NZXT AER RGB fans and Hue+ Review
The world of ‘RGB Everything’ is truly upon us as we now see this colourful technology used in everything from Keyboards through to Mice and now from Motherboards to Graphics Cards. It all started with the simple LED fan yet it’s taken some time for this new RGB tech to go full circle and end up where it originally began. And it’s NZXT (among others) who’ve done it…
Some time ago I was asked if I would like to take a look at the new NZXT AER RGB fans and initially I was going to say no, as we here at pcG simply don’t review fans. But after giving it a little more thought I decided that what we might be able to do is to integrate these fans with a system build, an NZXT system build at that. Although I’m not going to cover the other products here in the Overview as that’s been done before.
NZXT’s AER RGB fans are available in two sizes 120mm and 140mm and today we’ll be looking at the 120mm versions. The fans themselves can be bought singularly, in Dual packs or Triple packs. The fans can also be purchased alongside the Hue+ that is required for full operation.
This may be a review for the AER RGB 120 fans but it’s also somewhat of a showcase for NZXT products as a whole, most of which we’ve reviewed in the past. Therefore we will be pairing up the NZXT AER RGB 120mm fans with an H440 Case, a Kraken X62 and of course the main control unit for these fans the NZXT Hue+.
The pack you see above contains three AER RGB 120mm fans only, so this pack is designed for customers who already own a HUE+. Both packaging and presentation were found to be good. In the box we find the three fans themselves along with an instruction guide and what seems like a raft of cabling.
At the time of review, the NZXT AER RGB 120 (x3 pack) is retailing for approximately £70 at Overclockers UK and comes with a 2 year warranty.
courtesy of NZXT
|Dimensions||Aer RGB120: 120 x 120 x 26mm
Aer RGB140: 140 x 140 x 26mm
|Material(s)||Plastic, rubber, PCB|
|Weight||Aer RGB120: 183g
Aer RGB140: 213g
|Fan Rated Voltage||12V DC|
|Fan Speed||500-1,500 RPM|
|Fan Airflow||Aer RGB120: 17.48 – 52.44 CFM
Aer RGB140: 30.39 – 91.19 CFM
|Fan Air Pressure||Aer RGB120: 0.15 – 1.35mm-H2O
Aer RGB140: 0.17 – 1.52mm-H2O
|Fan Noise Level||Aer RGB120: 22 – 33 dBA
Aer RGB140: 22 – 33dBA
|Fan Life||6 years|
|Fan Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB)|
|Fan Connector||4-pin PWM|
|Model Number||RF-AR120-B1 (Aer RGB120 Single Pack)
RF-AR120-T1 (Aer RGB120 Triple Pack)
RF-AR140-B1 (Aer RGB140 Single Pack)
RF-AR140-T1 (Aer RGB140 Triple Pack)
|UPC||815671013033 (Aer RGB120 Single Pack)
815671013071 (Aer RGB120 Triple Pack)
815671013026 (Aer RGB140 Single Pack)
815671013064 (Aer RGB140 Triple Pack)
|EAN||5060301693269 (Aer RGB120 Single Pack)
5060301693313 (Aer RGB120 Triple Pack)
5060301693252 (Aer RGB140 Single Pack)
5060301693306 (Aer RGB140 Triple Pack)
|System Requirements||HUE+ is sold separately and is required to unlock Aer RGB’s full lighting features.
PC with open internal USB 2.0 port
Windows® 10 / Windows® 8 / Windows® 7
Internet connection is needed to download CAM
First Impressions & Installation
Once out of the box I was surprised to see that the NZXT AER RGB fans looks good before they’re even powered on, which is a good start. Each fan sports a maximum speed of 1,500 RPM and has a quoted noise output of 33dBA. Full specifications can be seen above.
As you can see from the image above there’s quite a lot of cabling for the AER RGB fans and all of the cables above (apart from the three on the right) are for controlling the RGB illumination and therefore for connecting to either another AER RGB fan or a NZXT HUE+. As you can see the cables are clearly labelled IN/OUT and should obviously be connected up accordingly. Note that the fans themselves are also labelled IN/OUT.
The far left cable is the 50cm Controller cable that connects to the HUE+, this is followed by two 50cm fan to fan cables. Next up we have two 10cm fan to fan cables and a single 6cm extender cable (that’s actually, in the image above, between the two 10cm cables). The three on the right are the supplied Low Noise Adapters. In the box there’s also x12 M5 screws (not shown).
The first task was to remove the front panel from the NZXT H440 and in turn remove the three pre-installed 120mm fans to make way for the new AER RGB versions. While I was in there I also removed all of the drive sleds to aide in both installation and in cooling. Who uses 3.5″ drives anymore anyhow… 😉
STOP: Don’t just install the fans without paying close attention to the orientation of the connectors. As this is very important, especially considering the cables that we have to work with. Each fan also needs to be connected to not only the fan controller aboard the NZXT H440 but also to each other. So up front you’re going to want to consider what cable routing you plan to use and therefore what cables you need.
With each fan connected to one another I installed the HUE+ in one of the SSD mount locations aboard the H440. A perfect position if you ask me, especially as the top of the HUE+ also illuminates (white). This can in fact be turned off should you wish via the NZXT’s CAM software. With that done the HUE+ was now connected to the fans and the fans to one another.
Each fan (that’s the normal fan cable) was connected to the fan hub at the back of the H440. These are in fact connected to the three lower left positions on the hub (positions FAN2, FAN3 & FAN4). The FAN connected on the right (top FAN8) is for the pre-installed exhaust fan at the back of the Case. All other connections were left in the default positions. This is because the H440 has lighting and PWM fan control of its own.
The rest of the components were then added to the H440 Case and it’s at this point that you’re probably going to curse as there seems (in fact there is) cabling everywhere and it’s actually easy to lose track of what’s what. Especially when you add the additional cabling for the NZXT Kraken X62. But from this side (that’s the side we look at) everything looks good and you’d probably never believe the amount of cabling on the other side!
Well part from the fact that here’s a photo. 😮 Trust me before it looked like this it looked even worse, maybe if I was keeping the setup like this I would have spent a little more time, but… As you can see it’s a bit of a nightmare, but there’s a lot going on here to be honest. It is this aspect of the NZXT AER RGB/HUE+ setup that’s the most frustrating as cabling is simply not easy, especially when you only have a few pre-defined cable lengths to work with. This sometimes makes routing tough as there’s just not enough cable length to do what you want. But hey it works, so let’s take a look shall we…
Let me first start by saying that taking photographs of LED illumination is very hard (honestly) and the images above and below don’t really do the AER RGB fans justice. But take it from me they are everything you could wish them to be.
Initially all fans were default white and this is in fact the state that they boot up in. Once the NZXT CAM software (see below) starts up with Windows the fans settle into their user configured mode. Once the fans are installed and working it all becomes about NZXT’s CAM software so that’s what we’ll take a look at next…
At first the NZXT CAM software can seem a little daunting to say the least and that’s because NZXT have actually crammed rather a lot into what appears, at first glance, to be a simple application. Not only does the CAM software cater for all of the NZXT products such as HUE+, AER RGB fans and the Kraken range but it also provides a whole host of hardware monitoring tools and system information too.
When launching the application for the first time one should pay attention to the Dashboard tab first and especially the lower section where you can see (image above left) the Kraken and HUE+ listed. Basic information regarding the selected device such as liquid temperature, fan speed and pump speed etc can be seen here. Selecting the cog icon on the far right will allow further customisation of the selected device.
In the screenshot (above centre) we can see that we can adjust either the Settings for the Kraken or the HUE+. What we can also see is that the HUE+ is connected to three of the five supported fans on Channel 1. And, we can also see that Channel 1 is currently set to the Default Spectrum Wave profile, That’s the best profile BTW! 😉
Clicking on the Edit Setting option for the HUE+ takes us to the screen above right, it is here that you’ll likely spend a lot of your time as this is the main lighting control tab. As you can see there’s a whole host of modes and profiles, in fact the options are, once again somewhat daunting. You can even modify each and every profile customizing colours and timings, it’s all very impressive stuff.
The NZXT AER RGB fans are easy to recommend as there’s really very little to compare it against, especially when you factor in the features aboard the (required) NZXT HUE+. But then there’s the associated cost, both the fans and the HUE+ are quite expensive, but then again this level of customisation was never going to be cheap.
The NZXT AER RGB 120mm fans and the HUE+ arrived at pcG well packaged and presented. But once out of the box it was soon apparent that this was going to be a cabling nightmare. Luckily for us we had chosen to house all of this kit in one of NZXT’s own H440 cases, a case that we know has plenty of cable management space. All parts seem well made, especially the fans that look good even when not powered on.
If there was one issue with the NZXT AER RGB fans and the associated HUE+ it’s the installation. Trust me it’s tough, though this is not necessarily NZXT’s fault as there’s simply just a lot of cabling. This is especially the case with the fan cabling as you can bet your bottom dollar that the cable NZXT have supplied is either too long or too short. If, you want to do this right and do it better than I did, then this step of the build is going to be measured in hours and not minutes. You have been warned… 😉
But once that NZXT CAM software is installed and all of those fans are up and running, the pain of the install son fades. This then develops into a love affair of colour and control as what can be achieved with the AER RGB/HUE+ combination is simply amazing. It’s something that’s hard to describe here, but trust me you’re going to want to show all of your friends.
If your looking for an RGB setup then the HUE+ was already a damn good option, but now with the inclusion of these AER RGB fans it’s simply sublime. But there’s a couple of things we mustn’t forget: Installation is likely to be a nightmare, but as I’ve said before this is no necessarily NZXT ‘s fault. And this level of RGB customisation doesn’t exactly come cheap. Is it worth it then? Hell yes!
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Many thanks to NZXT for providing this sample for review