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Vantec Nexus Fan Controller (NXP-201)

Vantec has released yet another stylish bay device. The NXP-201, or better known as the Nexus Fan Controller is the newest addition to adjustable fan rpm and loudness. But before you buy this at your favorite online store join me as I show you the problems I have encountered while owning the NXP-201.

The NXP-201 installs as simple as a CD-ROM drive. Choose one of your free 5-1/4″ drive bays and secure it with the provided screws. Plug in the 4 wire Molex power connector, then start hooking up your fans. The provided wire extension cables make it a plug and play installation. There is no need for soldering or cutting/stripping the wire ends like other rheobus kits require. You will only have to get adventurous in soldering if you need to hook up more fans than the cables can connect.

First thing you will see once you plug in the power is the blue LED’s will illuminate the knobs. There’s a total of five LED’s behind the light conductive plastic. This looks great for adding some color and lighting to the front of your case and even better if you have a case window illuminated by a blue cold cathode 😉 . Now wipe off the drool and come back to reality. The LED’s do not change in intensity, once they are on that’s it. Other rheobus LED’s change brightness depending on the knob position.

Secondly the unit produces a crackling like buzzing noise at low to mid levels. This is inherent with the technology Vantec used. Still, I was dismayed the first time I operated the NXP-201. I had a custom two way toggle switch in place that selected between 5v and 12v. At 5v you cannot tell my computer is on from exterior decibel levels. Now with my custom baybus removed, I have given up total quiet for this buzzing. Trying different fans and reattaching the front panel of my case lessened the buzzing to a point I could live with. Different fans yield slight differences in the buzzing. At full power the noise is completely gone.

Operation is simpler than the install. Turn the knob to the left for less noise and cooling, to the right for more noise and cooling. One thing you may notice when turning the knobs is that the edge closest to the clear plastic rubs occasionally. This is normal, the knobs are a press on fit and a slight variation will make them spin around in an oval shape rather than a perfect circle. This in no way harms the function of the unit; it just gives you a bit of tactile feedback through your fingers. To solve this you can pull the knob out a little bit from the all the way in position.

Now let’s get into some gaming. If you’re like me you go fill up on your favorite beverage, drain your fluids 😉 come back and power up those fans to full! But wait, there’s no roar from your computer? Each of the four knobs are on full but only one or two fans are running. What happened??? Well while you were walking around the house you picked up a bit of static electricity. And just happened to discharge it through your fingers to the aluminum knobs, threw the metal shaft and into your Nexus Fan Controller. Now what you can’t see is that the little chip in front of the onboard Molex connector has become really burn your finger hot. It’s not dead but you have to unplug and reconnect the Molex power connector to get it functioning again. What!? I am ready to game but I have to pull off the front panel, both side panels, unscrew it and pull it out to do that!

After much testing I found it helps to pull the knobs out a good bit to lessen the chance of the static electricity finding a path. But testing once more at this position I was still able to disable the unit with another static shock. I emailed Vantec Support on 12/17/02 with my problem and what was causing it. No reply. I forwarded the first email to them again on 1/1/03 10:30 a.m. Received a reply from Siblings Investment Support ([email protected]) 1/1/03 8:32 pm:

“I am sorry to miss your first email.

Can try to return it back to where purchased from and get a replacement? “

With my testing I was sure that a replacement wouldn’t have solved anything. To me it seems like a design flaw. Plastic knobs would remedy this situation completely. The knobs are half plastic anyway. It’s an aluminum shell with a glued in plastic insert which slides over the metal shaft. So I replied to them again asking for further help. No reply as of 1/8/03.

Gary at www.sidewindercomputers.com let us know that of the 12 units shipped to Singapore, 3 or 4 were defective on one channel. That’s 25% of the shipment.

Contents:

  • The Fan Controller with mounting screws
  • One 4 wire Molex extension power cable
  • Two 3 wire extension cables
  • Two 4 wire pass thru to 3 wire connector cables

Specifications:

  • Available in Black or Silver
  • 4 Channel Fan Controllers
  • Adjustable Fan Speed Knob
  • Aluminum “U” Type Housing
  • Five Blue LED Lights
  • Each Channel Supports 15 to 18 Watts
  • Output Voltage: 7 V +/- 20% ~ 12 V +/- 5%
  • Output Current: Up to 1.5 A

I purchased this product for its function and ease of use. But I end up with a product that adds noise at low levels and can become easily disabled. I’m not sure how my NXP-201 has faired threw its static electricity encounters. Life span shortened? Am I doomed to ground myself each time before touching the unit? Or do I chance it with the possibility of dismantling my computer to reset it. Thankfully my rig is below my desk where the buzzing is farther away and muffled by the wood desktop. Weighing in its problems and unsatisfactory support I can’t praise it.

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