As the trend for gaming PC’s increases, new and creative ideas come up to help up the entire rig as well. Sometimes, these ideas are just for that extra flair- RGB lights. However, we have seen accessories be labelled an almost necessity if not totally. Fan controllers are a good example of that. Perhaps you want to test your rig and push it to its limits. When that’s the case, you need to look into investing some money into a fan controller so that you can safely secure your PC.
The thrill of pushing your rig to its limit is, in a way, exciting. And quite often, a case fan just isn’t enough to do the job. That’s where fan controllers come in to save the day. There is much to look for when making the ultimate choice such as- number of pins, aesthetics, and controls. So let’s get started and look at our best fan controllers that you must take a look at if you’re considering getting one.
1. NZXT Sentry 3
High Performance Controller
- High voltage and current shortage protection
- Alarm goes off when temperatures are too high
- Steel design with sturdy plastic makes it future proof
- Comes in 3 and 4 pin connectors for older and newer casings
- Set up is a bit tricky for first-timers
Number of Channels: 5 | PWM Control: Yes | Bay Size: 5.25'' | Temperature Control: Yes
At this point, it should be any surprise at all that NZXT is sitting all the way to the top with their products. That’s the case here as well as the Sentry 3 by NZXT is, simply put, on a whole different league.
Sentry 3 is a follow up to the Sentry 2 line up of fan controllers, having a touch screen for displaying stats as well as controlling speeds etc. It is one of the best multi-functional controllers in the market right now, with the option of 3 Pin or 4 Pin connectors. That means that this comes with and without PWM options. It is an incredible product with almost no real setbacks to it. With the Sentry 3, you can have up to 3 fans per channel (total of 5 channels) which is way more than what an average consumer would need.
What’s really amazing about this is how you can set up profiles for each channel to control speed. Not only that, it comes with an integrated temperature sensor which you can use to set thresholds for the fan RPMs. And, that’s not even the best part about Sentry 3. It’s the astounding and crystal 5.4” touch display that fits easily and makes viewing stats very convenient.
The Sentry 3 is, without a doubt, not only the best fan controller but a fan favourite by a huge margin as well. It mixes the aesthetics as you’d expect from NZXT, there is a multitude of options for you to access and choose how you want to control and monitor your hardware, making it the obvious first choice for everyone.
2. Kingwin FPX-008
Best Value Controller
- Easy tracking and monitoring of temperature with variable speeds
- Compatible with all versions of Microsoft and MacOS
- The fans can be daisy-chained together
- Build quality feels a bit cheap
- At times only 10W per channel is delivered
Number of Channels: 4 | PWM Control: Yes | Bay Size: 5.25'' | Temperature Control: Yes
Next up, is Kingwin’s FPX-008. This is, in Layman’s terms, a controller ideal for people looking to not compromise on looks and performance by investing a somewhat decent amount. The FPX-008 is easy to install, even for beginners, durable and offers a very straight forward knob-based UI.
This one is a 4 channel, 3 Pin header fan control made to fit in 5.25” drive bays. On the front, you’ll find knobs with a bright LCD for measuring the temperature and RPM of each fan attached to it. With the help of the knobs, speeds of the fans can also be varied which, along with the screen above them, makes these manipulations very easy.
The setup of this piece of hardware is arguably the easiest. Kingwin is really generous with their cables too as they provide long pairs of cables needed to hook it up and get it started. You can easily use this and have it sit there idly by until a need for it arises. Extending to that, the fans are incredibly silent as well; going on high power mode only in gaming hours. However, these loud noises are barely noticeable if you’re a headphone user.
Kingwin’s FPX-008 is a very good option for people looking to save their buck but still get a kick out of the controller. The build quality is a bit of a let down as Kingwin has employed the same type of plastic that they had used before. With the price upgrade, you’d expect the base material itself to have been upgraded. However, if you can look past these issues and use FPX-008 with care, you’re all set. This one is sure to deliver, with its looks and functionality working side by side to give you the best of the best.
3. Thermaltake Commander F6 RGB
- Very high wattage per channel
- Startup boost applies some extra voltage to power the fans for initial momentum
- PWM controls feel very choppy
- The touch screen often needs to be pressed multiple times to register a command
- RGB colors cannot be synced
Number of Channels: 6 | PWM Control: Yes | Bay Size: 5.25'' | Temperature Control: Yes
The spot of number 3 in our list has been successfully secured by Thermaltake’s Commander F6 RGB. The design of this may not be among the best looking, especially considering how well crafted our previous two were. However, we must not judge a book by its cover as this not so good looking box is one of the most advanced ones out there.
Right out the bat, you’ll notice that Commander F6 has 6 channels for connecting the fans. This is simply amazing, as it has the potential to be something more than just a desk controller for an average consumer. Thermaltake sure didn’t compromise anything in that department.
This too supports the 3 Pin as well as 4 Pin MOLEX connectors. So you will not have to worry about going out of your way just to ensure that this product is compatible. Commander F6 also comes with in-built temperature sensors to ring out an alarm if components get too hot. This, along with the extra measures taken by Thermaltake to ensure that power surges do not cause any alarms proves how well thought this controller is.
The one factor that seemed a little off was how the exterior design has nothing appealing to it. The LCD screen is RGB too, meaning that its colours can be changed on the fly. All in all, the F6 seems like a terrifying force which has certainly left its footprint in our list.
4. Silverstone PWM
- Draws power from PSU
- Miniature size can be fitted anywhere
- No temperature sensor for alarm purposes
- 3 pin fans do not support PWM and run at max speed
- The plastic feels poor and weak
Number of Channels: 4 | PWM Control: Yes | Bay Size: External | Temperature Control: No
What follows next lies on the more cheaper side of things. It’s the Silverstone PWM Fan Hub, coming in at 4th place. The overall analysis of this has made us label this controller as a budget piece of hardware, however, you can still make your PC do the heavy lifting without any risks using this one.
The Silverstone fan controller can support up to 8 PWM connectors, which is quite impressive for a budget device. Also, it can support 3 pin fans on 4 pin headers so that makes it compatible with older PCs as well. The construction of the Silverstone fan controller is not too shabby but it is to be expected given the price. It does not fit in a drive bay, instead, you can attach it via magnet to your steel case and connect the headers there.
The most notable feature about this controller is that it draws power from SATA cable, directly from your PSU. This means that it is capable of handling higher Wattage and current with minimal chances of power surges through it. Its 2200uF capacitors make sure of that. Users have repeatedly encountered troubles with ports facing each other. When a fan is plugged in one channel, the one on its backside often stops working. This has proven to be quite troublesome for some.
To sum it up, the overall score and effectiveness of this product are very average at best. It is a very cheap piece of hardware with a mediocre performance level. There really isn’t anything special about this which is why it might be ideal for gamers looking to overclock while having a safe switch as well.
At the last, is the quickest and cheapest solution for the people looking to “fill the quota” per se. The Zalman fan controller dubbed the Fanmate-2 does not really have any out of the ordinary features. It is a simple product that will only fill the basic necessities of a fan controller, and do that at a low price.
The Fanmate-2 has support for only one fan in its miniature size. It has a small knob on it and that’s pretty much it. On the bottom, you’ll find a double-sided adhesive tape which will allow you to stick the controller to your case or anywhere you wish. Given that it is the cheapest product in this list, the quality is what was expected.
The installation of this product is, quite evidently, very quick. By connecting the 3 pin fan to its channel, you’ll be all set. However, it does not allow speed control on the singular fan as well. It has DC ratings on it, indicating that only 100% or 0% speed is supported. Due to its small size and just one fan, it is adaptable to a number of situations, albeit not the high end working ones.
Zalman’s Fanmate-2 offers the option for only one fan, and that too with not a lot of safety bets. The plastic quality feels really low grade and there is no mechanism for voltage controls. If your fan has a startup voltage requirement of 5V, you risk frying the components of Fanmate as it simply cannot provide that much output power.
If you’re looking to just have a controller so that the basic necessity of having a fan can be fulfilled, this might do the trick for you. For the low price, you can fire up a single fan and have it operate at a satisfactory- sometimes not even that- level. The Fanmate-2 doesn’t really have much to offer but, there are users who have limited usage due to various factors. Therefore, it can prove useful for them as the setup is super easy, quick and they’ll have a cushion- albeit not a very durable one, at their side.