have been a little confusing to a newer user, and the writing on the front of the rheobus does degrade the looks a bit, this can easily be overcome. I was very impressed with the way that SunBeam allowed the easy disassembly of the unit with only two screws in order to put it into your own faceplate as well. To me, fan controlling involves being able to turn the fan off as well as control the speed, and SunBeam did exactly that by allowing their rheobus to turn fans off and the last thing I was impressed with was the safety precaution taken on the bottom of the baybus to prevent anyone/thing from being shocked! Overall, this is absolutely a great product! Sunbeam combined the ideas of EASY customization with unbeatable performance, I would definitely not have a problem recommending this product as long as you don't mind having a little bit lower rpm on the high setting compared to other rheobus'. You can find this product at FrozenCpu.com for around $28.00.




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