When a company launches a product which offers more functionality and better features then previous versions you’d expect a higher price ticket. Well guess again, Matrix Orbital
pulls a bright rabbit out their hat with their latest LED display in their MX series.
The MX6 is brighter, cooler, boast better specifications and comes at a lower price. How is this possible, and is the MX6 any good? Read on to find out.SpecificationsMX6 DimensionsModule size: L116xW37xH27.5mm
Display size: L18.2xW82.2mm
Display & Module Details
Character lines: 2x20
Character Size: 5.5x3.2mm
Background color: Black
Text color: Yellow/Green
7 function buttons
three 3-pin fan connectors
small 4-pin power connector
1 internal & 1 external USB connector
4 temperature sensor connectors
LED indicator connector
“in the box”
When you purchase the standard MX6 unit you’ll receive the following items:
the MX6 unit
external USB cable
CD with LCDC software and installation manual
The external USB cable is long enough to pass through an empty PCI slot and loop back so you can plug it in an empty USB port. The unit is mounted with 2 screws on each side in the case. Cases which use rail systems for installation of 5”25 drivers might have problems properly seating the MX6.
There is a quick install manual included, but the real descriptive one is to be found on the mini CD which also holds the latest version of the LCDC software (LCD Control Software), updates and newer version can be downloaded at the LCDC website. A sticker on the CD has a number which allows you to fetch a serial at the LCDC website so you can register the application and have full functionality.
The forums at Matrix Orbital and LCDC provide a rich resource for tips and tricks, problem solving and news updates.
Optionally you can also buy these upgrades and expansions:
internal USB cable
LED indicators expansion
The internal USB cable is nicely finished but a tad too short, even in a midi-tower case you’ll run into problems attaching the cable. The extra LED indicator panel may seem redundant as you have 2x20 characters on the LCD to play with, but for warning report and events the LEDs can come in handy. New email, or CPU becoming too hot can be easily set to report by lighting up one on the LEDs. Making a nice front for the 3 LEDs is left up to the user and gives you freedom to place them where you need them, but it requires a bit more work to get everything installed.
A total of four temperature sensors can be attached to the unit, the two we received were quite accurate and displayed changes in temperature almost immediately. The heads of the sensors are too big to slide between CPU and heatsink, but they are small enough to fit between the heatsink’s fins.
These extras make the MX6 a truly multifunctional panel and you’d have a hard time finding a similar product out there.
Installation and provided software
After you plugged in the USB cable and started your computer you’re halfway through the installation already, make sure that your USB port delivers at least 500mA, some un-powered USB hubs will only provide ~150mA which is not enough to power the unit.
If you want to use the 3-pin fan connectors you also better hook up the “floppy” power connector, otherwise you’re stuck with a maximum fan voltage of 5v. By swapping the location of a small jumper you can chose between 5v and 12v, per connector you can hook up fans with a maximum amperage of 1000mA, exactly the amount the Vantec Tornado 92mm draws, so you definitely have enough power. PWM (pulse width modulation) is used to control the speed of the fans, this method allows you to run the fans at very low speeds. The PWM frequency can be changed through software in Windows and gives you further fine tuning possibilities to silence the fans connected to the unit.
Once in Windows there will be an unknown device detected, the drivers on the mini CD help you out here. The manual describes the software side of the installation clearly and everything was up on running and the LCD display came to life. If you’re feeling adventurous you can get the display to work under Linux, but nothing is said about this in the manual, better to visit their support forums for this if you are not sure about your tweaking and fiddling skills.
We did run into a small problem, a software conflict between the virtual com-port of the MX6 and the virtual com-port of a Sony-Ericsson docking station. De-installing the docking station software resolved the issue, and afterwards that software was reinstalled and configured to create another “free” virtual com-port.
The LCDC software is especially geared towards Matrix Orbital displays, at start-up you are greeted by a wizard which helps you configure the Control panel so it can communicate with the MX6 unit.
Going into the configuration mode of the software you can add a proxy server, configure the temp probes, set the LCD brightness, add/remove plug-ins, and calibrate the function buttons and much more. When we first hooked up the MX6 one of the buttons refused to work, a quick email to their support and in less then 24 hours they sent a solution; simply move the keypad connector at the back of unit one pin the left or right. After having done this, all the keys worked flawlessly!
Once you are happy with your settings you should head towards the “screen builder” section of LCDC. With the screen builder you control what should appear on the LCD, there are some demo sets included and by seeing how things are done, you soon learn how to customize everything, making animated icons and flashy Winamp steered visualizers.
On the mini CD you find tutorial for getting started with the LCDC software and at their support forums there are tons more of those. Although the multitude of options may seem daunting at first, figuring out what options control what actions on the display is not too difficult.
What does the display of the MX6 look like and what is a PLED, all is revealed on the next page ->