Fans; we all need them to help cool our systems, but, do we need them running full throttle all the time? Not really, if you’ve come to this conclusion and are currently in the market for a control center you might find this Thermal Center from Kingwin just what you’re looking for.
CPU’s are running faster and hotter. Video cards are runnig faster and hotter. With all this heat being introduced into the case, you will need proper cooling, which means a lot of fans or more extreme measures. Fans are within most people’s grasps, both in price and ease of installation, but with a lot of fans, you will most certainly get added noise. That means you’ll need something to help control those fans and the noise they create.
You probably don’t need to have the fans running at full blast all the time, and that’s where Kingwin comes in with the answer for you — the TC-02BK Thermal Center. It automatically controls up to three fans in your case using three independent thermal sensors that can be placed at strategic points throughout the case, such as the CPU, video card, hard drive, etc. The TC-02 also displays the time and HDD and power status. Let’s take a closer look at this cool product.
Features, Specs and Package Contents
The Box – a little damaged but contents not hurt.
When I received the package, the box unfortunately was a little banged up, but due to very good packaging, everything inside was okay. Everything comes packaged in a plastic shell, which keeps anything from moving during shipping and also helps to reduce any bumps along the way.
Plastic protective packaging.
- Automatically control the speed of 3 ventilation fans.
- Three (3) high sensitive thermal detectors.
- Whole aluminum chassis and bracket.
- White background illumination light for LCD display.
- Fashion, solid, and elegant design.
- Time, HDD and power indicator icons.
- Three 3-pin ventilator extension wires.
2 11/16″(69 mm)D x 5 13/16″(148 mm)W x 1 5/8″(42 mm)H
DC 12V + DC 5V
DC 12V + 5V x 3 set.
Heat point detector length:
33 7/16″(850 mm)L
Extension fan wire length:
20 7/8(530 mm)L
LCD visual area:
13/16″(18 mm)H x 2 9/16″(64 mm)L
The package contains all you’ll really need to use the device. Installing it into my case was easy. Kingwin provided the correct type of screws, and I just slipped it into a spare 5 1/4″ bay. I installed all the thermal sensors, power supply and fan leads before I actually finally fixed it into the bay. The provided yellow tape worked fine for sticking the thermal probes to my hard drive and GPU (graphic card’s processor); I left the system probe dangling in the middle of the case to get a more overall accurate temperature reading .
In the package, this is what you’ll find.
View of device from back and close-up of circuit board and with all wires hooked up.
Installation and Use
I decided to use the CPU probe and controller on my GPU since it’s a Ti4400, and if you’ve owned one, you’ll know they can generate quite a bit of heat. I have made a custom heatsink for it using an old P2 slot heatsink, a PIII fan and added a 1/8″ copper base, so I wanted to check the temps for the Ti4400 and, if possible, quiet the high RPM fan a bit.
Thermal probes installed on the GPU and HDD
I booted my system and all fans spun up with no problems. I then followed the instructions and set the time, CPU(GPU), HDD and Sys warning / alarm temps. I first tried the probe on the GPU under the heatsink, but temps seemed a bit low at around 32C, and as advertised, the fan was spinning around 3,200 RPM. I then attached the probe directly to the backside of the GPU core, and temps went up to between 52 and 55C, as did the fan RPM to about 4,000 RPM. I decided to run a disk defragment and see how the HDD temps and fan RPM would be effected. As it should, temps went up a bit, as did the fan RPM, but not by a lot. Additionally, the noise level was still kept down while temps remained around 32C. Now that I had the GPU probe where I wanted it and had finished testing the HDD response, I ran 3DMark2001SE to give the GPU a bit of work. Once again, the temps increased to nearly 60C, and the fan RPM increased by several hundred RPM to about 4,400-4,500 RPM. Once the test was finished and the GPU temp went down, the fans returned to running around 4,000 RPM.
Thermal probe installed next to CPU lug.
It took some courage to do, but after using the unit for a week, I decided I should try the installation of the CPU probe to its proper location and see what temps I was really getting from my CPU. I have seen the instructions numerous times all over the web on installing a probe for your CPU, and the basic instructions gave a good clue, but I had never done it before and was very wary. I followed the good advice of doing a test fit with thermal paste to make sure that the heatsink was sitting flush on the core with the probe installed right next to it. It worked fine in the test, so I confidently booted my system and had no problems. I was soon seeing that my motherboard temperature readings were a bit off and high compared to what I was getting from the probe. The reported temps were more like what I was expecting.
Installed in my system. Doesn’t it look pretty sweet?
Here’s a shot with the system powered up – It lights up nice and bright for easy viewing day or night.
You can see that everything is clearly visable – Power LED, HDD activity, Fan RPM, Time, Temperature. Being so well lit and labelled, there’s no fumbling around even when trying to use/adjust the device in the dark.
The TC-02 has worked exactly as advertised. The probes can reach anywhere in most cases; the controller reduces the fans’ RPM appropriately to reach preset temps for each sensor; temps are displayed for the three different sensors every five seconds; the clock keeps accurate time; and everything was easy to set up. What I didn’t like about the Kingwin TC-02BK is the fact that the temperature algorithm is preset and cannot be changed. Now, someone who is going to be using the sensors where Kingwin suggests — CPU, HDD and case — should not have a problem. But, if you happen to want to control say your CPU, GPU and other hotter spots in your case, then you will run into the problem of having the fans hooked up to the controlller running at full RPM most of the time because of the low temperature algorithm set for the case and HDD sensors.
The TC-02 is a very well made device that gives you three very accurate temperature sensors to monitor your case and component temps. It looks very good, and having the ability to set alarm warning temperatures gives you the ability to monitor any areas that you think might be hot spots in your system and easily know when the temps get too high. In short, it can increase your peace of mind. Looking around the web for prices on this device, I was pleasantly surprised to find it for as low as I did. The lowest price I found was $29.95, and the average was around $34. From my own experience, I can tell you that you’ll be hard pressed to find and buy three good thermal probes for that price, much less all the other features this device contains, all housed in a nice, well-made package. Even though you cannot change the default algorithm temperature settings, just getting three very accurate temperature probes for this price is a good deal, but to have the fan-control ability and temp-warning feature and good looks, well that makes this a steal and a good solution for a very good price.
- Solid construction
- Works as advertised
- Controls 3 fans
- 3 accurate temperature sensors
- Looks good
- Easy to install
- Non-adjustable sensor temp settings
- Instructions could be better detailed
FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval