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Zalman ZM-MFC2 Controller

Manufacturer: Zalman USA
Supplied by: Zalman USA
Street Price: $60

by Dean Barker (10/21/2007)

Introduction

Having multiple coolers and cooling devices is a given in any performance oriented machine.  I have always been a big fan (pun intended) of fan controllers / temperature monitoring devices.  The bulk of the units I have personally used have been the simple 5.25" plates sporting a bank of individual rheostats and an LCD readout.  Zalman's ZM-MFC2 unit moves things into a completely digital affair.  This Zalman unit displays fan speed in RPM, temperature readings AND system power consumption on a large 75 x 26mm color display.  Today, the Zalman has a sample of their innovative thinking that breathes new life into old ideas.

Specifications:

  • Application: 5.25" bay insert

  • Dimensions: 147 x 87 x 42mm

  • Power Display: 30 ~ 800 watts

  • RPM Control: 60 ~ 5940 RPM

  • Temperature Display: 9~ 99 degrees Celsius for four channels

  • Fan Compatibility: Three 3-pin and one 4-pin PWM connectors

  • Fan alarm function

  • Power Input: +12v DC/+5v DC

Inside the black box

Like all fan controllers, the Zalman ZM-MFC2 has a full portion of necessaries that come with the unit.  Four thin tipped temperature leads, four power cable attachments, CVS (Current Voltage Sensor) cable, CVS USB bracket with read cable, package of thermal tape for mounting sensors, mounting screws, manual and of course the Zalman ZM-MFC2 itself.  The CVS cable is shown a bit closer below as you have likely not seen one of these before.  A system's main power cable plugs into the CVS assembly with one of the out going cables plugging into the system and the other into a USB bracket.  The later allows for real time power consumption monitoring on the ZM-MFC2.

  

The unit

As I had originally said, most of the fan controller units I have used in the past have been multi dial rheostat based.  With that in mind, it was refreshing to see the clean smooth lines of the ZM-MFC2.  A 75 x 26mm color display dominates one side with the only manual controls being a large dial (referred to by Zalman as a Jog Dial) and a much smaller mode button below it.

The rear of the unit has a variety of posts that need to be connected prior to powering up.  From left to right we start out with the fan power connectors.  The first three of the four are 3-pin connectors with the last being a 4-pin PWM connector as seen on current Intel based mainboards.  The next bank of pins are temperature sensor connections for up to four sensors.  These are next to the CVS in post.  The CVS in is the USB connection point where the main CVS plug assembly communicates power loads to (or rather power draw.)  Last is a standard 12 volt Molex plug which powers the unit itself.

Let me take a second and outline the specific fan cables included.  Length and connectors on each can be deal breakers for some shoppers so they are as follows.

  • 3-pin to dual output 3-pin and 3-pin (no RPM line on later) - line length 20"

  • 3-pin to dual output 3-pin and 4-pin PWM (female end with no RPM lines) - line length 39"

  • 3-pin to 3-pin - line length 20"

  • 4-pin PWM to 4-pin PWM - line length 20"


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