Aerocool, a company who has been on the computer scene since 2002 and has continued to create innovative and astouding products never stops amazing us. Today we look at the Gatewatch, another great addition to their product lineup.
The fan controller came via UPS in a brown box, shipped directly from Aerocool. It was cushioned with brown paper, which is not enough. The Gatewatch was sandwiched in layers of foam inside of its interesting box.
The box itself had a picture of the unit on the front, along with features and specifications on the side and back. This is the safest packaging I have ever seen. The whole lcd and accessories were individually bagged and shrink wrapped.
Fan lead extender(x4)
Audio passthrough chip
Large LCD display – uses 2 x 5.25″ bays
Futuristic panel and graphic designs
Monitors and controls 4 different fans and temperatures
Precision electronic button control
Master volume turning knob
Sound active equalizer
Auto/manual switch for speed control
Temperature and abnormality alarm
3 color LCD backlight
Digital 24 hour clock
Outlook and Installation: First lets take a look at this baby completely unwrapped. The controller is gorgeous on its own, not even on. It comes in black and silver versions, this one being the black one.
Aerocool and Gatewatch text is in white on either top corner and all buttons are labeled with their function. The controller comes with a multitude of wires and other small and useful accesories that supply the large amount of features.
There is an abundant mess of wires. It looks quite intimidating at first but is in reality not too difficult. Now we will go over installation and what each of those wires are used for. The first thing to do is to look at the back of the gatewatch itself.
The first thing that has to be done is insertion of the battery. A hole cut in the metal surrounding the LCD controller allows the battery to be pushed into its socket, first step finished. Then installation and wiring need to be done.
For the review I did not place the LCD in a case, but it seems to fit fine. Hooking up all the wires is necessary before installation and isn’t difficult. Four 2 pin headers plug into the four temperature probes, and each are labeled for VGA/Case/HDD/CPU.
The probes are also labeled, although it is not necessary as they are all the same. Then there are four more three pin headers for attaching fans. Sadly the unit does not come with 4 pin to 3 pin adaptors for the cheaper fans, and cannot control a fan if it doesn’t feature an rpm sensing wire, usually yellow.
All the fan headers and extenders are also labeled for easy installation. The last wire that hooks into the LCD is for the volume control. The way this works is a flat cable goes from the LCD to a small chip that installs in a PCI slot. On the chip there are two jacks for a 3.5mm plug, one that is output, and one input.
The LCD comes with a short wire that plugs from the back of your soundcard or motherboard into the input on the chip. The speakers or headphones then plug into the output on the chip. This is ingenious but has a few problems. The first is that it does not support over 3 channels of sound control.
Anyone with a surround sound speaker setup cannot control the volume on all channels as they have 3 plugs. For attaching the thermal probes a type of thermal tape is provided that is very thin and should work well. Now lets go on to see how this thing performs and how it looks when on.
Testing: The controller is astounding looking while off, but as soon as it’s turned on it takes on a whole new aspect. The unit has three different color backlights, blue, red, and a purple color. Looking on the board itself you notice that there are 2 RGB led’s on either corner of the lcd itself, which allow it to change colors like it does.
There is also a neat sound equalizer type thing that jumps to the sound of music. It is very sensitive though and at loud volumes does not jump like it should. The unit itself works quite well. To test the fan controller I plugged a basic 120mm fan that runs at 2200 rpm at 12 volts and measured the voltage coming through and how accurately it could get to the requested speed.
This fan controller is different then many in the aspect of it is limited by setting a top rpm for it. To adjust the speed a button (the set button) must be pressed three times, and then the plus and minus sign are used to limit and increase the speed. RPM speed is also limited to half the stockRPM was taken from the Gatewatch LCD and voltages taken with a trusty multimeter.
|Set Speed(in RPM’s)||Actual Speed(in RPM’s)||Voltage(in volts)|
|Back to 2100||1910-1940||9.93|
* – Some set RPM’s I could never reach, as can be seen by the actual tested RPM’s.
** – Set at 1900 RPM’s the voltage decreased to 10.5 and then steadily increased back up to 11.14, where it then dropped back down to 10.5.
The other thing this unit features is an alarm when temperatures get too high or when something abnormal occurs. I experienced this first hand when I unplugged a fan from the unit. When the RPM reaches a low the alarm will be set off, which is helpful if a fan dies.
The alarm is moderately loud, sure to wake you up at night if something goes wrong, and is quite annoying. The screen also flashes red which easily will get your attention. The only problem with this alarm is that the computer must be turned off or the Gatewatch must be reset when it goes off.
When the Gatewatch is reset, the time is reset as well, which can be a hassle to fix if temps go overboard. Otherwise the temperature probes read very well and overall it looks very nice.
A final problem with the controller is that with the sound controlling chip plugged in there is a lot of white noise in the speakers when they are turned up high. This is not present when bypassing the chip, so all the interference is introduced when using it.
Conclusion: A fan controller that has features as good as looks is uncommon these days, but Aerocool pulls through with an amazing product. With three different possible backlights and two bezel colors it is sure to fit into any case and color scheme.
Along with the ability to monitor 4 different temperatures and control 4 different fans this is an amazing product. The accuracy of limiting the fan RPM’s could be better along with the sound problem, but otherwise it is a solid product.
The price may also discourage people, and it is overkill for those who only would like to limit their fan speed, but great for people who need temps and fan controlling. The size of it also may make people shy away, but many people do not use all four bays anyways.
Inaccurate speed limiting