Thermaltake Commander F5 Fan Controller
WHAT WE LIKED:Affordable, easy to install, Aesthetics, Easy to use
WHAT WE DISLIKED:Low total voltage output per channel, low overall wattage
The Commander F5 does a great job of hitting some of the key points when shopping for a fan controller but falls just short in others. The case build quality is sturdy and manufacturing work is superb; both should lead to a long usage life expectancy. Installation can’t get any easier. By using the tool-less installation method or adding a couple screws you are guaranteed to be done within minutes. The output cables are fairly long and should reach almost anywhere in even the largest of cases. Thermaltake did take aesthetics into account when designing the F5 too. The mesh fascia and knobby rubber sliders will fit right in with most cases, although they may clash a bit with the more industrial looking smooth cases. Having simple sliders to adjust fan speeds insures anyone could use the F5 without having to read a manual. The only issue I have with sliders is accuracy; the F5 proves this shortcoming still exists. With two or more sliders appearing to be in the same position you will get different voltage and rpm readings off each output. For most users a 50-100rpm difference across fans is not a problem but to those that take extreme cooling very seriously, this may drive them crazy. With a little time and a soft touch you can get them all to match up perfectly.
The big thing that is holding the Commander F5 back is the limited output and low wattage across each of the outputs. With most performance fans reaching their maximum air flow at 12v, I can not explain why the F5 was limited to just 10.5v. If you happen to already have loud fans in your case, then installing the F5 to keep them from reaching max rpms is a good idea. The F5 will be great for a lot of low to mid range build projects but may fall short for the higher end and enthusiast class builds. One of the reason is low wattage output. Higher end systems tend to run a lot of fans, sometimes splitting off from the fan controllers output to increase how many fans can run off each channel. With a mere 8w per channel and a unit total of just 40w, you will reach the max very quickly. Overall the Commander F5 will be able to meet the vast majority of system builders’ needs. It can enable cleaner cable runs, add a great look to the build, and help you easily control up to 5 fans. It also installs in minutes.
With an average cost of just $29.00, the Commander F5 is easy on the pockets. The problem is that at this price point it pits itself against other controllers that offer a higher voltage and wattage output. The Commander F5 is a good piece of hardware , so taking everything into account we give it the PureOverclock Good Hardware Award.