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RAID Hard Drives getting VERY hot

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January 21, 2009 10:37:25 AM

I've recently upgraded my PC storage.

Previously I had 2 x 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint drives in RAID 0, plus an old Maxtor 300Gb.

I thereafter changed to 1 x 1Tb Samsung Spinpoint F1 drive, plus 1 x 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint.

Im the past few days I have added an additional 1Tb Samsung Spinpoint F1 drive, so that the 2 x 1Tb Samsungs are in RAID 0, with the 1 x 500Gb as a separate drive.

(I use RAID 0, as I believe I am getting overall performance, and since I do a lot of film editing I am storing and moving large files. Security of data is not a major issue, as I do incremental backups every other day to additional large off-line storage.)

My problem is HEAT!

I never used to experience any heat issues, but since adding the additional drive, the PC is pushing out a LOT of heat. All three hard drives are too hot to touch, and the PSU is also very hot. Since the hard drives and PSU are close together in the case, the case itself (even on the outside) is very hot.

I have lots of questions about this situation - if anyone can help with any of them, I'd really appreciate it.

* Am I right that 'too hot to touch' is too hot for a HDD?
* Using ActiveSMART, I am told that the temperature of the 500Gb HDD is 48 degrees - is that likely to be correct, even though the drive is actually too hot to touch?
* Is my RAID set up always likely to generate a lot of heat? After all I have two high-capacity, fast hard drives which are active a lot of the time....
* I KNOW airflow within the case will assist, but would it likely solve my problem?
I am currently using an Enermax CS-718 case which has proved great for managing temperature of my overclocked CPU. However, this is minimal airflow over the hard disks.
I should probably consider a new case, but am wondering whether even good airflow over the disks would reduce the temperature sufficiently........
* Does anyone have any advice on a good case that provides good air flow over the disks AND over the CPU/memory (so good for over-clocking)?

Thanks very much in advance...

Cheers,
Don

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January 21, 2009 11:23:39 AM

Yes 48 degrees is rather warm for what are known-cool drives. Too hot to touch is subjective, but if you can't stand 3 seconds of two fingers on it, that generally means greater than 60 degrees.

Greater airflow is your first and probably cheapest option. That case looks to have great front case ventilation. Are the RAID'ed drives located right behind the front fan?
January 21, 2009 11:49:52 AM

Thanks for the comments.

3 seconds is about all I can touch them for.
48 degress is what Active SMART says for the 500Gb drive, and I've since used Speedfan which states that the 'worst' was 55 degrees.
I've not found any way of measuring the temperature of the 2x 1Tb RAID0 drives. I understand that SMART monitoring apps don't work on a RAID arrangement :-(

I appreciate your comments about greater airflow, but am weary that even with much better airflow whether these temperatures can be tamed. Am a little concerned that the hard drives are perhaps hotter than they should be anyway - though not sure how to check....

My Enermax case is great for airflow at the bottom of the case - even has a 'wind tunnel with big fans at front and back, which drives air directly over the memory and CPU and out the back.
However, air flow is relatively poor for the rest of the case.
The theory is that the small 6" fan (front centre of the case) draws air in, and is sucked out by (and 'through') the PSU - which is situated at the top, rear of the case.
The air first passes over the hard drives which are positioned just below the PSU at the rear of the case.
The 'theory' being that the heat from the inside of the PC, and the hard disks, are drawn out by the PSU, whose big fan at the base of the CPU, sucks in this hot air, through the PSU and out the back of the PSU and the case.
However, I suspect the PSU itself gets hot, and together with the heat generated from the three HDDs is just causing far too much heat - hence the hot case itself.
(BTW, the PSU is a Seasonic S12-650.)
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January 21, 2009 12:24:48 PM

Maybe the PSU fan isnt powerful enough, or the drives obstruct the airflow? Swap the power cables around, try coming off different rails, or separate circuits. Take the side off the case for a while.
January 21, 2009 6:11:59 PM

Thanks. I did think about that today.
BTW, I actually have a Seasonics S12-500, not 650 per my previous post.
Was very highly rated when I bought it a year or so ago, but perhaps just not powerful enough these days.

My specs are Intel Q6600 quad core 2 x 1Gb Corsair TWINX PC2-6400 (about to be upgraded to 2x2Gb OCZ Reaper HPC PC2-8500), BFG Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics, Pioneer DVD115D, 2x1Tb Samsung Spinpoint F1, 500Mb Samsung Spinpoint.

Perhaps it's drawing so much power that the PSU is at full power constantly hence generating lots of heat, and also unable to draw enough air from the hot hard disks. Does that make sense?

I have to admit, I don't know much about the 'rails' on the PSU - at the moment, I have two of the drives running off the same cable, and the third of a separate cable. Could this be causing the HDDs to over-heat?

I've spent some time tidying the cables, and moved my sound card to a different PCI slot which 'may' improve airflow, but only slightly....

Next options are to consider a newer PSU, and/or a newer case. But since each will cost over £100, am not really keen on either option .....

Cheers,
Don
January 22, 2009 6:21:01 AM

I'd say your PSU is quite big enough for what you have. My 500W does a E8400/P35, 4gb, 9600GT, 2xHDD, lights, fans, and at full power it draws about 60% of that.

Thats not to say that its not getting hot, as you suggest. Can you run the drives while they are carefully placed entirely outside the case, in free air?
January 22, 2009 7:47:16 AM

I appreciate your continued advice JohnnyMash. I have not yet tried running them outside of the case, but I did run them with the covers off (covers on my case can come off from 'both' sides) thus allowing air all around the HDDs. They were slightly cooler, but still very hot.

However, I 'may' have resolved the situation, though not sure exactly how.

After tidying the cables a little (though they weren't very untidy anyway), and moving my soundcard (which is now placed right against the graphics card-so I need to monitor that and ensure that it doesn't cause a problem there!), I started looking at the PSU itself.

I didn't really want to take it out, as it would mean undoing all the cables etc. However, I gave the inards and the big fan a good few blasts of air to clear out any dust build up - probably have never done this to the PSU since I bought it a year or two ago. Presumably there would have been a build up of dust, though I don't know how much.

Anyway, I put it all back together again, replaced the case covers and ran the computer for a few hours. Nothing intensive. And.....the case didn't get very hot as it did before! Did my changes (cleaning the PSU, moving the soundcard, tidying the cables) really make a significant difference? I'm very durprised if they did. Anyway, this evening, I will run the computer somewhat harder with some disk intensive activities (maybe some defragmentation) and see what happens to the heat of the HDDs and PSU.



I still have a question about the orientation of the PSU and can't find the answer anywhere....
The theory for the Enermax Maxflow case design is that the PSU fan draws air up from the inside of the case, across the HDDs, through the PSU itself, and then out through the rear of the PSU (and hence also the case too). However, whilst the Seasonic PSU has a great big (and apparently efficient) fan, I'm not sure which way it blows. Does it take air from outside and pull it IN to the PSU, or does it draw air OUT of the PSU? I currently have the PSU with the big fan on the 'bottom' of the PSU as it sits in the case. I have assumed that it is drawing air IN to the PSU, and hence 'from' the inside of the case and across the HDDs. But I'm not sure. If I'm wrong and it is drawing hot air out of the PSU, then it is just blowing hot air IN to the case. Hmmm....
January 22, 2009 8:23:38 AM

Bottom drawing PSU fans take air in.

Maybe the PSU is powerful enough so that it doesn't get hot enough to get the 'efficient' fan to do some heavy work, therefore limiting the air over the disks.

Yes, moving cables and cleaning out dust from fans and heatsinks can have magical cooling powers.
!