NZXT Sentry LX Review

 

NZXT Sentry LX

Front view of the NZXT Sentry LX.

The NZXT Sentry LX is an automatic, 5-channel fan controller with a total of 6 watts per channel. It has a large LCD display and fits into any dual 5.25″ drive bay. Retailing at $54.99 (although it is currently being sold on Amazon for $47.99), it is not cheap, but it does have some advanced features that other fan controllers lack.

The Sentry LX comes in a simple cardboard box with a picture of the controller on the front. Inside, the controller itself is wrapped in plastic with 2 foam blocks on either end. The accessories are contained in a separate plastic bag. There is also a folded manual which goes into great detail about installation and use of the controller. There are screws to hold the unit in place, extra temperature sensors and orange stickers to hold the sensors in place included, along with a battery, which will be needed to store the settings of the controller if the user disconnects power from it. The display is protected by plastic foil.

The front is made of anodized aluminum, which gives it a sturdy look. There are six buttons on the left side of the front panel: an up arrow button, a down arrow button (the up/down buttons are used to raise or lower the currently selected function – clock time, alarm time, fan speed, etc.), a “set” button (which saves the setting), a “mode” button (which toggles the functionality of the unit from manual to automatic), a “fan select” button (which gives you access to each of the 5 fans), and a “reset” button (to reset the fan and clock/alarm settings). Turning the unit around reveals that the electronic components are contained on a single blue printed circuit board. On the PCB are several components including capacitors, a single integrated circuit (an 8-bit RISC microprocessor produced by ELAN Microelectronic, the Rhe EM78P510N), and the temperature probe connectors. These probes can be removed if they are not being used, but they are covered with hot glue, so you will have to peel the glue away before removing them. Also, there is a holder for the battery, which is used to maintain the settings and run the clock. A single Molex connector is used to power the fan controller and fans. The five fan connectors and probes are labeled from 1 to 5. When the controller is run in automatic mode, each fan will adjust in accordance with the temperature read by its respective sensor. There are protectors fitted over the sensors, which is a good idea, because the sensors are rather fragile.

Installation of the Sentry LX is fairly simple: just slide it into a dual 5.25″ drive bay and secure it into place with the provided screws. Then all that is left to do is connect the power, connect the fans to the headers, and secure the temperature sensors in place with the provided adhesive. It should be noted that that the headers are 3-pin headers. Thus, fans with four pins, such as PWM fans and those using Molex connectors cannot be plugged into the unit.

Once installed, the display is bright and the numbers are clearly visible. Hitting the reset button makes all the areas light up at once, so you can check to see if any segments of the LCD are damaged. After the reset, the fans are adjusted according to the temperature of each sensor and the clock is reset to 12:00 and January 1, 2008. The display shows fan speed, temperature (and can show fan speed/temperature of all 5 fans/sensors simultaneously) and time/date. Setting up the clock is easy, and the settings will be maintained even when the PC is turned off, thanks to the battery. The fans can be controlled in 10-percent increments: 100, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, and 40 percent, and then turned off completely. The user cannot decrement to 30, 20, or 10 percent. The user can set up a temperature alarm, which will activate if the temperature rises past a specified point. The temperature sensors seem accurate. One problem is that the feature whereby an alarm goes off when a fan is unplugged does not seem to work on some units (on these units, the alarm sounds when a temperature sensor is unplugged). In addition, some users have complained about dead pixels on the LCD display or non-functioning displays.

On the whole, this looks to be another solid product from NZXT. On the plus side is the big LCD display (it should be noted, however, that the display does not turn off automatically when the computer is shut off – you have to turn it off manually) and the accuracy of the temperature sensors. On the negative side, the controller provides only 6 watts per channel (which should be enough for most fans but still pales in comparison with many other fan controllers) and the fan headers only accept 3-pin fans (which actually should not be too much of a problem, since there are 4-pin to 3-pin adapters, although none are included with this controller). Still, the Sentry LX is a product to consider if you are willing to spend about $50 for a fan controller and your PC has a dual 5.25″ drive bay you can spare.

Specifications

Dimensions: Dual 5.25″ Bay
Max Power: Up to 6 W per channel
Colors Available: Black
DC Input: 12 V (Standard 4 Pin Molex connector)
Fan Connectors: 5
Material: Black anodized aluminum
Plug Type: 3-Pin Molex KK (male)
Model Number: SEN-001LX
Material: LCD Screen, Aluminum, PCB
Included Accessories: 8x M3 Screws, adhesive
Connections: 1x Molex, 5x Temperature Sensors
Max Combined Wattage: 30 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: 5.00 Inches
Screen Type: Capacitive Touch
Fan Control Method: Voltage
Warranty: 2 Years
UPC: 811121010126
Control Method: Buttons
Temperature Range: 0 to 99?

Features

Large dual 5.25″ LCD screen
NZXT designed intuitive control, set and change fan speeds and settings on the fly
Auto/Manual modes, let the LCD take control or set fan speeds to your liking
Temperature alarm
Aluminum finish
NZXT Designed graphical interface, easy to read and understand
Saved Settings, calender and fan settings are stored even during system off so settings don’t need to be redone
Supports up to 6 Watt per channel
Supports only 3-pin fans

External Links

NZXT’s product page for the Sentry LX

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