Lamptron FC5 (v2) Review


Lamptron FC5

Front view of the Lamptron FC5.

The Lamptron FC5 is a 4-channel, 30 watt per channel fan controller that, like several other controllers marketed by Lamptron, combines functionality and style. The controller is made of CNC milled aluminum, and is available in black and also unpainted. As with most fan controllers it fits in a 5.25-inch expansion bay.

The FC5 includes 4 long temperature probes, 4 3-pin extension cables for the fans, an extra jumper pin for setting the various color options of the unit, a Molex cable, and mounting screws. The LCD screen takes up a good portion of the front of the FC5; unlike some of the cheaper controllers, this LCD is not black and white but is capable of producing various colors (although it can only display one color at a time). Unlike the FC Touch, the display screen on the FC5 is somewhat difficult to read; the angle of view at which the user can accurately read information is narrow in the horizontal plane and even narrower in the vertical plane. How readable the display is from an angle is partially dependent on the color the user chooses; the red and blue display colors have somewhat more contrast than other colors and thus allow for a slightly better viewing angle. Below the LCD panel are four large knobs; each controls one of the four channels. The plastic knobs are solid in their position and do not wiggle out of place when being turned. All changes to the color of the LCD, alarm function, and the display readouts are done by changing jumpers on the PCB.The user has a choices of displaying temperature (in Celsius or Fahrenheit) or voltages for the bottom line readout.

There are two PCBs for the controller: one for the LCD, and one for the controller itself. Along the top edge of the controller PCB are the 4 3-pin fan headers as well as the single 4-pin Molex input power connector (out of the way, to make room for the other wires). Below the fan headers are the heatsinks; each channel has its own heatsink, which are more than enough to dissipate the heat. There are also several high-quality Rubycon capacitors on the PCB. The mounting for all the fan, power, temperature headers, heatsinks and capacitors are solid and clean. Two Atmel ATMEGA8Ls, which are 8-bit RISC microcontrollers, Each one has 8K of in-system self-programmable flash memory, 512 bytes EEPROM and 1K of internal SRAM. On the lower left of the PCB, there are 3 sets of jumpers, one each for red, green and blue. If all 3 are jumpered, the display is white. If only the red, green, or blue jumper is enabled, the display will be red, green or blue respectively. If 2 jumpers are set, then the display will be either cyan, purple or yellow. The knobs can be adjusted from fully on to fully off on each channel. Voltages remain relatively stable across the board. The controller can handle several fans without much of a voltage sag. The temperature probes seem long enough to run anywhere in virtually any case on the market.

Retailing for about $55, the FC-5 is another solid performer from Lamptron. With 30 watts per channel, it should provide enough power output for most users. There are some negatives here: the colors on the display can only be changed via the jumpers, which some users may not appreciate, and viewing the display from an angle can be difficult. In addition, the $55 price tag may be a bit steep for some users. Still, those who purchase this controller will likely find it well worth the price.


Dimensions: 5.25″ bay
Power Output: Up to 30w per Channel
Face Plate Color Available: Black Anodized/Silver Aluminum
DC Input: +12v (Standard 4-Pin Connector)
DC Output: 0-12v
Changeable Display Color: Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, White
Control Channels: 4


New and Improved LCD!
CNC milled face plate from blocks of 3/4″ thick solid aluminum
Bring out that full aesthetic appeal you always wanted in the 5.25 inch bay
Four knobs to control four 3-pin channels
User’s choice of displaying Celsius, Fahrenheit, or voltages for the bottom line readout

External Links:

Lamptron’s product page for the FC5 (v. 2)

Review: NZXT Sentry 2


NZXT Sentry 2

Front and side view of the NZXT Sentry 2.

The NZXT Sentry 2 is a full system fan controller with a touch screen interface. It fits in a 5.25″ drive bay and is compatible with any fan that uses voltage control. What initially surprised me the most about this controller, however, was the price: while many rudimentary fan controllers – ones that lack temperature sensors or LCD displays – sell for $25 and up, the NZXT Sentry 2 offers an LCD touch-screen interface and other advanced features at a budget price (at the time this article was written, Amazon was selling it for $27.98). It is not as powerful as some other controllers in the same price range (it supplies only 10 watts per channel), so if you are considering the Sentry 2, you probably will want to do some back-of-envelope calculations on your power requirements before making a purchase.

The Sentry 2 ships in a small black box, the back of which includes a list of features (e.g. the backlight on the LCD screen can be turned off, and it has a temperature alarm). Inside, the controller is wrapped in a red bag with styrofoam placed around its edges. All of the wires are wrapped in the bag as well. Also included with the controller are 2 spare temperature sensors, installation screws, adhesive tape to attach the sensors, and one-page “user manual”. [The manual includes no information on how to install the sensors nor how to operate the LCD touchscreen.]

The front panel of the Sentry 2 is made of black plastic and therefore will look best in cases with a black plastic front. Looking at back of the controller reveals that all the circuitry is contained on a single PCB. The controller ships with temperature sensors, main power and fan output cables connected and glued to the circuit board.

The Sentry 2 will install easily into a tool-less case; otherwise, the screws provided with the unit will hold it in place. After that, all you need to do is connect it to the power supply with one standard Molex connector, stick the temperature sensors on the places you want to monitor and connect the fans to the outputs. Each of the 5 outputs has 2 connector types: a 3-pin miniature connector and a 4-pin Molex connector. However, the 3-pin connectors have no rotation sensor, and are not compatible with 4-pin miniature connectors with an extra pin for PWM. Thus, you will not be able to connect PWM fans to the controller unless you cut off the part of the connector for the fourth pin.

Another problem is that the NZXT cannot monitor the speed of the CPU fan, even if it is connected to the controller. Also, the power connectors for the fans are male, while most fans have male inputs.

Once connected, the Sentry 2 panel lights up when the computer is turned on. The panel contains 4 main areas. On the right side, there is a fan icon which the user must touch to select each one of the fans (in sequence). The fan on the touch screen spins whenever the fan selected is spinning. In the upper left corner, there is the temperature readout of the temperature sensor corresponding to the channel selected (temperature can be displayed in Fahrenheit or Celsius). Beneath the temperature readout are plus and minus buttons, which adjust the alarm temperature when the fan is in automatic mode and the fan speed when the panel is in manual mode. Touching the area which says which mode you are in allows you to toggle between manual an automatic. In the upper-right corner is a button to reset the controller (marked by an “R”), but you have to hold down the button for 7 seconds before anything happens. The same goes for the on-off button (in the lower right corner), and the button for switching between Fahrenheit and Celsius.

NZXT Sentry 2 alt view

Another view of the Sentry 2.

The temperature alarm is effective and will sound when the temperature sensor goes above the level set (when the controller is in automatic mode). There is also an alarm to indicate a defective fan; the sound it makes is different than that made by the temperature alarm. One problem is that the alarm is not particularly loud; you will have to be near the computer to hear it. The temperature sensors are fairly accurate and should get the job done.

Overall, the Sentry 2 is a functional, low-priced fan controller. There are several negatives, though: there is no braiding or grouping for the wires, so there is potentially a huge mess of wires (some zip ties might help here); the wires are super-glued to the controller, so when taking the controller out, you will have to take out the temperature sensors as well; moreover, the unit comes with bad instructions. Moreover, the fact that the fan connectors are 3-pin and cannot easily accommodate 4-pin PWM fan connectors will be an issue with some users. In addition, the fact that the maximum output is 10 watts per channel limits this controller’s appeal. Finally, some users have reported problems with this controller, such as the LCD display dying, and one or more of the channels malfunctioning after a period of time, which may be an indicator of quality control problems at NZXT. Still, as one of the few fan controllers under $30 to sport a touch screen (and a pretty nice one at that), the Sentry 2 is worth considering if you are considering purchasing a fan controller.


Dimensions: 5.25″ Bay
Max Power: Up to 10 W per channel
Colors Available: Black
DC Input: 12 V (Standard 4 Pin Molex connector)
Fan Connectors: 5
Material: Plastic; finish is matte black plastic bezel
Plug Type: 3-Pin Molex KK (male)
Model Number: SEN2-001
Material: LCD Screen, Plastic, PCB
Included Accessories: 4x M3 Screws
Connections: 1x Molex, 5x Temperature Sensors
Max Combined Wattage: 50 Watts
Brightness Levels: On / Off
Control Modes: Manual / Automatic
Fan Channel Quantity 5
Temperature Range: 0 to 120°C
Measurement Frequency 2 Seconds
Temp Alarm Range: 30? to 90?
Minimum Power To Fans: 40%
Screen Size: 4.63 Inches
Screen Type: Capacitive Touch
Fan Control Method: Voltage
Warranty: 2 Years


Touch screen interface
Five fan control through an intuitive interface
Ultra fast selection and response time
Display temperatures in both F and C
Light switch turns off the meter when sleeping
Automatic and manual modes of control
Full compatibility with all types of fans using voltage control
With a maximum of 10 Watts per channel, the Sentry 2 will support almost all high end fans
Tuned accuracy with only a tolerance of one degree
Sound alarm to alert when the temperature is over
Stored settings, the Sentry keeps your settings even after power off

Review: NZXT Sentry Mesh


Sentry Mesh

The NZXT Sentry Mesh.

The NZXT Sentry Mesh is a 5-channel, 30 watt per channel fan controller. Its simple-yet-elegant design and its moderate price ($24.99) will appeal to PC users looking for a no-frills solution to controlling fans.

The Sentry Mesh comes in a cardboard box wrapped in plastic, along with instructions on a single sheet of paper and a small bag of screws. The controller is light and is made of strong, solidly-built plastic, about 2 mm thick and with structural support on the sides and bottoms. The front of the controller boasts a minimalist design, with a mesh design, five linear potentiometers, and a small embossed “NZXT” logo. The fan controller uses only one 5.25″ drive bay. It has no temperator sensors or USB ports.

There are 4 holes on each side for the mounting screws. Viewing the rear of the case reveals that the controller fits on a single circuit board. Thankfully, all the cables are connected to the board with removable connectors (especially in light of the fact that there is no braiding or grouping on the cables). The cables extend approximately 18″ from the PCB, making the sentry Mesh suitable for installation in all but the largest full-tower cases. Those with full-towers may need to buy extension cables. Power is provided by one 4-pin Molex connector, which in turn powers up to 5 individual fans. The fan connectors are Molex KK plugs, so you will need an adapter (not included) if you have fans with the older large Molex connectors. Each cable has a numbered tag at the end of it to indicate which channel to which the cable belongs.

Installation of the NZXT Sentry Mesh is easy; the sides are long enough so that it fits snugly in tool-less cases. If the user’s case requires screws, however, there are 4 screws included. The mesh used for the controller is identical to that used in some of the Cooler Master cases such as the Storm Scout. The fans connect up easily, and once the controller is powered up, the Sentry Mesh maintains its low-profile appearance, with the exception of a white LED under the NZXT logo.

Sentry Mesh - Back

A view of the NZXT Sentry Mesh from the rear, showing the PCB and connectors.

The Sentry Mesh is designed so that so less than 40 percent (4.8 V) of the maximum 12 V of power is provided to the fans. This means that in the potentiometer’s lowest position, the fans are still providing airflow while remaining virtually silent. This ensures that no matter how low the sliders are set, the fans are still running. This is probably a good idea, but users who want more control over their fans may want to consider the Sunbeamtech Rheosmart 6 or another controller that allows the user to reduce the voltage to zero.

The NZXT Sentry Mesh is a low-profile unit which should provide enough power for most users. It has a few minor problems, such as the lack of any braiding or grouping for the cables, and the fact that 4-pin Molex adapters for the fans are not included, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, and at a price of $24.99, it offers a great deal of value at a low price.


Dimensions: 5.25″ Bay
Max Power: Up to 30 W per channel
Colors Available: Black
DC Input: 12 V (Standard 4 Pin Molex Connector)
Fan Connectors: 5
Fan RPM Sliders: 5
Material: Plastic and steel mesh
Pot Type: Linear
Plug Type: 3-Pin Molex KK
Min. Voltage: 40%


Mesh design to camouflage with mesh facade
Five 30W Controls
Easy-to-use sliders

Review: Lamptron FC-2


Lamptron FC-2

Front panel of the Lamptron FC-2

For those users who put power at a premium, the FC-2 may be the ideal solution. In an era when some fan controllers offer a mere 7 watts per channel, the FC-2 boasts a whopping 45 watts per channel, with a total of 6 channels. It is available in both black anodized aluminum, as well as plain aluminum. The aluminum is CNC milled, which should please those who put a premium on aesthetics.

The FC-2 fits into a 5.25-inch drive bay, and requires up to 3 Molex connectors to power it (it is advisable to connect all 3 connectors to the power supply to prevent a current overload, but the controller will work with only one connector connected). It comes with fan extension wires for all 6 channels (all fan connectors are 3-pin), as well as screws for mounting. The power cable is pre-attached to the fan controller (likely due to the FC-2’s power cable having a higher-gauge wire to handle the increased power load).

The PCB on the FC-2 has been simplified considerably in comparison with its predecessors. Lamptron used a pulse-width modulation (PWM) design for the controller, rather than using a resistor-based design, which makes it somewhat more efficient than a resistor-based system which would dump additional voltage as heat.

Lamptron FC-2 alternate view

Another view of the Lamptron FC-2, showing the Molex power connectors

It should be noted that when the fans are in the off position, it is an absolute off, unlike some controllers which consistently supply some power to allow the fan to spin at a slow speed. This is useful if you want to isolate the source of noise in a PC, but not so useful if you forget the fans are not running and end up damaging a component. The LED brightness increases as the fan speed increases; thus the LEDs will be brightest when the fan speed is at a maximum. This can be handy to users who want to know the fan speed right away by just looking at the LED brightness.

The controller itself seems to work solidly; it can handle several fans running at maximum speed without struggling.

On the whole, the Lamptron FC-2 does everything the user would expect of it and more. It lacks some of the features of the more expensive fan controllers (it is, after all, only a manual fan controller), but with a whopping 45 watts per channel, it should be powerful enough for just about everybody, and with a retail price of about $40, it offers good value.

Dimensions: 5.25″ Bay
Max Power: Up to 45W per channel
Colors Available: Black Anodized Aluminum, Plain Aluminum Finish
DC Input: 12V(Standard 4 Pin Molex Connector)
LED Indicator: 12 Blue LEDs 5.0V
Fan Connectors: 6
Fan RPM Knobs: 6

CNC Milled from blocks of 3/4″ Thick Solid Aluminum
Normal Output 45 W Each Channel
Six 3-pin Fan Connections on Backside
LED Brightness is Controlled by RPM Knob