I have a pretty modest mainstream computer that I bought about a little more than two years ago. Its a Gateway DX4820 that I use mostly for surfing the net and working. I do, however, play the occasional game and hook myself up with the odd hot title that is out there. For this reason, I recently decided to do an upgrade, by swapping out my PSU and video card to something a little more manageable for this purpose. Specifically, I installed a 550 watter with a Radeon HD 6850 to do the job, though since the upgrade, I've encountered a few problems that I hadn't exactly anticipated when I decided to make the venture.
The problem, as the subject title would suggest, is heat. The Radeon card in this machine is a power plant for heat when under load. The first few hours of putting load on the video card resulted in an extremely hot computer case and components on the verge of overheating. When I discovered this, I quickly went out to the store to purchase a case fan, one that I installed in the back to exhaust heat out of the case (the case did not have one before). To my delight, it worked wonderfully well, and kept most of my critical components, including the video card, cool.
There is still one component, however, that still runs relatively hot. This would be my WD6400AAK hard drive. It is mounted at the front of my case, and unfortunately, there is little ventilation in that area. In fact, the entire front of the case is sealed, so adding an extra fan there is impossible without modding the case (which I don't want to do, and I'm hardly comfortable with such an operation to begin with). At idle, it runs at about 45 degrees (Celsius). The max normal operating temperature for this hard drive, according to the specs I managed to pull, is 60 degrees.
Now, I'm comfortable with it being up at 45 degrees, but the problem occurs when I'm gaming. What happens, I think, is that while I'm gaming, the video card emits so much heat that a bunch of that heat moves up to the front of the case where the hard drive is and gets trapped there. My HDD temperatures peak up to around 54 degrees after a full hour-hour and a half of intensive vid-card use (it was a lot worst before). This doesn't give a lot of head room, and it was a lot worst before, and I'm worried about how the summer months is going to affect this.
So I need some help finding a cooling solution for this hard drive. I've looked up what products I can with regards to hard drive coolers, but I am having an extremely difficult time finding the right match. Most HDD coolers I've looked up are designed to hook up directly onto the drive itself, but I discovered that the place where my HDD mounts on would block the locations where I would normally screw the cooler onto the HDD. So one that attaches right onto the HDD seems a bit out of the question for me at the moment. Ideally, having a fan within the small cage where the HDD fits would be ideal (to either blow air onto the hard drive or just move air around in that general area), but then, there is another problem: the cage is quite small. Most of the cage coolers I've found are 5.25", and I'm not sure if the cage that houses my HDD are quite that size (I mean, my HDD is 3.5"...).
I considered installing a PCI slot cooler in my system just to draw off extra heat, but to my dismay, found that I had little room to install such a component with what little room I have in my computer case. So, I'm back to finding something that would cool the hard drive directly. I wish there were a cooling solution out there that I can mount just like a regular hard drive, but thus far, I have not been able to find any.
I assume your case has external drive bays (which would be used to mount a CD/DVD drive, for example)? If you have a spare one of those drive bays then you could get a 3.5" to 5.25" adapter bracket, mount your hard drive there, and replace the bezel with one of those one that has small fans that blow external air into the case and past the drive.
Failing that, I'm sure you could find a better computer case. I have an older Antec P180 case that I really like because the bottom compartment that holds the power supply and disk drives is isolated from the upper compartment containing the motherboard and video cards, so the drives aren't affected no matter how much heat the latter generate. You can see a review of the P183, a more recent version of this case here: http://www.silentpcreview.com/antec-p183
Just wanted to thank you guys for taking the time to answer this problem.
I thought about getting a new case, but didn't feel technically competent enough to move the entire setup to solve this issue. Moving the drive to the 5.25" bay seemed like a good alternative, but because of this new PSU I installed, a lot of the extra wires took up way too much room, and so most of it ended up getting stuffed in there.
In the end though, after much searching, I managed to find a solution. The solution centered on a little something called a "bay rafter," by scythe. This bay rafter was meant to mount 2.5" hard drives into a 3.5" bay, but coincidentally, had a place to mount a case fan underneath it. Instead of mounting a case fan underneath, or mounting any hard drives for that matter, I mounted a case fan on top which acted as a blower beneath my hard drive.
This lowered the temperature of the hard drive by a good 7-10 degrees C, which put it well into its operating temperature range. While I still do not have any ventilation at the front of the case, any air movement was enough to keep things cool and let the exhaust fan in the back to do its job.
Anyways, just thought I'd share, and in case anyone else runs into similar problems like mine.