In the end I did enjoy using the Hydra Pro fans and LED controller, even if I didn't have any Spectre LED fans on hand to test. I did happen to have a few fans from Xigmatek that use a separate power delivery for the LEDs. During my testing, the highest reading my multi-meter displayed was 11.91V with the sliders at the top. To lower the voltage, you slide them to the bottom and the voltage drops down to 4.63V as the minimum supplied. That being said, you may need to be careful at the lower end of the fan controls if not using Spectre fans, as they may not be spinning any longer with only 4.6V going to them. As for the LED power leads, I tried to get a voltage reading to show what it could power safely if you didn't have the Spectre fans, but like me, have ones from another maker. Things get strange here. With the button in the off position and the LEDs on the fans not on, but with the blades spinning, I got a reading of 9.5V going through the two wires. When the LED switch was turned on and the fans LEDs are now on and the fan spinning, my DMM registered a flat 0V. I can't explain the voltage readings, but I can say it does work.
I had turned this review in for editing with only looking at the first sample of the Hydra Fan controller and that one had some issues. During the image phase, before I even got very far, the channel three, or middle slider had fallen off and I had to reset it for the images. During testing I found that all of the switches were loose and would flick off with relative ease. So much so that I had to replace a few of the switches during testing and the middle slider is lost somewhere in my house currently, leaving me with a five channel controller with only four usable channels. Cameron my editor pointed out that we should give BitFenix a chance, maybe I got a bad sample, and so I agreed.
The second sample arrived and the day it arrived I was discussing the issue with the BitFenix staff and was shooting some ideas back and forth to try to get to the bottom of the issue, because the second shipment had loose sliders as well. The first thing I thought since the middle slider was the worst again I put a straight edge to the face of the controller and found it was really flat already. Just on a hunch, I took the PCB and the face of the controller in my hands and squeezed each switch to the PCB better. At this point I have had no issues with them loosening up, and I think simply reducing the height of the plastic spacer between the PCB and the face of the Hydra will make this issue go away. On the flip side, it should be that in transit both controllers were either slightly squished side to side pushing the sliders off or just the jiggles of transit are enough to lessen their grip. What I do know is that I needed to make sure I wasn't going to lose any more switches, even on the second unit. While being better than the first, the issue was still found on both and is something that BitFenix is currently looking into.
Since they are looking into this, and it is a fixable issue, even if it has to be addressed by the user, I can still see this controller selling well. There are tons of BitFenix fans out there using their cases and have long been waiting for a high wattage fan controller to attach anything they could desire to really. With 30W per channel there is the capability to really daisy-chain power leads so that you can control let's say four 5W fans on the radiator. If you have another radiator, you can add that to another channel. For those who use air cooling in their chassis, you can have full control of all the fans in the chassis and have an attractive solution to completely customize the air flow, While the Hydra was designed to work with the Spectre LED fans so that you can also control the lighting being on or off with the touch of a switch. I was able to run other fans, but since I wasn't able to get a real voltage rating, be warned, I have no idea what the power limits are of the LED controllers, I just got lucky.
In the end, as long as you make sure to properly reseat the sliders, the $35 investment it will take to own one, is not that bad of a deal at all.
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