Almost every enthusiast’s PC has a high-end graphics card and a powerful CPU. Some of the more hardcore users overclock both their CPU and GPU’s to squeeze even more performance out of their box. In trying to do that, chances are you create a lot of heat which needs removed out of your case by fans. Sometimes loud fans. One way to solve that is to put your fans on a fan controller to adjust them manually. Today, Scythe has given us a chance to look at their new Kaze Master Flat fan controller. Let’s see what this one brings to the table.
Specifications & Features
Listed in the table below are some high level Specifications. These were sourced from the Scythe website (PDF).
- Liquid Crystal Display – The Kaze Master Flat’s discreet LCD-display provides the user with information about the temperature and the rpms for each of the four fans. It’s neatly arranged and can be switched off at the user’s convenience.
- Protective Display Cover – The front panel of the Kaze Master Flat protects its’ display with a hinged cover which also prevents unintentionally touching the switches. The information displayed is clearly visible through the integrated window even in closed state.
- Spin Up Voltage – The adjustable voltage range is between 3.7 to 12 volts. But as fans tend to have problems to “get going” in the lower ranges, this function ensures a 12 volt supply right from the start before settling down to the user`s set, desired voltage.
- Temperature Warning Function – By applying the DIP-switch, the user is able to set the desired temperature for
the alarm to go off. The values can be set between 55 (131 °F) and 90 degrees (194 °F) in 5-degree steps.
- Jumper Switch for Personal Settings – For personal settings by each individual user, the Kaze Master Flat comes with two jumper switches – one for turning the alarm sound on/off, the other one for choosing between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Packaging & Accessories
The retail packaging displays the usual marketing content, showing its features such as its ability to control PWM fans, a wider range of voltage for increased ranges on fan RPM, and of course what the product looks like. On the back, it shows DIP switch settings as well as a shot from behind the fan controller. The features and specifications are listed in a couple different languages too.
Moving on to the internal packaging you can see the Scythe Kaze Server Flat comes with a total of six (6) 3/4 pin (PWM) fan connectors (two extra), six (6) temperature sensors (two extra), one (1) power lead (molex), and four mounting screws. Plenty to get you started and even some extras in case something breaks. I know these temperature sensors tend to flake out, especially if you bend the actual sensor a lot. Don’t be shy with it, but I wouldn’t make a habit out of manipulating the sensor ends as they are a bit fragile.
The Kaze Master Flat
Here we see some pictures of the actual Kaze Master Flat. It’s a very good looking unit to me with its flip down face, LCD display, and push button interface. It will certainly fit in with the aesthetics of most black cases, including cases with doors on it which ‘knobbed’ controllers generally cannot, perfectly. This setup with the hinged door also helps with ‘unintended adjustments’ via bumping into the controller.
Starting from left you right on the backside of the controller, jumper to enable/disable the alarm, the red DIP switches to set your temperature threshold for the built in alarm, another jumper to set Fahrenheit or Celsius for the temperature display, power lead, temperature sensor inputs (4), and the four fan inputs. Behind the fan inputs, those tall protrusions, are the heat sinks for each of the channels.
Installing anything in the 5.25″ bays is pretty easy in most cases, and that remains true in the NZXT Tempest 410 case the Kaze Master Flat he was installed in. This case has a tool-less latching mechanism on one side and screw holes on both sides. Since the side panels on this controller go back further than some other controllers, I was able to use this feature of the case. I do like the side panels being extended specifically for stability reasons, especially since you will have to be pressing on the buttons to change fan speeds.
You can see the LCD display is blue in color. There are no options for other colors. As far as readability, there is a large viewing angle, and best read from slightly above the unit in this case. Like most LCD’s once you get far off center readability tends to drop with the numbers blending in and this display is no different. Peculiar to me though, with this sample, is the straight on view showed a lot of the bleed through and was really unreadable at that angle (shown later).
Below you see some photographs of the unit mounted in the case.
Testing & Functionality
- Scythe Kaze Master Flat
- SeaSonic X560
- Fans Delta FFB1212VAE, Panaflo U1 Ultra, Yate Loon High (not pictured)
- Radio Shack Digital Multimeter
- Thermometer w/ K-type probe
Display & Alarm
Pictured below is the display when fully populated running the Celsius function since most of us use that anyway. As you still see from the first picture below, it’s a single color display vs their Kaze Master II controller that has a two tone blue color. As with most fan controllers, you do not have the ability to change colors. I mentioned above the viewing angles are plentiful, but towards the extreme viewing angles or dead on center, you may have issues with readability on this LCD display. As far as the temperatures went, the probes seems pretty accurate to my in-house temperature gauge, and my inexpensive, but fully functional temperature gauge with a K type probe on it, all coming within 1 °C from each other.
As far as the alarm goes, well, it certainly works when the fan RPM hits off and when your thresholds are broken. Setting up the temperature at which you would like to go off is set quite easily by the DIP switches. The settings for it are included in the instructions.
Adjusting the fans are as easy as pressing the “+ / -” buttons located above each fan display. On the fans I used, it seemed to raise/lower in around 50 RPM increments or so. Getting to full power or off took holding the key down for just a couple of seconds. The last keys to discuss on the Kaze Master Flat are the on/off and mute button. The on/off simply turns off the display while your fans and alarm keep going/set. The mute button is there to disable the temperature/RPM alarm when it goes off. The overall feel of the keys were solid and did not at all feel flimsy. For some reason, I was expecting that out of a ~$40 fan controller.
Channel Load -vs- Voltage
The graph below shows voltage drop as the channel load increases. The green line is a reference for the 12V rail when the PSU has no load on it (idle at desktop), which is 12.10 V. The red line line shows how the input voltage (12 V rail) changes as the fan controller is loaded. The blue line shows how the output voltage to the fan change as more load is added to the channel (used one 1.5 A fan for this testing). So the important part to look at is the difference between the input voltage (red) and the output voltage (blue). The voltage drop varies from 0.07 V to 0.91 V as the channel’s load varies from 1.034 W to 12.109 W.
Listed below is the data used to make the chart above. Also listed is the voltage drop per 1 W of channel load for each increment. In this case it averaged out to be 0.055 V lost per Watt of load on the channel. This voltage sag does fit within Scythe’s rating of 12 V ± 10% (10.8-13.2 V) quite easily.
We’ll start off the conclusion today by looking at the pricing for this unit. Currently it is selling at Newegg.com for $42.99 + SH. This is a median price it seems for fan controllers of this caliber. So pricing seems about right for the features and power handling capabilities of 12 W per channel of the Scythe Kaze Master Flat.
Let’s get the one ‘Meh’ thing out of the way: the LCD. As was mentioned earlier when talking about the display, there is ample viewing angle for the display to be legible. Dead on center and at the extremes however things become unreadable, so case placement and view of the peripheral needs to be kept in mind if you choose this controller.
That out of the way, Scythe has another solid fan controller on its hands. From the Scythe Kaze Server reviewed a while ago, to the Kaze Master II reviewed recently by MattNo5ss, as well as other controllers in their lineup, Scythe has come up with a controller that will work well for the overwhelming majority of users. The design in the controller allows for users of all cases with a 5.25″ bay, and particularly one with a door covering front access to the bays, to use this controller without removing the front door or bumping in to the keys as they are hidden behind the cover. So at the price, and for what it offers to all users in functionality, the Scythe Kaze Master Flat is Overclockers.com Approved!
~ Joe Shields (EarthDog)