Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller Page: 1 Introduction
Scythe are a name synonymous with aftermarket cooling products that work well out of the box and usually have the looks to match. Around the middle of last year we were given the opportunity to review the Scythe Kama Meter Fan Controller
which was a great performing little unit. While the Kama Meter had a few small flaws, it still manages to be quite a popular fan controller. Here's part of what I had to say about the Scythe Kama Meter:
Admittedly, I had a couple of niggles with Scythe regarding the non-provision of sleeved cabling and the extreme temperatures required for the alarm to sound in the event of heat problems should they arise. I believe that the rectification of these issues would make the Scythe Kama Meter an extremely well rounded contender for any enthusiasts dollar. And I should clarify that the Kama Meter as it stands now, even with these issues is still well worth a solid look. And cable sleeving kits really aren't that expensive.
Today, Overclock3D has been given the opportunity to take a look at Scythe's latest addition to their fan controller line - the Scythe Kaze Master
. The Scythe Kaze Master, like the Kama Meter, is both a fan controller and a temperature monitoring device. The Kaze Master is able to control and monitor up to 4 fans, and monitor the temperatures of 4 items independently. Let's see what Scythe has to say about the Kaze Master:
Stylish 3.5inch / 5.25inch Multi Channel Fan Controller to control up to 2 fans(3.5inch) / 4 fans(5.25inch), and display up to 2 temperature (3.5inch) / 4 temperature (5.25inch) figures. Passive safety alarm feature is build-in to safely monitor and protect your systems! You have also “fan stop function” by turning the knob to counter-clockwise all the way to stop the fan. Not to forget the stylish wide view angle and high contrast VFD display to provide clear viewing.
As you can see the Scythe Kaze Master comes in both 3.5" and 5.25" flavours and features a VFD display which should provide a nice, bright and easily viewable screen. Let's begin the review by taking a look at the specifications:
Model Name: Kaze Master 5.25 (5.25inch Version)
Manufacturer: Scythe Co., Ltd. Japan
Dimension: 148.5 x 42.5 x 63 mm (WxHxD)
Display Dimension: 114 x 20 mm
DC Input: 5V or 12V (From PC Power Supply)
Fan Adjustment Range: 3.7V (±10%) ï½Å¾ 12V (±10%)
Fan Channel: 4
Maximum Fan Ampere per Channel: 1A per channel
Fan Speed Range: 0 - 7500rpm (Display Range: 30rpm Incremental)
* Package indicates the maximum range as 9990rpm, but the actual range is 7500rpm.
Temperature Module Channel: 4
Temperature Range: 0 - 100°C / 32 - 199.9°F
Measurement Frequency: Every 2 Seconds
You will notice that I have only included the specifications for the 5.25" Scythe Kaze Master; simply because the 5.25" version is the one I'm reviewing. The 3.5" specifications aren't that far removed from that of the larger unit, but if you'd like to see them they can be found here
Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller Page: 2
Packaging and Contents
The packaging for the Scythe Kaze Master is certainly 'a little quieter' than what we've come to expect from Scythe. Featuring a dark blue and black theme, the front of the box has a silhouette of the Kaze Master VFD panel and a few small boxes illustrating the features of the unit. The rear of the box features important warranty information and a rear view of the fan controller. Product specifications and contact information adorn the sides.
The Scythe Kaze Master is certainly well protected by a relatively thick-walled polystyrene box with an easily removable lid. The box itself is compartmentalised and provides 'snug' compartments for both the Kaze Master and the included cabling. There's little risk of shipping damage here - nice work Scythe.
Included in the package were:
* 1 x Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller;
* Installation manual;
* 4 x 3-pin fan cables;
* 4 x cables with thermal probes;
* 1 x 4-pin (male) molex to 4-pin (female) molex with mini 4-pin connector power cable
* 4 x screws, and
* Adhesive tape
Scythe has included everything to get you up and running as quickly as possible. The instruction manual is multi-lingual but easy to read and follow which should help make the installation process a breeze.
A Closer Look
You can see from the included images that the Scythe Kaze Master is quite unassuming. But I think the beauty is in the simplicity. The front bezel features 4 knobs each numbered in sequence (in case you can't count lol) and a small Scythe logo in the top left hand corner. The knob pots have a very smooth movement to them and feel of very good quality.
One thing worthy of a mention here is the Kaze Master's VFD display. A vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) is a display device used commonly on consumer-electronics equipment such as car radios and microwave ovens. Unlike liquid crystal displays, a VFD emits a very bright light with clear contrast and can easily support display elements of various colours. While VFD's make reading a display easy from different angles they can sometimes suffer from fading. Light output drops over time due to falling emission and reduction of phosphor efficiency. How quickly and how far this falls depends on the construction and operation of the VFD. In some equipment, loss of VFD output can render the equipment inoperable.
The Scythe Kaze Master doesn't offer the changeable faceplates like the Kama Meter did/does, so you must decide whether the silver or black unit will suit your chassis better.
Around the rear of the panel, we can see the neat and well laid out PCB. The speaker on the far left hand side of the PCB can be controlled via the jumper immediately below and to the right of it. The red and white sensor cables are attached to the pins at the bottom, to the right of the white power cable connector. Fan cables are attached to the headers on the far right. The Scythe Kaze Master will handle fans with an output of up to 1A per channel which should cater for the majority of cooling duties unless you're wanting to run some serious Delta cooling fans
This time around Scythe has chosen to label both the sensor cables and fan cables on each individual connector. The sensor cables have also received a label half way along their length to assist in identification.
The thermal probes at the end of each sensor cable is protected courtesy of a short piece of clear plastic tubing. It's a nice touch and ensures that the probes remain in the same condition that they were when they left the factory.
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I'm not going to bore you with the in's and out's of installing the Kaze Master as it really isn't difficult, but I will give you a very brief run-down for the sake of posterity. You will see that I have installed both the Scythe Kaze Master and the Kama Meter to illustrate how they differ from each other and how they compliment my chassis. Please excuse the slightly fuzzy images of the Scythe Kaze Master. The green text is quite bright and seemed to confuse the light sensor in my Canon IXUS 950IS.
Installation-wise, I have always found it best practice to route the fan cables and thermal probe wires first as it makes sense to get the fiddly bits out of the way first. Use the tape supplied by Scythe to stick down the thermal probe in your chosen location, just make sure you remove any accumulated dust first. I'm a bit of a neat freak when it comes to cabling so a little more time spent routing the cables properly will give a better overall finish in the long run.
Once you've finished routing the cables remove a spare 5.25" drivebay cover, or 3.5" if you have the smaller version, and set the cover aside. Feed the fan/thermal probe/power cables through the opening left by removing your drivebay cover and slowly connect all the cables to their respective headers. You might want to make a note of what probe and fan cable corresponds to which channel on the Scythe Kaze Meter too. I connected the three 120mm fans on my Thermochill PA120.3 radiator to the fan controller, and the RPM lead off my Laing DDC Ultra pump which you can see from the image above. For this review I also connected one thermal probe to allow me to check the calibration of the temperature sensor in the unit. The thermal probe is sitting roughly in the centre of my Silverstone TJ-07
and is measuring case temperatures inside.
Once everything is connected then you are free to install the Scythe Kaze Master into position with the included screws. Make sure that the face of the unit finishes flush with the leading edge of your chassis and/or the drivebay cover below it. Tighten off the screws and viola...you're done! Fire up your rig and check that all the hardware that you have connected is being monitored properly. If it isn't, the RPM monitor (top row) will flash depending upon which channel isn't connected or reading properly, and the included alarm will squawk annoyingly until the problem is rectified. You can disable the alarm by removing the jumper pins on the PCB, but it kind of defeats the purpose of having an alarm.
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Testing of the Scythe Kaze Master was conducted within my watercooled test rig AquAus and the hardware contained within has been listed below:
Silverstone Temjin TJ-07
Intel Q6600 G0 Stepping processor
ASUS Blitz Formula SE motherboard
ASUS 8800 GTS (G80) 640Mb graphics card
OCZ FlexXLC PC2-9600 RAM
2 x 250GB Seagate SATA II HDD's (RAID 0)
3 x Xinruillian 120mm fans
I began the testing phase of the Scythe Kaze Master by comparing its VFD panel to that of the Scythe Kama Meter. I found the VFD panel a lot easier to read from a distance than the Kama Meter. The Scythe Kama Meter comes with 7 different colours that can be chosen for the background, and few of the colours available tend to make reading the screen a little difficult. The most problematic of the colours seems to be: aqua, dark blue and the green. The green and blue tend to give the screen a slightly 'washed out' appearance particularly. The Scythe Kaze Master's VFD panel on the other hand is very easy to read from eiher side-on or at a distance. Both the green and blue display characters are easily discernible and bright.
Fan control on the Scythe Kaze Master is equal to that of the Scythe Kama Meter. The knobs actually feel more responsive than the Kama Meter's too. When adjusting fan speed on the Kama Meter there seems to be a little lag between when you turn the knob and when you actually see a reduction/increase in the fan speed reported. By comparison, I found that the Scythe Kaze Master didn't exhibit the same lag seen on the Kama Meter.
The Scythe Kaze Master is able to run fans at their rated RPM or completely bring them to a stop. I am happy to report that this feature of slowing a fan to a standstill certainly works, but it isn't recommended for any extended period of time. Furthermore, I tested the fan malfunction feature and am happy to report that the highly audible alarm does sound and the display panel shows a '0' for that channel.
Temperature reporting was acceptably accurate when checked against a common mercury thermometer allowed to acclimatise. I ran a series of tests from various points around my TJ-07's chassis and I am happy to report that the greatest amount of deviation seen by the Scythe Kaze Master and its thermal probe was a mere 0.5 degree Celcius. I wasn't able to get the high temperature alarm to sound during my thermal testing, which leads me to suggest that it is set too high to be of any real use. According to the Scythe Kaze Master's documentation the high temperature alarm will kick in at 75 degrees C/165 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, I'd like to know something is getting hot well before that. Perhaps Scythe could look at incorporating an alarm that the user can customise the trigger temperature themselves. Interestingly, this was an issue that I reported during my review of the Scythe Kama Meter where the trigger temperature was a whopping 90 degrees Celcius. At least Scythe has reduced the trigger point significantly since then.
Let's head over the page to see how the Scythe Kaze Master scored in the conclusion page...
Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller Page: 5
So how well did the Scythe Kaze Master perform in today's review?
The build quality and presentation of the Scythe Kaze Master is both solid and attractive. The inclusion of the VFD panel over a traditional LCD panel is also a nice touch; with the increased brightness of the VFD panel apparent. While some may prefer the Kama Meter's screen over the Kaze Master, or vice versa, both provide attractive and easily readable real-time data. It really does come down to the end-user's personal preference.
Fan control during the testing phase was excellent and temperature reporting was accurate. I still have a problem with the 'high temperature' alarm being set so high, however. The inclusion of an customisable alarm trigger would certainly be a welcome feature and somewhat more useful.
Pricing for the Scythe Kaze Master is close to that of the Scythe Kama Meter and perfectly acceptable. The slight price hike of the Scythe Kaze Master would more than likely be attributed to the inclusion of the VFD panel. Scan Computers UK
have the Scythe Kaze Master listed for £35.24 Inc 17% VAT
In conclusion, if I had to make a choice between the Scythe Kaze Master and the Scythe Kama Meter Fan Controllers I feel that the Kaze Master just pips the Kama Meter at the post. The inclusion of an easier to read display; better response to fan control and its slightly better looks makes it the ideal candidate for your Dollar, Pound or particular currency.
* Real time reporting without having to turn a knob to a different channel
* No changeable faceplates like the Kama Meter
* High temperature alarm set too high to be useful.
Overclock3D would like to thank Scythe-EU
for providing today's review sample