Cooler Master Aerogate II (ALD-V02)
Being able to reduce the noise coming from all of these different case fans and device coolers is something that everybody is dreaming about. There are many companies with many different products from each of them that claims to do it best. Cooler Master has noticed a need to be able to do something about the noise coming from the fans too and are now offering their Aerogate II for the masses. CM has tackled against the noise and heat before for example with their Cooldrive 3 HDD cooler and this new Aerogate seems to be a natural expansion in this line of products. Lets go and see how it looks and most importantly how well it performs.
Cooler Master is currently unifying coloring in their packaging and I must say that I like this violet shade. Classy but still noticable so you can spot them in store. Unit was well packed and protected with protective foam that doesn't allow the product to shift around. Maybe a bit over packed for such a small product but this allows CM to use the same sized packages for other products too. Good thinking there.
As usual with these "high-end" products from CM all the wires and screws needed are included. This time you'll find:
- The Aerogate II controller
- Four thermal sensors
- Three extension cables for fans
- 4-pin (molex) extension cable for power
- Five screws for mounting
- User manual with eight languages
It is too bad that Cooler Master decided to drop out the splitter version of that power cable. This version will eat up one Molex connector from your power supply but on the other hand supplies usually have two floppy drive power connectors that is also used in this controller so you may not need to use the extension cable at all. Extension cables for fans are long so you can easily reach the far corners of the case. They are also clearly labeled so you can preinstall the wires to the controller before you install it to the case and connect the fans to the cables after this. This doesn't apply to the sensor wires that doesn't have any labels so we are half way there for a perfect solution.
Wires with the sensors are also very long so you can reach your HDDs and display adapther easily. This on the other hand brings another problem. The wires are so long that you have to tidy them up a bit with cable tiers so that they don't hang around everywhere. Maybe it would be a good idea to include few tiers to the package so that the buyer doesn't have to go and buy them separately. Another good thing to have that is missing from the package are stickers or tapes that you could use to attach the thermal probes with. Now you have to stick the probes to some corners or tight spots that they hold in place or get some tape from where you can find it. Again, something small and cheap but what could have been supplied with the unit too.
Connectors; Four fan headers, four sensor headers and power connector
This would be a good time to show the specs for the unit:
|Dimensions:||150 x 43 x 62 mm (L x W x H)|
|Net Weight:||120 g|
|Display:||LCD with blue backlight|
|Device fan:||40 x 40 x 20 mm, sleeved bearing|
|Temperature range:||0 - 90 °C / 32 - 194 °F|
|Fan input:||12V / 1A and 5V / 0.5A|
|Fan output:||7 - 12V / 1A|
|Alarm:||Alarm with audio|
|Special:||Control pad lit with selectable color (7 to choose from)|
Each channel is capable of handling 18 watts so you can run several fans from one fan header with Y-cables. This is a usualy situation if you have more than one case fan and would like to control them all.
Each channel has a preprogrammed temperature threshold that will trigger the full power to the fan even if the user has adjusted the speed for the fan to be lower. This will protect the device that the fan is cooling if the user made a wrong adjustment for the speed or if the device is loaded more heavily than usual. Thresholds are:
- Channel 1 (CPU) and channel 2 (VGA); 65°C / 149°F
- Channel 3 (HDD) and channel 4 (Case); 55°C / 131°F
These values are fixed and user can't alter them. This may and may not be the ideal solution but for most users it doesn't matter that much.
User can select the color by pressing the "color"-button. The unit will then start to rotate the different color choices and when the user presses the color button again the selection is confirmed and written to non-volatile memory. This way user will get the same color that he/she chose on the next startup. All the fan speed settings will also be stored in similar matter so the unit will always remember them.
LCD has four modes that will show the temperature of the corresponding sensor and the RPM related to the fan cooling the selected device. If the isn't any sensor connected to the selected mode the display will read OFF. Also visible is either the °C or °F indicating the selected temperature scale. Image of the thermometer and the rotating fan are animated and will indicate if there is a thermoelement and/or fan connected to the selected channel. Animations themselves don't indicate any real life values thought.
Fan speed is controlled by turning the dial. First select the channel that has the fan you want to control. Speed of the fan will increase if turned clockwise and slow down when turned counter-clockwise. In case of an alarm the user can acknowledge and silence it by pressing down the dial slightly. Operation of the dial is really straight forward and easy to learn and this makes this unit one of the most user friendliest multifunction panel I've seen.
Fan 3. header is used by a build-in fan that can cool down a HDD behind the unit or just bring some cool air inside the case. I connected one of the case fans to the Fan 4. header to see how these external fans operate with the unit. Two thermal probes were installed; One on top of the Maxtror 40GB drive and one hanging from the case ceiling. If you don't like to use this included fan you can always remove it and use the fan header originally assigned for it for case fan blowing to the HDDs at the bottom part of the case etc.
All I can say is that the controller does what its supposed to do. Fan RPMs are reported back correctly and the voltage range stated on the specs are the same when checked with a multimeter. If you connect all the sensors and fans to the unit, you'll end up having nine wires coming out from the drive bay towards the case center. Managing all these new wires takes some time and skill but when done properly once, you doesn't need to worry about them again. Maybe some day the manufacturers can agree on some sort of a standard for case cooling with pre-installed fan headers, some intelligence with serial protocol etc. but for now this is the only and the best way to go.
The device looks really great when combined with an aluminum case such as this Cooler Master ATC-210b. Because the product is based on the controller found on CoolDrive4 it still has the fan ment to cool down the HDD behind it. Most buyers that get Aerogate II will not place the drive there so maybe CM should have replaced the fan and the fan hole with something else. But because the blowhole is shielded with a nice looking fan grill and some mesh it will not stand out too much and actually looks cooler this way than with the bare metal without any hole.
|Cooler Master Aerogate II
+ Does what it should do
+ Wires included
+ Long wires
+/- Pre-programmed alarm and fan boost thresholds
- Probe wires not labeled
This is one of the best fan controllers that I have ever tested and all those + marks on the left indicate my feeligns accordingly. At first I thought that those seven different colors were just to flash and rotate all the time but because Aerogate II lets you to choose the color you want, makes it to more usefull feature. Chromed buttons and LCD with blue backlight brings more elegance than chaos to the whole setup than you would first imagine.
Today, the way the product looks is really important if one wants to get it sold. Also, equally important is the fact that the product has to perform the tasks ment for it in a stable and cost effective way. While some modders are after the looks alone there are still a lot of users that aren't ready to pay extra because the unit has acrylic face plate or flashing leds. Currently you can find this unit costing around $40-50 and it is your task to decide whether you should settle for something cheaper. Many of them doesn't have the possiblity to monitor the case temperature or to see the fan RPMs but then again, I can't possibly know your needs. I have laid out the facts about this unit and decided to keep using it myself so hopefully you can now decide what to do for your setup.