Scythe Kaze Server Fan Controller Review

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Today we will be reviewing the Scythe Kaze Server Fan controller. I purchased this unit from newegg.com because of it’s simple design, temperature monitoring ability and affordable price ($41.99). I previously owned the Scythe Kazemaster fan controller before my power supply burned out in a spectacular, smokey fashion and took out two fan channels and two temperature channels in it. Up until that point, it had given 2 years of solid performance with nary a temperature probe going south.

Scythe Kaze Server Box

Scythe Kaze Server Box (Source: Scythe-usa.com)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Looking  in the box, it comes neatly packed in styrofoam with six temperature sensors (one for each channel and two extras), five 3-pin fan connectors (one for each channel and an extra), the power lead for the unit, some double sided tape, mounting screws, the instructions, and of course the fan controller itself. The unit comes in two colors: silver or black, both being brushed aluminum. It has four knobs on the front panel along with an on/off switch for the LCD display.

Front Panel

Front Panel (Source: Scythe-usa.com)

Rear Panel

Rear Panel (Source: Scythe-usa.com)

Accessories

Accessories (Source: Scythe-usa.com)

Mounting the fan controller in the Corsair Obsidian 800D was a breeze. I used one of the supplied screws to mount securely on the backside, and the quick clips for the other side. Once it was mounted I threaded all the wires, and there are a lot, through the holes on the 800D’s framework to minimize the “rat’s nest” appearance inside my tidy case.  For now, I am only using 3 of the four available temperature senors.  One to measure the temperature of the ambient air intake at the bottom of the case.  The two others are taped to the intake and exhaust sides of the radiator.  All four fan channels are hooked up to the Kaze Server.  Three of them are for the radiator and the other is used by the 140mm exhaust for the case.

The minimum voltage this unit applies to the fan according to the Scythe website, is 3.7v with a maximum of 12v.  Using a Digital Multi-Meter, I confirmed these ratings within .1v. All of my fans (120mm Yate Loon High) easily climbed up to their 2200 RPM rated speed, sans 100RPM or so which is well within the acceptable variance in speeds.  Each fan channel can support up to 12W which is not a lot of wattage, so I would not consider daisy chaining another fan on one channel or getting a very powerful fan with close to 1A power use. The heatsinks themselves are not very large, so I can’t imagine them to be very forgiving on that front. But for the most part, one fan will work just fine without stressing the hardware on the controller.

Using the fan controller is quite easy as one would expect. It has options to set each of the fans individually to “Auto”, “Semi”, and “Manual” modes. Auto mode will shut the fan off when the temperature for that channel goes below the threshold you set. In Semi-auto mode a minimal RPM of the fan can be setup togther with your defined temperature.  This means that below a certain temperature the fan will spin down to the RPM you set. You can switch between these modes by pressing on the knob for that particular channel. The Kaze Server also has an audible alarm in case of fan failure to prevent overheating. You can also disable this alarm.

Operation and Usage

When powering on your PC, the fans spin up quickly to full power and then slow down to your preset RPM.  When adjusting fan RPMs the knobs give tactile feedback with an inaudible ‘click’ when increasing or decreasing fan RPM. This is a feature that the Scythe Kazemaster did not have. The Auto and Semi-auto features work very well in testing. Personally I did not use it outside of this review as I keep the fans manually set low, around 1,000 RPMs, except when benchmarking.  However, I can imagine there are plenty of people that can really use it when the probes are in the right place. The temperature probes out of the box are pretty accurate. I have an expensive and presumably accurate home weather unit with remote temperature/humidity sensors that I used to confirm the readings on the Kaze server. The temperatures were never off by more than 1C. However with these types of sensors you need to be careful, as they can break and become quite inaccurate if  the tips are bent too much. One very noticeable concern with this unit is the LCD display. When you are looking straight on at the unit, the black on white LCD is quite attractive and legible, however if you are offset to it, which a lot of PC users are, it becomes unreadable VERY quickly. The LED on the Kazemaster had a much wider viewing angle.

Front Panel view, straight on.

Front Panel view, straight on.

Front Panel view, offset.

Front Panel view, offset.

CONCLUSION

Overall this fan controller does what it is supposed to do very well. Fan RPM is quite reasonable and the temperature probes appear to be accurate and stable, refreshing about every second. The unit is sturdy, mounts solid within my case, and I do like the auto/semi-auto features that the controller has. The only drawback, and it’s a significant one to me, is that the viewing angle is very limited.  You really need to be sitting directly in front of this unit in order to read what it says.  Even a mere 45° off axis and it begins to become unreadable. The Scythe Kaze Server fan controller does it’s job well and is a great choice for consumers wanting a simple fan controller with temperature probes and the ability to strap the fan speeds to temperature. This controller is well worth the price of admission.

Earthdog

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