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Vantec would be one of the most easily recognizable names in the business of case modification. When you hear their name, more than likely the first thing you think of is their high CFM rated Tornado fans. Well, they manufacture other things too from their Nexus fan controllers to their newest product, UV cold cathodes - they are an all around great manufacturer of quality products for the consumer. The thing I like about Vantec is that their products are rugged; you can drop them and not worry about them shattering unlike other cheesy brands selling what seems to be the same product for half the price, but don?t let cheap prices fool you because you get what you pay for. Another thing, reliability, they last long and work in the condition that they did the first day you bought them. They also use quality materials to put into their products!
First here we have an Ultraviolet Cold Cathode Kit from Vantec. I must say this is probably one of the nicest cathodes I?ve ever seen. The cathode is a 10 inch unit with a dual CCFL inverter (quick note: don?t try and plug in a cathode when the unit is on, I learned the hard way and shocked the hell out of my finger and burnt off some skin) which accepts any ?three pin? cathode. I?m pretty sure they?re all the same though. The design of this unit is just amazing; they give you an extra long power cable and a premounted switch that?s housed in a pci slot cover. They give you a cable long enough so that you can mount the switch (this is what I did) above your graphics cards, put the inverter in the center of the case, and mount the cathode on the front! I was pleased to see two-sided sticky foam instead of the old Velcro we?ll all too fond of?yea right. I like these foam pads because they?re better looking, smaller, easier to use, and they work great. I did find that if you move your cathode repeatedly they lose their stickiness, well isn?t that expected? You can always run to Home Depot (moment of silence please?..thank you) and pick up some of that lovely industrial strength Velcro.
Let?s indulge on the cathode itself shall we? The unit is confined in a plastic like tube (duh) and is capped with plastic cubes on the end like most others. The one downside I saw about this is sometimes, if you look at it from the top, at night you can see a white light that can get a little annoying. It?s probably just a small product fault and hopefully they aren?t all like this. The cathode itself, I think, is extremely bright. Most cathodes only shed their light on about half of the case so you only get half of your UV reactive products to really shine. I found this cathode to provide ample lighting even all the way to the back of the case for reactive products. This is nice if you have rear vent fans that are reactive of course. There is a small black Vantec sticker towards the bottom that is just screaming quality products. I don?t know why either? The wire leading from the Cathode to the inverter isn?t that boring old white we see all the time but it?s a yellow and black combination! Like I said before, it?s VERY long too for further imaginative cathode placement.
The inverter enclosure is very solid. I found the construction to be sound in all areas, it?s not loose or anything and you can?t wiggle the structure back and forth. It has a large black Vantec sticker on the bottom and has vents on it too. I found this to be nice as they get very hot. Another thing I noticed is that they probably use the same enclosure for this cathode as they do with their sound activated ones. The inverter has all of the holes drilled that would be needed for a sound activated unit but there is nothing present. This is a little annoying but if you place the inverter right you?re never going to notice and not to mention is provides further ventilation.
I?m truly fond of this PCI mountable on/off switch. The switch itself is very small and is very ergonomical to any user I?m sure. It can go in that spare bay that most of us have above the AGP slot. If you have a board with six pci slots you?re going to have to look elsewhere and sacrifice a PCI slot. That?s not really an issue today considering that most motherboard producers are putting a lot of the old pci-only technologies onboard. Ya know things like firewire and extra usb slots and thing along those lines. I find this to be extremely helpful. The shape of the switch is the same as any other pci slot mount that you would find on any other input device or agp card. It fits in perfectly with the shape and scheme, not to mention color, with all of your other system devices.
Next up we have a Vantec ATA-133 IDE cable that?s also UV Reactive! This cable is probably of the finest make I?ve seen around lately. The rubber surround the silver shielding is very flexible and allows you to make very sharp bends to connect your devices and still carry a very fluid look. The silver braid over the wires also doesn?t distort and separate very much unlike some other ones. If you put extreme sharp bends in other they have a tendency to separate and look unprofessional and just plain ugly. I don?t notice any speed difference in the cable itself being that I have a DVD-ROM hooked to it. All of the plugs (that ones that connect to the devices and system board) have tabs on them that say Vantec System, Slave, and Master. I think this is kind of obvious but if you?re a new system builder then this might be helpful for you! Another thing, it really assists in removing the plugs when they are in tight and cramped areas. You just grab on the tab and pull straight back and the cable comes right out of the device! This is helpful because pulling on the wires and wire wrap loosens the internal workings of the cable and results in decreased performance of the product. Under a UV light the cable glows giving off a cool effect at the edges. When light placement is right you can get the whole cable to light up and give off a really good look. I have an example of a neon cable compared to the UV cable. You can see the neon is more evenly spread and the UV is more-so on the edges of the cable. I?d have to say that personally I like the UV cable much better than the neon one and I would recommend it with higher stature than the neon one. The neon cable has a creamy and dull look; I prefer the crisp and fresh look the Vantec cable really seems to carry. It also looks much softer than the neon cable.
In conclusion I?d say that this Cathode unit and the reactive IDE cable are some of the highest quality products I?ve ever seen. If you combine these units with a nice window design it?ll really take your case to the next level. Unfortunately I only got one of the reactive cables for review but I?m sure two would make your case out-of-this-world wicked!
Here are a few pictures of the units in action! The green wire you are seeing is the neon ide cable the UV reactive Vantec one was being compared to! For the record these pictures were taken with a light placement of nine inches away from the case exhaust fan on the side of the case. The ide cable is approximately six inches away from the cathode?s center of light. As you can see the back side of the fan is faded because I have the cathode running vertical up the front of my case, better cathode placement will fix this problem I?m sure of that.