Coolerguys 2U Bracket with 4 High Speed Evercool 80mm fans/Programmable Fan Controller / 2A PSU
After adding some thermally controlled exhaust fans, I thought it would be good to address the intake side of things. The Middle Atlantic DWR-12-32 has 150mm fan mounts top and bottom, but with 2U of space on the front my preference was to try an active front facing intake. After some research, and a dearth of options, I found the $100 programmable Coolerguys 2U bracket with four 80mm Evercool fans. Overall, this cooling solution does what it intends to do, most of the time, but there are a few characteristics which make it less than perfect.
The Coolerguys 2U fan kit includes four 80x25mm Evercool EC8025HH12BA DC fans, a 12/5V AC->DC power supply, eight fan grills, LED thermal fan controller with 24” probe, hardware, and wire ties. Instructions for assembly and configuring the controller are also provided.
As the kit comes disassembled, you will need to spend 5-10 minutes attaching the DC fans to the bracket, and connecting the wires to the controller. I opted not to install the interior fan grills, but this is not the safest option (YOLO ;)). I did not end up using any of the wire ties, but it was nice that they were provided.
The programmable LED controller is powered via an ATX standard 12/5V MOLEX connector, and consumes 1.2W when just monitoring temperatures via the 24” thermal probe, and 10.6W when the fans are running. It also does not quite fit snugly into the 2U bracket. Which is not a massive problem, and easy enough to address with some additional bracing (I used masking tape), but I expected better fit-and-finish from a $100 device.
Installation is simple and straight forward. Pick an open 2U space, and mount the fan bracket. Then go around the back to place the temperature probe and plug in the AC/DC power supply. The length of the probe’s 24” lead will be an issue in all but the smallest of racks. In the Middle Atlantic DWR-12-32 it does not even make it to the back of the cabinet. To function properly it is necessary to monitor the ambient temperature of the cabinet around its hottest point, which will never be within 24” of the fan bracket in any rack that is big enough to have 2U free for this purpose. An optional 48” extension cable is available for purchase, but it is baffling why this accessory is not included with the kit, or the wire is just not long enough to be useful by default.
The thermal controller supports two modes: always on, and turn on at X temp – off at Y temp. The second mode does not work quite right because the temperature probe cannot be placed far enough away from the intake of cooler air to remain unaffected by it, or get a good read of the ambient cabinet temperature. This makes the controller cycle on/off/on/off… at the bottom end of the regulated temperature span and not turn on until the cabinet is much hotter than the configured “on” temperature. The video above does not capture these issue directly, but we can see how the temperature fluctuates when the fans are running as well as get some sense of much noise they generate.
Because of availability of the probe extension the issue with length is more annoyance than anything else. Unfortunately, I have twice experienced a troubling issue with the controller itself where it displays gibberish on the LED panel and does not turn on the fans at all. Removing/reapplying power from the controller always fixed the problem. I purchased the device primarily for the bracket, and with another option available for managing fan power I just ended up bypassing the controller so this is not a massive problem for me personally, but in any other application this would not be acceptable. The controller needs to be stable and 100% reliable.
The $100 Coolerguys 2U bracket with four high speed Evercool 80mm fans and programmable fan controller suffers from issues with fit-and-finish, too-short thermal probe, and instability from the thermal fan controller. That said, the power supply and fans work fine to provide additional airflow and cooling to the rack cabinet with an acceptable noise profile for my application. I would echo the recommendation from Coolerguys that this is not the right solution for sensitive environments, and hesitate to recommend for anything mission critical because of the controller’s flakiness unless bypassing the controller is an option.
- 2U bracket looks nice and is of good quality
- Easy to assemble
- Fans are not as noisy as I expected
- Thermal probe is too short to be useful
- Thermal controller stops working occasionally, have to power cycle it to get it working again