BitFenix Recon and BitFenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller RoundupWaco - November 20, 2012
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Testing the two BitFenix fan controllers required using them in my normal routines. These routines included gaming, working (what's that?), and general internet surfing. These various activities allow me to become familiar with how well the fan controllers work for various situations and configurations. Since both of the fan controllers have five channels I attached the same fans to both controllers in turn. The first two channels on each controller were wired to the Corsair SP120 High Performance Edition fans on my Noctua heat sink. The third and fourth channels were wired to a pair of Corsair AF120 Performance Edition fans acting as exhaust fans at the top of my case. The last channel was wired to a Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition at the rear of my case also set up as an exhaust fan. The two SP120s on the CPU heat sink create quite a racket without any fan controller attached and the three AF-series fans, while quiet, do create some noise due to the massive air flow they create when un-throttled.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 8 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drive: Corsair ForceGT 240GB
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
- 2x Corsair SP120 High Performance Edition on CPU heat sink
- 2x Corsair AF120 Performance Edition at top of case as exhaust
- 1x Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition as rear exhaust
The BitFenix Recon works quite well in normal use. With the fans set to automatic control, each of them spin down to their minimum speeds when the temperature sensors are at 30 degrees or less. Once the temperature rises above that point the fans slowly spin up to cope with the additional heat load. One slight annoyance here is that the fan profile itself is not configurable with the stock software; thus the only way to adjust the ramping up of fan speeds is to move the temperature sensors. That said, you can create an alarm temperature that will cause all connected fans to spin up to 100% and also causes the Recon to emit an extremely loud warning beep that continues until the temperature drops below the alarm threshold. The audible alarm can be toggled with a quick press of the touchscreen.
Because the Recon controls fans via voltage modulation and a feedback loop from the fan RPM sensor, any fans without an RPM reading will spin at 100%. This is not a flaw with the controller itself, but some sort of manual override of the output voltage would have been a nice addition. Another issue that can crop up with this sort of RPM control is that some fans may not function properly at lower voltages. These small voltages can cause some fans to stop, spin back up to full speed, and then slowly spin down till they stall again. I didn't have any issues with any of the fans I had on-hand to test, and I don't imagine many will do so considering the 6 volt minimum output of the Recon.
Overall, the Recon performed admirably in the task of making my obnoxiously noisy SP120 High Performance Edition fans amazingly more tolerable. At their minimum speeds of around 1200 RPM they were almost entirely silent while still providing more than enough airflow for adequate cooling. When pushing my system in games the temperature probes warmed up and caused the fan speeds to increase with to cope with the additional load. When in manual mode the target RPM held solid without any modulation in speed.
BitFenix Hydra Pro:
After I finished testing the Recon, I moved on to cooling my system with the Hydra Pro. Given that it is a manual fan controller I could not have it automatically change my fan speeds with temperature. However, the individual sliders did allow very precise control of fan speeds without any undue effort. The controls are sensitive enough to go from roughly 6 volts all the way up to 12 volts and any step in between. The SP120 fans on my heat sink had no issues starting even at the minimum speed setting and were easily adjustable to a tolerable level of noise with a quick slide of a finger. Overall I had no complaints in testing as the Hydra Pro performed exactly as it was supposed to.