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Old 12th Aug 2013, 10:09   #1
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NZXT Sentry Mix 2 Fan Controller Review

NZXT's latest Sentry fan controller has six 30W channels and supports PWM fans.
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/coo...oller-review/1
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 11:14   #2
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Maybe I am missing something here but why exactly do people need to have a fan controller on the front these days? With all the cooling options and far superior fans we have these days is there a real reason to raise and lower individual/groups of fans 'on-the-fly'?

Also, if you are using PWM fans, aren't they controllable via software so apart from needing fan headers, removing the need for a physical controller on the case?

I don't understand any arguments about ambient temps in summer and winter being different either. I have windows for the summer and central heating for the winter meaning that inside my house is always between 18'-25', at least when I am home anyway. I understand that for stress testing this may make a difference but surely a fairly modern case with 3 or 4 fans on low-med settings is easily sufficient cooling for today's hardware, even for extended gaming sessions. So isn't a fan controller like this really only a visual thing or for those who just want to tweek every few mins just for the sake of it?
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 13:02   #3
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Derp a der der! News flash! Not everyone is you. This is cheap as chips controller for serious wattage with loads of fans bla bla. Some like if quiet. Some like it loud. Who cares? 6 channels variable and you can adjust without software or manual.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 13:05   #4
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It also depends on how easy it is for your flat to be cooled, how close your computer is to the radiator, and what you're doing with the PC.

When I'm just watching some iPlayer and browsing the internet I don't need or want much cooling. I have to say I really like the idea of being able to control my fans on the fly, but thats because I have my case in a slightly silly place.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 13:16   #5
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law99, no need to be rude, I know not everyone is me. I gave my situation to explain my opinion but I was ASKING for others to explain WHY they need or want something like this. I understand the benefit of HAVING multiple fans all hooked up I don't understand the reason for something physical like this. The benefit of software managed fans is that you can program temp based profiles so the fans speed up or slow down accordingly to the system temp which surely is the point. CPU and GPU coolers work in this way, speeding up and slowing down their fans as required, I don't see manual controls for either of these items. I wouldn't want to think of my system choking because I forgot to manually increase the fans before I started gaming. So, again, I was asking why people would choose a physical, manual fan controller.

Personally, this is why I want higher end components as they are required to work harder less often and therefore do not get as hot as low end CPUs/GPUs which are stressed much more often and easily.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 13:31   #6
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OK heres a situation.

Normally you want you computer operating cool, so you have your fan's maxed up. But as a one off you want quiet for an hour or two, knowing that you can turn them down 20% without choking your PC. Its just that components last better when cooler.

At the end of the day manual control is usually easier to tweek in the short term.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 13:51   #7
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That is fair enough Lance. However, it seems like an extreme to go to for what seems like a whim situation. Especially when you are likely to be connecting so many fans. With so many connected and running I doubt any difference in operating temps will be gained between running your fans at a quiet medium level to a louder, high speed level. Especially when the CPU and GPU fans are often by far the loudest fans in any system and aren't connected or affected by the fan controller.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 14:17   #8
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The usual gaming-rig on air-cooling has 3-4 casefans, a fan in the PSU, 1-2 fans for the CPU and 1-2 fans for the GPU. If we assume the minimum, this would be atleast 6 120mm fans for reasonably cooling a rig like mine.

Controlling of the PSU, CPU and GPU isn't done manually or whatever. These components work on their own PWM-circuitry. That leaves us with 3-4 casefans that need to be controlled, and the best solution is a simple potentiometer like offered by LianLi, where you can hook up your four case-fans to and regulate them with a single knob from 5-12V.

These fan-control-panels aren't really needed imho and there's easier solutions to manually control your fans, but to each their own. And people who watercool their rigs usually use fancier controls like the aquaero or a T-balancer etc.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 18:01   #9
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jrs77, That is exactly the point of my questions. I too don't see the point of these controllers and I am trying to find out if I am missing something that I would benefit from. In my opinion if you are using enough fans to fully utilise this controller then even with them all set to their lowest settings there should still be adequate air flow to cool even a fairly high end gaming rig. If more cooling is needed then usually people go the WC way as you mentioned. So I see the point of using this as a means of powering as many fans as you may require, I just don't see the point of the 'controls', until someone points out something that I may have missed that is.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 22:13   #10
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For me, he idea is to get my ig as silent asI possible i.e. being able to turn the fans down real low, without being unable to start. Or being limited to 12, 7 or 5 volt. Or having to try a dozen different fans. Or having to deal with software, but just throw one glance at the analogue interface and adjust intuitively right away.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 22:46   #11
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Software is kind of crap or even non-existent if you don't use Windows... can you name a single program for Linux that's easy to set up/use?
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 22:47   #12
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For me personally I'd rather use a fan header and relevant software that enables me to set up a profile or two and then just let it do it's thing. When the system is idle, the fans spin down to the lowest possible setting speed, then as the system works harder and the temps increase, so do the fans... No looking to check what the fans are doing, no worrying that I 'forgot' to increase certain fan's speed before gaming, depending on where the system is, no need to get up to adjust the fans any way. There just seem to be so many practical advantages to doing things that way rather than these manual methods. Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking people for their choices and personal preferences, it just doesn't sound like this type of thing is for me as so far no one has given any real reason to use them, which if I am honest is a real shame, because I was looking for a reason to get/use one as they do look good. However, that just isn't a good enough reason for me.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 22:59   #13
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djzic, That may well be a valid point. I can't confirm nor deny your point as I personally have little experience outside of Windows. It does raise the question of 'why not?' though. I mean Linux is supposed to be THE ZONE for programmers and such and it's open source nature would seem to allow easy coding for such a seemingly trivial piece of software.
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Old 12th Aug 2013, 23:56   #14
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djzic, That may well be a valid point. I can't confirm nor deny your point as I personally have little experience outside of Windows. It does raise the question of 'why not?' though. I mean Linux is supposed to be THE ZONE for programmers and such and it's open source nature would seem to allow easy coding for such a seemingly trivial piece of software.
The OS? Yeah, it makes it lovely and easy. The hardware vendors? Not so much. I can't monitor the temperature sensors on my APU's die. Why? Because AMD has neither released a binary blob driver nor the source code required to let me do that. Not the operating system's fault - AMD's. Until someone bothers to black-box engineer a driver, or AMD wises up and releases one of its own, I'm bereft. One of the joys of using a minority operating system, unfortunately.

That said, now triple-A game developers are targeting Linux and Valve is buddying up to Nvidia on same, I'd imagine the situation will be dramatically different in a year or so's time.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 00:02   #15
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I have one of these it helps me keep my pc cool but giving me the option of turning it silent my simply moving a slider
I have 7 fans plugged into it ( 3 180mm fans, and 4x 120mm scythe GTs ) and its nice to just silence the pc when watching a film, but having the option to turn it up to full on a hot day or the like

sure I could plug them all into my mobo and have the fans running on auto, but that leaves messy fan wires across the mobo, also ruining an aftermarket GPU cooler means its nice to turn the rig down ( after all the AP181s are not silent and the AP182s are even louder )

also to note that my old fan controller would not power 3 ap182s due to their high start up power needs but the sentry has no issues even when I tested it with ALL fans connected to one socket

my friend also uses this on his 2 triple 120mm rad fans ( 3 fans on 2 channels, 2 pumps and 2 case fans ) and it runs as sweet as anything without even getting toasty

imo fan controllers will always be a love or hate thing, I like the interactivity of doing it manually its hard to explain, same reason why some people like paddle gearbox's and others don't I guess
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 09:13   #16
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Starting to get the general gist of things, thanks people. Especially Gareth for explaining a little about the issues with Linux, fingers crossed for you guys that the situation changes soon.

So apart from the 'hands-on' approach, are there any other major pros/cons between something like this and say an mCubed T-Balancer?
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 09:30   #17
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djzic, That may well be a valid point. I can't confirm nor deny your point as I personally have little experience outside of Windows. It does raise the question of 'why not?' though. I mean Linux is supposed to be THE ZONE for programmers and such and it's open source nature would seem to allow easy coding for such a seemingly trivial piece of software.
The OS? Yeah, it makes it lovely and easy. The hardware vendors? Not so much. I can't monitor the temperature sensors on my APU's die. Why? Because AMD has neither released a binary blob driver nor the source code required to let me do that. Not the operating system's fault - AMD's. Until someone bothers to black-box engineer a driver, or AMD wises up and releases one of its own, I'm bereft. One of the joys of using a minority operating system, unfortunately.

That said, now triple-A game developers are targeting Linux and Valve is buddying up to Nvidia on same, I'd imagine the situation will be dramatically different in a year or so's time.
Yeah, it's AMD's fault for not releasing jack, but can you blame them? You want them to dedicate engineers to solving Linux problems for 1% of the market? The situation they're in, I'd drop doing anything for Linux in a hurry, too. And given how Linus Torvalds seems to operate, I don't know I'd be in a big hurry to want to have any interaction with him, either (**** you, NVidia and all).

The other question would be, could you do it with Intel?

Also, in answer to schizofrog - too many fans, not enough headers? I have a mini-ITX board with one header aside from the CPU header. One. Granted, it's an E350, so I don't exactly need a lot of fans, but as I recall, I have more spaces for fans (5) than I have headers on the motherboard for my main desktop (3 or 4). What about those ridiculous Mountain Mods cases that will take a dozen fans or better? I could start plugging in splitters to the headers and hope nothing blows...or drop $35 on something like this and call it good. If I don't care about noise, I'll leave it cranked up to 100% all the time. The day I remember it's a fan controller and I can make it quiet would just be a bonus.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 09:52   #18
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Yeah, it's AMD's fault for not releasing jack, but can you blame them? You want them to dedicate engineers to solving Linux problems for 1% of the market?
Why not? They already have engineers working on Catalyst for Linux - would it really hurt that much to ask a couple of those guys to spend a few hours hacking together a kernel module for thermal monitoring? Hell, they've already written it for Windows - they just need to port it, not write it from scratch.
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The other question would be, could you do it with Intel?
Yeah, thermal monitoring works great under Intel, 'cos they actually bothered to release a module. In fact, Intel released a very useful tool a few years ago: PowerTOP. It's basically top - a system monitoring tool - that tracks wakeups and lets you see what applications are drawing the most power, and includes a menu for tweaking settings to reduce system power draw. It's pretty damn awesome.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 11:21   #19
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fluxtatic, I think you missed the general theme of my comments and questions. You CAN get fan controllers that are powered directly from the CPU and run on software rather than having a physical bay manual controller on the front of your case. I also doubt that any modern day motherboard's fan header/s would blow if you plugged in a string of 4 or 5 fans, if anything the fans just wouldn't hit their full RPM speeds.

Gareth, it is interesting to hear those comments about Intel supporting Linux. We hear all these arguments about how the average user just picks Intel over AMD because it is what they know, but this is a key point. AMD is NOT supporting CPU enthusiasts, not with high end CPUs and it would seem not with Linux support either. This is just another notch that makes Intel more appealing across the board. These days you can pretty much be certain that Intel will be leading the way with tech advancements (Thunderbolt) and will also be supporting advancements created by others.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 11:26   #20
Gareth Halfacree
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Originally Posted by SchizoFrog View Post
AMD is NOT supporting CPU enthusiasts, not with high end CPUs and it would seem not with Linux support either. This is just another notch that makes Intel more appealing across the board.
Actually, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other. Sure, there are AMD chips that don't allow thermal monitoring under Linux; but there are Intel chips that can't run desktop Linux with accelerated graphics thanks to a lack of driver - binary blob or otherwise - for the embedded graphics processor. That's a much bigger issue: I know someone who bought a mini-ITX board with one of the affected Atom chips (without doing his research, unfortunately) and ended up flogging it on eBay 'cos it was completely unusable as a desktop machine - slower in use, in fact, than a 30 Raspberry Pi.

Sure, that's an exception - Intel's usually pretty good about Linux support - but it still shows that it's certainly not a case of "Intel good, AMD bad."
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