Lamptron CF525 Fan Controller Review

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Lamptron has long history of providing enthusiast level fan controllers, and they were kind enough to send along their latest and most powerful controller to date… the CF525. This beast offers a no frills approach to a massive amount of power – 60 watts per channel to be exact. Lamptron readily admits the CF525 is complete overkill for the vast majority of computer enthusiasts, but that didn’t stop them from producing the most powerful fan controller on the market today. So, let’s take a look at this super high performance fan controller and see what Lamptron came up with!

Specifications and Features

Here are the specifications as provided by the Lamptron website. If you’re going to use the CF525 at or near its capacity, Lamptron recommends a 700 watt power supply. That alone should give you an indication of just how powerful this unit is.

Specifications

Dimension: 148.5mm*42.5mm*76mm(5.25″ Bay)
Power Output: Up to 60 watts per channel
Control Channel: 5 Channels
Panel Color Available: Black Anodized / Silver
DC Input: +12v (1pcs MOX4.2 5557-2*4p connectors. A.k.a PCI-E GPU 8pin)
DC Output: 0V- 12V DC
Connectors: 5 X 2510-3pin connectors / 8pin to 3xMolex adapter)
Recommend PSU wattage: 700w or higher. It is imperative that no Molex multipliers are used to plug in the 3 Molex adapter supplied.

There is also a set of features Lamptron wants you to know about. They make a point of the CF525 being a no frills design. You won’t find LED displays, temperature sensors, or any other non-essential gizmos. What you do get is the most powerful fan controller on the market, a clean looking black aluminum face plate, and ease of use.

Features

  • Most powerfull controller in the market
  • 60w per channel
  • Very high quality materials
  • 5 completely independent 60w/5A channels

Other Great Features!

  • CNC milled aluminum face-plate
  • Sleeved cables
  • Black PCB
  • No frills, just power

I found this video on YouTube that I just had to share. If you don’t want to watch the whole video, skip ahead to around the 4m:30s mark. You’ll see a unique demonstration showing off the power of the CF525 using some insane Delta fans… crazy!

Packaging/Accessories/First Look

The mostly black box has a nice picture of the controller’s face plate area and additional high level features listed on the front. Around back, the specifications and features are listed along with the box contents.

Box Front

Box Front

Box Back

Box Back

The inner box slides out from either side of the outer sleeve and is used to house the contents. Everything inside is neatly arranged and well-protected with a custom fitted foam insert. Inside, you’ll find the CF525 controller, user manual, 5.25″ bay mounting screws, fan extension cables, and power adapter cables. The fan extension cables measured just short of 20 inches. All of the included cables are braided and look very nice indeed.

Inner Box

Inner Box

Inner Box Opened

Inner Box Opened

Box Contents Laid Out

Box Contents Laid Out

The Lamptron CF525 Up Close

The front of the CF525 is made from CNC milled aluminum and has an elegant, simplistic, and clean look to it. The five knobs have a very solid feel to them and will “click” when you turn them on and again when you turn them all the way off. As I’m sure you can tell, the CF525 gets installed in a 5.25″ drive bay and the mounting screws are included in the kit.

CF525 Front Panel Area

CF525 Front Panel Area

CF525 Front Panel Area

CF525 Front Panel Area

The next set of pictures give you a look at the inner components that make up the CF525. The controller uses potentiometers to control voltage to the five 3-pin fan headers and features five completely independent 60w/5A channels. Another pretty cool feature is that the controller uses a standard automotive 25 Amp ATC fuse, which makes replacement as easy as a trip to your local auto parts store. For added protection, the entire bottom area of the CF525 is protected with a foam pad to ward off any potential shorting issues.

The CF525 is powered by an 8-pin PCI-E connector, but a 3X4-pin Molex to 8-pin PCI-E adapter cable is provided if you prefer to power it that way. Lamptron makes it very clear to not use Molex multipliers when using the adapter cable. However, if your power supply has three 4-pin Molex connectors on a single cable, you should be fine using that. The two 4-pin power sockets you see are power outputs and are controlled by channels one and five respectively. One adapter cable is included, which plugs into the controller on one end and terminates with a 4-pin Molex connector on the other. This allows you to power and control a fan that only has a 4-pin Molex power connector available.

CF525 Circuitry Overview

CF525 Circuitry Overview

CF525 Circuitry

CF525 Circuitry

CF525 Circuitry

CF525 Circuitry

CF525 3-Pin Fan Headers

CF525 3-Pin Fan Headers

CF525 Power Bits

CF525 Power Bits

CF525 Potentiometers

CF525 Potentiometers

CF525 Foam Protection Pad

CF525 Foam Protection Pad

Testing

Test Equipment

  • Corsair HX850 Power Supply (jumped for stand-alone operation)
  • ModRight 9-way Fan Splitter
  • Radio Shack True RMS Multimeter

After rummaging through my box of fans, I came up with a combination that equaled 4.99 Amps (59.88 Watts). we’ll call that close enough to the advertised 60 watts per channel. The first thing I wanted to check was the voltage in from the power supply versus voltage supplied to the fans. I tested this with the knob set to the 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and the full on positions. The critical measurement here is what the controller provides to the fans in the full on position with the channel under full load. The table below shows the readings I got from my Digital Voltage Meter. Keep in mind I could only eyeball the knob position, so results may vary. With the knob set to the full on position there was very little voltage difference between the PSU’s input to the controller and what the controller provided to the fans. Pretty impressive actually. In all reality, the vast majority of users will never even come close to maxing out 60 watts on any given channel, so those voltage numbers will be even better in most cases.

Knob Position
PSU Output to Controller Controller Output to Fans
1/4 Turn
12.16 3.62
1/2 Turn 12.12 6.33
3/4 Turn 12.10 8.85
Full On 12.08 11.85

Voltage bleed is another important factor to test. With the knobs in the off position the voltages listed in the below table were present at each of the five fan headers. I usually don’t like to see more than one volt during this test, but it’s only a tad over that and certainly in the acceptable range.

Channel CH 1 CH 2 CH 3 CH 4 CH 5
Voltage Bleed 1.442 V 1.445 V 1.442 V 1.445 V 1.443 V

The Laptron CF525 did a nice job of keeping a steady voltage to the fans, even when a channel was under full load. Nothing to complain about on the performance front!

Conclusion

The Lamptron CF525 might very well be the last fan controller you’ll ever need. If you start off using just a few fans connected to it, you have the piece of mind knowing the unit can follow you through many upgrade paths. The available 60 watts per channel is an insane amount of power that only the most extreme system builds would even come close to using. For the vast majority of users, the CF525 is complete overkill. But, hey… there’s nothing wrong with that!

Not only is the CF525 the most powerful fan controller on the market, but it looks terrific too. I’m a big fan (pun intended) of the simplistic design, which makes for a clean looking addition to the front of any case. The unit feels sturdy to the touch, and I especially like the reassuring “click” when turning the knobs to their on and off positions.

As far as pricing goes, Lamptron advertises a MSRP of $69.95, but you’ll be hard pressed to find it for that price. While most US eTailers are charging upwards of $100, I did find it at FrozenCPU for $72.99 + shipping. That’s a fair price for a controller as powerful as the CF525, but shop around!

Because we love overclocking, keeping things cool, and products that have no equal… it’s an easy call this time around!

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. 5 channels at 5 amps each is 25a. If you use a single PSU cable with 3x Molex on it you could very easily have major problems, smoke, fire, etc.
    Standard PSU cabling is 18 gauge, which is only good to ~16 amps. Some beefy PSUs use 16 gauge (very rare on Molex cables, more common on ATX24P, CPU/PCIe cables), but that's still only rated for 22a.
    Cheap PSUs tend to use 20 gauge, which is garbage and good for a whopping 11 amps.
    They say no splitters in part because the connector we call a Molex is rated for 11 amps maximum, the PSU side of the splitter cannot deal with the 25a required.
    In short, use at least two PSU cables, and no splitters.
    Bobnova
    5 channels at 5 amps each is 25a. If you use a single PSU cable with 3x Molex on it you could very easily have major problems, smoke, fire, etc.
    Standard PSU cabling is 18 gauge, which is only good to ~16 amps. Some beefy PSUs use 16 gauge (very rare on Molex cables, more common on ATX24P, CPU/PCIe cables), but that's still only rated for 22a.
    Cheap PSUs tend to use 20 gauge, which is garbage and good for a whopping 11 amps.
    They say no splitters in part because the connector we call a Molex is rated for 11 amps maximum, the PSU side of the splitter cannot deal with the 25a required.
    In short, use at least two PSU cables, and no splitters.

    ^^this
    not only that.. when maxed out thats an additional 25Amp & 300 Watts on your 12 volt rail(s).
    Given that if you are in need for sucha fan controller, it means that you've got lotsa gear in your case already.. like 3-SLi/Tri-Fire and such. So, not all PSU's gonna be able to take that.
    iow, this thing is not to be maxed out when you've got a $19.99 PSU