Zalman ZM-MFC2: 4 x Fan Controller + Power Meter

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The control console fits into a standard 5.25" bay. The bulk of the console is set aside for the display, with a large jog wheel to adjust fan speed and a small, easy-to-miss fan selection button at the far right. The whole package has the sleek, faux hi-fi look that so many computer cases have adopted in recent years.

The black and silver design has a sleek home theater look to it.

Around the back is a straightforward array of connectors: Three 3-pin fan headers, a 4-pin header, a single header for the four thermistors, a small plug for the power meter, and a standard Molex connector for power. All of the connections are clearly labeled and use different headers, making installation safe and simple.

With a total of 10 potential cables, cable management could prove a challenge.

The user interface leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps Zalman was going for the iPod's fewer-buttons-is-better aesthetic, but it doesn't work so well on a fan controller where it's hard to imagine a more intuitive interface than a line of four knobs. Even so, the controller is needlessly complicated. It doesn't adjust the fan speed until a few seconds after the jog wheel has stopped — and it doesn't remember what fan was selected last. This makes fine adjustment a bit painful, as each individual tweak is a three step process:

  1. Select the fan by pressing the "mode" button an appropriate number of times.
  2. Twirl the jog wheel to dial in a new target rotation speed.
  3. Wait 5-10 seconds for the fan to adjust itself and listen to see if it is at the desired speed.

Twirling the knob without first selecting a fan does not adjust the last-selected fan as you might expect; it is necessary to re-select a the fan for every minute adjustment. Perhaps Zalman meant this as a safety feature to prevent accidental changes in fan speed.

Plenty of flashy, bright, multicolored lights to incite your loathing or satisfy your lust for bling.

Another issue we had was the viewing angle of the display. When viewed from above — as would be typical for a system placed on the ground — the display appeared fully lit, eradicating the ability to read anything on it. A quick measurement and some trigonometry revealed that the display became unviewable 27° above a straight-on view.

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