NZXT Grid+ Six Port Fan Hub Review

The Grid+ might just be one fan hub you can't live without. Today Chad gives us a full rundown on one of NZXT's newest devices for your case. Take a look.

Manufacturer: NZXT
10 minute read time
TweakTown's Rating: 96%
TweakTown award

The Bottom Line

NZXT's Grid+ fan hub is not only a super convenient product for anyone who builds their own systems, but with the capabilities that the software offers, the power offered, and its compact design, the $30 price is a drop in the bucket for such handy device.

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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At some point in the last year or so, you may have noticed that NZXT has been offering a fan hub in their midrange to top-tier cases; you know, that little PCB or plastic box hanging on the back of the motherboard tray. You may have even seen one of the stand alone units, like the one reviewed here, where we got up close and personal with the Grid 10 port fan hub. Originally, the idea was to take a power lead to deliver power to a PCB capable of offering 30W across all ten fan ports as a whole, not individually. However, the real issue with this idea is that while it does allow a clean way to supply up to ten fans with an easy to mount hub that tends to wiring issues, and fills the need for more fan power, there was very little as far as control when using the Grid.

NZXT took that simple idea to the chalkboard and kicked around a few ideas, and came up with the best solution possible: point and click software that is super simple to use. So, this time around, the device is slightly larger than the original design, but that is due to the technology needed to take any open native USB 2.0 port and turn it into a communications gateway to this new fan hub. NZXT could have stopped right there if they wanted to, and customers would have been sitting in front of the desk like the meme of Fry holding cash, saying "shut up and take my money," but they didn't. NZXT figured that since the software is tied to the PC, they could take things a step further with today's cross-platform technology. Now you can log-in and check this from another PC, and you can even install an iPhone app and control it remotely that way as well. Unfortunately, in our searching we did not find a Droid equivalent.

Today we will be looking at the NZXT Grid+, the latest evolution in the NZXT fan hub. Not only are you about to see the most controllable fan hub we have ever reviewed, but with its compact nature, it can be hidden almost anywhere. It also comes with all the goodies and wiring you will need to get set up, but you see things like power usage per channel via software, and you have the ability to pick presets or customize the fan curve used with your tastes in mind. Any way you look at the Grid+ from NZXT, you have to admit that this is pretty ingenious compared to all other fan hubs offered prior to this.

NZXT supplies a pretty serious specifications chart for a fan hub, not that we mind; we rather like it when companies deliver all of the information at hand, rather than what is thought of as most important. At the top, we find that the Grid+ can also be searched by its part number, AC-GRIDP-M1. We also see that the unit is 73mm square across the top, and stands only 18mm in height to fit in the thinnest locations. There is very little to its construction really. There is a top and bottom shell made of black plastic, and the top has an acrylic insert for the white power LED, and on the inside there is a PBC with various components soldered to it. Also, NZXT is sure to mention the CAM software control, and we will have a page dedicated to that later in this review.

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As you scroll down the rest of the chart, we find that this kit also includes zip ties, a couple of Y-splitter cables, a Molex to phone jack connector (round DC power plug), and a Micro-USB to native USB 2.0 cable. Outside of that, the last bits to cover would be the hub's 102.6 grams of weight, its six channels, the 30W maximum across all channels the Grid+ can deliver, the 3M Dual Lock (Velcro pad), and the two-year warranty against defects or non-user induced failures.

Upon visiting the NZXT product page for the Grid+, we see they also list the MSRP, or rather the price to buy this from their Armory. There you will find the Grid+ priced at $29.99, and an additional $4.99 is needed to cover shipping. If you decide to shop around the usual haunts, you will notice that only NZXT is currently charging for shipping, so you may as well shop at the likes of Amazon or Newegg where they list at the same base price, and save yourself a fiver for some other expense. $30 for just a fan hub may seem a bit steep, but don't forget, this is not your typical fan hub. For what NZXT is offering in the new Grid+, not only is there good value to this deal, but we see it becoming one of those things that no system build should be without.

PRICING: You can find the NZXT Grid+ for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The NZXT Grid+ retails for $29.99 at Amazon.

Packaging and NZXT Grid+ Fan Hub

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Things are kept sleek and simple on the front of the Grid+ packaging. There is a bold yellow block highlighting the product name, and an image of the fan hub in the center of the packaging. The packaging also lists the dimensions, power delivery, and warranty at the bottom.

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On the back there is much more to absorb. Near the top we see a preview of the CAM software, and what is available there. Under that is an explanation of the idea behind the design, and at the bottom are five icons covering the software, built-in current protection, the six channels, the hub's discreetness, and that extension cables are included. Inside is a thin plastic tray that contains all the bits, and as you will see, our Grid+ arrived in great shape.

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This is the side of the Grid+ you will see most often, the top. On it, "GRID+" is indented into the top cover, and off to the left side, we can see the small bit of acrylic where the white LED will denote power, and be easily viewable.

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The bottom edge of this device is where the USB 2.0 to micro-USB cable plugs. To the right of that is the round power adapter that the Molex lead plugs into to power the Grid+; there is nothing too hard to handle here.

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Both sides of the hub look like this, but in mirror image of each other, of course. This is where you either use the extensions, y-splitters, or plug any three-pin fan directly into this hub. There are a total of six channels between both sides.

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With anything electrical, there will be heat produced from the reduction of voltage, and NZXT took that into consideration, which is why the top edge of the Grid+ is open and vented to passively allow the internals to cool off if needed.

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The lower half of the outer shell has the NZXT name pressed into this panel. It also has three screws, so we can easily gander at the bits inside. This is also where you would use the 3M Dual Lock to attach this to your chassis of choice.

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With the bottom half of the outer shell removed, we find the bold white PCB inside. This is the back of the PCB, but we do see the Dale Electronics R47F resistors used in this design.

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On the flip side, there are the six fan connections, and the power and USB ports to the left. In the middle, we find 16V, 470 microfarad, chemical caps used. The STM8S10 eight-bit MCU in the middle and the MCP2200 USB Bridge IC at the top left are a bit tougher to see.

Accessories and Documentation

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As the outer packaging alluded to, we do get a nice set of goodies to go with the Grid+. There are five zip ties, a twenty-five inch USB cable, a fourteen inch power lead, and at the bottom, a pair of twelve inch three-pin female to four-pin male Y-splitter cables, all of which is either naturally black, or has a rubberized sleeve over it to blend into the build.

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The manual folds out into a twelve square sheet of paper that begins by noting what is included in the box. The manual then shows how to make the connections, and offers location ideas for its placement. Once that is done, it states that you should download the CAM software, and enjoy the time spent adding this handy little piece of tech to your build. On top of that, there is a trouble shooting guide, a whole section on how to work the software, and information on the terms and conditions of the warranty.

NZXT CAM Software

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After downloading and installing the CAM software, we were greeted with a small window that prompts us to create an account to use with the cloud control, but we skipped that without creating one for now, so we can get on with the software. When it opens, there is a short tutorial where NZXT explains things like where to control the fan speeds with the plus and minus, and that you can see both CPU and GPU temperatures, and even the total wattage being drawn on the Grid+.

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Clicking "Next" at the bottom takes us to the right side window, where information on each channel is available with RPM and power draw displayed in two columns.

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The final bit of the tutorial shows the left pane of this window, and shows us that you have options for automatic controls via the Silent and Performance modes, and even with a custom profile to tinker with. You can also switch to manual mode, and adjust the presets as well as the custom profile.

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For testing, we hooked up a few random fans to see what shakes from the Grid+. As you can see, we also have a Kraken connected to this software, which is something to keep in mind for CPU cooler upgrades in your future. Across the CAM software, you can see that I have set the fan speed to 100%, and our multi-meter was reading 11.96V on average across all six channels. When the fans are turned off, the meter showed us that no power at all is sent through them.

In the middle, we see the CPU temperature, an indication that we are in performance mode, and that we are using only 5.8W with three fans attached. On the right, you can find information on the trio of fans currently connected. All of which are very handy to have on screen, and are adjustable with just a click or three, without reaching for the chassis.

Final Thoughts

From what we have seen previous to this inside of cases, and the very few stand alone units that we have seen similar to this in the past, we feel the Grid+ is the obvious evolution in what a fan hub can be, and should be. While any sort of a fan hub is handy when building a system, if just to centralize the wiring and eliminate the need to have a fan controller poking through the front of your chassis. Of course, you were limited to 12V on some, and others offered PWM control via the CPU header.

Here, you can choose between a trio of profiles; there is a mode that takes thermals into top consideration, and another mode where silence takes priority. There is performance mode too, with a very aggressive fan curve to ramp all fans with a very steep curve that start to ramp aggressively around 50 degrees. Then, of course, you can create your own profile in the custom tab, and make slight changes to the presets to fit your exact needs. Because all of this is in a tiny little box that is only 18mm thick, you can place it behind the motherboard tray, or realistically almost anywhere you see fit to use it; you can't say that for most other forms of fan control.

Is there a downside? Of course, there is the wattage to consider. With a maximum of 30W across the board, it may be a concern if you plan to try to power a pump and a serious amount of fans, but realistically, for what most people need in a fan hub, even with the Y-splitters in play and eight fans on the Grid+, most fans will not tax this system to its maximum capability anyways.

We have seen the Grid as just a PCB before NZXT released the standalone unit. Both of those versions were great for taking a mass of fan leads, and allowing anyone to gain some control of it all. Taking it to the point where NZXT has it now makes it the obvious choice in fan hubs, no matter the brand of chassis you own. The Grid+ is just that sort of a product; once it is in your hands and in use, you will have a hard time figuring out how you got along before it.

Everything about the Grid+ fan hub from NZXT is a win in our book. Its compact size helps in all angles of its installation, and allows it to go almost anywhere the wiring will reach. Once the CAM software is at play, the Grid+ steps leaps and bounds above the rest. Finite control of fan speed is obviously needed, so is being able to keep an eye on fan speeds. And while we are at it, why not power draw too?

Most PC gamers and system builder will tell you they can't even see the front of their chassis while seated at the desk, and without getting up or seriously straining to see it. Even if the bay controller offered such information, if you cannot see it, what good is it? The fact that you can simply open a window on the desktop, see all of the fans in action via speeds and power, and adjust them with just a few clicks is great. You don't even have to adjust your posture in the least to accomplish it since everything is right there on the screen.

For $29.99 to get the Grid+ to your door, we not only feel that it is worth the money to address chassis cooling, but there is even enough left over to control most of the demand of a custom water cooling system, and a couple radiators' worth of fans. All in all, there just isn't anything to pick apart with this design; both the physical product as well as the software worked flawlessly from the start, and it has been a pleasure, and a real convenience to have.

PRICING: You can find the NZXT Grid+ for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The NZXT Grid+ retails for $29.99 at Amazon.

TweakTown award
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features99%
Bundle and Packaging93%
Value for Money98%

The Bottom Line: NZXT's Grid+ fan hub is not only a super convenient product for anyone who builds their own systems, but with the capabilities that the software offers, the power offered, and its compact design, the $30 price is a drop in the bucket for such handy device.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM and coolers.

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