- Introduction, Packaging and Specs
- Closer Look and First Impressions
- Fan Control and Display Impressions
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
Disclosure: This review unit is supplied by The IT Depot
Fan controllers have been around for a long time and they have pretty good usefulness as newer hardware develops in time. Not much has changed except its aesthetics and functions, so they still do the same job- control and monitor fan speed, along with voltage and temperature monitoring.
Lamptron Touch six-channel fan controller isn’t new. Judging by the release date and user posts in multiple tech forums, it’s been around since 2010 or 2011- as old as Hardware BBQ itself. What’s interesting is that it uses a touch screen as a means to allow a user to change the screen and adjust fan speed according to their preference. It’s a six-channel-based CNC milled aluminium interface with the ability to view and control RPM/VDC for fans, but also monitor voltages and temperatures in Celcius or Fahrenheit. This allows 30 watts per channel with automatic or manual fan control options. That’s adequate even for cooling fans available today.
The Silencio FP 120 PWM Performance edition fan is rated to consume 1.92 watts and the IndustrialPPC 24v fan lineups consume from 1.68 watts to as high as 7.92 watts. A water cooling pump with integrated reservoir like an EK-XRES 140 Revo D5 PWM consumes 23 watts from the 12VDC. Keeping that in mind, this fan controller holds some its own weight, at least on paper. Six channels will give you enough control a user will need. You can also use these to control 3-pin LED strips, like the ones MNPCTech is selling. Alas, you can’t change the graphics on the fan controller. Some controllers have a set of three-pin connectors for LED lights. Fans, pump and LED lights. As long as it can operate on 12v DC power, this should get the job done.
What’s also noteworthy is that the fan controller has a CPU which acts as a PWM controller. So if you have a bunch of non-PWM base case fans, the controller allows you to keep them in automatic mode- or manual.
The packaging is straightforward and has all the information at the back except the warranty period. We noticed that Lamptron posted pictures of the contents, but the colours of the cables were colour coded and not the usual black insulation which is usually preferred by users as it helps to look the wiring more seamless. There’s also a jumper and six pieces of sensor cables, the mounting screws and a screen cloth.
The inner packaging is good enough to protect the contents inside, but I am surprised to see black sleeved cables bundled with this fan controller. Even each of the wiring on the molex extension adapter is individually sleeved. You get an instruction manual, a set of four screws, a cleaning cloth, a jumper, six extension wires for 3-pin fan headers and six pieces of thermal probes.
You get an instruction manual, a set of four screws, a cleaning cloth, a jumper, six extension wires for 3-pin fan headers and six pieces of thermal probes.
While it’s good to see Lamptron Touch keeping up with the present, but Lamptron should update their photos on the packaging and their site as it would easily prevent a lot of users from making a purchase. Labelling the difference would be more helpful by calling it as a ‘V2’ or something to indicate the updated version.
The specifications and features are as follows:
- Faceplate Color: Black Anodized/Silver Aluminium
- Dimension：148.5mm X 42.5mm X 64.5mm (5.25inch bay)
- Screen Dimension：118mm X 31.5mm
- Power Output：Up to 30W per channel
- Control Channels: 6
- CNC milled front panel
- Clean and streamlined interface
- Streamlined touch functionality to control your fans
- Choose between RPM or Voltages and Celsius or Fahrenheit for readout
- Set the channel in either Automatic or Manual control to control the fans
The front is a horizontal brushed black coloured finish on the aluminium plate with a couple of grooves on the side. This fan controller is made to fit in a 5.25″ bay. In a way I am happy there’s no branding on the front side bezel. Behind the controller, there are two layers of PCB and the touch screen. As you can see, it uses the four-pin Molex to power up and control the six 3-pin headers.
Just below the Molex connector, there are a set of six pins to connect the thermal probes and also two pins for activating the alarm by using the provided jumper. The alarm turns on if any temperature emitted from the probe reports 70 degrees Celsius and if the fans are not operating when its voltage is over 6.5v. That said, all fan headers need to be used or else the alarm will continuously ring. The only other way is to reduce all the non-connected fan profiles to less than 6.5v. Providing an onboard alarm control on the screen would be more useful as accessing the PCB can be frustrating.
The fan controller uses ARM STM32 CPU which uses Cortex-M3 core. This controller acts as a PWM controller for all the connected fans. Hence, if the connected fan does not have a PWM chip to regulate the RPM, the fan controller takes care of it.
The extension wiring could have been longer, considering one or two of the fans would be from the rear section of the case. Note that most prefer to hide the excess cables in today’s system and, therefore, routing them around will require an added length. While this may not be an issue with fans with longer fan cable length like with the IndustrialPPC series, it might not be the case with others especially since pre-bundled non-pwn fans in some cases are annoying short with a 3-pin to molex converter. It might be a pain if it’s a large XL-ATX type cases. These cable extensions measure 50 inches. I have another fan controller which is a 4-pin lead is 64 inches long.
At one point, manufacturers (and users) used to consider braided cable as ‘the best thing’ but as time passed and as people started to see the light. It makes it difficult to bend, provides no real world benefits, and adds unnecessary weight to it. Such were the counterpoints typically with braided mice. In terms of these cables, the conventional cabling is a much better option. This is compared with another extension cable. It’s black and, therefore, makes it easier to hide and it uses the same plastic sleeving that wires typically use. Braided cabling on the fan extensions provides unnecessary thickness. They already have similar cabling for the temperature probe. Molex wires are individually sleeved.
The header placements on the PCB are done in a way that it’s towards the left. The temperature probe is 70 inches long. It is preferred that you connect the cable extensions first and then install it on the case.
This fan controller was tested with the fan units from IndustrialPPC/Noctua and Coolermaster- IndustrialPPC 120 and 140 mm 24v fans, an NF-S12A FLX and the Silencio FP 120 Performance Edition fans– a total of six. All of these fans worked at maximum capacity.
There is a little bit of a concern about backlight bleeding, and the light emitting from the screen towards the top and bottom of the fan controller is leaking.
This light is good enough to be seen through even the smallest of spaces. Lamptron could have fixed this if the space between the screen and the PCB was sealed, just like another touchscreen based Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 XT fan controller. You could seal the gaps using the electric PVC tape.
The functions of this controller are to display and control fan speed & monitor the temperature. When selecting one of the fan options on the screen, it will show the RPM towards the top left which can toggle with voltage consumption, and the top right shows the temperature in Celcius and Fahrenheit toggle options. The fan controller has a manual and automatic option selector. You can control the speed of the fan directly by swiping the horizontal bar, which then automatically switches itself to manual control. Note that there are two ways you can know when the fans are spinning- one is the RPM, and second is the display of the fan blades that rotating according to its limit. You can either press the back key placed towards the lower right or just use the arrow keys to switch to different fans.
No matter how you look at it, temperature probes are redundant since components have an internal temperature probe, more accurate to consider as it displays core temperatures rather than the surface temperature, depending on the placement of the controller’s thermal probes.
The screen is plastic and has a little bit of a gloss finish on it. But once the display is turned on, glossy can hardly be noticed. It should be noted that it does have a bright setting option as well. It does have a good enough side viewing angles.
As said earlier, there is an alarm sensor and it’s loud enough to alert the user should the not work below the fan not operate above 6.5v whether it’s set on manual or automatic.
In most cases, you see manual switch/knob based fan controllers commonly available because they are simple devices that manually lower the voltage supply. You’re not only getting a direct access to the control fans, therefore wasting less time, but it either allows the manufacturers to either have more controls- or functions. Some controllers have the fan controllers along with 2x USB 3.0 and card slots running via USB 2.0. Some have fan speed and LED controllers as well seeing that 3-pin LED light strips are available. You can control these strips using the FC Touch, but then again it will display the fan function rather than having graphics for LED. I seriously doubt those manual control based controllers have a PWM or an alarm.
The main benefit this has is the ability to display fan speed- RPM or Voltage. The display is fairly responsive and, therefore, you shouldn’t feel frustrated when you’re trying to go around the functions- most of the time. The lower section of the screen is a bit of a challenge to operate especially for those with larger hands. Operating the left/right arrows to change the fan profile display can be a bit frustrating at times.
I am not a fan (no pun intended) of the thermal probes , but I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be possible to have a USB 2.0 header lead and then have a utility for the system to let the connected controller display the temperature from the components itself. If it’s possible, that would be brilliant as it opens the opportunity for the user to check out the temperature of most components. Maybe the requirement of a 12v Molex could be avoided seeing that an internal USB 2.0 header powers up two USB ports. The PCB layout could be vastly improved. Seeing that it’s a touch display, Lamptron could take an initiative to provide an alarm on/off on the display, rather than having a jumper on it. Also, having a bright coloured PCB would help should anyone require to connect any fans/extensions. Since the PCB was black, it was very hard to find out the headers. These updated implementations would give a lot of room for installing headers in a way that cable management can be handled easily.
A part of its functions is a thermal display via its probes. And if you don’t need it, there are options but I couldn’t find any as a touch display. If you do, this is something you could work with. Most low-cost case fans do not have a PWM controller, so this can provide PWM control and switch it to manual, should you choose. the display light leak is something that can be fixed. Since Lamptron has updated this product by sleeving the cables at some point, maybe they do so for this as well. This is still available for sale as this unit is given to me by The IT Depot.
Most low-cost case fans do not have a PWM controller, so this can provide PWM control and switch it to manual, should you choose. the display light leak is something that can be fixed. Since Lamptron has updated this product by sleeving the cables at some point, maybe they do so for this as well. This is still available for sale as this unit is given to me by The IT Depot.
But the main oversight is the inability to save the manual fan RPM/voltage settings. Once you’ve powered off the system, all the settings are cleared. Imagine if you’ve connected these to your liquid cooling setup- and every time the settings clear off when you shut down your system. Having a CMOS battery and a small memory enough to store the settings is a lot more useful item than having thermal probes and jumper for the alarm. A manual switch fan controller is looking good now since it doesn’t reset itself once its off.
Another oversight is when the alarm gets triggered if it crosses 70 degrees Celsius. Don’t bother planning on putting this between the CPU or GPU with the temperature alarm enabled.
If you want a good looking display and just need a PWM control for the non-PWM fans, maybe you could consider this knowing that you’re also paying for the features you’ll not need. For others, manual controls is a good way forward. But it should be noted that fan controllers are able to provide full power to the fans compared to motherboard headers, even with the Z97-Gaming GT that I am using. The results can be seen in the CM Silencio Performance edition and IndustrialPPC 24v fan reviews.
I just wish that newer fan controllers have a 12v-to-24v step up (which can be switched internally using a jumper per fan header like in a particular unit from Koolance). This way, fans or water pumps that operate at 24v can be used with it. There are few 30w per channel fan headers out there. Manual switch based looks to be a better option considering it does not reset itself after powering off.
- Bright Screen
- PWM control
- Brushed aluminum
- Minimalist interface
- Provides full power to fans compared to motherboard headers
- Could have implemented 12-to-24v step up for 24VDC fans/water pump
- Manual fan settings get reset after powering off
- Inconsistency of information on the packaging
- Thermal probes are unnecessary
- 70c temperature alarm
|Rs. 2,870/-||$ 46.99||£ 39.14||EUR 45.38|
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) March 27, 2016