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The NZXT Sentry LXE is quite possibly the best PC fan controller ever

The NZXT Sentry LXE is quite possibly the best PC fan controller ever

NZXT Sentry LXE Fan Controller

Summertime. It gets hot for PC owners. Sometimes, it gets really hot. Like here in Cleveland, where we had the second hottest July on record in 140 years. It was a little tough on my PC equipment. So, it’s hard not to use a lot of superfluous words to describe the NZXT Sentry LXE. Words like “absolutely brilliant,” “almost faultless,” and “the Cadillac of fan controllers.” Along with the heat being “face melting,” “AUGH!” and “just throw me in the freezer.”

Let’s start with what it is. It’s a fan controller that sits outside your system on your desk. It displays five channels of temperature and fan data, with a clock and date as well. The display housing is black with a brushed aluminum look. The brightness levels can’t be adjusted, but I found it to be just the right level; it’s not glaringly bright, nor is it too dim to read, even at a distance. The vertical viewing angles aren’t the greatest, so you’ll need to take care where you locate it, but horizontal is exceptional. But this isn’t NZXT’s fault especially—to improve the vertical would mean a much, much more expensive display. I had no issues, and it’s meant to be located below eye-level anyway—which is why it’s angled slightly upward. Two large rubber feet on the bottom of the Sentry LXE’s display also ensure it doesn’t slide all over the place or scratch up your desk. Still, they could use a bit more grip; easily done with some tape or rubber cement if you want to get fancy.

This is also one of its few faults. The polished chrome inner trim and black metal pick up two things really well—fingerprints and dust. Dust is easy, fingerprints are slightly less easy, but a damp cloth does the job. However, you don’t want to get the LCD display itself wet. You could damage it, but more importantly, you just end up with smears everywhere that make it unreadable. Instead, I used LCD wipes—the same ones I use for my monitors—and got good results there. Even with a lot of fingerpointink and blinkenlight touchink, the display remains perfectly readable unless you make the error cleaning it that I did.


The display itself also serves as your means for controlling your fans. That’s right, it’s a touch screen. The interface and layout is honestly so simple, that you don’t need a manual to set it up. It took me less than five minutes to figure it out, and it will take me less than five minutes to explain it: Press and hold the number of the channel, then use + and – to set the desired temperature. Press and hold the temperature to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Press and hold the clock and calendar to set time and date. You get the idea. The defaults are very reasonable, but you’ll probably change them anyway since they determine what RPM the fans are run at.

So you’d think there’s a bundle of wires going into your case, but there’s not. Instead, the actual controller itself is a card you can install in any available expansion slot. An 8 wire cables connects the display to this card, and is plenty long to reach almost anywhere on your desk—I didn’t take an exact measurement, but I had no trouble moving it all over my office. Your typical reach will probably be about four to five feet, and that’s with an extremely large EATX chassis. You can rest assured that you’ll have no trouble putting it where you want.
Connector panel for NZXT Sentry LXE
The card itself has a minor fault and a minor positive. I don’t like the fact that it has no edge extension so it can use a PCI or PCIe slot for additional support. But this also means that you can locate it in absolutely any expansion slot you have with no concerns.  It will just fit.

Finishing your installation brings to light one other minor complaint. The temperature sensors—all five of them are thin film bulbs—come as a single wire bundle. To put the sensors in different locations, you need to very carefully peel them apart. It’s really easy to split the pairs apart, and I accidentally did that on two sensors. I’d have rather they come as individual sensors. NZXT thought of that though, and included two individual sensors that don’t need split. But the five sensors are on one connector.

Rather than draw power from PCI or PCIe, you’ll need to connect a 4-pin Molex to the control card. Once you’ve done that, it’s really as simple as connecting fans to the provided cables, putting the temperature sensors near the appropriate fans, and turning your computer on. It’s that easy. Which allows me to point out my absolute favorite installation feature; all of the cables are labeled clearly. NZXT put silver tags marked FAN1 through 5 and TEMP1 through 5. There’s no need to carefully trace wires back, because you immediately know exactly which one it is. I also found one complaint about the older Sentry not handling S-Flex SFF21E fans—not true with the LXE. Almost all of my fans are SFF21E’s; no problems here.

NZXT Sentry LXE controller card

The Icrontic Golden FedoraObviously the big question is: will it keep my system cool and quiet like I want? The answer is a resounding yes. The Sentry LXE is very conservative in its settings—it prefers to run fans higher rather than lower—but still has no trouble keeping them quiet. Anyone with SFF21E’s will tell you—they can be pretty loud and definitely noticeable in a silent setup. After installing the Sentry LXE they were quieter, even when it was 110 degrees Fahrenheit in my office. The Sentry LXE tamed the noise and kept my system running well within acceptable temperatures.

To be honest, if you need a fan controller, you can’t do much better. But if you need a fan controller that costs less than $200 and isn’t designed specifically for watercooling? You can’t do any better than the Sentry LXE. You just can’t. Believe me, I searched high and low. I picked my way through every fan controller on the market, and simply could find no equal to the Sentry LXE. Especially for the value proposition—all these features will only set you back about $60. Which is why we’re happy to give the Sentry LXE the coveted Golden Fedora award; you simply can’t do better than NZXT has done here.

The NZXT Sentry LXE is available on Newegg and Amazon for $59.99.


  1. Thrax
    Thrax I want a system monitor that can poll a service to present data. The app can even poll the BIOS or something. I don't need it to work when the system first boots--I need it to work in the OS. I hate having to deal with the thermistors.
  2. Frenchie
    Frenchie This is really cool, I have been looking for a nice fan controller, and I just ordered a crap one since I didn't stumble upon this piece of beauty in time.

    The one thing I wish it had, is some sort of online controller, it sets up a server, and I forward my ports so I can control it when I am not at home, but I left my PC running for some reason.
  3. Tushon
    Tushon Nice writeup. I nearly pulled the trigger on a very similar device earlier in the year.
    even when it was 110 degrees Fahrenheit in my office. The Sentry LXE tamed the noise and kept my system running well within acceptable temperatures.

    You were at your office when it was 110F inside? That seems more like a sweatshop

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