Ultra Products is a well-known name that hardware enthusiasts have looked to for years. While their product line is very broad, including everything from mouse pads to MP3 players, their cases and power supplies are arguably their most popular offerings. There is also a strong emphasis on cooling in the design of these products.

Cooling and noise have both become more of an issue in recent years, and the continuous tug-of-war between components which focus on one of these attributes at the expense of the other have sharply divided enthusiasts. Certainly, dissipating large amounts of heat is simple if you don't mind surrounding (and filling) your case with noisy, high-RPM fans. Conversely, noise is easy to remove if you take all the fans out of a computer - though the risk of having the resulting heat damage critical components certainly increases.


Throughout the years, companies have dealt with the most obvious sources of heat - CPUs and video cards - and most enthusiasts are already familiar with the various players in those markets. It has only been in the last few years, however, that hard drive cooling has received serious attention by manufacturers. Various approaches to dealing with the issue of hard drive heat are available, each with strengths and weaknesses. For their part, Ultra Products has maintained an active cooling design in their HD coolers, choosing to follow an inexpensive approach of simply increasing airflow around the hard drive by using fans. This approach, while effective, eliminates their products from consideration by people for whom noise reduction is paramount - home theatre PC users, for example - and with increasing numbers of desktops finding their way into living rooms, this segment of the market is getting too large to ignore.

With this in mind, Ultra Products has launched their first passive HD cooler, the ULT40010. Will it prove effective at cooling today's hard drives without any sort of fan? We'll put the ULT40010 to the test in our labs, and see if there is indeed a reason to pursue the fanless life.
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  • mindless1 - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    What is sweet about a totally passive system?

    Even a barely turning fan will reduce temps a LOT, it can easily be inaudible, fan can easily last for 20 years, and will reduce system cost by quite a lot while increasing lifespan by quite a lot. It's also a lot easier too, there are very few situations where avoiding fans is a good idea, it's mostly a marketing gimmick made into an urban myth by companies who use a higher RPM fan than really needed so they can save a buck using a smaller or less elaborate heatsinking. IOW, you can have the best of both worlds, need not go to either extreme.
    Reply
  • Dave Robinet - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    Nope - no thermal paste. The device pushes against the hard drive using the spring-loaded screws.
    Reply
  • Michael91ah - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    I use a setup much like these and really did notice a marked decrease in noise levels. The case intake fan blows right across them which prolly isn't such a good idea now that I think about it. Reply
  • Dave Robinet - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    We've added a couple of hard drives in the graph for comparison purposes. If you go to the test results page and refresh, you'll see the updated data.

    Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    The cooling is better with a hot drive - but overall, it doesn't make such a big difference Reply
  • Tiamat - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Zalman ZM-2HC1/2 for example. I wonder how they compare... Reply
  • michal1980 - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    whats the NEED to cool your harddrive?

    is there any spec that says running at a normal temprature will hurt the drive?

    take the 40 bucks and buy a better drive... or bigger.

    Reply
  • Slaimus - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    The older Maxtor DiamonsMax 9/10/11 series ran really hot and failed early if not properly cooled. Before that, the IBM 75GXP deathstars also lasted much longer when actively cooled. Reply
  • magreen - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    That was my big question I hoped the article would address - does a hdd ever actutually need cooling? Reply
  • Calin - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    If you manage to cool your hard drive 10 or more degrees Celsius (15+ Fahrenheit), then this device would be a good thing - but you need a situation where the hard drive gets much warmer than the 35 or so of testing. Reply

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