A fan is a very basic device that is designed to move air from one area to another. In the computer world we use them to more air across heatsinks and even ventilate our computer cases. For most people a "fan is a fan" and yet companies that make them try to add their own special features to make them unique. Sometimes these features are nothing more than a name while others can actually impact performance.
In this review we will be taking a brief look at a new fan from Enermax called the Cluster Advanced. The fan is a 120mm variable speed PWM fan with LED lights and I can easily say that this is one of the most customizable fans I have used.
The first thing you will notice is the strange blade design. Enermax calls this the Batwing blade design and works to increase airflow without increasing the RPM of the fan. Consider this, when a fan spins air moves from the center of the fan out towards the tips. The tips are what compress the air and force it to move in one direction. By adding a secondary ‘tip” towards the center of the fan you double the compression surface and increase airflow. Sadly, testing this feature isn’t all that easy so we’re going to take their word for it.
Each fan rests on a nano magnetic bearing that is self lubricating, has minimal friction and comes with a longer lifespan. The bearing also has the benefit of being held in place by a magnet so with a little force you can pop the blades right out for easy cleaning.
With the blades detached you’ll be able to easily see the next feature of the Cluster Advanced, the variable speed control called Adjustable Peak Speed. This is actually a three position fan controller that will limit the maximum fan RPM. In the lowest setting fan will spin between 500 and 1200rpm. The next position up will increase the upper limit to 1500rpm and In performance mode the fan is uninhibited and will spin at 1800rpm moving around 86CFM.
APS works in conjunction with the onboard PWM controller so when you have the Cluster Advanced hooked into your system it will spin up and down on demand but will stay within the limits you have pre-defined. APS also works in non PWM enabled situations like with a fanbus controller or directly into a Molex.
In my testing I found the multi-position switch to be a great feature allowing me the ability to tune the cooling performance of the fan. If I needed more airflow simply click the fan speed up a notch. The real benefit here is you no longer need to install RPM limiting resistors or special versions of a fan to tune your cooling and noise performance. It is all included.
We have all seen LED fans before and they work by scavenging power from the fan motor to power four LEDs on each of the corners. By default these types of fans have no LED control so when they have power the lights are on.
The Enermax has included a push button to control the lighting effects on the Cluster Advance. Sadly the switch wires are quite short so you’ll need to decide what light position you want for your particular situation. Crafty modders may enjoy extending the switch wire or binding it to a button on their system.
Early in this review I made the statement that this was one of the most customizable fans I have ever used. That statement comes from the laundry list of included features staring with the new APS (Adjustable Peak Speed) control. APS works to limit the fan RPM independent of the PWM controller. The benefit here is that you can dial your system cooling at the hardware level and not have to rely on BIOS level controls and temperature readings. The next feature is the nano magnetic bearing design that is self lubricating and allows the fan blades to be popped out for easy cleaning. Each blade features a batwing design to deliver 20% more airflow and the white LEDs can be turned on and off with the push of a button. As an added benefit the Batwing blade design reflects as a lightning bolt on the fan blade which is not possible with traditional LED fans.
When I modded iVektor case one of the upgrades I performed was to replace the stock fans with three Cluster Advanced units. This was done to both increase overall airflow and provide a nice white lighting effect. They say a fan is a fan but when it comes to controlling noise and airflow you can spend hours tuning them with resistors or simply flip the APS switch and get back to doing something important.
Adjustable Peak Speed
PWM Fan Controls
Batwing Blade Desgin
Magnetic Fan Bearing
Short LED switch cable
Squeezing the fan causes blades to hit the sides