NZXT Sentry 2 LXE Fan Controller Review
A Closer Look
Most of the fan controllers we've reviewe over the years are designed to fit in a 5.25" bay and so the packaging reflects this by being compact. The NZXT Sentry 2 LXE is therefore a bit of a shock when it arrived in a box about 10" long and the size of a 120mm fan square.
Upon opening the box up it's instantly clear why this is the case, as there is plenty within the cardboard cover, and it's all very well packaged. The box is made of thick cardboard and the foam at either end is firm and high density.
Straight away we can see the difference in that we have a circuit board attached to a backplate, from which most of the leads we'd expect are attached. We also have a bag containing a battery that fits into a standard CMOS style holder, some spare probes and some tape to attached the probes to whatever it is you wish to monitor. Finally we have a 7 foot long lead that connects the display to the rear of the PCI bracket, allowing the display to be positioned pretty much wherever you want.
The display part of the LXE is of exceptional quality. It's made of thick brushed black aluminium. It identically matches my CoolerMaster case and will match any other black aluminium case you happen to own.
When you're dealing with something like this the aesthetics are vital, and even from the side the Sentry 2 LXE looks wonderful and clean. You can see how sturdy the case is, and the stand has a gentle angle to ensure useability in all but the most obscure positions. Although if you're putting this somewhere you can't get to it you're missing the point.
On the rear the only thing we have to spoil the sleek lines, besides the obligatory bar-code, is the 8 pin socket that the other end of the aforementioned cable slots into. This is as good a connection as any modular power supply has and just emphasises the build quality. Finally on the base are two soft rubber strips that help it grip to your desk when in use. If you can move the NZXT when it's in position then you're pressing it far too hard.
Moving the probes and fan connectors to a daughter board has many benefits, not least of which is the ease in which you can replace components should that be necessary. Although most fan controllers have replaceable parts they are usually placed on the back of the board within a 5.25" bay and are very fiddly to swap over. NZXT have all of the major parts clipped in firmly enough to never come loose, but by virtue of being so in the open changing out a probe is literally a five second job.
One of my personal axes to grind is always the paucity of documentation that comes with modern hardware. Companies go to extraordinary lengths to bring us technology that reminds us of things we saw in sci-fi books when we were younger, and then don't bother to tell us how to utilise them to their fullest. Considering that the photo below shows the entire installation instructions I'm sure that you're expecting a typical VB rant. But actually it's a testament to the simplicity of the NZXT Sentry 2 LXEs design that absolutely everything is covered and you're never left holding a lead wondering what the hell to do with it.
Let's fire it up then and take a look at what we have to play with, before coming to a conclusion.