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Thermaltake Hardcano 13

Date: May 19, 2006
Author(s): Drew Smith

What’s a computer without a cool front panel? Thermaltake’s Hardcano is more than just a cool LED light. It allows you to control up to four fans and also keep track of four sensors. How well does it work? Read on…



Introduction

Keeping a good watch over temperatures is a major concern for today’s computer users, even more so for those users still using the air cooling method. Components run at high speed and are pushing more power than ever before. These increases in speed and performance are great but they result in the computer’s number one enemy… HEAT! Today we are looking at the Hardcano 13 from Thermaltake. The Hardcano allows the user to monitor up to 4 component temperatures and control 4 fans to help keep those temps down.

The first thing I noticed about the Hardcano 13 was the construction of the chassis; it is very sturdy. I have seen products similar to this one in the past and they were rather flimsy and no where near as strong as the Hardcano. This product is definitely manufactured to last. Included in the box are the power cables, fan connectors, thermal probes and thermal tape, everything needed to take complete control over your computers internal temperatures.

Specifications

Thermaltake’s Hardcano 13 offers the same basic features that the Hardcano 12 did. Such as four temperature sensors, four fan controllers and an audible/visual alarm function. The Hardcano 13 also has an extra aesthetic function, a very bright backlit LED display with eight different color options to chose from, which allows the user to customize the Hardcano to their system without dropping extra cash on face plates or painting.

Tharmaltake has also provided the user with some additional functionality by incorporating a 6-in-1 card memory card reader into the unit. This product can read your CF, SM, MMC, SD, MS, MS PRO, and Microdrive memory cards. The addition of the card reader and backlit display to the already proven design of the fan controllers and temperature sensors makes this product sound great but let’s see what it is like to install and use.


Installation, Testing

When you first unpack the Hardcano 13, the sheer mess of the wires (fan control, temperature probes, and power cables) makes it seem like this installation is not going to be any walk in the park. Trying to make sense of that tangled mess certainly caused me a great deal of confusion at first, but after I cleared off some desk space and I paired the fan control wires with their temperature sensor counter-parts the installation became more and more clear. For best results the manual recommends that you pair up the wires so that the correct temperature will be displayed with the correct fan on the LED display.

After all the parts were organized the installation was fairly simple, just connect the fan control cable from the Hardcano to the wires from the computer’s fans. The temperature sensors were a bit more involved, placement of the probes themselves wasn’t hard but getting your fingers into those tight spaces to put the tape down securely was a bit of a challenge but nothing a little patience couldn’t solve.

Testing the Hardcano was very simple and it performed very well, I compared the Hardcano’s temperature readings to the readings from Lavalys Everest Ultimate edition monitoring software. Each of the Temperature readings from the program and the Hardcano were exactly the same. The only differences occurred when the temperatures fluctuated; the Hardcano would have an immediate result where it would take Everest a few seconds to catch up.

The alarm warning function of the Hardcano works very well, I deliberately set the alarm temperature to a very low setting and ran Super PI (to 32 million) and Prime 95 FFT torture test in order to increase the CPU temp enough to trigger the alarm.

This product lets you know if there is a problem in a hurry. As soon as the alarm temperature is exceeded the backlit display on the Hardcano turns and flashes red and the alarm’s audible warning system kicks in. the only thing I didn’t like about the alarm function is the limited number of temperature levels you only have four choices that you can set your alarm to; 40, 50, 60, or 70 degrees.

Using the memory card reader functions of the Hardcano 13 is as simple as using any other card reader. Connect the USB cord from the Hardcano to the USB connectors on your motherboard and you can start using the card readers.

Another convenient feature of the Hardcano is the fan speed adjuster. There are 2 settings on the Hardcano you can use to adjust your fan’s speeds, Automatic or Manual. When in the automatic setting the Hardcano will automatically adjust your fan speed when the temperature increases in order to maintain a stable operating temperature. In the manual setting the, user has complete control over the operating speeds of their fans, faster for better cooling or slow for more sound efficient operation.

Conclusions

The Thermaltake Hardcano 13 is a great product for anyone on air cooling looking to keep a close on their computer’s internal temperatures and have control over those temperatures with control over your fan speeds. The Hardcano also adds great looks to your high-end gaming rig and the buttons are slim enough to fit behind any case door. The only room for improvement I can see for this product is it does cause your case to become a little cluttered with wires and I found the price above other similar products. If you want one that will last the Hardcano is worth the extra cash.

For its great functionality and its simplicity of use, I am giving the Thermaltake Hardcano 13 an 8 out of 10 on the Techgage scale.

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