Today I bring you the NEW MX2 kit from Matrix Orbital. It is the new version of the last MX2 kit that I reviewed here. You may say 'oh well it looks the same', in which case you'd be correct, because it's not the looks that they've been working on, it's the behind the scenes stuff, the extra features on the PCB. 'What are they?' I hear you cry, well you'll just have to keep reading to find out.
Now I will give you some blurb about what you can do with this unit, the specifications are just about the same as the last MX2, but you don't want to see those again do you?! The new MX2 is available in a variety of colours, some of whith are coming up later, and in 3 different bay inserts. You can get it in a black bay insert, a beige, or a brushed silver aluminium finish (no buttons on this one). You can use the LCD for just about anything you can think of (within reason ;). You can do all the same as you can with the other Matrix Orbital LCDs, such as monitoring system statistics, Winamp information and visualisations, SETI statistics, network statistics, weather, news, game server information, FPS information, and now a new Windows Media Player plugin for LCDC. The difference with this unit is that it has temperature sensors and RPM sensing fan headers built in! Thats right folks, you can now sense temperature and control fans with your LCD, but not only on and off, but they can be controlled via PWM as well, and the RPM monitoring still works when using it! How cool is that?! More on these new features coming up later.
The kit I ordered this time was the MX212, the inverse blue display the same as last time, but I do have 1 of the other colours as well which I will show you later, to help you make your choice if you decide to purchase one of these amazing units.
One thing I noticed with this kit is the improvement in the packaging, no longer is the display just bubble wrapped in a cardboard box with a logo on the top, now Matrix Orbital have created professionally printed boxes that really help the presentation of the unit, it looks much nicer, although not all retailers will have this retail box.
Nice isn't it? Anyway, once you open this you'll find a nice colour printed quick installation guide to get you started as quickly as possible.
The display has a strip of paper across the display, as usual, to protect the front of the screen from any scratches during transit. The bay insert is the same as in the last kit, so it has the same nice matt finish.
They have also included a neat mini-cd with this kit, which again improves the presentation. Notice there is a USB cable already attached to the display to complete the kit, so you have everything you need to be up and running as quickly as possible. Now we're going to take a look at the back of the display, it's a lot different from the last MX2 kit that I reviewed.
Woah! Look at all those extra connectors. The 4 white connectors down the left hand side are for connecting external temperature probes, and the 3 red connectors are advanced GPOs for connecting fans. The white connector below the red ones is a floppy style molex connector which is used to provide the extra power needed for the fans, as you obviously cant power them from the USB port of your PC. To the right of the floppy connector are the pin-outs for your other 3, normal, GPOs. Then you have the keypad header, the USB TX/RX led headers and the USB connections, as on the previous version of the MX2 kit.
Above is a close-up of the aformentioned headers. Below is a shot of my unit with all the cables connected, rather busy isn't it?!
As you can see, the usb cable is using the pins behind the normal connector, this is because I am using the internal USB cable that Matrix Orbital provide as an accessory. One end plugs into the LCD as shown, and the other end is separated into 1pin connectors, so that you can put each line in the right place for your particular motherboard, this way compatibility is assured for all motherboards. The flat ribbon cable you see there is for another accessory that is available from Matrix Orbital, it is the Indicator LED bus (shown below). This makes use of your last 3 GPOs by connecting LEDs to them to allow you to setup LCDC to use the LEDs to notify you upon events of your choosing.
The Indicator LED bus is designed to be mounted in a drive bay, using the template provided. The LEDs have bezels on, so all you're doing is drilling holes for the bezels and then they will hold the PCB in place. The LEDs are blue of course, but they are rather bright, and a nice colour!
Please note, neither the Indicator LED bus or the internal USB cable are included with the MX2 kit, they both need to be ordered as extra accessories. Now, onto using LCDC with these new features!