Date: August 17th, 2004
Article by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner, Head Editor & Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: Thermaltake
PRODUCT FEATURES & WALKTHROUGH
The XTunner remote control has the length and width measurements much like your everyday credit or ATM card and a thickness just under two floppy discs stacked on one another. Although the dimensions are small, the operation range in an open room is 14m (46ft) which should be more than acceptable in even the largest rooms and offices. The buttons consist of a + and - button for fan speed adjustment and all that is needed for the remote to be initially activated is to pull the battery tab to allow the remote contacts to connect to the battery.
Installation is very easy. All that you need to do is connect a 4 pin molex connector from you power supply in the 4 pin molex connection on the left. Then through the various adapters you will connect the fans to the XTunner through the four 3 pin power connections. Each fan header is capable of one amp which will easily support most of the powerful fans on the market. With a little ingenuity and some extra connections, you can easily connect a large amount of fans to each header as long as you don't go over the amperage limit.
Along with your case fans, if you want to hook your CPU cooler, by all means go ahead. But remember you won't be able to monitor the fan speed unless you have a separate connection for the speed sensor which you can still connect to the motherboard header. Just be aware that if you do connect the cooler, when you go to the silent mode, you will be slowing the CPU fan down considerably.
Once connected, I tested the XTunner outside of the case to make sure everything was working properly. The connections were straight forward and the fans were easy to install.
Once the unit is powered, the speed automatically defaults to the highest setting for safety which in my mind is the smart thing to always do when you are booting up a computer and the attached fans were working at full capacity without any problems. From the highest to lowest settings, there are seven separate speed reductions or increases you can go through to cater the speed to the noise level you need for your current working environment. I really do like having more than the standard low, medium and high settings that I see with some fan controllers.
At the the lowest silent setting, the left blue LED will flash and the fan will be barely detectable. This setting would be great for normal day to day office and internet use and an overall silent computer. If you are barely using the computer's capabilities, in no way do you need the cooling at full speed. Once the gaming has started, increase the fan speed level to your performance and acoustical preference.
Installation is just as easy as installing a CD drive in one of your 5 1/4" drive bays. Just pop it in and use some case screws (not included) to attach in place. As you can see above, it doesn't look all that bad but a simpler graphic design approach would be a little more desirable. One thing I would recommend is some sort of color skinning capability where you can slide the color skin of your choice into the backplate to make it look better. But that is just my opinion. In addition, the overall size of this product could easily be condensed into a smaller product that can be inserted in an unused 3 1/2" drive bay.
Other than the aesthetics, one practical problem that is easily seen is what would happen if the remote control broke or its' battery went dead. With the remote control disabled, this whole product is practically useless. In the top right corner (look above), I thought there was some sort of speed adjustment dial which indeed looks like it was part of the initial plan somewhere along the line, but it was never installed and a metal blank was installed in its' place. This is one feature that needs to be put back into the engineering drawings so the user will have some sort of fan control if the remote does indeed break or gets lost. One good thing is that the speed settings always defaults to maximum when you start the computer.