NZXT Sentry LXE Fan Controller ReviewIndybird -
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It’s a fact of life that any high-end performance PC generates a lot of heat, especially when overclocked. It's another fact of life that this heat can't go unchecked, so some form of air or water cooling is in order. However, no matter which route you take, you’re almost always going to have fans in your cooling setup. These days, you can buy some pretty powerful, albeit loud, fans that will cool your computer just fine. If your computer is just for benchmarking then you won’t think twice about the noise. On the other hand, if your computer is just going to be used for "normal" purposes in which you won’t be running it at 100% the whole time, then you might prefer it to be a little quieter.
Here’s where the "Fan-Controller" comes in. Fan controllers are typically very simple; they control three to four fans via voltage adjustment controlled by knobs. It’s a simple and common setup, but today, NZXT decided to break the mould. Here we have the company's latest in its Sentry line of premium fan controllers, the Sentry LXE. This fan controller, I can safely say, is like none you have ever seen before. The LXE boasts an external touch screen control, internal controller card, automatic fan control, fan monitoring and much more. With all these great features, the Sentry LXE sounds like the recipe for the perfect fan controller, so let’s take a closer look.
The NZXT Sentry LXE is packaged in a simple cardboard box with a subtle red, white and light purple theme. The front of the box gives you a view of the fan controller in action along with some icons displaying the main features. Both sides are pretty plain, just the name and barcode really. Around the back you get the more detailed specs of the fan controller in seven different languages.
Opening up the box you’ll find almost everything is individually wrapped and sandwiched between two pieces of foam. Once you’ve gotten everything out of the box you’ll find the manual, controller card, 3V coin cell battery, temp. probe tape, two screws and all of the cables. Strangely NZXT had the power, temperature and fan cables already connected to the controller card.
The 8-pin interface cable uses the same Molex mini-fit connections as an ATX or PCI-Express power connector, but the patterns do not match up with any other connectors (probably to avoid any nasty connection mistakes). At seven feet long (just over 2m) the interface cable should give you plenty of length to place the controller wherever you want on your desk. Moving on to the fan cables, there are exactly five included and each has numbered labels. They are approximately two feet long (.6m) and when combined with the fan cables should easily reach anywhere in your case. It would have been nice if they used standard male AND female connections, so you could hook up your fans directly to the controller, but it is not a major issue. The only real problem I foresee with these cables is they will not accommodate 4-pin PWM fan connections (such as on CPU coolers) without modification. For power, it has a Molex pass-through cable. The temperature probes, much like the fan cables, all have numbered labels on them and are about two feet long. When you first take them out they are all attached in a ribbon; however, they pull apart effortlessly. NZXT was kind enough to include two extra temperature probes just in case you lose or break one. As you can see, all of the cables are black and should fit in visually with most cases, a nice touch on NZXT’s part.
The controller card itself mounts in an open expansion slot on your case. Though it does not have any interface with the motherboard, you do lose a slot. On the top of the card you have all of your connections, five fan, five temp and the power connection. Also on this side you’ll find the battery mount (to keep your settings when the computer is off) and the beeper. Around the back you’ll find the interface connection.
Just before we move onto the controller itself, we can see that it comes very well protected, two pieces of foam padding and a plastic bag to prevent scratches, and then a protective film on the screen itself.