Ultra ULT40010: Keeping it Cool

by Dave Robinet on 11/2/2007 3:00 AM EST


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  • Ajax9000 - Monday, November 05, 2007 - link

    So you take a 3.5" drive out of a 3.5" bay, wrap it in a metal shroud, stick it in a 5.25" bay and its temperature goes down ...

    Well, how much would the teperature have gone down if you just mounted the bare drive in the 5.25" bay?????????????
  • SunAngel - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    The following comments are not directed towards the article itself, but the product.

    It amazes me with all the "hotroding" going on in computers. A hard drive cooler? Come on, get real. If your hard drive is running hot I think you have more serious problems than a hard drive cooler will solve. Like maybe you need to have better case cooling. But, I guess there are individuals out there that will fall for this type of product.

    At $43 MSRP, this should put this product in the grave real quick. For $43 you could purchase a better cooling case or upgrade the cooling the case you already have. I feel so ashamed when I read reviews of these types of products. I always think, "Damn, if this persons wasn't so immature they would see this product is worthless." I don't know why I feel ashamed, hell, its not my money. It as if a bully is taking money from a baby. I just want to bash the nose to back of their skull. Yet, I know we are different and have different needs and tastes.

    So I'm going to end my jibber jabbing and let bygons be bygons.
  • mechBgon - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    Not to be a language Nazi, but with reference to the title, the phrase is "put it through the wringer," from the olden days when that was part of doing laundry. :) Reply
  • mindless1 - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    So we have heatpipes or at least heatpipe looking *things*, but what's missing? The heatpipes should be connected to fins to increase their surface area, that is essentially the point of heatpipes. Having that fin plate arrangement on top is far less effective than it ought to be.

    For this reason I'd have to consider the product misengineered, before even considering that if it were well engineered it would still make minimal difference unless the drive was installed in some hot cramped place where it shouldn't have been w/o another cooling method already like passive intake holes in front of the bay or a fan. A couple degrees isn't even worth the time to install this if they gave it to you for free.

    If it had LEDs and the heatsink was giganormous enough that you had to buy another case with it's own zip code just to use it, then it would at least impress the younger crowd. This product has free after rebate written all over it.
  • RichUK - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    What a useless bit of kit. This is akin to putting spinners on your pimped out Hummer. Reply
  • jmv - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    What does a "7% decreased load temperature" mean?

    Is that 7% with respect to
    a) ambient room temperature
    b) ambient case temperature
    c) 0 C
    d) 0 Fahrenheit
    d) absolute zero (-273 C)

    I suspect it's c), but that would be a completely arbitrary scale. For example, the result would be different if measured in Fahrenheit!
  • Dave Robinet - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    7% drop versus what the drive originally ran at (ie. without the cooler).


    Without the heatsink, the Raptor was 58.6 degrees. With the heatsink, it was 54.7. That difference (3.9 degrees) is roughly 7% of the original 58.6 degree temperature (actually 6.665%).

    Sorry if that wasn't clear. Thanks for reading, and for the smile this morning. :)
  • dnd728 - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    Hmm... You shouldn't really do this. It would only mean anything if you use the ambient temperature as your base. 0C is simply an arbitrary point chosen because that's when water freezes. It has no relevance here - it means nothing. Reply
  • Woodchuck2000 - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    Spot on... Seriously, before you write an article about practical thermodynamics, take a few seconds to actually do some research. The only meaningful reading you can take here is the difference beween drive and ambient temperature. You don't actually specify how you measure the drive temperature, and you don't consider the effects of the different mounting mechanisms within the case - the default 4 in 3 hard drive mounting of the Stacker 830 will be lousy for convective cooling compared with the 5.25" bay mounts which have clear air above and below (unless you've mounted between your two optical drives - again, not stated). This is, in the end, a pointless product which makes no practical difference to your rig and I would expect a site of Anandtech's calibre to actually say so. Reply
  • puffpio - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    any thermal paste used?
    Totally passive system would be sweeeeeeeet
  • 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.
  • Dave Robinet - Saturday, November 03, 2007 - link

    Nope - no thermal paste. The device pushes against the hard drive using the spring-loaded screws.
  • 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!
  • 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.

  • 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
  • PandaBear - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Agree. HD are ususally designed to sustain 60C (at least the one they sell to OEM like DELL need to meet spec at this temp), so 35C is not much of a problem. What you need to do is either test it in a cramped setup (stacked drive or small case with no/low ventilation) or high performance high temperature mission critical drive (at least a raptor if not a 10k rpm scsi). In other word, server.

    But in either case, the room this cooler takes is not worthed the marginal cooling performance.
  • mindless1 - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    The problem is that the data is useless without knowing two more things:

    1) Whether the manufacturer spec'd temp means the Smart Reported temp.

    2) What temp the other components are and whether their difference in temp is factored for in the smart temp rating if #1 is true.

    To put it another way, you cannot use smart to determine if this 'sink has an equal effect on all portions of a hard drive, particularly parts on the PCB instead of those effectively 'sunk by the drive frame, and further, we'd have to know if the temp sensor was even 'sunk to the drive frame since that is what this product is cooling most directly, or rather if the temp sensor is integral to another IC or a discrete sensor on the PCB.

    Suppose one scenario where the sensor is in an IC, the drive eventually fails from bearing wear. This cooler "might" have then had an impact on drive lifespan, depending on how/why the bearing failed.

    Suppose another scenario where the motor controller (or in some cases, driven power members not the controller IC itself) was heat stressed and failed. Being not so far from the drive frame might result in less radiated heat with this 'sink cooling the frame, but in a typical case with passive intake around a HDD bay, the 'sink will also change the airflow pattern past the drive which could instead cause that motor controller to run hotter (or cooler, we don't know and it could depend on the particular case the combo was installed into whether this was any better or worse than having no 'sink at all and just taking the 5-1/2" bay faceplate off to increase (intake) airflow through the bay.
  • customcoms - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Everything else in my pc has heatpipes, why not my hd? <sarcasm> Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Is that the Samsung HD501LJ in the photo on page 2 of a hard drive in the cooler? I have one of these hard drives sitting next to me waiting to be boxed up for RMA, and it does not have the 4-pin Molex connector that the drive in the photo has.

    Also, are those heat pipes doing much? They don't have fins attached, so they would seem to be just transferring heat between 2 equally warm locations on either side of the cooler, while dumping a little from their own surface area.
  • Dave Robinet - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    No - that's a stock photo that we used for illustration purposes only.

    The heat pipes will undoubtedly be offering some benefit, yes (there are heatpipe-only coolers out there for hard drives, for example). It's not really possible to measure just how much of the overall benefit they're giving, though, without actually modifying the cooler to remove the heat pipes from the equation.
  • Bozo Galora - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    thats real nice, except, as it turns out, there is no correlation between HDD heat and failure rates - DUH!">

    so - BURN BABY BURN!!!
  • mindless1 - Sunday, November 04, 2007 - link

    As it turns out, the paper does not support that there is no correlation between HDD heat and failure rates because all drives weren't ran dead and drives weren't subjected to very excessive temps. On the contrary there was an expectation ahead of time that the drives would work as installed - remembering they were actually using them. What that study instead shows is that until temps reach certain threshold levels, other failure factors are more significant. In other words, it's not a contest to get your hard drive as cool as possible, only keep it cool enough.

    As someone who has owned drives that would logically lock up from overheating if just left sitting upside down on a desk, vs running fine continually in a case with good ventilation, I'm quite sure of the effect of temp, it is a clear reproducible effect on some drives, probably all drives but a matter of how hot they're actually getting.

    That doesn't justify this contraption though, a good passive intake will suffice in all but extreme conditions where it'd require a fan to achieve an acceptible result.
  • Calin - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    I think you should have tested with a drive known as hot, not one known as cool. I haven't seen one, but maybe a Raptor would be a better test platform. Especially if you take price into consideration. Who in their right minds would buy a $43 cooling device for a $100+ hard drive known as running cool?
    On the other side, someone who bought a $180, 150GB Raptor drive might just as well buy a nice cooling system for it.
  • Dave Robinet - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    We chose one of the quietest drives to test, as that's the most likely candidate for a HTPC system. Raptors are relatively noisy little beasties, and are less likely to find themselves sitting in living rooms.

    I'd say it's a reasonable statement that in general, active cooling is better than passive cooling (considering the same quality, etc). With that in mind, if you've already got a fiery-hot-and-very-loud Raptor in your system, you may be better served for your $43 by buying an active cooling solution. :)

    Point taken, however. I'll see if I can get some Raptor test data up in the next couple of days.

    Thanks for reading!
  • Calin - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    Nice article overall.
    However, in an HTPC (depending on your case choice) you might or might not have an extra 5.25" bay where to put the hard drive.
  • casteve - Friday, November 02, 2007 - link

    A couple of degrees better performance in the HDD is a don't care improvement.

    If you've got the space, a low rpm, essentially silent fan only costs $5 and solves the problem.

    As a science experiment, it would be interesting to see how much the cooler performance improves over stock with active cooling.

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