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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [01.20.04]
Manufactured by: Vantec


Weekly One Pager

I think we'll be able to start a new feature here are HCW - the Weekly One Pager. This gives us a chance to review those minor cooling and mod items that often might not warrant a full 4 page review, but may be worth letting you know about nonetheless.

This week's entry is from Vantec - the "Spectrum Fan Card"

Vantec has done well with the "Spectrum" lineup of products. They all feature really cool UV reactive and other neon effects. A case filled with Spectrum parts would look absolutely insane!

The "Fan Card" is just that - a fan that is designed to PCI card specifications. This allows you to install it in any PCI slot - obviously the one right below the video card.

The Fan Card features a pair of 70x70x25mm variable speed fans. They are rated for 17.73 CFM at the lowest setting (2400 RPM), and 29.54 CFM at the highest setting (4000 RPM). Noise ratings are 25-36.7 dBA, respectively. The fans use ball bearings, which are much more durable than commonly used sleeve bearings.

And that is where the first issue may arise - noise. Even at its lowest speed, the Fan Card is noticable as soon as you turn it on. In a standard case with standard fans (say, a regular CPU heatsink fan unit, a PSU, and a couple low speed 80mm's), it will easily be the loudest part.

The use of pulse width modulation to control the fan does nothing to help this matter. You'll know a PWM fan controller when you hear it - when you lower the fan speed, it gives a distinct 'grumble' sound. Most controllers use this, so it's possible you're used to it by now though ;)

Installation is easy enough - pop it into a free PCI slot, and plug in the single 4 pin molex connector, which has a pass through connector. The optimal connection would be directly to a 4 pin connector on your video card, if it has one, and plug the power into that.

The Spectrum Fan Card features eight UV reactive LEDs that give off quite a bit of light (which cameras pick up oddly, as you can see - it looks more purple than blue here, but to the naked eye it looks really blue). This makes it a perfect accompaniment to a DFI Lanparty based system, and more UV lights. The Fan Card looks awesome overall. But how does it perform?

To find out, we installed it directly below a Radeon 9800 256 - certainly a very hot card. We tested temperatures with a flat thermistor wedged as close to the GPU core as possible. Measurements were taken with a Volcano 10, after running a 1 hour UT2K3 demo loop for each reading.

And there you have it - nearly an 8 degree drop in temperature. This is actually pretty good when you consider the overall heat conditions of an enclosed case. I  have a feeling results would be even better with an intake fan to help bring in some fresh cool air; the Fan Card by itself simply recirculates the air inside the case, which itself will be somewhat warm.

Keep in mind that on 'full' speed, the Fan Card puts out a nearly intolerable noise. At low speed it's not bad at all, and a few extra degrees can really help with overclocking. If you use a 'big block' heatsink, like a Zalman or Thermaltake Giant, the Fan Card's value would increase even more.

At just $20, the Spectrum Fan Card would be a welcome addition to any modder looking for another bright flashy UV reactive part to stuff into their PC. Overclockers will love it too, as it helps keep the video card cool for sure - every little bit helps!

If you have a window and are looking for something unique to show off your rig, have a look at the Spectrum Fan Card!

  • Looks great
  • High quality ball bearing fans
  • Clean installation, doesn't take up too much space
  • Adjustable fan speed

  • Very noisy at anything above lowest speed
  • Pulse Width Modulation = fan grumble at low speeds

Final Score: 85%