Zalman ZM-MFC1 Fan Controller Review

Admin - 2007-03-18 17:55:25 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: March 15, 2006
Price: $25 USD

Today we are looking at the Zalman ZM-MFC1 Fan Controller Panel. The ZM-MFC1 fan controller fits into a basic 5.25� bay and comes with a translucent blue face plate, silver knobs and color changing LED�s for when fans are powered up and connected.

About Zalman Tech
They were founded in January of 1999 and in February of 2002 they founded its subsidiary in the United States. Zalman has done nothing but grow and are continuously releasing great products and raising the bar in performance and excellence. Zalman has won numerous awards in the past seven years and are gearing towards many, many more. Zalman has also had a release of its �Fatal1ty� products, which are aimed directly towards the gaming community. Their most recent big release is the CNPS9500LED CPU heat sink which has had rave reviews and has raised the bar in heat sink design and development. In May Zalman will be participating in the 2006 International CES and hopefully there will be some great new products up their sleeves for the show.

- 4 Channels - Adjustable Fan Speed Dials
- Maximum Power: 7.0W per channel
- Maximum Adjustable Range: +6.5Vmax
- Maximum Voltage Drop: +2.0Vmax
- Extension cable length: 400mm
- 2 Channels - Toggle Switches
- Maximum Power: Unlimited, as allowable by power supply capacity
- Adjustable Range: Maximum voltage output or minimum voltage output

This controller does allow for the speeds to be set as high of RPM�s as the fan will go. There are no restrictions that I could find to limit the fans other than the wattage.
Closer Look
This Zalman controller comes with the controller, four 3-pin extension cables and four mounting screws. Two of the cables are typical extension type cables while the other two are designed for connection with a fan device to the motherboard from the fan controller. The packaging is a simple see through plastic with a cardboard backing and while not being anything to boast about it gets the job done to deliver the contents.

The face plate is cool transparent blue, with grooved aluminum knobs for easy grasping while adjusting the fan speed and it also has two toggle type switches.

If blue is your color then you will love this transparent blue faceplate! The toggle switches allow for either a 12v connection or a 5v connection with a flip of the switch. This controller mounts in a typical 5.25� bay, which adds a more user friendly control then some 3.5� bay type controllers, simply because most 3.5� controllers tend to be further towards the bottom of a case.

Here you can see the four 3-pin connections, along with the two set screw connections for either 12v or 5v outputs. Also, you can see the typical green PCB and the chrome plated mounting brackets. Don�t forget the main power supply connection, which is very important seeing how that is what gets the power to the fan connectors, enabling the fans to power up and run. Installation
Getting the fan cables connected to the fan controller is relatively simple! For the 12v/ 5v toggle switch connections I had to cut the fan wires and strip about a quarter inch of the wire insulation off in order to insert the wires into the set screw connectors and in order to ensure proper contact. A decent pair of wire strippers / cutters and a small flat head screwdriver took care of this task.

Next thing was to connect the 3-pin fan plugs to the fan controller, which is nothing more than pushing the fan plug onto the male connectors on the controller. For my case fans I hooked directly to the controller and for my CPU I used one of the extensions that connect to the motherboard then the fan and finally to the fan controller. This is a must when connecting most CPU fans to a controller, the motherboard has to detect a CPU fan present or it could render your hardware useless.

There are four screws for mounting the controller, although cases with the easy slide bars may have to make modifications for the installation. For me to install this unit in my case I had to drill a couple of mounting holes through the metal where the slide bar would rest, prior to sliding it in and then screwing down tight. While drilling the needed holes is not a difficult task it is still something that I would rather not have to do.

Here you can see the controller in action with the blue lights blazing! The lights get brighter as you adjust the fan speed upwards by turning the knobs. There you can also see a better shot of the grooved knobs for easy grasp and turning. Also, there are the toggle switches, which in my opinion kind of stick out and look out of place unlike the beauty, style and craftsmanship of the other four knobs.

Here is a shot of the blue LED�s in total darkness! The �color changing� LED�s are actually just blue that go from dim to a bright blue depending on what speed you set the fans. The LED�s will only light if there is a fan connected and there is no way of turning the LED�s off if needed other than disconnecting the fans. The fans that are connected to the toggle switches can be turned off, but they offer no speed adjustment other than high speed (12v) or low speed (5v), the toggles offer no in between.

The LED�s for the toggle switches can be turned to 5v which gives off the themed blue lights or switched to 12v, whose LED�s are a bright, laser like red. I think the red LED�s totally kill the blue theme and would be useless if someone is trying to stay with the blue theme. This controller does allow for the fan speeds to be set as high of RPM�s as the fan will go. There are no restrictions that I could find to limit the fans other than the wattage.

Zalman once again puts out another nice product that will fit most needs and with a style of its own. It can control up six fans or four, 3pin fans and two 12v connections if needed for more power hungry add-ons. It only comes in the color as shown and only available in the 5.25� bay size.

The Zalman fan controller offers style and flexibility along with easy control features. Although the controller only offers 7watt power for the 3pin connectors, which could hold back some higher CFM fans.

The only set back I really encountered would be the installation. It works nicely unless you have a case with the easy in and out slides on it, which in my installation I ended up having to drill a couple of holes in order to mount it because there was no way to attach the slides to the fan controller.