Coolermaster Aerogate II Multi-function Panel Review

Admin - 2007-03-12 17:06:10 in Modding
Category: Modding
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: February 6, 2004
Price: $49.99 USD
Introduction
Today we have on the review bed the fine multi-function panel rheobus by Coolermaster, the Aerogate II. With its sleek looks, and a veritable slew of useful functions, I'm looking forward to seeing how well this will perform. Let's take a look at the brains behind this product. Known well to pretty much everyone, I give you, Coolermaster. Founded in 1992, this versatile company began with heatsinks, and has since moved on to everything from cases to cables to CCFLs. Known around the globe for quality and commitment to customer satisfaction, the company boasts a slogan of being 'The Ultimate Cooling Solution'. Which, overall, is just building the anticipation for this new product. So, onwards and forwards, let's see what we have.




Specifications
Dimension: 150 x 43 x 62 mm (L x W x H)
Net weight: 122 g / 0.296 lb
Display: LCD with blue backlight
Device fan size: 40 x 40 x 20 mm
Temp. monitor range: 0� C - 90� C �3%
Fan input: 12V / 1A � 5%; 5V / 0.5A � 5%



Features
  • Each temperature sensor corresponds to its own fan
  • 7 color dial rotation setting or choice of setting in one single color
  • Support 4 fans (max. output 18W each)
  • Simultaneous monitoring of all 4 fan speeds (RPM) and their components' temperature
  • All connections are not required to be fully operational
  • Reduced energy consumption and fan noise for quiet work environment
  • Designed for DIY applications, can also be used for RAID towers, servers and industrial PCs



  • In-Depth Look
    After getting rid of all my lovely foam nuggets, We find underneath the light, but solid retail packaging that contains the subject of today's review. Slick, glossy, and full of information, such as package contents, product features, and product specifications, this is a fine package. On opening it, everything is solidly and securely packed in with styrofoam to make sure your Aerogate II gets to you unscathed.



    Inside the case, we find our Aerogate II and the included parts:
    1) The Aerogate II
    2) Thermal Sensor x4
    3) Extension cable for fans x3
    4) 4-pin extension power cable x1
    5) Screw pack (5 screws)

    In-Depth Look
    So, let's take a closer look at the main unit, the Aerogate II itself.



    Very nice looking, brushed silver unit. On the front panel we see the display and buttons. The 6 buttons, clockwise from the top are: Color: Used to Start/Stop color rotation to select your favorite color, or a constant cycle through them. HDD, Case: selection for monitoring HDD or Case fan speed/temperature C*/F* : Change between display of Celsius or Farenheit tempuratures CPU, VGA: selection for monitoring CPU or VGA fan speed/temperature

    As you can see on the back, there is an included 40mm fan, which is considered the default Hard Drive fan, but can simply be unplugged if you have actual HDD fans to plug in.

    The temperature sensor wires and the fan extension cables are plenty long enough fo virtually every case, and especially good if you're looking to stealth your cables. The temperature sensor wires are about a metre long, and the power extensions about half that (50cm).



    Another nice feature is that there's a little label on the plug portion for your fans. This means that you don't have to follow the wire all the way back to the actual unit, it's labelled right there for your convenience.



    Installation
    Installation for this product is wonderfully easy, and there is a decent manual included with it, written in a slew of language, so if you're multilingual, you're in heaven. The physical installation was as easy as screwing the unit onto the drive rails for my case, and sliding it in.
     


    One note: Be gentle. The unit is made from aluminum, and I found out to my dismay that those side brackets do indeed bend.

    Once installed, all you have to do is plug the appropriate fans in, and plug the unit in (I used the included extender so I could use a spare Molex pin sitting there).

    The only part I dislike is the fact that no thermal tape was included so you could secure your thermal probes in the places you want them. Alternatives that you can buy pretty much anywhere are high-temp electrical tape, and if you feel like going all-out, gaffers tape. Choose something that will not melt in a high heat situation.




    So, we have our Aerogate II installed. Sweet. Now, does it work? Let's check it out. Testing
    To look at the unit, the Aerogate II is a slick piece of work. With 4 different individually controllable temperature monitors and fan controls, it's everything you could want in a fan control.

    First check: Does it control fan speed? Answer? Sure does. Took my 3000RPM fan right the way down to 1600RPM. It takes a bit of dial-spinning to get it down there, but the noise reduction is definately worth it. Finally, you can find that perfect rate of fan speed/noise and your ability to sleep. The dial takes a bit of spinning to get it to the complete minimum speed. Unfortunately, you can't turn any fan completely off, such as a case fan if it's not necessary at night, BUT this could be considered a good thing, since you won't switch off a CPU fan or VGA fan by mistake (cause let's face it, everyone does silly things every once in a while).

    Second check: Does it monitor temperature accurately? Answer? Sure does. Using myself as a test unit was the solution for this one. Holding a temperature lead and a thermometer in one hand, I came out with nearly identical temperatures. The Aerogate II measures in 0.5*C units, so any discrepancies could have been due to that. The Aerogate II also allows for change in Celsius to Farenheit temp measurement, with a single press of the button.

    So, it does what it's supposed to. Now, let's take a look at some of the neat extras that CoolerMaster has added in. First off, the dial itself. The backlight colour to the dial can be one of 7 different colours, or a rotation of all 7. A simple push of the colour button starts and stops the rotation. It's very cool, I'm favouring the blue/red combination myself. Check it all out in this video clip:

    Watch the movie! (3.59MB)

    In the clip, you can also see the moving visuals on the screen, showing a thermometer under your temperature and a spinning wheel under your fan speed. Neither are more then eye candy, but its good looking eye candy. Unfortunately you can't change the backlit display to match this colour, which could have added some very interesting customization options.

    The unit has a built in alarm, but it is not connected to the thermal monitors, but the fan speed. If any fans drop below 500 RPM, the unit will beep incessantly. So, if your CPU fan cuts out, you'll know right away, instead of just after your CPU catches fire. This was tested by jamming a pen into my case fan. Advanced techniques. The alarm went off immediately, and stopped once the fan restarted. Alternatively, you can press the dial (also a button!) to stop the alarm.



    Conclusion

    I fully recommend this item. That's a pretty darn strong statement in this market, but I stand behind it. The Aerogate II is a solid piece of work, and retails at a very reasonable price. It'll match an aluminum case wonderfully, and even looks good on my off-black Antec. The monitors are easily readable and accurate, which is definately important, but even better, there are 4 different fan/temperature options! Ease of installation boosts the unit up some more, and to top it all off, if you have a black case, there is a black aluminum unit available to suit your matching needs. The lack of thermal tape is an oversight, certainly, but in the grand scheme of things, CoolerMaster has a solid, functional, useful unit that any user would be proud to own.

    Pros

    Cons