Vantec has been in the industry for a while. They're a well-known name from cooling to controlling, and they've gotten good at the game. I couldn?t ask for higher quality products than those produced by Vantec, and that?s what sets them apart. From their record-breaking Tornado line of fans to their sleek and well-designed Nexus line, they are an all-around reliable solution to add some flair to your modded rig. Today, we?re going to take a look at the Vantec Nexus 301 Fan and Light Controller. I?m going to start off by saying that I found the light controller to be just about useless. More on that later, though!
This is probably the most well-designed Nexus product I?ve come across since the eye-catching Nexus Multifunc! The product looks sharp, and everything is user friendly to the max! Let me familiarize you with the product. It is meant to control three fans via three-pin connections, and two cathodes via an onboard inverter. The two cathodes are coupled to one control knob with three settings; off, on, and sound activated. The three fan control knobs are about twice the size of the cathode knob, and include multiple positions from off to maximum power! The max power on these bad boys is 18 volts per channel. Wow! I know what you're thinking, "Good luck finding an 18V fan with a three pin connection," but it?s quite easy when you?re given three four-to-three pin adapters. The adapters themselves can actually be used for two things; they are not only an adapter, but also a wire extender, as there is a place to input a fan with a three pin connection already. This is useful if you?re stretching across a full tower, a server case, or if you have a fan with a short cord.
Let's focus on the unit again. There is a nice gray bevel around the unit that sticks out a small bit farther than CD-ROMs and other 5.25" devices, and stands out. All of the knobs are backlit in a deep rich green color. Herein lies a problem; what if your color scheme is red or blue, and you're stuck with green for this device? I wish they would have made the green acrylic color spreaders interchangeable, with white LEDs, so that you could changes colors for personalization. I think this would take the product to another level and give you another advantage in the case modding "war" we all have with each other. This is a possible suggestion to Vantec. I do not think it would be too difficult, either, especially considering that the perfboard is held in by only two screws; easy un-installation and re-installation, my friends! The color scheme of the unit?s internal workings is even desirable, as the perfboard used with this product is a nice royal blue; very pleasing to the eyes if you have a window and you can see the back of the unit! It?s very well organized too, so it doesn?t look cluttered!
The three pin connections are spread out and laid out horizontally. This means you don?t have to worry about installing anything directly above the unit. Installation is also helped by the long adapters provided! On some other fan controllers, the three pin connectors are vertical, which means you have to bend fan wires at odd angles, possibly damaging them and/or the controller. That?s not something you want to have to replace, now is it?
Once everything is plugged in and organized, you can fire up your rig and see what this baby does. For the most part, I was pleased, except for the cathode controller. Remember the comment I made at the beginning of the review? Now you get the explanation. I found it to be extremely buggy! The cathode controller knob would eventually work its way from to "On" position to the "Sound activated" position! In the manual, there is a troubleshooting section with only one thing, and it has to deal with this. They say if the cathode inverter goes to "Sound activated" in the "On" position, it has short-circuited, and you must power down and power back up your system. I?ve done this maybe five times, and it?s off and on with this device. I find it a bit suspicious that this is the only troubleshooting tip, too. I?m hoping Vantec didn?t knowingly release a faulty product; I like my money to work for me longer than five minutes before it goes haywire. Also, the sound activation function is very difficult to adjust. It?s hard to get it just where you want it, considering that it's one knob, not a knob and switch combo like on most stand-alone inverters. The fan controlling aspect of this device is great, though; I couldn?t ask for a smoother knob or more precise control intervals. I love it, and I think it?s great!
In conclusion, I?d have to say that cathode control should be left to stand-alone inverters. I thought it was a great idea at first, especially since you do get two free blue cathodes, but it just didn?t work the way I thought it would. Vantec has produced great products in the past, but with this one, I think they've missed the mark. The fan controlling aspect is great, as I said before, but there are many other controllers that are great as well.