NZXT Sentry Mesh Fan Controller ReviewnVidia_Freak - June 14, 2011
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- Processor: Phenom II x6 1055T
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-C12P-SE14
- CPU Fan: Noctua NF-P14
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5
- Memory: 2 x 4GB G.SKILL SNIPER DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24 2T
- Video Card: XFX HD6970 2GB + BFG 8800GT (PhysX)
- Power Supply: XFX BE 850W
- Soundcard: ESI Juli@
- Amplifier: Little Dot Mk. V
- Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 750GB
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
- Comparison Fan Controller(s): Sunbeamtech Rheosmart 6
As previously mentioned, the Sentry Mesh's construction is excellent. The plastic is thick and feels durable, the steel mesh isn't flimsy, and solid as well. The sliders require a firm touch and all five need nearly identical force to move. The only external annoyance on the Sentry Mesh is the lone LED beneath the NZXT logo that is always on when the unit is receiving power. Though this provides a quick way to troubleshoot a lack of airflow, the LED is rather bright. and depending on the angle at which you sit in relation to the controller, it may be blinding in dark environments. At the very least, it will be clearly visible through the rightmost slider, if it is not set to supply maximum voltage. Even so, it's easy enough to overlook this minor flaw.
The Sentry Mesh is setup in such a way that no less than 40% of the maximum 12V of power courses through the veins of each cable at all times. This means that in the potentiometer's lowest position, the fans are still providing necessary airflow for your components while being virtually silent. This differs from the Sunbeamtech Rheosmart 6, where the potentiometers had a voltage range from 0V (off) to full blast as 12V. I prefer NZXT's method, particularly so with my Noctua case fans. They are quiet enough to begin with, but are virtually silent when the sliders are set to their lowest setting of 40% voltage. This feature also ensures that no matter how low the sliders are set, there will always be some air circulation. Just as the connections and cables are labeled from left to right, the potentiometers each control fans one through five. This is very intuitive and exceedingly easy to figure out which potentiometers control which fans.
One issue to consider before purchasing a fan controller is how many fans you wish to control. Do you want to control all the fans or only a few? Depending on the answer, the Sentry Mesh might leave you feeling a little frustrated. In my situation, I have five case fans, plus one fan for the CPU cooler for a total of six fans. I would prefer to control all six fans, but unfortunately, the Sentry Mesh only has five channels. I'm then left wondering which fan I want to relegate to a standard 4-pin Molex connector by way of a Molex KK adapter. For most, I imagine the CPU heatsink fan being the one fan lopped over to the motherboard since most motherboards have their own built-in fan controller of sorts that varies fan speed based on temperature. If, as myself, you want to manually control that fan for maximum cooling potential, you may have to decide on another fan to run at a fixed voltage. Furthermore, if you have beyond six fans, even more decisions have to be made, and perhaps one might be better off looking for a higher capacity fan controller or compromising with motherboard headers and Molex adapters. Beyond that little bit, NZXT's Sentry Mesh is a no-frills, sturdy, sleek, damn good fan controller.