Macpower DigiDoc 5+ review
This is the DigitalDoc (called DigiDoc more often than
not) 5+ from
MacPower. Unless you're completely new to the arena of overclocking, modding
and their ilk, the name should sound familiar to you. That's because they were
one of the first to produce a utility style drive bay unit.
The DigitalDoc 5+
What comes in the package
2003 saw the introduction of the newer DigiDoc 5+. The new 5+ carries the
tagline 'Extra Sensory Protection', has a slightly expanded feature set, comes
in a fetching finish of black or silver (plus the inescapable beige, of course)
and to their credit, MacPower have actually addressed a few of the main gripes
that users of the original DigiDoc had.
Firstly you had the LCD screen. Quality wasn't the problem, but all the cool
kids knew that blue was the way to go, not amber like the original. Fixed on the
LCD, front ports, switch, bells and
Then we have the fact that the DD installs into a 5.25” bay, but provides the
facility to install a 3.5” drive in the same bay. While a laudable design
feature, the extra cooling provided by the puny 40mm fan was fairly ineffectual.
Gone is the fan to be replaced by two USB 2.0 ports and a firewire connection,
complete with concealing door.
Mostly pre-connected out of the box, check out the
Thirdly, a main feature of the DD product has always been it's thermal
protection by way of fan activation and audible alarm. In the original version
this would occur at 50ºC, then revert to inactive when dropping below that. In
practice that meant that the 'hotspots' being monitored would reach the critical
temperature, activate the fans and alarm, cool to a fraction below 50ºC, and
thus the cycle would repeat. That has been tackled by the introduction of user
definable 'critical' temps which have a 5% tolerance and activate the
corresponding fan channel at 3ºC above the critical temp. For example, if you
chose 60º as your critical temp, the alarm and fan would activate at 63, then
deactivate when the 'hotspot' dropped back to 57degrees (60, less 5%). A much
better design for real world use.
As Lazy mentioned in his review of the
Function Panel, a screeching alarm can be a tad annoying, especially when
you prefer the set and forget method. So now the DD 5+ comes with a manual
switch, so you can decide whether to use the audible alarm or not.
Specifications as listed on the
|You can simultaneously gauge the
temperature, monitor voltage, and monitor the fans of up to eight different
system devices with Macpower's DigitalDoc5+, also known as DD5+. These unit
safeguards your system from overheating and protect you from losing valuable
data or hardware.
- Number of Fans: Maximum 8pcs (3pin connector)
- Max Fan Rating: 1000mA or 12 Watts per fan channel
- Fan Voltage: 12V
- Fan Size: 60-120mm
- Number of Sensors: Maximum 8pcs (2pin connector)
- Resistance: Between 0K and 15K Ohm
- Accuracy: Plus minus 1 Degree
- Temperature Range: 0-90 degree celcius or 32-194
- Power Sources: Both DC +5V and +12V sources
||One free 5.25" bay plus power
||None, unit is OS independant!
||Any DC +12V power source (regular
||19.3cm x 14.8m x 4.2cm
- Digital Doc 5+
- Thermal Sensors (2pcs round, 6pcs flat)
- Thermal Tape
- Manual, screw package, USB/Firewire extension cable,
- Retail Box Size: 29.0cm x 19.0cm x 4.5cm
- Carton Size: 61.0cm x 44.0cm x 43.0cm within 40pcs
- G.W. 27.2kg
||** USB ports function as extension not as hub
Something that impressed me was that MacPower pretty much include all the cables
that you'll need to get the most out your DD5+.
It's not that big a deal, but the DD5+ is no longer the Mac daddy of the drive
bay utility crowd. Others have long since stepped in to contend for the crown,
so the little things do make a difference. Another nice little touch is the
colour coding of the thermal probe cables, matched by the colour coding of the
fan connectors. When you count 8 probes, 8 fans, 2 USB connections, firewire and
the connections between the system and the DD itself, things can quickly turn
into a rat's nest. Once again, every little helps.
Colour coded cables for differentiation, a nice
Of course, cables to hook the USB and firewire ports up to the motherboard are
included and I would expect nothing less. Most (if not all) motherboards now
come with USB headers, and firewire is not uncommon, but the board being bundled
with the necessary cables to connect them to a device such as the DD 5+ is far
What the DD5+ actually comes with is a cable to connect to USB headers on the
motherboard, a cable to hook up to internal or external USB connectors and a
cable to hook up to internal or external firewire connectors. A good move on
MacPower's part is that they have provided enough cable length to reach out the
back of the average case and leave a little for routing.
USB and firewire connector cables, standard stuff.
Handy 4 to 3 pin adapters, another nice touch.
And of course the cables to hook up the unit.
The first thing I did is set up the DD5+ externally and connect a variety of
fans to test the force feature (seeing as I don't really have space for that
amount of fans in my case).
Ready for liftoff.
What we have here is one 80mm fan (0.13A), one stock P4 heatsink with 80mm fan
(0.28A), one 92mm fan (0.24A) and five 120mm beasties (0.45A). After I hit the
force button, everything powered up without issue. No surprises, no
disappointments. You can also see what a rat's nest of cabling you're likely to
end up with and start to appreciate nice little touches like colour coded cables.
An unfortunate and inescapable fact is that when you use an LCD display in an
application like this, you're going to have a limited viewing angle.
Not too bad...
Going the other way...
One very interesting thing I've noticed is the optimum viewing angle. Unusually
the LCD seems to look at it's best when looking down on it from somewhere
between (roughly) 5º and 50º above the horizontal, rather than straight on. Even
looking at it straight along the horizontal gives a slightly dimmed readout
which rapidly deteriorates when moving lower.
This seems ideal for an item that will probably sit just below your eyeline if
your PC sits on your desk (as is the case in my current situation), or at an
angle of about 45º below horizontal in that other most popular position for the
PC, under the desk.
I'm not sure if this is just a quirk or whether MacPower have actually designed
the DD5+ this way. If they did, very nice move by MacPower.
Moving from one side to the other indicates that the DD5+ has a much less
forgiving viewing angle along the horizontal than along the vertical.
More tests and conclusion
Setup is pretty much a no brainer. You should be able to
get the DD5+ up and running within just a couple of minutes (excluding
connection time, of course). In addition, you should be quite familiar with the
system shortly after that. Fans and power come connected out of the box. You do
however have to connect the USB, firewire cables and thermal probes yourself.
The space you have to do this in is quite tight, especially for the thermal
It's tight in the rear.
MacPower have also printed the manual with a 'Thermal Sensor Worksheet' on the
back cover, so you can keep track of where you've put each thermal sensor, the
details of the corresponding fan and whether or not it has RPM sensing (since if
it doesn't, RPM sensing will have to be shut off manually on that fan). Once
again, not a big deal but a nice touch none the less.
Time to break out the temperature probe on one of my DMMs. What I used to test
was my graphics card. The cooling isn't exactly great (I should really do
something about that :p) so I attached a couple of thermal probes from the DD5+
(one of each type) and the thermal probe from my DMM to the all in one heatsink
that cools both the GPU and the RAM. What I got were pretty much identical
readings on both DD5+ readout and the DMM (±0.4º). So, I'd happily describe that
as reasonably accurate.
Now a little fan activation action.
Pretty much no surprises here. The readout for the thermal probe stayed with
±1.5ºC of my DMM readings and the fan activated when the temp hit the value I
had set. Then, since I was holding a (
now running) 120mm a few cm from the 'hotspot' the temp inevitably started to
drop. When it hit 5% below the value I had setup, the fan deactivated. Well,
near enough. I found the deactivation point actually had a tendency to switch
off early, but only by an amount of about 0.4º, so I'm not going to unleash a
large amount of criticism for that.
The audible alarm also behaved exactly as expected, coming on when the temp of
the 'hotspot' reached 3º above the set value and then again after a rise of a
Fan rotation monitoring
I used a very simple method of trying out the fan rotation monitor. I just
disconnected the fan, the DD5+ saw that as the fan dropping below 500RPM and the
I thought I'd get a little more sophisticated as well by connecting a
potentiometer across the 12V line of the fan. As I upped the resistance and
reduced the voltage the fan dropped below 500RPM and the alarm did indeed go off
as expected. However I did discover one of the DD5+'s more annoying traits at
this point. The unit displays all information by 'scanning' through everything.
It's impossible to get it to sit on one reading until you tell it to move to the
next one. This is especially frustrating when monitoring fan speed. With the
temperature probes you can manually scan through the probe readouts, but you
only get to see RPM readouts when the system is in scan mode and spending just a
few seconds on each readout.
But, the fan speed alarm does work as expected so green across the board here as
Power tolerance monitoring
As mentioned earlier, I found the voltage readings to be fairly accurate when
compared to the readings I was taking with my DMM. But now it's time to test the
voltage monitors alarm function. The only way I could think of to achieve this
is to again employ a pot, this time on the 12V and 5V lines between the PSU and
Testing the different ±V tolerance settings for the 5V and 12V lines I pretty
much found everything to be right on the money.
Temperature, fan and voltage, the DD5+ is doing well, three for three.
After using the DigitalDOC5+ for a while I can certainly say it's a good quality
product. But is good good enough? As I mentioned earlier, MacPower have long
since had their monopoly on the utility bay destroyed and there are lots of
other companies after your cash.
So what is there to set the DD5+ apart from the pack?
For a start, you get to monitor 8 hotspots and have both manual and automated
fan control over corresponding fans. Fan throttling would have been a really
nice addition, but I don't think that's really a realistic proposition without a
price hike. Which brings me to a negative point. The DD5+ is not all that common
(at least not here in the UK). If you do find somewhere that sells it, you'll
pay at least as much as other utility bay devices, if not more.
On another plus point, there is the hardware monitoring of your 5V and 12V rails,
which do the job quite accurately I think. Something you don't really see in
other similar products.
I could list the nested 3.5” bay as a plus point, but I don't think I will. I
can tell just by looking at it that installing anything in that bay is going to
cause you at least some small headaches.
Finally, the aesthetics. I neither like nor dislike the look of the DD5+. The
plain black styling will probably fit a lot of cases, and you've always got the
silver (if you can get a hold of it).
- Colour coded cable management.
- Larger number of available thermal probes and fan
- 5V and 12V monitoring.
- Alarm switch.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Can be difficult to hook up certain connections.
- Can't 'sit' on one readout.
Overall, if you actually have enough case fans to justify a controller that can
handle eight, or a good reason to scrutinse your system, then the DigitalDOC 5+
is well worth a look. The unit gives the impression of a very mature device, not
as frivolous in appearance as others.
If you're just looking for a basic fan controller and temp sensor, there are
other models out there that are both cheaper and better looking.
Macpower DigiDoc 5
Price: ~NZ$150 (Digital
Doc 5, Sort costs kr. 594,- in Norway)
The other day I was wandering through my local Dick Smith
Electonics store, and was very surprised to see a package on the shelf that
resembled a DigiDoc 5. I picked it up and lo and behold it was a MacPower
DigiDoc 5, albeit in DSE packaging. The unit is priced at $153.00
Considering the rarity of this kind of hardware in New
Zealand, I just had to take it home to have a play. As usual, many thanks go to
Marty from DSE New Plymouth for the loan.
Most of you should know what the DigiDoc 5 is; but for the
both of you out there that don't, it's a very fancy fan controller. The DigiDoc
5 is a temperature sensor and fan controller. The model I have is a 4-way
controller, but an 8-way model is available. A quote from the manual sums it up
quite nicely: "The new generation of DigiDoc 5 thermal sensor is the only
automatic monitor of system temperature, fans, and voltage, simultaneously
scanning eight temperature settings and eight fans, as well as the stability of
the +5v and +12v VDC power supply."
What is in the Box!
- The DigiDoc 5 unit
- 4 x temperature probes
- 4 x fan control wires
- 1 x 3 pin to 4 pin Molex converter
- Various mounting screws
- Spare filter for the 40mm fan
- Thermal tape to stick the temperature probes down
- Manual in PDF form on a CD
||Any +12 VDC power source,
standard 4-pin Molex connectors
|Monitoring Temperature Ranges
|Number of Temperature Sensors
|Temperature Sensors Accuracy
||+/- 1 C
|Maximum fan Rating
||1Amp or 12Watts per fan
|Maximum Number of fans
||1 Built-in 40mm fan
7 Additional Fans
|40 x 40mm Built In fan rating
||0.04 Amps or 0.5 Watts
|Power Source Monitored
||Both +5 and +12 VDC sources
What it does
The DigiDoc 5 is designed to fit into any spare 5¼ bay on
your PC, and while a few of you might moan about the loss of a 5¼ bay, the unit
has a HDD bay behind the front bezel. This means that you can install one of
your HDD's behind the unit and therefore not completely lose the functionality
of the bay. A nice feature of the DigiDoc 5 is the incorporation of a 40mm fan
onto the front of the DigiDoc 5, allowing some cooling for your HDD mounted
there. Granted, a 40mm fan does not push a lot of air over your HDD, but any air
flow is better than none. A nice touch was the supply of a dust filter with the
40mm fan, and even better, was the inclusion of a spare filter.
The primary aim of the DigiDoc 5 is to aid in the
monitoring of the fans and temperatures in your system, with a secondary aim of
helping keep your system quiet. Each temperature probe attached to the DigiDoc 5
has an associated fan, and when the temperature set for a temperature probe is
reached, the DigiDoc 5 will turn on the associated fan to cool the system down.
The temperature for each "bus" is defaulted to 50C but is
tuneable from 1C to 100C. You have the option of having a certain fan on all the
time, or only when a pre-defined temperature is reached. This has to be a good
thing, as it means that you can have all the fans on your system off by default,
and when your system reaches your predefined temperatures, turn the fans on one
by one, and only when needed to help keep the noise down. The DigiDoc 5 will
sound an audible beep when the temperature set for any given channel is reached,
and will sound another alert if the temperature rises 5C above your set
The DigiDoc 5 also monitors the RPM of your fans and will
once again alert you with an audible beep when the RPM of any channel drops
below 500 RPM. It will also flash the suspect fan channel on the display to help
you work out where the problem is occurring. This has to be especially helpful
with you CPU fan.
A word of warning if you plan to attach your CPU fan to
the DigiDoc 5, be aware that by default all channels on the DigiDoc 5 unit are
set to turn the fans on when the associated temperature probe reads 50oC, so
your CPU fan will not spin up until the probe reads 50C. The first thing you
should do when installing your DigiDoc 5 and connecting your CPU fan to the unit
is set the fan channel for your CPU to "On", more on this later.
Installing the DigiDoc 5
The first thing I can say about installing the DigiDoc 5
is print and the read the manual. Seriously, read the manual. I did not read it
at first, and it makes life easier if you do. Since its only 23 pages in length
it's not going to kill a tree, or your budget. The manual is supplied as a PDF
on the included CD.
I installed my HDD behind the unit to see if there were
any issues with the installation of a HDD in the DigiDoc 5. I can say that the
only issue I had was a minor one: There were too many cables running down the
left side of the unit from the front display. This made putting the screws in
the left side of the HDD difficult, but not impossible.
Before mounting my HDD, I connected the temperature probes
to the pins assigned for them on the back of the unit. The manual recommends
attaching a sticker or label to each temperature probe, identifying it. I can
say that this is definitely a good idea, it's very hard to differentiate the
identical black temperature probes once the unit is installed and you can no
longer trace the wires back to the pins.
There are two different types of temperature
probes supplied, a bulb type and a flat type. The flat probe will quite happily
slide in between your CPU and heatsink (provided you don't use a shim). I don't
know if there is any difference in the working or reliability between the two
types but time will tell I guess.
Getting the unit and all its cabling into your case can be
somewhat of a mission, there is potentially up to 17 wires coming out of this
unit when it's loaded to the hilt. Stuffing all of this into a 5¼ bay while
manoeuvring the unit, with your precious HDD mounted into it, is an art form. It
was tricky enough with the setup I had, with only 4 temperature probes, 4 fan
control wires and the power supply cable.
Once placed into the bay, it is a simple matter of
securing it into place with the included screws, and connecting a spare 4 pin
molex HDD power cable to the DigiDoc 5 for power. Don't forget to re-attach your
IDE and power cables to your HDD.
The manual contains a "worksheet" which I would recommend
filling out. It is a simple sheet that lists all the fan channels, and has a
section for you to fill in which fan you connect to each channel, and whether
that fan supports RPM monitoring.
Once you have installed the DigiDoc 5 into your spare 5¼
bay, it's a simple (!) matter of attaching a fan to each channel, and finding
somewhere to attach the associated temperature sensor. Once you have
accomplished this feat, you should have a PC whose internals resembles the floor
under the computer-room at work. With all of the cables this unit sprouts, your
PC will get very messy, a few cable ties should see you right though. The fan
control cables have the small 3 pin type connectors, but a single 3 to 4 pin
converter is supplied. Since most fans supplied nowadays use the 3 pin connector
it should not really be an issue.
Once the Unit has been installed in your PC,
and you turn your PC on, you will be greeted by a quite horrid orange coloured
LCD display. This can be turned off luckily, as I can only describe the colour
as garish. GideonTech have an article up on modding your DigiDoc 5 to have a
blue LCD light, but remember that this will void your warranty. Check out
for the modding article.
Setting the unit to function how you want
is an easy enough affair, but I thought that while the manual is well written
and clear, the unit does not really seem intuitive to setup and tune.
Press the Setup button, and you can set whether you want
Fahrenheit or Celsius for your temperature display, pressing Setup will cycle
through all eight channels allowing you to set the "alarm" temperature to each
channel using the up and down arrows.
Once you have set the temperatures, you move onto the fan
settings. This is where I found it can be a little bit confusing, there are two
settings for each fan: RPM monitoring, and rotation override settings. The RPM
monitoring settings are: En for Enabled, and Dis for Disabled, easy enough to
understand. But the rotation override settings are: On for always on, and Off
for allowing the fan to be controlled by the temperature. This is easy enough to
cope with for a single fan, but if you have a full complement of eight fans
running, and have to step through 16 sets of En, Dis, On, Off, it can become
After adjusting your fans to your desired settings, you get to the voltage
monitoring side of things. You have the option to select how closely you want to
monitor your +5V and +12V lines. There are options for +0.25, +0.50, +0.75 and
+1.0V on the 5V line and +0.60, +1.2, +1.8 and +2.4 V on the 12V line. I set
+0.5 and +1.2 as the default settings of +0.25 and +0.60 were too fussy.
Pressing the Scan button while in setup mode toggles the LCD backlight between
always on and on when pressing a button. To exit the setup mode, do not press a
button for 5 seconds.
Operation of the
The DigiDoc 5 has 3 modes of operation: Normal, Scan and
Setup. Normal mode is the mode that you will use the DigiDoc 5 in for most of
its life. In Normal mode, the unit will cycle through all eight channels
displaying the temperature of each channel in turn for 5 seconds. It will
display the fan status for the displayed channel, as well as the status of the
+5V and +12V PSU lines, and what fans are currently running. In Scan mode, the
unit will scan through all the temperature sensor values and fan speeds for each
channel. It will cycle through all the temperatures first, followed by the RPM
values, and then it will revert back to Normal Mode. Scan mode is invoked by
pressing the Scan Button whilst in Normal Mode. Setup mode we have already
covered, so I will skip that here.
The only complaint that I really have with the DigiDoc 5
is there is only one temperature setting, this means that the fan will turn on
at your pre-defined temperature, and off again when the temperature drops below
your threshold. Experience has shown me that this meant the DigiDoc 5 was
altering the temperature all of 0.1C, and here's why:
Say you have probe 4 set to turn the fan on when your
video card reaches 35C. Fan four will turn on when probe 4 hits 35C just like
it's supposed to. The fan will then spin up, push air over your video card, cool
the Video card to 34.9, and the fan will then spin down because the DigiDoc 5
sees the temperature has dropped below your set threshold, your video card then
heats up again, hits 35C, and you're back on a repeat cycle. This seems silly to
me. The addition of a second temperature for turning off a fan seems like a good
idea. Take our above example, with a second temperature set to 28C. Probe 4 hits
35C and turns the fan on, the fan will then stay on until the second temperature
is reached, ie 28C, when your video card has been cooled to the specified
temperature, the fan will switch off.
The DigiDoc 5 does exactly what it is supposed to, and
does it well. There are a few things I would like to have seen added to the
DigiDoc 5, and perhaps these will appear in a future version. If you have lots
of fans in your system, and are plagued by a noisy system then you really cant
go wrong with the DigiDoc 5, it is a great piece of equipment that should really
be installed in any serious overclocker's case.
- Keeps system quiet
- Keeps system cool
- Piece of mind on your fan control
- Nice looking front Bezel
- Fan cooled HDD bay behind unit
- Monitors your PSU lines for fluctuations
- Ugly orange backlighting on the LED (can be turned
- Tricky to install initially
- Not entirely intuitive to setup
DigitalDoc 5 Review (Black version)
we are taking a closer look on the famous DigitalDoc 5, which is kindly
supplied by one of our sponsors - Case-mod. Most of you people may have
already heard about it, or even owning one (or two:)). If you doesn't know
what exactly it does.. first, it allows you to monitor 8 devices via 8
temperature sensor. Two, it controls 8 fans when to become active. Third, it
allows you to monitor +5 and +12 system voltage. And lastly it makes your case
look a lot cooler:)
- Support for Hi-Performance 120MM fans: The
new DigitalDoc5 now supports 60 MM to 120MM Hi-Performance fans. Up to 12
Watts or 1000mA!
- Scan all temperatures and RPM speeds
continuously: The new DigitalDoc5 can be set to scan all available
temperature channels and RPM speeds continuously. Good for keeping an eye
on an important heat source during heavy usage.
- Especially suitable for DIY applications,
Gamers, Overclockers and PC Enthusiasts, the DigitalDoc5 can be used with
RAID towers, servers, Industrial PCs, and personal computers.
- Monitoring temperature range: 0-100 degrees
C (32-212 F). User can adjust the set-point value. If the temperature
reaches the set-point, the fan for that channel is automatically activated;
after the fan has been turned on, if the temperature continues to rise (an
additional 5 degrees C), the unit will issue a warning signal.
- Monitors both +5 and +12 VDC power sources;
the power tolerance warning can be set to any of four values: 5%, 10%,
15%, and 20%.
No batteries required; connects directly to your equipment's +12 VDC power
- LCD back-lighting function convenient for
diagnostic work and for adjusting the settings. Back-lighting function can
be set to always be on, or to just be on when in use, reducing electricity
use and environmental energy needs.
- Uses EEPROM memory chip to save all
settings. When equipment is turned on, there is no need to re-enter
- Unit easily installs in any 5.25"
opening; takes up almost no space.
- All connected fans can be activated when the
power is turned on, or only a portion of them. This reduces energy
consumption and creates a quieter work environment.
- Comes with override fan control function.
User can turn on fan at any time with the FORCE function, without having
to wait for the temperature to rise.
- Facilitates objective scientific analysis or
MIS investigation; quickly clarifies problem source in equipment or
- The DigitalDoc5 temperature sensor acts as
early warning system by checking temperature levels every 40 seconds. Any
computer device that generates even modest heat has the capacity to
overheat without warning and destroy valuable data or hardware.
- Temperatures are displayed on a front-panel
readout so you know the exact temperature of any device in your system at
- Should any device begin to overheat, the
DigitalDoc5 activates up to eight cooling fans, immediately bringing the
system temperatures down and at the same time alerting you by lighting the
"WARNING" - "TOO HI" LED displays and sounding a
continuous beeper, all in time for you to take preventative action to
- Should a fan in any device fail, dangerously
high temperatures can develop rapidly. The DigitalDoc's fan monitor tracks
each fan's rpm signal. If the fan begins to die, this warning system gives
you time to replace it before damage occurs.
let me tell you, theres a lot of cables included with this unit with each cable
measures 1 metre. Imagine having 17 of these in your case.. Look at this pic to
know what I mean:
fan cable that I'm talking about
require a serious cable cleaning after installing this unit. If you have smaller
case, you'll having problem to hide the cables. But thank God, my l337 case
cleaning skillz helps cleaning the cables in my case:
can mount the probes to anywhere in your case (even outside your case). I've put
the probes in these location:
Vid card GPU
Vid card RAM
fan also installed in that location. I've programmed the fan to run only at
|Vid Card GPU
|Vid Card RAM
your fan to run at certain temperature
power high powered fan (up to 1000mA)
looking - gives your case high tech look
different color to choose - beige, black, silver
- too expensive (to me at least)
turns on/off your fans - can get a little annoying hearing your fans running
of cables - can block airflow
to use at the first time - takes some time to learn the functions