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Configuration And Benchmarks

Two Hard Drive Coolers Compared

The Configuration

Table 3 : System Hardware
Item Detail
Processor Intel 2.4 GHz Pentium 4
Motherboard Compaq D51S
RAM Corsair Value RAM 2 x 512MB PC3200
Hard Disk Drive Seagate Cheetah Ultra 320 ST336607LW
Network On-board 100 Mb/s Ethernet
GPU On-Board
PSU Compaq proprietary
Case Compaq SFF
OS Windows XP with all updates

The choice of using a SFF PC to test drive coolers was made in an effort to limit the cooling capacity attributable to the case itself. This chassis only receives internal airflow from its small PSU.

For this test, we installed the drive as a secondary disk so that we tax it without affecting the performance of the OS. We picked the 10,000 RPM Seagate Cheetah Ultra 320 model ST336607LW to generate as much heat as possible.

We then installed the drive in the normal optical drive slot. Drive temperatures were taken off the top of the drive on the platter area near the Seagate sticker and on the spindle at the bottom of the drive. Testing was performed with no cooler attached, each cooler attached with no fans, and each cooler attached with both fans running. To create as much activity (and thus, heat) as possible on the drive, a format was started on one portion of the drive, HDTach was run against the drive, and a 12 GB single file plus 4 GB of small files were copied to it. This created an exceedingly busy storage environment, and therefore a very warm drive.

The Benchmarks

To measure idle temperatures, the unit was left off overnight, then powered on for 30 minutes before reading any temperatures. The room temperature was monitored and any changes are accounted for here. All temperatures are shown in degrees C and are the peak temperatures achieved after running the tests for a minimum of 30 minutes and until no changes were seen for more than 10 minutes.

Table 4 : Temperatures Under Heavy Load
Hard Drive Cooler Peak Bottom Peak Top Peak Room
None 54 46 28
iSurf II 39 33 27
iSurf II no fans 48 41 26
SHF-1 38 34 27
SHF-1 no fans 46 41 26

This testing revealed that both drive coolers worked pretty much as advertised. Our workout really put the coolers to the test—the table below shows the cooling results :

Table 5 : Results
Hard Drive Cooler Difference From Room Cooling Improvement Over Air-Only Variation Top to Bottom
None 26 0 8
iSurf II 12 -14 6
iSurf II no fans 22 -4 7
SHF-1 11 -15 4
SHF-1 no fans 20 -6 5

Clearly in these test the coolers provided excellent cooling of the drives, reaching up to 15 C cooler than with case cooling only. It was also interesting to see that even just installing the coolers helps to lower the temperature—the coolers by themselves really do work.

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