Lamptron FC9 Fan Controller Review

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Lamptron is back in a big way with their brand new FC9 fan controller. This is quite a deviation from the standard design. I can’t recall a similar controller and after looking at Newegg, Performance-PCs and FrozenCPU, I’m unable to find one like this. As far as its design, the term ‘game changer’ comes to mind.

Specifications and Features

Lamptron touts this as one of their strongest fan controllers. It’s not the strongest overall in their lineup, but it is the strongest four-channel model.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Dimension: 148.5 mm X 42.5 mm X 75 mm (5.25″ Bay)
  • Power Output: Up to 50 watts per channel
  • Control Channel: 4 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: 4 X 3-pin connectors
  • Recommend PSU wattage: 600 W or higher

FEATURES

  • CNC Milled Front Panel
  • Up to 50 watts per channel
  • Throttle Control Operation
  • Seven LED color choices

So far, so good. 50 W per channel totally makes up for the fact that this is a four channel controller. You can parallel up any number of fans, even high amperage fans (within reason) without fear of burning out your controller.

What’s that? You have a radiator with six Ultra High Speed Panaflo fans in push/pull attached to it like I once did? No problem! At 0.65 A each, that’s merely 46.8 W.

Controller Tour

As has become their custom on higher-end controllers, Lamptron is going with their box-in-printed-sleeve product packaging. It makes for an appealing package and, more importantly, one that protects the controller very well.

Lamptron FC9 Box

Lamptron FC9 Box

Lamptron FC9 Box Rear

Lamptron FC9 Box Rear

Inner Box

Inner Box

Box Opened

Box Opened

Now we make it to the main event. I told you it was a game changer, no? With slides for control instead of knobs, switches or a touch screen, it’s a huge change. As anodized, brushed aluminum is somewhat difficult to photograph, I went with the many-angles approach, so enjoy your slide show.

Lamptron FC9

Lamptron FC9

Lamptron FC9

Lamptron FC9

Lamptron FC9 Controls Up

Lamptron FC9 Controls Up

Lamptron FC9 Controls Up

Lamptron FC9 Controls Up

Lamptron FC9 Controls Up

Lamptron FC9 Overall

Even without being lit up, this is a very nice looking controller. The sliders are large enough for easy control of your fans and the action is smooth from bottom to top. Some caution should be exercised though, don’t go hanging things from them. They’re very solid, but plastic; so they can be broken. It would take quite a bit of force to do so, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

The controller looks darn nice, but it’s not absolutely perfect quite yet. Looking at the photo on the left, you can see the sliders aren’t exactly lined up perfectly, with a slight leftward tilt. To be honest, you can’t notice it unless you’re looking for it, but that’s what I’m here for! There is only one other blemish on the controller, a scratch on a part that’s not visible from the outside. However, it is of little consequence because of its location.

Lamptron FC9 Control Angle Deviation

Lamptron FC9 Control Angle Deviation

Scratch in Non-Visible Area

Scratch in Non-Visible Area

Moving on to check out the components, this is obviously not your average four channel controller. With amazingly large coils and MOSFETs that have beastly heatsinks on them, this thing is built for endurance.

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

Lamptron FC9 Electronics

One thing that threw me for a loop though was the capacitors. On the FC8, Lamptron touted their “Endurance” tech, which basically meant they used solid capacitors. Yet on this significantly higher wattage (per channel) controller, they went back to electrolytic caps. It’s counter-intuitive and I’m not exactly sure why they did that. These caps should be fine, I wouldn’t expect them to fail on you prematurely or anything, but after bringing “Endurance” to the front as a big deal with the FC8, you’d think they would have kept with the theme.

Pretty Colors!

The colors! The colors! My wife recently acquired a better camera and I’m privileged enough to be allowed to use it. This leads to much more accurate low-light color representation. The colors here are very accurate representations of the colors available on the controller.

White

White

Blue

Blue

Green

Green

Red

Red

Teal

Teal

Purple

Purple

Yellow

Yellow

The color variations are very nice looking throughout. The only two questionable colors are white and yellow. White has a very blue tint to it and yellow leans more toward the green end of the spectrum.

These are all RGB color combinations, which leads to this limitation. Red, green and blue are going to be your strongest, most accurate colors because they have dedicated LED lamps. The others are more of a bonus, if you will, using the addition or subtraction of those three colors to produce their hues.

In any event, this controller looks great lit up and will match pretty much any system you could put together.

Installed

Speaking of systems, let’s install this beast. In our example today, the FC9 will be installed in a Lian Li PC-X900, which also features brushed aluminum.

Installed and Powered Off

Installed and Powered Off

Installed and Powered Off

Installed and Powered Off

Lit Up

Lit Up

Lit Up Closer

Lit Up Closer

Full System Lit Up

Full System Lit Up

Stunning is the only way to put it. The blue matches up with the fans and power LED perfectly. It really does complete the front panel of this case like no other controller has been able to.

I have only one (very minor) qualm with Lamptron controllers. Most of their controllers have anodized, brushed aluminum face plates. The only problem with this is that the brushes were applied in the opposite direction from Lian Li’s brushes. Changing that direction would make it perfect. It’s almost perfect as-is and already looks great, but that would be the icing on the cake.

Performance

To measure performance we’ll test both slide consistency and voltage loss in several scenarios.

Test Setup

Test Setup

Delta and Panaflo Fans

Delta and Panaflo Fans

The test setup consists of a Cooler Master Gold 800 W PSU, one Thermaltake 0.30 A fan (for low load testing), three Delta 0.80 A fans, two Panaflo (NMB-MAT) 0.65 A fans and of course the FC9. The multimeter is just your average, garden variety meter.

Slide Control Consistency

On controllers with knobs, I usually subjectively determine the “time” position of each knob at various voltages. That gives an approximation of how consistent the controls are between channels.

It is much harder with a slider to easily relay their position at a given voltage. So, to address the FC9 I’ve gone the visual route. I set all channels to 10 V and 6 V (+/- .02 V) and photographed the slide positions.

Sliders Set at 10 V

Sliders Set at 10 V

Sliders set at 6 V

Sliders set at 6 V

Both of the photos show reasonable consistency between channels. The sliders have their minor skew mentioned above in the controller tour, so the differences that do exist are amplified somewhat. Their actual positions in the slides were very close to each other. A+ for consistency.

Voltage Under Load

To test voltages under load, we used three different scenarios. The first is with the 0.30 A Thermaltake fan by itself. Second came one of the 0.80 A Deltas by itself. Last was all three Deltas and two Panaflos combined into one monstrous load of 3.7 A, or 44.4 W. Unfortunately, I only had five splitters and couldn’t add a sixth fan to top out the controller. Within six watts is pretty close though and will give a fair approximation of performance. The input voltage from which loss was calculated was 12.25 V as measured where the MOLEX connector met the PSU.

Channel 1 2 3 4 Max Loss
3.6 W 12.23 12.23 12.22 12.22 0.24%
9.6 W 12.16 12.16 12.16 12.15 0.81%
44.4 W 11.93 11.92 11.92 11.91 2.78%

Solid results all around. If you look back at the FC8 results, the maximum loss for 3.6 W was identical and there was a significant improvement at the 9.6 W level, from 1.14% to 0.81% here. Even under full load, the FC8 lost a little more than the FC9 did, with 2.94% compared to 2.78%, respectively.

The FC9 is definitely a stout fan controller, that’s for sure. Running at full tilt for a few minutes, it didn’t even break a sweat.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

The Lamptron FC9 is one great fan controller. Consider me hooked. It looks absolutely fantastic; its clean lines and glowing countenance are unmatched. No touch-screen could look as good as this, and no knob-based controller could look like this. It’s definitely one of a kind.

Performance-wise, it holds up admirably. There is nothing to be ashamed of having a fan controller lose a mere 2.78% when pushing almost 50 W out a single channel. The mere ability to push 50 W out of a single channel is impressive in itself. Some would complain about having only four channels…but as an example, how often do you need to change the intake fans on your case to different values? How about your push-pull heatsink – change those to different voltages much? No, four channels is fine. In its current installation, it is running seven fans and only uses three channels: two for the heatsink, two exhaust and three intake. So while some might consider four channels a down-side, in this case there are seven fans and it doesn’t even need all four channels!

Is it perfect? No, not much in this life is. The sliders could use some adjustment so they are all uniform, but aside from that and the scratch that you can’t even see I can find no faults. As far as fan controller designs go, the Lamptron FC9 truly is a game changer. It’s extremely powerful, its looks are second to none and at an MSRP of $49.95, it’s even going to be priced reasonably. The FC9 was technically released August 10th but hasn’t made it to any etailers I can find, so keep your eyes peeled for it. Lamptron definitely has a winner on their hands with this one!

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. Thanks Hokie, great review ! :thup:
    Also it does have a really excellent voltage drop out even driving at high current. :clap:
    Edit : Suggesting for next review, measure also the input voltage, from that you can substract the output voltage to get an accurate how much it drops the voltage.
    I didn't mention that? Could have sworn that was in there. It will be in a moment though. Input voltage was 12.25V. I'd have been spouting percentages out my rear-end if I didn't know the input voltage! :chair:
    EDIT - Fixed. Thanks for catching that bing! Side note - You wanted to see the inner workings and now you see the best photos too. If you want high res, PM me your email. :thup:
    Thanks for the kind words too thiddy!
    hokiealumnus
    Hah...why, because I just love beating the bejeezus out of your controllers? :bday:
    :salute:

    i just love mailing them to you lol the post office knows you by name now :bday:
    Hey Spawn, kudos to Lamptron for the selection of the components on those wrapped inductors, though its really minor, I really love this kinda details cause it will improve endurance, especially they're near to those connectors that user might accidentally bumped on them, scratched coils is bad thing. :thup:
    bing
    Hey Spawn, kudos to Lamptron for the selection of the components on those wrapped inductors, though its really minor, I really love this kinda details cause it will improve endurance, especially they're near to those connectors that user might accidentally bumped on them, scratched coils is bad thing. :thup:

    Now that you mention it actually, im happy someone took notice of that. The early prototypes actually didnt have any covers on those, and we made a particular note during testing to make sure they got covered for extra protection. :thup: Just one of the many extra steps we take to assure product quality.
    Spawne32
    Now that you mention it actually, im happy someone took notice of that. The early prototypes actually didnt have any covers on those, and we made a particular note during testing to make sure they got covered for extra protection. :thup: Just one of the many extra steps we take to assure product quality.

    Excellent, my applause to Lamptron's team and also greatly appreciate the decision on that. :clap:
    In the past I've been in this kind of manufacturing and electronic component business, and during prototyping period, for company that producing lots of product variants, this sort of minor details can be easily missed and forgotten.
    Really, you guys had done a really great & quality job there, this makes me remembered a quote .. "The devil is in the DETAILS". :D
    great write up hokie! i may have jsut found my fan controller! i figure with running the delta's like i plan i need a controller to make it bearable when im not pushing the system hard
    hokiealumnus
    Thanks! Hope you like it as much as I do. It's my favorite Lamptron controller by far.

    Jeez gotta find it at a more reasonable price. $74.95 is a bit high, where did you buy it from?
    This was a review sample from Lamptron, so I didn't purchase it. Just by sheer ratings though, it blows most other brands out of the water. One channel can handle both of your ultra kaze's without breaking a sweat. Can't say that for most other fan controllers on the market (except for other Lamptron controllers).
    hokiealumnus
    This was a review sample from Lamptron, so I didn't purchase it. Just by sheer ratings though, it blows most other brands out of the water. One channel can handle both of your ultra kaze's without breaking a sweat. Can't say that for most other fan controllers on the market (except for other Lamptron controllers).

    Lucky dog. Maybe I can do a "review" on my own pc wonder if I can get 1...:clap: lol
    I kinda figured the same I was like yeah I can put 2 on 1 channel.