When we last looked at a Lamptron fan controller, it was their flagship/bling model the Lamptron Touch. They’ve gone the brute force route this time and sent us their new powerhouse, the Lamptron FC8 fan controller.
Specifications and Features
Here they are, straight from the Lamptron site:
- Dimension: 148.5 mm * 42.5 mm * 76 mm (5.25″ Bay)
- Power Output: Up to 30 watts per channel
- Control Channel: 8 Channels
- LED Color Available: White, Blue, Green, Cyan, Red, Purple, Yellow
- Panel Color Available: Black Anodized/Silver
- DC Input: 3 X +12v (Standard 4 Pin Molex)
- DC Output: 0V- 12V DC
- Fan Connectors: 8 X 3-pin connectors
- Recommend PSU wattage: 600w or higher
- CNC Milled Front Panel
- Laser Etched Logo and Channel Lettering
- Customizable Channel LED’s
- Up to 30 watts per channel
The FC8 isn’t quite Lamptron’s strongest fan controller. That award still goes to the FC2, which has a combined potential 270 W of fan pushing power. Still, with 240 W this controller is spec’ed strong enough to push enough fans on all but the most outrageously massive systems out there.
Like the Touch, the FC8 comes in an inner box with a sleeve. Well-packaged, it will have no problems surviving its trip to you.
We were actually graced with two versions of the FC8, both the silver and black versions. Not all was sunshine and rainbows though; the silver version unfortunately had a defective 1st channel. The black version was flawless and had no issues what-so-ever.
Those that need the silver model will definitely not be disappointed. The finish was impeccable on the brushed aluminum. Surprisingly, eight channels didn’t make the controller feel cramped at all. There isn’t enough space to get your fingers between the knobs of course, but it’s not difficult to use at all.
Just like he silver version, the black version’s brushed aluminum looks great. The silver outline on the knobs makes them ‘pop’ nicely, much better looking than the FC2 if you ask me.
The FC8 is unique among Lamptron’s lineup in that you can select any of seven colors individually per channel. The first five angles are with all of the colors selected, then there is one with just blue and green so you can see what it’s like to go with a uniform selection.
I like it! Colors to match pretty much any lighting for any build is definitely a good thing. You may notice all of these colors are also available on the FC5’s / Touch’s screen, but you can only do one at a time. This can have any combination of colors you want. It’s a simple matter to change the color too, using the far left and far right knobs as push buttons to select the channel to change and change the colors. All in all, a very nice looking and intuitive implementation.
Now we’ll see what these things are made of. Using a PWM-control for the output voltage, these are a bit more complicated than your average potentiometer/resistance-based controllers (i.e. the Sunbeam Rheobus).
These controllers are the first to use Lamptron’s new “Endurance Tech”, which they describe as being “…made with the finest components available to give them extra endurance!” It’s unclear from the image (linked above), but it really seems to mean they use solid capacitors.
Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, there was a problem with the first channel on the silver sample we had. If you look at these photos, it looks like the capacitors they tout were resting squarely up against the solder mounting the potentiometers in several places. That appears to be the main thing that (visibly) changed from the original to the new version below, so that’s where my (admittedly unscientific, unverified) instinct says the problem may have laid.
So there you have it, a very good looking fan controller. Elegant looking simplicity at its best.
There are two methods to test performance when I look at fan controllers (with the Lamptron Touch being an exception) – how consistent the potentiometers are across the controller and the voltages the controller holds under load. Tests were conducted using a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 800W PSU that gave a supply voltage of 12.25 V. I measured voltages with a run-of-the-mill multimeter. Voltages were measured at the connector where it plugged into the controller.
Regrettably I didn’t take a photo of testing the black (non-malfunctioning) version, but I did snag one earlier when testing the silver version.
One item that should be noted and was evident across the board, as it has been in every PWM-controlled Lamptron controller, is voltage bleed-through. When the controller is turned all the way down, on all channels, it bleeds through 0.77 V. It’s just a function of the design and not a ‘flaw’ per se.
This will not be a problem for 99.9% of you who actually use the fans connected to your controller. It’s more important so that you’ll take note when installing it to double-check and ensure you aren’t accidentally shorting out any connections / connectors, which could kill that channel (and possibly the controller).
This test is less than scientific. It’s meant to judge how similar the controls are between the various channels – i.e. if you set the controller at the 1/2 way mark, can you expect it to be relatively similar voltage to each fan. Accuracy here is useful if you have, for instance, push-pull fans on a radiator. You don’t want one working against the other.
To judge, I set each channel at four different voltages and eyed its position as best I could. The results are expressed as locations of a hand on a clock, i.e. if the control knob pointed straight up, that’s 12:00. Straight left and right are 9:00 and 3:00, respectively.
Overall, the FC8 does a good job with consistency of control. With a couple exceptions, most of the controls were within 0:15 of each other. Only a couple were greater than 0:30, and even then when you’re looking at such a small “clock”, it’s hardly perceptible. Definitely no cause for concern across the board.
Voltage Under Load
Now we have the more objective test. This chart shows how the controller held its voltage levels under various loads. The 3.6 W load was applied with a single Yate Loon 0.30 A fan. The 9.6 W load was a single Delta 0.80 A fan. Lastly, the 32.4 W load was three of those Deltas plus the Yate, for a total of 2.7 A. Input voltage was 12.25 V.
Definitely nothing to be upset about here. The controller passed through the vast majority of its supply voltage through all single fan testing. With a maximum loss of under 3% when run slightly over specified load wattage this is definitely a strong performer and will be able to power plenty of fans without worry. Not that a 3% loss would be a massive concern anyway. No one in their right mind would run 240 W of fans at full tilt all the time. The noise would drive them insane!
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Lamptron FC8 definitely delivers. It’s a very stout, solid fan controller that would be well worth investing in. Speaking of investment, the FC8 currently retails for $69.95 at Performance PCs and at Frozen CPU.
While it’s certainly not the cheapest controller around, it is also very unique. Browsing through Performance PCs catalog, you won’t see another 8 channel fan controller with anywhere near the wattage this beast can put out. At this price though, you will need to think about just how many fans you need to control and what sort of aesthetics you are going for. The Lamptron Touch is available for just $5 more, so consider long and hard which product suits your taste better.
Me? I like the FC8. The touch is very nice and does its job admirably. That said, I like the looks and simplicity of the FC8 more. Plus it has two more channels for even more fan controlling goodness! The FC8 is without a doubt Overclockers Approved.
– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)