The box arrived in mint condition and was positively bulging at the seams. On opening it up, I was presented with a whole range of goodies, all carefully packaged up in their own bags - each of which had a label describing what the item was.
Included in my package was the following:
- The display (covered in bubble wrap)
- The mini Matrix Orbital software CD
- Internal USB Cable
- External USB Cable
- 2 temperature probes
- 2 screen filters (for changing screen colour)
- Aluminium face plate (for those who don't like the stock vinyl one).
Here she is! Matrix Orbital have taken the trouble of covering the whole front of the display in a plastic cover to prevent damage and dust. Also above you can see the included external USB cable which plugs into the back of the unit and has been cable tied to the circuit board to prevent any damage occurring to the USB port during installation.
My first impressions on the look of the display were that the buttons looked slightly tacky. The look of white on black looks garish. In my opinion it would look better with Silver buttons. Thankfully for those who share my feelings, the front panel can be replaced with an Aluminium one - however this means you won't be able to use the buttons at all.
Firstly I connected the 4 RPM Monitored fan leads from the fans hooked up to my PC's radiator. Luckily they were long enough to reach right outside of the case, so I didn't need to screw the MX5 in before hooking everything up to it.
The External USB lead was already connected, so no effort required there. Further down the page I'll show you how to use the internal USB lead that actually worked out better for my cable management.
On the bottom left of the unit is a floppy disk power connector. This is required to give power to the unit and Fans. It's worth noting at this point that the fan speed is adjusted by PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). For most fans this will work fine, but users of LED fans will get a strobing effect from their LED's when the fans are running at slower speeds.
The MX5 can actually handle a maximum of 4x 1Amp fans, which is quite impressive - far better than some digital fan controllers I've seen in the past.
The included external USB cable is actually quite long. I managed to route it from the MX5 installed at the top of my Silverstone TJ05, around the width of the motherboard, and out of the top PCI Port.
This clearly won't work with all computers though, and this is where the internal USB cable comes in handy...
Spend to much time on the PC in the morning and end up late for work? This huge clock, consuming the entire screen could be just what you need.Current Weather
Maybe you'd like to know if its worth finishing your game of Counter Strike and going outside for some fresh air? The current weather plugin can display Weather information from all around the world by simply obtaining a code from the MSN Weather website.Winamp Plugin
The default install of LCDC is capable of interfacing with all versions of Winamp to display basic track information. I was disappointed that a DSP plugin for Winamp v5 wasn't included, as i was looking forward to seeing some good old jumping bar animation!Network Information
Not sure if this plugin has any practical use for most users, but still, its always interesting to see how much bandwidth you are using up. This could well be a handy plugin for servers so that Network Admin's can see at a glance how much of their network capacity is being used.Memory Information
A handy plugin for looking at a quick glance why your PC is running like an old dog. No need for me to jump on the 2gb bandwagon just yet ;)Fan Monitoring
Up to 4 3-Pin fans can be connected to the MX5. If the fan supports RPM monitoring, it will be displayed on the screen. Another nifty feature of the MX5 is the ability to adjust the fan speen based on temperature (from the thermal probes), or manually by using the buttons on the front of the LCD. As i said earlier, the MX5 uses PWM to control fan speed, so any LED fans plugged into the unit will start strobing when the fan speed is reduced.
The included thermal probes give pretty accurate readings of the temperature when compared with my multimeter. I actually went to the trouble of placing one probe in the water before my radiator and one after. The bottom line of the display just scrolls my current water cooling setup specification. Prety cool eh?CPU Speed, Uptime & RSS Feeds
This screen is actually one i created myself in only a couple of minutes, just to show you how easy it is to get exactly what you want on there. The second line shows you the CPU model and current speed, 3rd shows you how long my PC has been switched on for (before it randomly crashes), and last line is from the RSS plugin which is presently obtaining its information from the OC3D homepage.