I can remember when the first home-brew fan speed 'rheobus'
was introduced on an enthusiasts website a few years back. Since then, a lot
has changed in the computer world, and more than a few manufacturers have started
producing their own variation of fan speed controller.
A fan speed rheostat (as they were originally called) is meant to bring
RPM control to the users' finger tips. With the case fans connected to such a
device you can decrease the speed of each fan independently for
optimal airflow vs. noise.
The basic components to make a fan speed controller are nothing extraordinary,
but the outside appearance can vary drastically from one manufacturer to
Vantec have recently released their own take on the fan speed controller, called
the Nexus NXP201, and they've managed to pull it off rather
With the Nexus
NXP201, which comes in either black or silver, we not only have control over
four fans independently, but we're also treated to blue-LED silhouetted
set of metal control dials and a metal bezel.
The bezel and the dials are both made from
aluminum, but have special powder coating. The silver version of the NXP201 looks really nice,
and would go really well with an aluminum case, but since I have a black
Antec SX1030B, I'm partial to the black version.
In any case, both units will be retailing for about $29USD
when they hit the shops just before Christmas.
We received a pre-production version which came to us bare, but the final retail
units are expected to come with; screws, molex power cable, (2) 4 pin - 3
pin power cable adaptors, and (2) 3 pin - 3 pin power extension
The Nexus NXP201 supports four channels of 15W - 18W
each, so this unit can be used with Vantec's own Tornado fans without worry of
blown circuits. Fans simply plug into the units standard 3-pin fan headers
- so there is no wire cutting involved.
The Vantec Nexus NXP201 itself draws all its power from one Molex connector. The entire
unit measures just 50mm deep, and the PCB layout is clean and
Installation is a breeze, the unit simply fits into a standard 5.25" bay with the two first
mounting screws to hold it in place. On the Antec SX1030B, or for that matter any
other Antec cases which also use that frame there may be a small problem
Since this case uses rails to guide the 5.25" devices into place
you have to attach them to the NXP201 first. The problem arrises because of
two small screws used to hold the aluminum bezel to the PCB - these screw heads
cause the plastic slides to stick out just enough that the unit won't install properly.
The fix we found was to just cut away a little from the top of the plastic slide
so that it didn't get in the way. After this little 'mod' we were in business
and the unit slid into the case without any problems whatsoever.
The only other aspect of the these two really cool looking fan controllers I
would change are the dials. The metal coating on the aluminum makes the control
dials a little slippery, so it can be difficult to get a good grip on them at
times. That's a pretty small complaint, and not something I would really hold
against this unit to any great extent.
The blue LED back lighting around the dials looks amazing, and in a darkened
room, it looks even better! Vantec have managed to create a nice looking
accessory which is both useful and well designed. Where fan controllers used to
be the realm of overclockers and case tweakers only, Vantec have brought it to
the mainstream, and all without the least bit