I’d be lying if I said that I fell in love with the Lamptron FC10 because of its performance, or its build quality, or anything of the sort. I love it because of its nixie tube display. Nixie tubes are amazing examples of engineering, and they made me eager to get the box open to inspect it. Let’s dive into this review of Lampton’s FC10 and geek out together over just how cool this thing is.
The FC10 fits into your 5.25-inch drive bay just like the other Lamptron fan controllers I’ve reviewed recently (the CW611 and the FC6) , but it differs from the rest in that the faceplate is rolled aluminium with a smooth finish, painted black. It’s removable, but take care not to damage the nixie tube glass. The face is pretty bare otherwise, with an LED cluster on the top right to indicate what mode the controller and its display are in – temperature, voltage or RPM. A remote is bundled with the package for controlling everything, though the buttons are labelled weirdly, as though Lamptron bulk ordered some remotes that were intended for DVD players.
Full marks are awarded for the PCB layout. You can install the FC10 alongside a DVD drive and still be able to connect and disconnect the fan cables and the Molex plug. For better remote reception, one can extend the antennae out the case, but this didn’t prove necessary even at distances of 10 meters, though the signal is weaker. It doesn’t work well through walls, but I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.
One issue with the display is that there are only four digits for displaying readouts, and you can only have information being read from one fan, not all at the same time. In the same way, you can only make adjustments to one channel at a time, and not have one setting applied globally. Perhaps Lamptron can reconsider this if they design a successor to the FC10, because it takes a long time to set all fans to full speed compared to other designs.
Unlike the other fan controllers I’ve tested, the FC10 increases and decreases the voltage in steps of 1V, so there’s no granular control over rotational speeds. In my testing, the reported voltage on the display was usually about 0.4V away from the actual reading on my multimeter, but there were larger gaps at 6V and 12V. My fans only really began spinning with the 6V profile, and selecting 5V kept things running quietly.
Lamptron claims the FC10 delivers up to 30W of power per channel, but I’m not sure what you’d slap onto it that would require that much power. Certainly not a water-cooling pump, because Lamptron doesn’t specify the maximum amperage that their designs put out. For just controlling your fans, however, the FC10 is really cool, even if it’s not perfectly suited to anyone who likes tweaking their fans all the time.