Aside from this dealbreaking flaw, the layout is superb with the power meter at the top and four columns of fan speeds and temperatures below. There’s even a little animation to tell you which channels are active or disabled and which fans are working.
Having used a cheaper “set fan speed by noise” fan controller previously in my own PC, like many others, setting the fan speeds by exact values is very much a novelty that will bring a smile to your face. The fan speed jumps are in 60RPM jumps which is a nice median, but they are the only adjustments available. There’s no Fahrenheit option for our American friends, so I’m afraid our friends from over the pond will have to get used to reading temperatures in Celsius.
The power meter limit is 800W which should be more than enough for anyone’s current system. Even though you may have a 1,000W (or larger) PSU, the amount of power your system uses is only what it needs, minus the PSUs AC-DC conversion efficiency – which is why we put so much emphasis behind the 80plus
programme in our power supply reviews.
The most power heavy single CPU system we’ve ever come across has topped out at about 550-600W at the wall, but that’s only with a single optical and hard drive.
Apart from using it to tell all our readers what’s hot and what’s... hot (as in, inefficient), I can’t see any real need to know what my power usage is on a long term basis without ever changing components. If it had a facility to record the amount of time you’ve spent on the PC and what the total power usage has been during that period then that would be exceptionally useful.
Obviously power cost
differs by local region, but knowing how much has been consumed gets you half way to knowing how much your PC is costing you when it's sitting there churning away at... nothing.
There’s no in OS software for it – the unit is completely autonomous from the instant you press the power button and as a result there’s unfortunately no logging facility. This means that you won’t know if something has gone to pot when you’re away. After all, if there’s no one around, does a fan controller make a beep?
In addition there’s no voltage monitoring either – this can be done considering the unit is powered by a Molex which contains Ground, +12V and +5V, but it is hard to get reliable readings if a PSU has many separate 12V rails for example, and here it’s unlikely any critical rail will be one used by a simple molex connector. In that respect, it’s understandable that Zalman has left this area alone.
After the initial “OMG that's so cool!”
reaction, the novelty wears off pretty quickly after we had used it for a while – it looks fantastic but any long term usability is destroyed by the fact we simply couldn’t read it!
It got extremely frustrating to continually have to contort myself every time I wanted to read it, as I had to have my eyes directly in front of it to make any sense of what was on screen.
For £35 I was all set to recommend it to everyone after seeing it at i31, but this fundamental problem makes it almost useless – I ended up resenting to have to lean over and stretch my neck out yet again
just to read it. So does not wanting to actually use it make money well spent? It can just sit there looking cool, which is fine if all you do is show off your PC to others, but not if you want to use it yourself
It really, really kills me that Zalman just needs to sort this one major issue
to make it a product absolutely worth purchasing, but until then it’s not worth the cardboard it comes in.
What do these scores mean?
- Build Quality