BitFenix Recon and BitFenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller RoundupWaco - November 20, 2012
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Installation of the BitFenix recon was as simple as any other fan controller. For the purposes of testing I placed all five of the temperature probes into the fins on my Noctua CPU heat sink though there is enough length on each of them to be placed on essentially any component of your choosing even in a large case. The USB 2.0 cable could stand to be a bit longer (for easier cable hiding), but even in my HAF 932 it reached the bottom of my motherboard without issue from one of the top 5.25" bays. Overall I had no real issues installing it. With that said it would have been nice to be able to remove any unwanted temperature probes and allow for a single probe to govern the speeds of all connected fans – the current software only allows automatic control on channels with the sensors connected.
Once powered up the Recon's touchscreen glows white with a hint of blue (the camera exaggerates the blue tint). Each of the channels is selectable by pressing the numbers at the bottom of the screen and the speed of each is adjusted by the large +/- buttons on the left of the screen. Upon booting up, all connected fans spin up to full speed then slowly drop down to the desired RPM (in manual mode) or the temperature-guided RPM (in auto mode). In manual mode, the desired RPM can be chosen in 100 RPM increments with the lower limit of RPMs seeming to correspond directly to how slow a given fan will spin when powered with 6 volts (the lower limit of the output on the Recon). In automatic mode the Recon will automatically adjust the fan RPM on a linear slope from 30 degrees up to 90 degrees. I found this a bit disappointing as it makes it impossible to adjust the fan speed slope versus temperature. The only way to change how quickly the fans speed up and down is to change the position of the temperature sensors to somewhere with more or less heat (depending on whether you want them to ramp up faster or more slowly).
A fan controller with software? Yes, you read correctly. The BitFenix Recon ships with software that allows you to access and control the fans in your computer from anywhere on Earth – as long as you have an Internet connection anyway. The installation of the Recon software is quick and painless, and it allows you to view temperatures, adjust fan speeds, and save multiple profiles from your browser. Should you decide to check in on your rig when on the road, the mobile version of the software allows for all of the same adjustments in a more touch-friendly interface. You will have to tunnel the software through your router and firewall to access it remotely, though local LAN access is work-free. While this feature is certainly novel I can't say I really see the point especially since it opens up a potential security hole on your computer (the software essentially runs a web server on your computer).
Moving on, I was able to appreciate the simplicity of the BitFenix Hydra Pro fan controller because of the complexity of the Recon. Because all unneeded wires can simply be removed, the installation was a breeze. There's not a whole lot more to say here; all you have to do is plug in the power cable, plug in your fans, and then you're good to go! Upon powering up, the white LED on the right side of the bezel glows with a soft white light that gives a quick indication of the board receiving power. While the Recon required that you stay under 10 watts for each fan channel the Hydra Pro can handle up to 30 watts on each channel. The more robust output should be enough for all but the most insane of builds; only those with over 150 watts of fans alone need be concerned about overloading this fan controller.