It has been a little while since Lamptron came out with a new fan controller (their FC10 was the most recent) for us to review for you, but they’re back and in a big way with the new CW611 Watercooling Controller.
Specifications and Features
From its name, you can tell this is no ordinary fan controller. There are six channels available and they’re all strong – rated up to 36 W/channel. They’re also selectable channels and any one of them can be either fan control, pump control, or flow meter monitoring.
- Dimension: 148.5 mm X 42.5 mm X 63 mm (5.25″ Bay)
- LCD Dimension:
- Power Output: Up to 36 watts per channel
- Control Channel: 6 Channels
- Color Available: Black Anodized/Silver
- DC Input: + 12V (Standard 4 Pin Molex)
- DC Output: 0V- 12V DC
- Fan Connectors: Six 2510 – 3-pin connectors
- Improved extra large LCD
- Customizable channels for air and water cooling
- Fully compatible with fans, pumps and flow meters
- Full flow number readout display
- Reverse power and overvoltage protection
As a side note, the reverse power and overvoltage protection does indeed work, as I found out from a careless slip of a multimeter probe.
Lamptron’s packaging has been the same for years and there isn’t any reason to switch things up now. It looks good and provides solid protection of the controller.
As fan controllers go, the CW611 comes with a lot of accessories. You get six sleeved 3-pin extension cables, a sleeved MOLEX extension, six black temperature probes (standard thermistors), screws to hold the controller in your case, and a soft cloth to clean the controller’s faceplate.
As you can see, the thermistors and extension cables have plenty of length to them. The fan there is just to help show scale.
Now we come to it, the Lamptron CW611 itself. Lamptron continues to excel in fan controller appearance. Their use of brushed aluminum faceplates continues to set the bar for good looking fan controllers.
The only minor complaint I have is that one of the screws that holds the faceplate (the brushed aluminum part, not the screen) was a little loose. This was very easily remedied, but it did need to be done or the faceplate could have vibrated a little bit if there were any case vibration transferred to the 5.25″ bays.
There were a few very minor scratches on the screen. When I say minor, I mean it too. They were so minuscule I had to take five or six photos to even get them to show up. Even then they’re pretty hard to see.
There isn’t much to talk about the PCB and design other than to say it was well put together and the controller appears to be very well built. You can go through the photos yourself and see where the fans & temperature probes plug in.
From a usability standpoint, there is only one minor complaint about this controller, and it applies to every Lamptron controller they’ve ever sent. The 3-pin fan plugs are on the very top of the PCB and there is inevitably a MOSFET and choke just below it. When you put the controller in a case, generally up against an optical drive, that positioning can make it difficult to plug a fan in without unscrewing the controller and sliding it out of the case a little.
This isn’t a complaint – the PCB is packed and there is only so much space to install the headers – so much as a tip to get your fans plugged in before screwing the controller down.
Control and Options
When you first power on your system, you see a Lamptron logo right in the middle of the controller. It’s a nice touch to let you know it’s powered on, rather than just giving you a blank screen.
Click button and the controller comes to life, giving you at-a-glance information about any channel you like. While this looks like a touch-screen interface, a la the Lamptron Touch, it is not touch-screen. Everything is controlled using the knob and button on the right-hand side. Both controls are very sturdy, which is good because at least for initial setup, you’ll be using them a lot.
All channels can be used in one of three modes – fan control, flow meter monitor, and pump control. Basically, it if has s 3-pin plug, you can control it and/or monitor it with the CW611.
It’s difficult to photograph everything this can do, so I’ll just give you a list.
- Manual fan control – Just what it sounds like, you can use it to manually control your fan from 0% to 100%.
- Automatic fan control – You can set a temperature target (which is monitored by your temperature probes, either the included ones or one like this you can purchase for your water loop) and the controller will automatically ramp your fans up or down in keeping with the target. You set the temperature then set the minimum and maximum voltages and let the controller do the rest.
- RPM / LPH or voltage monitoring – You can select one or the other.
- Alarm – If you want, you can set an alarm that goes off when the temperature reaches a point that you set.
- LED – With this small but nice inclusion, you can control the screen brightness.
To monitor performance I broke out four very strong fans (three 0.8A Deltas plus one 0.65A Panaflo), one more normal fan (a 0.3A Thermaltake) and my trusty multimeter.
Built-in Monitoring vs. Multimeter
To start with, I wanted to test how closely the controller’s voltage monitoring matched with that of a multimeter. These were all measured using the full controller load plus a tiny bit more. The three 0.8A Deltas plus the one 0.65A Panaflow adds up to 36.6 W, a smidgen higher than the controller’s rated 36 W/Channel. I set the percentages as indicated in the graph’s key and measured the results.
Interestingly, the higher the load, the closer the controller was to the actual voltage. Also note the small voltage bleed-through, which is typical.
Voltage Delivery Under Various Loads
After checking voltage output calibration, we’ll see how close the controllers maximum out put is to the input voltage with varying loads. This is where the 0.3 A fan was added to the mix. There are three different loads here, one at 3.6 W, one at 9.6 W and, finally, full load with 36.6 W.
When you look at this graph, note the scale is NOT to zero, or you’d barely see the difference between the lines. The maximum voltage drop, and that’s only on one channel, was 0.60 V, or 4.9%. The rest of the channels did better than that one, averaging a voltage drop of 0.53 V, or 4.4%. That load drop is a little more than past controllers. The FC-8 came in at 2.94% max loss while the FC-9 came in at 2.78% max loss.
That said, less than a 4.9% loss while the controller is running slightly over its maximum rated load isn’t too bad, if a little on the high side. When you run a normal case fan (such as 0.3 A), there will be a much smaller voltage drop, averaging 0.7%. With a single 0.8 A screamer rather than four screamers, you’ll come out with a mere 1.5% loss. Considering you have six channels to use, the number of people that need to run four very high amperage fans on just one channel will be very slim.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Let’s have another look at the controller, just because it’s pretty.
I’ve always liked Lamptron fan controller designs and the CW611 is no exception. Let’s face it, innovation in fan controllers isn’t an easy task. There are only so many ways to rework how you send voltage to your fans, but Lamptron excels at pushing that envelope.
The only con of any merit is 4.9% voltage loss when under very heavy load. When used by any sane person that values their hearing, or any semblance of quiet computer operation, that won’t even be a factor. The loss when using single fans was negligible. I’ll mention again the loose screw on the faceplate, but that was so easily remedied it’s difficult to consider that much of a “con”.
The thing about the CW611 is that it isn’t cheap. Coming in at $89.99, this is definitely on the higher side of fan controllers, but for what you get (relative to a few rheostats with no other discernible features for $30-$50), it’s not a bad price. Consider this the Cadillac of fan controllers. There won’t be a great many people that need it, but those that will use all of the features will be very glad it exists and shouldn’t bat an eye at paying that much for it.
With good looks, strong output, a lovely display and enough features to make it worth its asking price, the Lamptron CW611 is easily Overclockers Approved.