Zalman ZM-MFC1 Multi Fan Controller

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May 29, 2003 by Leo Quan (a.k.a. Powergyoza) and Mike Chin

Product ZM-MFC1 Multi-fan Speed Controller
Manufacturer Zalman
Supplier Zalman USA
Typical price US$28~36

The ZM-MFC1 is Zalman's first entry into the multichannel fan controller market. Much more than a barebones fan speed controller, it offers rpm pass-through, LEDs to gauge fan speed, and continuously variable as well as switched channels. As usual for Zalman products, it's smartly merchandized in a plastic/cardboard display package.

Operation and Looks

Zalman went for an unusual look with the ZM-MFC1. The faceplate is made of blue tinted clear plastic which makes the circuit board underneath somewhat visible. There are plenty of knobs, switches and LEDs on the 6-channel ZM-MFC1. Four metal knobs control 4 channels and two 3-way switches control the other 2. The knobs turn ° of a revolution and are specified to adjust the voltage within a 6.5 volt range. At 7/16" diameter x °" deep, each knob is a good fit for my fingers and has a solid feel. They seem difficult to turn by accident. The only thing I would wish for is a marking on each knob to show where it's pointing, but that can be easily resolved with a pencil.

The 3-way switches go between 12 volts, 5 volts and off. They have a firm action. Protruding out 9/16" from the faceplate (just a hair more than the knobs themselves), they did fit behind my Antec SX1040 case drivebay door, but just barely.

Each of the 6 channels has an LED to display its status. For the knob-controlled channels, the LEDs vary in intensity with the voltage. Under certain ambient lighting conditions and voltage settings, the LEDs can flicker, but should not be uncomfortable to the eye. The brightness of the LEDs should not be a problem for anyone either. For the switch-controlled channels, the LEDs go between red for 12 volts, blue for 5 volts and off.

Physical Details

As the photo below shows, the ZM-MFC1 comes with 4 sets of fan cables. More on that later.

The view from the bottom in the photo below provides a hint regarding the unit's genealogy: The channels whose output voltage is controlled by the knobs use the circuitry found in the Fanmate 1, Zalman single-fan voltage controller. Yup, those are basically 4 Fanmate 1s in a row with the addition of the LED for each.

To supply the ZM-MFC1 with power, a single female 4-pin peripheral connector from the PC power supply is connected to the male socket on the back of the unit -- seen on the PCB above. This single connector provides 12V to all 6 channels, and 5V to the two switched channels.

Electrical Specifications (from Zalman)

4 CH - Adjustable channels by volume knob

  1. Maximum Power : 7.0W per channel
  2. Maximum Adjustable Range: +6.5Vmax (=Vfan(max) - Vfan(min))
  3. Maximum Voltage Drop : +2.0Vmax (= Vpin(max) - Vfan(max))
  4. Extension cable length (4pcs): 400mm

2 CH - Adjustable Ports by select switch

  1. Maximum Power : Unlimited, while used power supply capacity (limited only by PSU)
  2. Adjustable Range : Max voltage output or Min voltage output. (actually it is 0V, 12V and 5V)

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