Review: Maxspect Gyre 200 Series Advanced Controller

When the original gyre hit the market back in late 2014 we were among the first to review one running in a ‘real world’ reef setting. Now, nearly 2 years down the line, we are happy to report that we’ve kept our unit as a permanent fixture and to be fair it hasn’t missed a beat (even with perhaps less than ideal cleaning frequency on our part). We were pretty excited therefore when we learned that an updated controller was due to be launched, and duly registered our enthusiasm to test out a prototype unit. This controller is also capable of running two gyre units, something previously only attainable with a programmed third party device.

Receiving both the prototype advanced controller, plus a new gyre unit with updated rotor kit, we also received a spare updated rotor kit which we fitted to our original ‘Gen 1’ gyre, giving us 2 bang-up-to-date units to run off the new controller. We therefore moved our original unit slightly, placing each gyre in a vertical orientation alongside our weir which is an internal design at one end of our 50x24x24” peninsular style test tank. This layout allowed us to experiment with the various flow modes available through the controller nicely… but more on this shortly!

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The controller itself is similar in design to the original controller, sporting the rotating control dial, but it feels far more substantial with an attractive new brushed metal casing and overall larger size and heavier weight. The control buttons generally feel pleasing with only the button-click operation of the plastic control dial feeling slightly less assured, sometimes sticking a little (and remember this is a prototype unit). Even without any instructions, the general control principle of the unit is quite easy to work-out but some familiarity with the various symbols is necessary to really get to know the unit well. There are plenty of flow options here with constant power, pulse mode, gradual pulse mode, random flow plus alternating and synchronous operation of the two pumps. Manual adjustment of ramp-up, full power, ramp down and interval times really expands on certain modes, and unlocks a myriad of flow options (so many actually that it will probably take you several days before you settle on the one that suits both your needs and those of the inhabitants of your aquarium best). That’s even before you consider that the rotor configuration of the gyres themselves offers more options. There are even a couple of preset 24hr modes which aim to replicate natural reef flow extremely accurately. The ‘Lunar Tidal Cycle’ and ‘Oceanic Gyre Cycle’ modes are ideal if you can’t be bothered setting more detailed parameters.

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Each pump attaches via push-fit connectors near the controller, which can each be secured by a chunky screw-up collar. The power connector just pushes-in and connects to the main via a reasonably compact transformer. The OLED dot-matrix display screen looks very cool with graphical representations of the pumps real-time operation, showing you exactly what’s going on with each gyre. This really helps work out the modes.

In operation the pumps are great, although in our configuration we couldn’t get a noticeable standing wave effect even in a 50” long tank. We suspect that the configuration of our pumps, with both positioned vertically at one end of the tank may be causing this and therefore mounting a pump at either end of the aquarium may unlock this effect. It’s worth noting thought that the minimum pulse time of 0.4s doesn’t go down as low as certain other stream pumps. Our only other comment is that initially, both pumps emitted an audible whirring sound that proved intrusive above 60% power. This applied to both our previously silent old pump, which had been soaked in vinegar prior to repositioning, and the new second gen pump. This whirring was particularly prominent when the units were running on pulsing mode. Thankfully the noise lessened after several days of the pumps running in the tank, but even after 2 weeks the pumps are still audible. We’ve already commented on the prodigious flow that these units produce and this remains the case here. Out of all of the stream pump options we’ve tried, for sheer water moving power, the gyre is unbeatable in our opinion. We suggest you read our original review for an appraisal of the pump head part of the assembly as the same holds true for the second gen unit, plus this unit now features new stronger propellers, bushings and power cord.

As mentioned, the new 200 series controller is capable of running two gyre units. You’ll need to make sure you get the right controller to match the pumps and the 3 models, the XF230, 250 and 280 correspond to the similarly designated pump head models. For more expansive set-ups consider the ICV6 controller which, as well as tying in the new Ethereal LED light unit, will allow control over multiple controllers via an app.

The retail pricing of the new Gyre 200 is as follows:

Gyre XF230 pump only £124.99

Gyre XF230 Controller + PSU £134.99

Gyre XF250 Pump only £149.99

Gyre XF250 Controller + PSU £159.99

Gyre XF280 Pump + PSU £254.99

Gyre XF280 Controller £129.99

XF230 and 250 controllers and PSU are compatible with XF130 and 150 Gyre pumps.

The XF250 and 280 pumps and controllers should have just been released in the UK  as we publish this review, and the XF230 is likely to arrive in November.

If you are interested in this product, we highly recommend viewing the video below for more detail on setting-up your gyre.

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