NZXT CAM and the GRID+ V2
The main advantage of moving to a digital fan controller is CAM, NZXT’s ever-growing control and management software. First introduced with their Kraken AIO liquid coolers, CAM has grown over the years to accommodate many functions; the GRID+ V2 being the latest.
I was nervous when I opened CAM for the first time. A prompt with those all-too-common words “Create Account” popped up immediately – I wasn’t excited about another Razer Synapse approach to obtaining the greatest functionality out my peripherals. Thankfully, NZXT makes this optional. A link to “Continue As Guest” is located directly below the “Register Now” button. Clicking that link generates a prompt that explains why an account would be helpful and what it enables, and allows a user to continue with the full functionality without signing up (other than the cloud/history data storage). I sincerely hope this NEVER changes! This is the right way to approach these sorts of things, rather than the Razer “you don’t actually need Synapse for your mouse to work/just kidding it’s necessary to change ANYTHING” approach. Kudos to NZXT for not forcing users to register an account just to use the full functionality of a device.
Full functionality indeed – even without signing in, CAM immediately displays a wealth of information about your machine. In fact, you don’t even need any NZXT peripherals to use CAM!! The default tab is the Dashboard which provides a quick overview of temperatures and load data of the CPU/GPU/HDD/Network etc. As a side note, ignore the CPU temp – AMD’s newer APUs use a thermal margin instead of a direct core temp; the only utility that seems to read this correctly is AMD’s Overdrive utility.
The Specs tab was more useful than I expected. I generally use CPU-Z or AIDA64 to get a quick snapshot of system specs; most of the same data is available in CAM. The Advanced tabs display what you would expect – RAM shows RAM timings/speeds, HDD shows S.M.A.R.T. data if applicable, Motherboard shows BIOS manufacturer/version etc.
Downloading CAM also gives users access to an in-game overlay that can show FPS, CPU/GPU temperatures, current graphics settings, and (surprisingly helpful) the current time! Again, this is a free utility that doesn’t require any NZXT accessory or account. We haven’t even gotten to the GRID+ V2 yet!
If you DO have any NZXT/CAM compatible devices they’ll show as additional tabs. Above is a snapshot of how the GRID+ V2 appears in CAM; the six different fan headers correspond to individual channels (which can be custom-named).
Clicking a fan channel will allow you to set a custom curve for that fan or pick from the typical Performance/Quiet settings. The custom controls available here rival most built-in fan controls on high-end motherboards – the GRID+ V2 could be an easy way to add this type of functionality to any board. Setting a custom fan curve is as easy as picking “Custom” from the drop down and dragging the points on the fan curve to match the settings you desire.
Notifications can be set for every system category. The “Load” notifications may not be terribly useful; the various temperatures only marginally more so, especially since they all come in the form of Windows notifications. A notification sent to a mobile device would be much more useful and would allow a user to monitor a system remotely (much more useful – it’s pretty easy to monitor a system when you’re already sitting right in front of it). This feature seems to be planned for release sometime in 2016 according to the NZXT GRID+ V2 product page:
- Full mobile control is planned to be released in 2016 on Android and iOS through our CAM Mobile platform.
Finally, a “Mini-CAM” mode keeps a quick overview handy in the corner of your screen. Hopefully the planned CAM Mobile has a similar feature – while it’s nice as an option, this type of information seems much more useful on a second screen.