NZXT Sentry Mix 2 Fan Controller

If you’ve seen NZXT’s Sentry Mix, then you will be very familiar with the Sentry Mix 2. Retailing for $35 on newegg at time of review (July 2013), it is in the middle of the price range for fan controllers on the market.

The original Sentry Mix was advertised as “Six 50W Channels”, which actually meant 6 channels sharing 50W between them. The Sentry Mix 2 is a 6 channel fan controller with a 30W capacity on each channel. That’s a total of 180W for this fan controller.

NZXT Sentry Mix 2 Fan Controller
Features list from NZXT

  • Matte-black faceplate with glossy black sliders
  • 6 channels for complete airflow control
  • 30 watts per channel
  • Integrated color LED lighting with 5 different colors to choose from
  • All black cabling
  • PWM sized connectors

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The Sentry Mix 2

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_02.jpg[/img]

The NZXT Sentry Mix 2 fan controller comes with the user manual, and 4 black M3 screws.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_06.jpg[/img]

The Sentry Mix 2 has a nice contrast of matte black face plate with gloss black sliders.
There is a button on the left to change the LED color of the numbers below each slider.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_03.jpg[/img]

The Sentry Mix 2 fan controller appears to use the same black plastic tray as its predecessor, with 2 molded hooks to help manage the wires.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_07.jpg[/img]

The back of the Sentry Mix 2 has 3 detachable 2-pin fan cable connectors on both sides of the 3 pin power connector, located in the center.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_09.jpg[/img]

The overall length of the Sentry Mix 2’s tray is about 5.5”, making it short enough to fit inside most 5.25” bays without sticking out the back.

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[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_10.jpg[/img]

Each fan cable on the Sentry Mix 2 is labeled, 1 through 6.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_11.jpg[/img]

All 6 cables are 4-pin PWN sized connectors.
The 2 non power pins are left empty, allowing for the option to do your own custom wiring to RPM sensors elsewhere.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_12.jpg[/img]

The Sentry Mix 2 is powered using 2 Molex connectors.
Each is using the 12v, 5v, and 1 ground.
Both are soldered to the same 3 wires, which run to the controller.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_15.jpg[/img]

When the system is powered on LEDs light up the numbers below the sliders.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_20.jpg[/img]

The Sentry Mix 2 has the option for White, Blue, Red, Green, and Orange LEDs.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_22.jpg[/img]

If you prefer, you can hold the button for 5 seconds to turn them off, but I wouldn’t consider them to be obtrusively bright.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_25.jpg[/img]

The Minimum voltage that NZXT states that the Sentry Mix 2 delivers to the fans is 40%.

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[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_28.jpg[/img]

NZXT includes 4 black M3 screws with the Sentry Mix 2.
There are 4 brass threaded inserts on each side, so 2 will be left empty on both sides.
This could be an issue if you have a large window or full acrylic side panel.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_29.jpg[/img]

Once mounted in a 5.25” bay, there is enough room to run cables back underneath and out the side if the case allows.
I could see this to be helpful when trying to hide the wires.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_33.jpg[/img]

Cables, there are. This is a modified mATX tower case. After routing the cables out the back of the drive bay and through one of the cable routing holes, there was still 21” of cable left to use. Couple that with the cables on the fan, and the Sentry Mix 2 should work fine an almost any full tower.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_34.jpg[/img]

In a mATX case, there is going to be quite the bundle of cables.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_36.jpg[/img]

The Blue LED option on the Sentry Mix 2 doesn’t seem to match most other blue LEDs around.
It’s lighter blue than the power on my Define Mini, the hdd activity lights on the hotswap bays, and the blue power LED on my Lian-Li server case.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_41.jpg[/img]

In a Define Mini, the Sentry Mix 2 does not extend all the way to the edge of the drive bay.

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[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/nzxt/SentryMix2/NZXT_Sentry_Mix_2_review_43.jpg[/img]

I did some testing by wiring up a fan connector so I could use the motherboards RPM sensor to test fan speeds on the controller, and on molex supplied power. I tested 2 of the same model Scythe fans, a Corsair, a Cooler Master, a KingWin, a Lian-Li, and an Ultra Kaze.

For the 2 Scythe and the Cooler Master fans, using the highest fan controller setting as the base number, were turned down to about 50% of their full speed. The Corsair, KingWin, and Lian-Li fans were turned down to 35% of their full speed. Lastly, the Ultra Kaze was only turned down to 66% of its full speed.

When compared to the full speeds when powered by aa Molex connector on the PSU, all were within 5% of the full speed on the fan controller. I should note that the Cooler Master was not included in this set of data because it is a PWM fan, and its testing conditions wouldn’t be consistent with the rest.

Final Comments

With the rated 30W per fan channel, the NZXT Sentry Mix 2 certainly has a lot of head room for most fans that will be thrown at it. The 30W capacity could also be useful to someone looking to control their water cooling pump as well.

I like the matte and glossy black contrast; it’s contrasting yet subtle. The glossy sliders do show finger prints easily, though, if that sort of thing bothers you. I found it best to use the top or bottom of the slider, rather than the recess in the middle. When using the recess in the middle, I often found the slider binding and not sliding as easily.

One of my biggest complaints with the Sentry Mix 2 is the cheap feeling plastics that get used. The plastic tray feels brittle to me, and the sliders twist in their tracks. As a result, the sliders don’t always line up straight once you’ve adjusted them.

In my testing, I found that if the slider is set just below all the way up, then the RPM of the fan would actually increase a little bit (measured to be around 3% for most of the tested fans). This doesn’t seem like it should be that big of an issue, but I find it to be a little disconcerting.

I would rather see the plastic tray end just behind the first set of threaded inserts, only having 2 on each side rather than 4. The extra length of the tray seems unnecessary, and it would also solve the issue of having to find more screws, or see brass inserts.

I like that the fan cables are all detachable, so you can remove any unused cables. This helps a little bit with the cable clutter in smaller cases, as well as threading cables through areas to better hide them. The removable cables also opens it up to the opportunity of making a short cable set for smaller cases, which I would really like to see. It would also be nice to have a power cable option other than just Molex.

Overall, at a retail price of $35 at newegg (as of July 2013), I think that the Sentry Mix 2 does a decent job, and had a good capacity per channel.

Pros:

  • 30W per channel
  • Changeable LED colors
  • Nice matte black finish on the front panel
  • PWM sized connectors
  • Removable fan cables
  • Removable power cable

Cons:

  • Does not fill the whole 5.25” bay
  • Cheap feeling plastic sliders
  • Tray size seems excessive
  • Noticeable brass threaded inserts without a screw in them
  • Only power option is 2xMolex

Rating
Given the mid to high price point in this range of fan controllers, and the cheap feeling the plastic, coupled with the perceived oversights of not including enough screws to fill all the tacky brass inserts, and not filling the entire drive bay, I have decided to dock a nanner, giving it a 4.

[img]http://www.themodzoo.com/images/reviews/bananas/4_nanners.png[/img]

[img]http://www.mnpctech.3dpixelnet.com/picture_library/2010.mnpctech.banner.jpg[/img]

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