Installation and Testing
Installation was super-easy: take the cover off of an empty 5.25″ bay, slide the Sentry Mix in, fix it in place, plug in the cables and go. Retention screws are provided if you’re short a few, but most tool-less retention systems will work just as well. It’s worth noting that the Sentry Mix is designed for fans that use a standard 3-pin header; if your fans use a 4-pin MOLEX plug or a 4-pin PWM fan header, they won’t work with the supplied cables. In practice, the Sentry Mix worked flawlessly, kicking all my fans on at power-on even at minimum speed.
Thoughts and Conclusion
During installation, I ran into an issue where my system would try to power on, turn off, then try again ad infinitum, or at least until I flipped the off switch on my power supply. This was not an issue with the Sentry Mix itself, but rather a subtle grounding problem with my case that the Sentry Mix brought to light. Given that it can draw a minimum of 120 watts at startup with all fans connected (40% of 50 watts on six channels), it may well expose problems with improper grounding or marginal power supplies that would otherwise remain hidden. How much it actually draws is of course dependent on what you have hooked up, but this is still worth bearing in mind even with just one fan connected.
In use, I found coarse adjustments easy enough, but specifying anything more precise than min, max or “somewhere in the middle” is difficult, as the sliders have no detents or markers to speak of. It’s worth noting that since the scale goes from 40% to 100%, putting a slider halfway up will put the device on that plug not at 50% power, but 70%. Naturally, there are no RPM or temperature readouts on the front of the device; you’ll have to monitor temperatures through some other means. The LED color can be changed with the recessed button on the left side, each push will cycle through the available five colors. If you want them off, holding the button for five seconds will toggle the LED on/off state.
The extremely utilitarian nature of the Sentry Mix is a double-edged sword; what it does it does flawlessly, but it is missing features many have come to expect from a dedicated fan bus, including temperature monitoring and RPM reporting. If you have a lot of fans in your case (4+) and want a simple way to control them all, the Sentry Mix will give you a foolproof way to do so. If you want more advanced features like temperature-based automatic speed adjustment, or even RPM reporting, you will have to look elsewhere. Still, for $30+S&H (average price found online at time of publication) the Sentry Mix is a solid solution to a potentially frustrating problem.
- Simple installation and use
- 50W per channel delivers plenty of power to large fans
- Low profile compatible with all case doors
- Difficult to specify speed precisely
- No RPM or temperature readout
- LEDs are extremely bright, can be blinding in a darkened room