Zalman ZM-MFC3 Fan Controller - General Use and Final Thoughts

Article Index
Zalman ZM-MFC3 Fan Controller
Closer Look, Specs and Features
General Use and Final Thoughts

General Use:

The ZM-MFC3 installs quickly and easily into most cases and even works in tool-less cases like the GS1000 Plus without any issues.  In some cases that use rails, installation may be a bit trickier, but in traditional cases that use screws to mount the 5.25" bay devices, it will work very well.

Setting up and controlling the fans is super easy with the MFC3.  To set up fan one, you simply press the knob for a couple of seconds and Fan 1 begins to flash.  You can dial up the knob until you reach the desired RPM.  At this point, you can press the knob again to continue to the next fan or simply leave it a few seconds and it will return to normal operation.  

Fan Speeds
Fan Speeds

 

The only complaint that I have with fan control is that the controller has you set up the fan speed by RPM.  While this sounds like a good idea, the execution does have a few limitations.  First, there is no way for the controller to know how fast the fan can spin.  You can set a fan to run at 6000rpm and it will only reach 1800rpm (as is the case with many large 120mm fans).  The performance of the fan does not suffer in any way, and it will reach close to its maximum speed easily enough, but it seems a bit odd to have the controller set to 4200rpm more than the fan can actually spin.  There are a couple possible ways to solve this.  First, don't set the fan by rpm.  Instead set it by voltage.  Second, if you are setting the fan by rpm, adjust the fan rpm in real time when you are in the set mode, and display the fan's actual speed along with the speed you are dialing in.  As I mentioned before, these aren't major issues, just a couple of things that might help polish off this product.  These are the same limitations that we noticed with the ZM-MFC2 and they opted for the same idea with the MFC3.

Along with fan control, the ZM-MFC3 offers temperature monitoring and power usage monitoring.  Both of these features appear to work very well, and the temperature probes appear to be quite accurate.  The power consumption is not super accurate but it is within 5% to 8% measurable difference between the ZM-MFC3 and the Kill-A-Watt we use for load testing.  It's not perfect, but it is close enough for most people.

 

Conclusion:

The Zalman ZM-MFC3 Multi-Fan controller is a nice redesign of the original ZM-MFC2 and brings with it no real new features.  It does provide a much better viewing angle though, and a nice level of sophistication that matches very nicely with the GS1000 Plus case.  The fan controller is quite simple to use, but the control by RPM is not very precise - especially when you exceed the maximum RPM of your connected fans.  The temperature probes and watt meter seems to be very accurate however and this is a nice addition that makes the Zalman fan controller unique.  Overall, it's a great fan controller, and while it is a bit expensive, it looks great and gives you power monitoring which other fan controllers simply lack. 

 

Pros:

  • Super simple to setup and control
  • Sleek
  • Fan, Temperature & Power information.
  • Great viewing angle.

Cons:

  • Control by RPM is not accurate for fans that cannot reach high RPMs.
  • A bit pricey when compared with regular fan controllers.

 

BCCRating

Silver

Overall, the ZM-MFC3 is a great fan controller, but the competition has heated up and this unit lacks solid automatic temperature control and the RPM setting is not fool-proof.  It has a nice wide viewing angle and is worth buying though.  I do feel that there may be less expensive alternatives.

I'd like to thank Zalman for sending the ZM-MFC3 our way for a review.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.