Vantec Nexus (NXP-101) Multi-function Panel Review

Admin - 2007-03-16 12:49:03 in Gadgets, Modding
Category: Gadgets, Modding
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: November 25, 2002
Vantec Thermal Technologies, Inc.
Vantec Thermal Technologies, Inc.
Price: $37 -/+ USD
Introduction
When I think of the name "Vantec" the only thing that use to come to mind was fans, heat sinks, and other cooling devices. Likewise, when I heard "Thermal Monitoring" or "Fan Control" Ventec is not the company I would have thought of. Well, that's changed now, with Vantec's latest product, The Nexus.

In one sleek device, Vantec has managed to bring you a CPU fan controller, three thermal sensors, an LCD readout, and to top it off, they even threw in two USB 2.0 and one FireWire/1394 ports. If that wasn't enough they've also added interchangeable faceplates to give your computer a whole new look.

 

Features

 

 

Specifications

  Dimension 148.5mm x 41.5mm x 62.0mm
  Weight 350.0 g
  Rated Voltage 5V 5% ~ 12V 5%
  Input Power 5V Less than 0.5W
    12V depends on the type of CPU cooling fan
  Panel Temperature Range 15°C ~ 70°C
  Sensor Temperature Range 15°C ~ 90°C

What You Get
In the box, was:


A Closer Look
For those of you who have used or are familiar with the Digital Doc 5, you'll be happy to know that the Nexus is not the mess of wires that the Digital Doc 5 is, and the reason for this is the Nexus only controls the CPU fan and monitors the temp for three devices. Since it takes care of far few devices, we have far fewer wires to tangle ourselves in. Here you can see the back of the nexus without any wires running from it, and compare it to what it looks like with everything connected.

 

The Nexus is comprised of 4 total PCB. The two larger PCBs control the LCD, sensors, fan control, and power the unit. The two smaller PCBs are used for the USB and FireWire headers, these two will connect via a special cable to one of your existing USB and FireWire ports. Yes, you will have to already have existing ports to make use of the Nexus' USB and FireWire ports.


 

The image below allows you to see how everything is put together inside a little bit better.


The three faceplates included remind me of the latest Macintosh Computers. You can also use the Nexus without a faceplate, giving you a fourth style, which looks pretty good with a Lian Li or other Aluminum case. Here you have the blue, green, and purple faceplates, as well as the nexus without a faceplate.


Installation
The hardest thing about installing the nexus is attaching the CPU thermal sensor to the CPU, and even that isn't very hard. The Nexus mounts in any 5.25" drive bay via two screws on each side.


The User's Guide tells you to connect the thermal sensor at least 1" away from the CPU die, and to attach it to the base of the heat sink. This was something I did not follow. I've always found placing sensors next to the die gives me the most accurate results. As seen in the picture below, this is where I attached it.

When I booted back up after installing the sensor, I ran Motherboard Monitor 5 to compair the results. MBM and the Nexus gave me the exact same readings. The two other sensors are marked Hard Drive and Case, but can really be used anywhere as all they will do is provide temperature readings.

The Nexus has two three pin (PRM, power, ground) connectors for the CPU fan. One comes from the Nexus and connects directly to the CPU's fan, and the other comes from the Nexus and connects into the motherboard. With the CPU fan connecting like this, your motherboard will still (providing your motherboard has these features) have the ability to sound an alarm or shut down if the fan stops. Also, since the fan is connected directly into the Nexus, this gives it the ability to adjust the speed of the fan. Here you can see the two wires connecting from the motherboard and CPU to the Nexus. With the fan I have, Vantec Tornado, there are two connectors, one for power (4 pin), and a separate for RPM (3 pin). This provided a problem for me, as I cannot use the Nexus' fan speed control feature. And, if I'm not mistaken, users of the ThermalTake Volcano 9 will have this same problem. It would have made more since for the Nexus to have 1 connection going to the motherboard, one connection for RPM only, and then a third connection for the fans power, and have a Y adapter for people who have a fan with all three on the same Molex. Just an idea Vantec. ;)

In order to get the USB and FireWire ports on the Nexus to function, they need to be connected to an existing USB and firewire port. For some this may mean running the wires through the case, out the back through a PCI slot and then connecting them to the back of the computer. I was able to avoid having to run all of the cables out of he back of my PC due to my USB/FireWire PCI card, which has 1 internal USB and 1 internal FireWire port, however since the Nexus needs to use 2 USB ports, I still had to run on cable out of my PC and connect it.

Conclusion

The Nexus is very simplistic, in that it only controls one fan, monitors the temperature for three devices, and brings USB and FireWire ports to the front of your computer. Though, that is what is says it will do, and that is exactly what it does. Someone looking for more fan control, or the ability to adjust all fans based on temperatures will need to look elsewhere. Hopefully, Vantec will provide a more complex product in the near future that does more than the Nexus.

The only complaint I have about the Nexus is that the Alarm cannot be muted or disabled, or the alarm value changed.

 

Pros

Cons

 

I'd like to thank Vantec for sending me this product to review!