Mostly known for their cases, fans, and power supplies, Fractal Design looks to add fan controllers to their product lineup with the release of their new Adjust 108. Sporting a brushed aluminum panel and a stout 36 watts per channel, it certainly looks like the Adjust 108 has the right DNA to be a contender in the competitive fan controller market. In terms of the aesthetic value it brings to your computer system, “Simple but clean” is the idea behind the Adjust 108. So, let’s have a look at the Adjust 108 and see if the performance, specifications, and looks all come together in a worthy package.
Specifications and Features
The Company Line
Here is what the Fractal Design marketing folks have to say about the Adjust 108:
The new Adjust 108 fan controller from Fractal Design offers a simple yet clean option to adjust the speed of your case fans. With a brushed aluminum front panel and smooth moving sliders, it does not only emanate quality but also robustness and preciseness.
The Adjust 108 Fan Controller manages a total of six fans with a maximum of 36W per channel, while grouped three by three for ease of use. With a bi-color LED beneath each of the six sliders, the controller shows the speed of the fan not only by the slider itself but also through the color of the LED; white indicates a low RPM and blue a high RPM.
The below specifications are provided courtesy of the Fractal Design website.
|Fractal Design Adjust 108 Specifications|
|Retail Package Contents|
The list of features is short and sweet… it’s a fan controller after all!
|Fractal Design Adjust 108 Features|
Packaging and First Look
Fractal Design usually uses a black and cool blue theme on most of their packaging, and that holds true here as well. The front and sides of the box are reserved for branding and brief descriptors of what’s inside. The back of the box is where you’ll find all the pertinent features and specifications. There are a few things mentioned on the box that were not in the lists above. The box mentions “Starting Voltage”, which I assume means you can’t completely stop a fan when the sliders are in their lowest position – we’ll find out later. All six fan cables are 600 mm in length (roughly 26-5/8 Inch), which should be long enough for just about any case. Also mentioned on the back of the box are the black PCB and cable connectors to blend in with the black motif of the Adjust 108.
After lifting the box top, we find the Adjust 108 nicely protected in an anti-static bag and two foam blocks. Just underneath are the user’s manual and two bags of mounting screws (8 total screws). The official list of box contents indicates four screws are included, but there were eight in this package.
A Closer Look
Simple but clean? Yes, I think so. The brushed aluminum panel is of high quality and simply looks fantastic. If you own a case with a black aluminum front panel, the Adjust 108 will more than likely blend in seamlessly. It really is a sharp looking piece of hardware. The last picture below shows the side of the unit and the mounting holes that are available.
The 600 mm long fan cables come pre-attached to the circuit board for ease of installation. You can remove any of the fan cables if they are not needed. The end of each cable is labeled indicating what slider it will correspond with. All six cables are 3-pin, but are designed to accept a 4-pin fan cable as well. The six sliders are numbered from left to right when looking at the controller from the front. One very nice feature of the Adjust 108 is the power cable, which offers the traditional 4-pin Molex or SATA connections. Score one for the cable management lovers!
Zooming in a little closer, we get a look at the only jumper on the printed circuit board. This jumper can be used to change how bright the LEDs shine or turn them off completely if desired. According to the manual, the jumper is set from the factory at 50% illumination. If the jumper is moved over to the other two pins, the LEDs are turned off completely. Removing the jumper and leaving all four pins open results in 100% illumination. The LEDs themselves are bi-color – white and blue. This means when the slider is positioned in the lower range, the LED will be white. Then, once the slider is raised past the half way point, it turns blue.
Each fan connector on the circuit board is numbered making it easy to identify what cable should be attached to it.
Looking down and behind the faceplate, we can see the six potentiometers used to control the fan speed for each channel. As a side note, I went over the entire circuit board with a magnifying glass looking at the quality of soldering. Everything looked extremely clean and no irregularities were noted. If I had to guess, I’d say the circuit board is completely machine soldered.
- Corsair CX430 Power Supply (jumped for stand-alone operation)
- ModRight 9-way Fan Splitter
- Radio Shack True RMS Multimeter
As we mentioned earlier, the Adjust 108 is rated at 36 watts per channel. In order to get a combination of fans that equaled 36 watts, I went scouring through a box of fans. The combination I settled on reached a total of 35.76 watts… we’ll call that close enough!
|Thermaltake TT2030||5.04 Watts|
|Vantec Tornado TD8038H||9.12 Watts|
|Delta FFB0812EHE||16.2 Watts|
|Panaflo FBA12G12M||5.4 Watts|
|Total Wattage||35.76 Watts|
The methodology used is actually pretty simple. I loaded one of the channels in increments using the four fans listed above until full load was reached. I mixed and matched the fans in several different combinations to obtain as many viable reference points as possible. As I went through this process, I recorded voltage drop on both the input voltage from the PSU and the output voltage from the Adjust 108.
The chart below shows the voltage drop between what the controller is being fed by the PSU and what the controller is feeding to the fans. The blue line is only for referencing the PSU’s voltage output with no load, which was 12.34 V. By no load, I really mean no load… All I did was jump the PSU to start it and take the 12 V reading. The important thing to look for is how far apart the input and output voltages get as the controller’s channel is loaded up with fans.
For those that might be interested, below is a table with the raw data used to make the above graph.
|Fan Wattage||PSU Output to Controller||Controller Output to Fans|
The biggest voltage drop naturally occurs when the channel is loaded up to its maximum. In this situation, we see a 5.5% drop in voltage. Not bad at all. With a channel being taxed in a more real world scenario, we see as little as a 0.67% voltage drop. When you consider the average case fan draws roughly 5 watts, the vast majority of users will see very little voltage drop when a single fan is hooked to each channel.
Near the beginning of the review, I mentioned the “Starting Voltage” feature and how it likely meant the inability to completely turn a fan off. As it turns out, that’s exactly the end result. This isn’t a bad thing, as most people don’t want to turn fans completely off anyway. Just for reference, when all the fans used for testing were hooked up to a single channel with the slider at its lowest setting, 4.30 V was still being sent to the fans. When a garden variety single case fan was hooked to a channel, 5.0 V was being sent to it. Being there are some fans out there that won’t even start working until 4 or 5 V are provided to them, this can be a nice feature to have.
The last bit of testing information I have to pass along is what I call the pass through voltage. As we know, the PSU sends 12.34 V to the fan controller when no load is on it. Without any fans hooked to the Adjust 108, I fed it power from the PSU and took a reading from one of the fan cable ends. In this test, we only dropped from 12.34 V to 12.32 V, which tells us the Adjust 108 does a great job of NOT filtering the voltage as it passes through.
Before we get to the conclusion, here are a few pictures of the lighting ambiance the Adjust 108 can provide.
The Fractal Design Adjust 108 is certainly a fine looking piece of hardware – make no mistake about that. Its clean lines, stylish looks, and unobtrusive LED lighting leave you feeling like you installed something worthwhile and not just more “bling”. The brushed aluminum panel is well made and adds a classy look to the controller. The use of sliders to control fan speeds will be a major plus for those that use a case with a front door. There won’t be a problem closing any door with this design.
Availability is slightly limited at the current time, but I did find it available at NCIX for $29.98 USD. In my opinion, that’s a very fair price just for the 36 watts per channel the Adjust 108 offers. That’s 216 watts worth of fans folks! I suppose you could also attach water pumps, light bars, or just about anything else using this controller and it could handle it. Suffice to say, with 36 watts per channel, you certainly have a lot of options at your disposal.
All told, we have a very stout, great performing, terrific looking, and well priced fan controller on our hands here. I can easily recommend this controller to anyone looking at adding one to their system.
– Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)