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6 Fan Controller Roundup (Second Half)

Page: 2/4
Manufacturer: Unknown
Product Name: 3.5" Rheobus (Rheobus)
Provider: Lux-Design.com

Thanks to

For Providing Us With This FINE Product to Review




Now that we have seen a great variety of some of the 5.25" fan controllers out on the market, we can not forget about the small guys as well! This particular baybus is designed to fit into that extra floppy cover you have (3.5") rather than take up a valuable 5.25" bay in the smaller cases with less external bays. As you may already know, working with smaller computer chassis' and a fairly loaded system takes up a majority, if not ALL of your 5.25" bays. Now that floppy drives are being used less and less everyday, just the space required for this little device. We are not sure who the actual manufacturer of this product is because the box is VERY generic and there is no name stamp on the product itself or the instructions, but the device was supplied by our Canadian Mod Sponsor, Lux-Design. Olivier, owner of Lux-Design offered this product to us for review quite a while back and I thought it'd be a great addition to the roundup as far as variety concerns. Although the size of these units is significantly smaller than the larger fan controllers, we will still continue to test them under the same conditions.



I was curious to see if this was even in the same ballpark with those standard 5.25" bays. It was obvious that the size was different, but I was really anxious to see if they would be able to handle the same loads. This is why I accepted the product offer from Olivier in the beginning. After I received the actual product packaging from the shipping package I noticed that this product does not have a brand name written ANYWHERE on the box. This had me thinking that maybe this particular model of controllers isn't exactly up to par with the name brand products. Either way, I also noticed a picture of TWO fan controllers resembling the one inside the box. I found it strange that the box creator would include a picture of a silver baybus/blue lighting (what we received) as well as a picture of a purple baybus with red lighting, which is not even available! The only color options available with this product are a black or natural aluminum faceplate; both have the blue knob glow. So, When I finally opened the product box and pulled the rheobus out, I noticed that the only other includes were a Y-power splitter as well as a set of instructions. I was quite disappointed that there were no 3-pin to molex connectors in the box seeing as the device did require 3-pin for connection to the fan. The Y-power splitter was included in the box to allow you to plug in this device as well as keep one power supply molex connector open; this is a very common item amongst a majority of electronic devices. When I finally had the chance to check out the instructions I was very discouraged by what I saw. The instructions included with this product consisted of no more than 2 pictures and four sentences. This isn't exactly what I would call friendly amongst the newest of new pc enthusiasts as it is very possible that they could be lost in the process of installation. Basically, a quick rundown of installation includes screwing the 3.5" rheobus into an empty 3.5" bay, hooking up the Y-power splitter from the power supply molex to the rheobus and then hooking all fans into the rear of the rheobus. If your fans do not come with a 3-pin connector by default, you will need to find an online store which sells 3-pin to 4-pin converters, or if you are good with soldering irons, you can always try to cut the wires to your fans and solder them to a 3-pin connector, however this approach is not recommended.

?????

This is usually my favorite part of the review, where I get to butcher the product down to its smallest detail so prepare for massive detail on this product. The construction on this rheobus is one-piece aluminum, bent to form the resemblance of a 3.5" faceplate. Unlike the previously reviewed aluminum fan controllers, this fan controller does indeed have the ever-so-famous LianLi brushed grain, BUT instead of it matching the direction of a normal LianLi Chassis (up and down) the manufacturer of this product decided that the grain would move from left to right. The front layout of this rheobus is fairly simple, as all that you can see from afar are four chrome knobs just a tad smaller than a dime in diamete...very small. Up close, I did notice that the knobs have a somewhat cheesy feeling to them. The knobs are composed of chrome coated plastic and to put it short, the chrome job sucks. The chrome on the FRONT of the knobs is so rough that it looks like someone took a piece of sandpaper to the front of them. Another thing which concerns me with the knobs is their distance apart. It is bad enough that these knobs are small already, but the fact that they are so close together really makes it tough to twist them in one motion. Just where the base of the knob meets the faceplate, you will notice a clear ring which fills the gap. Just like the Vantec fan controller, these knobs do glow blue when the unit is plugged into the power supply. Around to the backside of the unit, I wasn't too excited. The rear of this unit is fairly boring since the manufacturer decided to put all resistors and other circuitry between the faceplate and the PCB and left the four 3-pin fan connectors as well as the molex connectors and four transformers. This is not necessarily bad since the fans and power are still plugged into the rear of the unit, but changing LEDs would require you to remove the screws holding the PCB in place and replacing them once you were done. This is not a huge obstacle in the way of color changing the GLOW of the knobs, but does add a couple more minutes to the process!



After I had the chance to install the baybus into our tester's LianLi PC-7 Aluminum Chassis, the difference in grain direction between the case and the rheobus were not noticeable in lower light but did become obvious when lighting was intense in the area. Installation consisted of simply popping out an existing 3.5" bay cover and putting the rheobus in its place. Then, putting in four screws (two in each side), hooking up power and then hooking up the four fans into the rear of the unit. Installation of the Vantec Tornado fans into the bus was a bit tricky since the Tornado connectors are 4-pin by default and the fanbus only accepts 3-pin. I had the option of either cutting the wires to the Tornado fans and soldering them to the 3-pin connectors or borrowing the 3-pin to 4-pin connectors from the Vantec Nexus Fan Controller box. As you may have guessed, to save time and the use of a soldering iron, I simply chose to borrow the converters. Also, before we continue PLEASE DO realize that the wattage rating for each fan port is 8watts on this device. For testing purposes, we did proceed to hook up four 92mm Tornado fans which consume 12.5w. This is NOT recommended for ANYONE so please do not attempt to recreate this test. Once I powered on the system with the four 92mm Tornado fans, the fanbus was doing fine on its lowest setting, so I decided to kick it up a notch. I flipped all four switches to their fullest setting which continued to run the fans until I felt the faceplate of the rheobus and it actually did burn my hand. Immediately I powered down the system and decided that it would be best if we just ran this smaller rheobus with fans rated for 8w or less. This would explain why I was not able to get fan RPM readings on the 92mm Tornados. Lux-Design does not carry the new revision of this product, but I have seen one other site which does carry a second revision supporting up to 13watts per channel. Below are the average RPM readings on our set of standard 80mm CoolerMaster Neon LED Fans which consume 1.8w of power.

80mm CoolerMaster Neon LED Fans (2500rpm)

Highest Setting

Lowest Setting

2350 RPM

Too Low For Scale RPM



As you can see, this controller was a bit of a disappointment to me. When I pulled it from the box, I was hoping that the performance would make up for the cheesy chrome knobs, but was kind of discouraged to see the performance as well. I was hoping that such a small unit would be able to hold the four 93mm tornados, which it did, but I was forced to downgrade to the average everyday led fans to prevent from anything melting or catching fire. You will also notice, however, that even when the less demanding fans were running on the baybus, they still were not receiving enough power to run them as high as they could have been. The looks on this unit were not horrible, but the knob chroming could be improved drastically due to the fact that it almost looks like someone took sandpaper to them. If you are the type of user who does not require a controller for more demanding fans out there, and plan on controlling everyday 80mm and 92mm fans I would not have a big problem recommending this. However, if you are the type who enjoys overclocking and more electrically demanding fans, keep looking folks. This controller will definitely not be your choice! At a price of $32.00 these units are extremely expensive, especially considering that they did not perform even close to that of the $26.99 Vantec Fan controller. If you seem interested in this product check them out on our Canadian Sponsor's site, www.Lux-Design.com.





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