First Looks: Aerocool Touch-2100 Fan Controller
Touch, Control & Monitor
There are tons of software temperature and status monitoring software, and they do a good job of letting users keep track of the speed at which their fans are spinning and how warm their graphics card is getting. This is undoubtedly useful for overclockers.
The Aerocool Touch-2100 achieves the same purpose, but it features a touch panel that fits into your optical drive bay and directly controls and monitors your system’s temperatures via fan connectors and physical temperature probes. This device can monitor five sets of fan speed and temperature points individually.
Design & Features
The first thing you ought to know about the Touch-2100 is that it fits into your optical drive bays and that it takes up two bays. This could be a problem for those with a chassis that only has two bays and one is already occupied by an optical drive. Worse yet are some of the modern minimalist casings where there's only a single optical drive bay. As with all devices that occupy multiple drive bays, there's no guarantee that it will definitely fit all casings even if the required number of drive bays are available and we would advise taking precautions like checking with your retailer if a product exchange is possible in the event of a mismatch in fit.
The Touch-2100 is so-called because it features a touch-enabled LCD display. This means it forgoes all the conventional buttons and knobs that are usually associated with a fan/temperature front panel bay controller. The display measures about 5-inches diagonally across and features customizable LCD backlight colors, of which they are seven to choose from. Surrounding it is a black brushed aluminum panel, which looks and feels nice, but would mean that the Touch-2100 would probably match dark chassis with matching front aluminum panels best.
Under the display are also two USB 3.0 ports, headphones and microphones jack. If the motherboard does not have USB 3.0 headers, don't worry, the ports will work with USB 2.0 headers as well as Aerocool has provided connectors for the two USB standards.
Installation & Ease of Use
Installing and setting up the Touch-2100 is pretty simple and straightforward, although it will require some tools and lots of hand dexterity.
Simply slide the Touch-2100 from the front of your chassis into the bay and secure it with screws. The tricky part thereafter is to manage the multitude of cables behind. In total, there are 14 cables - five fan connectors, five thermal probes, a header for the headphone and microphone jacks, a USB 3.0 header and a USB 2.0 header and a 4-pin Molex connector for power. It will take a lot of patience and dexterity to thread and manage them properly.
The Touch-2100 gets its readings off the thermal probes, so this gives users a lot of flexibility in that they can place the probe wherever they want within their casings (so long as the cable is long enough, of course). Sticky tape is also provided so that users can secure the probe to the point that they want to monitor.
Once everything is wired up, simply connect the 4-pin Molex connector and fire your system up. The Touch-2100 will light up and will immediately begin displaying your fan speeds and temperature readings. The touch panel is pretty responsive and accurate to use.
The display shows your fan speeds in one column and temperature in another. Changing your fan speed is dead simple, simply tap the fan that you want on the display and press the “+” or “-“ keys on the left. You can even turn the fan off completely. In addition, if your fan fails, the Touch-2100 will sound its alarm - a non-stop series of beeps - to warn you.
In the temperature column, you can also adjust the temperature at which the alarm goes off. Very useful for overclockers or just enthusiasts we want to keep their components running at optimal temperatures. In our testing, we also found that the Touch-2100 updates its readings in a matter of seconds.
So far so good, but we have a glaring gripe about the Touch-2100 and that is the poor viewing angles offered by the touch display. At eye level, the display is perfectly readable, but at anything more than say 15 degrees, the display becomes completely unreadable, with the numbers all showing up as "8s" and "0s". Our findings are in direct contradiction to the marketing page of the Touch-2100 where it states recommended viewing angle is between 15 and 45 degrees. Well, we'll let the above photo do the talking.
Overall, the Aerocool Touch-2100 panel is a something that we think will appeal to enthusiasts because of its funky looks, fun operation and functionality. Furthermore, with a recommended retail price of S$89, it would not burn a hole in the wallet.
Unfortunately, the issue of its poor viewing angles is quite an annoying one. Assuming you've placed your computer chassis on the floor, chances are there is no way you can read the panel without craning your neck or getting off your seat or bending over, which kind of makes the Touch-2100 redundant since it is supposed to let users quickly know their system’s operating conditions. Nevertheless, if you can get past this or if it does not bother you because your system is positioned on your desk, the Touch-2100 makes for a fun addition to your system - as long as you've two optical drive bays available.