Scythe are no stranger to fan controllers, and it has to be said neither are we here at TTL towers. Having looked at the Q12 and the Pro we now cast our gaze to the Kazemaster Flat. With it's flip down flap hiding the controls and very low profile design it's clear that Scythe are aiming for the consumer who needs a fan controller that will fit behind a case door with no risk of extraneous knobs and excrescences fouling and preventing door closure. The sleek lines and fairly basic spec sheet suggest that Scythe may be opting for the KISS approach here. For further details lets take a look at the full specification
|Model Name||Kaze Maste Flat|
|Overall Dimensions (W x H x D)||148,5 x 42 x 83 mm / 5.8 x 1.6 x 3.26 in|
|Display Dimensions (W x H)||119.3 x 16 mm / 4.7 x 0.62 in|
|DC Input||5 V or 12 V (From PC Power Supply)|
|DC Output||3,7 V (±10%) ~ 12 V (±10%)|
|Fan Speed Range||0 - 9990 upm|
|Temperature Channels||4 (0 - 100°C / 32 - 199,9°F)|
|Accessories||4x Temperature Sensor Cables, 4x Fan Cables, 1x Power Cable, 4x Mounting Screws, Installation Manual|
Up Close: Packaging and contents
If you've read the other Scythe reviews or bought any Scythe products you'll know by now that Scythe aren't exactly lead protagonists of the principal that less is more. As usual there's hardly a spare millimeter of space that's not crammed with some detail of the product within, and not a single font type, size or text colour appears to go unused. That said, if you were to pick one of these up off the shelf in your friendly neighbourhood PC accessories store you'd not be having to cough politely and ask the chaps behind the counter if they could tell you more about it.
Inside the box we find the controller itself along with an assortment of cables. In total we have four numbered fan power cables, which although 3 pin have sockets designed to accept a 4 pin PWM plug. Allied to the power cables are four temperature sensor cables, each terminated in a thin copper sensor strip. Both the power cables and the sensor cables are 65cm in length which should be plenty to reach round most Mid Tower cases, with enough slack for a bit of routing. Power to the unit arrives via a 4 pin Molex cable fitted with a convenient pass through to prevent you losing a potentially valuable molex output. last but not least we find a small bag containing some strips of sticky back plastic which we can use to secure our sensors, and a set of 4 screws for holding the unit fast inside the case.
Up Close: The Controller
Before we look at the fascia lets first take a look round the back of the Kaze master Flat. The unit comes with all it's cables detached but ready for fitting, which means not only are we afforded a nice view of the PCBs and electronics, but also that you only need attach the cables you intend to use and as such can reduce unwanted cable clutter. As we look at the rear, working from right to left we have the 4x3 pin fan power cables, the 4 pin PSU supply point, a simple jumper which enables us to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit, a set of dip switches which allow the temperature alarm to be set between 55 and 90 degrees in 5 degree increments, and finally a jumper that allows the internal speaker to be muted. The standard of internal soldering and the layout of the PCBs are good, with no signs of solder spatter or lose soldering.
Turning our attention to the fascia the first thing we notice is the flip down panel. Opened via a simple push and click release, in the down position the panel rests at 90 degrees to the fascia allowing access to the controls. From left to right we have an On/off button which turns the display off whilst still leaving the unit operational (for all though times when total darkness is the only answer). moving along the controller we find a row of 4 rocker switches which are employed to alter the speed of the respective fan. On the far right of the controller there is a mute button. Although clear, the Blue LED display does suffer from a little light bleed into the surrounding area. The image below right shows the display photographed off angle with the fascia open and as you can see there is a little peripheral illumination of the unlit numerals. This is about as bad as it gets, and as you'll see from the images below the quality of the display improves when the ambient room lighting is altered.
With the fascia in the up position all the controls are hidden, preventing accidental activation and of course greatly improving the looks of the unit. The LED display shows both fan speed and temperature for each of the 4 channels, should you choose not to connect all the sensors you will simply see 3 lines in the readout, as per the images below.
Ok so a lot of these images are starting to look quite similar, however if you're reading and not just looking at the pictures you'll know by now that we're showing the unit in it's various different configurations. With that in mind the images below show the unit with the door closed and with the display turned off.
Having looked at quite a few fan controllers over the years, and no less than 3 units from Scythe in more recent times we're in quite a good position to give the lowdown on the Kazemaster Flat.
Fitting the unit is a simple or as complicated as many of the units out there. Not having all the cables pre-attached at the controller end does make the job a little easier as you needn't necessarily attach unwanted cables and as such can limit the amount of resultant cable management. Compared to some on the market, and indeed some of Scythe's own products, the unit offers quite simple control-ability with just 4 channels and the ability to increase or decrease the fan speed, turn the display off or mute the alarm. There's no facility here for setting temperature thresholds or having fan speeds automatically increase or decrease dependant on temps, but then, that's not necessarily what everyone wants and neither is the unit alone in the market place with regards to the level of functionality it offers. By keeping some of the controls hidden at the rear of the unit and accessed via jumpers Scythe are able to keep the front fascia uncluttered. Ok so you can't flick at whim between Celsius and Fahrenheit without accessing the jumpers on the rear, but is this really a problem?
Build quality is good although in these days of soft touch plastics the finish does perhaps come accross as a little less luxurious than other controllers out there. The display is simple and for the greater part easy to read although we did experience some light bleed ing issues these were by no means serious. It's with the flip down fascia in the closed position that the Kazemaster Flat really comes into it's own. With all the controlls hidden behind the smoked perspex panel the unit really does look the Dogs Danglies, adding an air of class to any case you care to fit it in, and of course with it's low profile design mitigating any clearance issues you're not going to have to worry about whether it will fit behind a case front door.
At £30 the Kazemaster Flat plonks itself right in the middle of the most competitive area of the fan controller market, and although it could be said that there are better controllers for the money, it should perhaps rather be said that there are simply alternatives for the money. With each of the units in the £30 price range offering a mix of subtly differing features the consumer simply chooses the feature set that best suites them. The Scythe unit may lack some features when measured against others, but makes up for it in the other areas we have already discussed.
If you want a sleek looking fan controller that will hide itself so effectively on your case front you'd be hard pushed to know it was there, or want something sleek that will fit behind your case door "no questions asked" then the Kazemaster Flat fits the bill just fine.
Thanks to Scythe for sending in the sample for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.