Sunbeamtech Rheosmart 6 Fan Controller Review

nVidia_Freak - 2010-12-14 11:28:57 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: nVidia_Freak   
Reviewed on: January 20, 2011
Price: $ TBD

Introduction:

Sunbeamtech is a relatively unknown company in North America, and their name holds more weight down below and overseas than it does here. Sunbeamtech is a multifaceted manufacturer, as they make cases, heatsinks, and even power supplies, but, what Sunbeamtech makes the most of, is computer accessories. Things like cold cathodes, fans, enclosures, and mice are more Sunbeamtech's forté. Recently, Sunbeamtech released a new line of fan controllers, called Rheosmart. The Rheosmart series is composed of several basic fan controllers, the Rheosmart 3/6/PCI. Both the Rheosmart 3 and 6 are 5.25" internal bay solutions that offer fan control either automatically via motherboard sensors, or manually via rheostats. Today I'll be taking a closer look at Sunbeamtech's Rheosmart 6.

Closer Look:

The box of the Rheosmart 6 is nice and small, which forces the text and photos to be a little smaller and closer together than if they were on a larger box. Combined with the warm shades of blue all around, it has a cozy, inviting feel just emanating from it. On the front we're treated to a scaled photo of the controller surrounded by a glowing, white halo. There are also what appear to be sound waves emanating from a small drawing of a motherboard to the Rheosmart, and sound waves emanating from it to six small drawings of fans overhead. What does this mean? Am I being told the Rheosmart 6 will make my fans noisy? Will the Rheosmart 6 utilize infrared wireless to power my case fans? Perhaps another side of the box will clarify this curious illustration? Moving on, on the left side are little icons that represent the various features of the Rheosmart 6, including, but not limited to:

So, now I know that the Rheosmart 6 can control up to six fans and can provide 30w of power to each one. An impressive amount of power, considering this unit obtains power from a single, standard sized 4-pin Molex connection. Unfortunately, due to a lack of six, high-powered fans, I won't be able to test this. Might it also be that PWM control explains the those silly waves?

 

 

 

 

Finally, that unusual drawing on the front is explained! Essentially, what the drawing was showing is that the Rheosmart 6 can automatically control the fans connected to it by the information that the temperature sensors on the motherboard it's plugged into gives it. That means that the fan speed will be adjusted according to the temperature that the sensor provides. Sunbeamtech refers to this feature as 'Smart Cooling'. Also back here are the specifications in a nice and tidy table, and compliance logos.

The short sides of the box are void of any additional information. Only logos and names here.

 

And inside the Rheosmart's box is...another box! A cursory glance shows us a manual, some cables, and the Rheosmart 6 itself, snugly packed around with firm foam. Let's take a closer look and see what all comes with the Rheosmart 6.

Closer Look:

With everything unpacked, this is what you'll get when you buy the Rheosmart 6. Obviously, the Rheosmart 6 itself, along with four mounting screws and a small badge, both contained in small, plastic, zip bags, a manual, and six different cables. Those cables are, from right to left with a brief description:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom of the Rheosmart is protected from any metal to trace contacts with a simple piece of black foam. Toward the front of the Rheosmart, the bottoms of the pots are visible.

These are the guts of the Rheosmart 6. There isn't much because there doesn't need to be, and the soldering is nice and clean. On the bottom are the six fan headers, 4-pin Molex power connector, and the 4-pin PWM connector.  A closer look shows that each of the six manually controllable fan headers has its own voltage regulator to vary fan speed.

 

A closer look at the front of the Rheosmart 6 to show off the dials and buttons. Hidden behind the mesh above each dial is an LED that switches between red and green. Red if the fan controller is varying the fan speed with temperature and green if the fans are under user control.

Specifications & Features:

Part Number PL-RS-6
Main Function PMW/Manual Fan Controller
Color Black
Material Aluminum and Mesh
DC Input
+12v (Standard 4-pin Connector)
DC Output
0v - 12v DC
Max Output
30w* 6
3-Pin Fan Connectors
6
Fan RPM Knobs
6
Compatibility
5.25" Drive bay
Dimensions (W*H*D)
148mm* 42mm* 82mm

All information courtesy of Sunbeamtech. Information is available on the back of the product box and online at http://www.sunbeamtech.com/PRODUCTS/Rheosmart/6.html

Installation:

Installation of the Rheosmart 6 will require screws. It is far too short to be held in place by any tool-less drive bay design, such as those often found in Cooler Master's cases. If you don't have a tool-less case, then installation is very simple: two screws to each side. If you do, two screws to the side opposite the tool-less drive bay rail. It won't be tightest fit, but, it will keep the controller from moving about so much, and, it doesn't require any dismantling of the tool-less bay rails. Once installed, the Rheosmart 6 looks very sleek. The black mesh will have it easily blend into any case that has a black mesh front, and won't look too bad on a black case without mesh.

Once installed and running, the LEDs light up and the knobs and buttons can be used. The LEDs are bright so you can see them and the knobs in the dark, though not so much as to be distracting. As seen below, the LEDs are either green or red depending on how the fans are being controlled. The three on the left are red, and thus are in automatic mode, and, the three on the right are green, and thus are in manual mode.

 

Testing:

Testing Setup:

Construction:

The Rheosmart 6's overall construction is adequate, however, the force needed to turn the control knobs is not consistent. The middle two knobs require the least force and the outer two require the most. Despite the inconsistent feel of the knobs, they function well enough and allow for very fine adjustments. The mode buttons underneath the knobs feel somewhat loose, though they are firm when pressed and don't stick. The LEDs are always on, but, they aren't an annoyance. They provide enough light so as to be able to see them without looking at them directly, and, they produce enough light to illuminate the tops of the knobs, so they're easy to find in the dark.

Functionality:

All the knobs have an approximate 270° turning radius, which, when in manual mode, varies the voltage supplied to the selected fan. Voltage ranges from 0v (off) at full left, and 12v (full power) at full right. Although the box and manual state otherwise, using the automatic Smart Cooling System with the supplied PWM cable connected does not vary any of the fans' speed based on temperature. Instead, automatic mode runs the selected fan(s) at the maximum 12v power. This isn't a particularly huge deal since all six of the connected fans can be manually adjusted, however, it's no good if you're looking to set it and forget it. The only fan that correlates speed and temperature is the CPU cooling fan. This is very useful for anyone that has a 3-pin fan on their CPU heatsink.

Using the Rheosmart 6 and the supplied PWM cable connected to the CPU_FAN header will adjust the CPU fan speed based on temperature. With the previously mentioned testing setup idle temperature was approximately 29°c and the heatsink fan rotated at 650RPM. Under load at 48°c the Rheosmart 6 increased the voltage supplied to the fan and thus its speed to approximately 900RPM. It's a very useful feature, but it's also unfortunate that this is the only situation where the Smart Cooling System works.

Conclusion:

The Sunbeamteach Rheosmart 6 is, overall, a very good fan controller. Its black mesh design will help it blend in with any cases with a similar facade. Its ability to control six fans will be enough for all but the most fan-crazy PC enthusiasts. It can provide up to 30w of power per fan, so no matter how large or how beefy the fans you have are, the Rheosmart 6 should be able to handle them with ease.

The extension cables are perfect for anyone with full-tower cases, where the fan cable may not be enough to reach to the fan controller. The only two problems are: 1. The Smart Cooling System only works with the CPU heatsink fan, and though it works well here and is really where it needs to work, it doesn't work as advertised. 2. I would very much recommend this controller if it weren't for the elusiveness of it. Not one of the sites that Sunbeamtech lists as a product carrier stocks the Rheosmart 6.

Beyond those issues, no major e-tailers or international e-tailers are currently stocking the Rheosmart 6. The Rheosmart 6 is certainly worthy of purchase, and, if you manage to find it for sale anywhere for around $30 (or your country's equivalent), or less, I heartily recommend giving it a shot.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: