Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler Review

Propane - 2007-11-03 12:43:38 in Hard Drive Cooling
Category: Hard Drive Cooling
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: November 29, 2007
Price: $24.99

Introduction:

Almost every component in a computer generates some amount of heat and usually this heat can, and will, hinder the performance of your computer. Usually when you hear about heat, you think of the CPU, the graphics card, or even sometimes the north bridge. But for most people, the hard drive does not come to mind right away. After all, they aren't performing millions of calculations every second. However, hard drives do spin at amazing speeds; up to ten thousand revolutions per minute, which is faster than most car engines. This spinning, coupled with the seeking for data, can generate large amounts of heat that can wind up slowing your read rate, increasing the CPU usage while accessing the drive, and, in extreme cases, cause your drive to fail. The Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler aims to help with this problem.

The Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler is a lightweight heatsink that attaches to your hard drive, giving the drive additional area for the heat to go and additional surface area for the heat to radiate off of. As the cooler's name implies, the heatsink fins are constructed of aluminum, while the cooler also utilizes an additional four heatpipes that arc across the unit. The cooler is passive, so no additional noise should be present from using this device. Let's take a more in-depth look at exactly how well the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler performs!

 

Closer Look:

The Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler came packaged in a small cardboard box enclosed in plastic wrap. On the front of the box is a picture of the Hard Drive Cooler along with some of the features that the cooler possesses. Also, there is a note that there is no hard drive included, so you will have to provide your own. The back of the box lists more features and specifications, along with a nice diagram of the device.

 

 

 

 

On the side of the box is a short list of what comes included with the package, so you can make sure you have everything you need when you purchase the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler.

Closer Look:

Opening the case reveals the cooler and accessories enclosed in a nice foam protective case. The instructions and registration card are found above the top foam piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The included accessories are four damper screws, which allow the cooler to fill out the 5.25" bay and also are there to help reduce vibrations that all hard drives make. As such, the cooler should not only help reduce the temperature of the drive, but also how much we hear the drive. In addition, four long screws and four mounting screws are provided, along with a short ground cable so you won't toast your data in a small power surge.

 

 

Now on to the bread and butter, the actual Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler. The cooler has a nice blue hue to it and has many fins along the top plate of the cooler. Also, the heatpipes that go across the cooler are on both sides, allowing for thermal transfer between the two sides themselves. Finally, if you look closely at the screws holding the top plate down, you can see small springs. These springs are there to ensure that the top plate of the cooler makes firm contact with the top of the drive once it is installed.

 

Installation:

The installation of the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler will be very simple for those of you who have built a computer before, and should be pretty easy for the rest of the people out there. To begin, take either a new hard drive or one that you have taken out of your computer and lay it flat in the drive cooler. I looked closely at the diagrams and concluded that the back of the hard drive was meant to line up with the side of the cooler that has the two heatpipes that are closer together. My particular hard drive, a Western Digital Caviar, pushed the top plate up, which made me have to put some force on the bottom of the drive for the screws to line up correctly. As with most other things, it is probably best if you put the screws into the drive in a cross pattern. When you are done, you should see the top plate resting securely on the top of the hard drive.

 

 

 

The next step is to secure the damper screws into the drive. These just screw into the holes provided in the drive. There are two heights provided, so whichever type of case you have, it should be able to easily fit.

 

 

All that is left to be done is to secure the hard drive and cooler into the case. For my Antec Sonata II, I had to use the included rails that allow the drive to slide in. I was a little disappointed that I had to use a little more than one of my 5.25" bays for the cooler to fit well. If I had used the other set of holes, the top of the cooler would have been rubbing against my DVD burner and the other set of holes protruded into the bay beneath it. Part of this is probably caused because of the additional height that my hard drive gave to the top piece. In the picture below, I took off the drive bay covers so you could see a picture of how the drive looks when installed. The drive fits far enough in that you can replace the drive bay covers when you are finished.

 

 

Let's take a look at just how well the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler performs.

Specifications:

 

Dimensions

143x122x42mm

Weight

402g

Heatpipe

Sintered Powder Heatpipe

Heatsink Material

Aluminum

Grounding

Grounding Wire

 

 

Features:

 

Passive thermal solution for hard drive

High performance sintered powder heatpipe dissipates heat efficiently

Rubber dampers reduce HDD noise and vibration

Top heatsink fins provide outstanding cooling surface area

Fan-less operation

 

Testing:

To test the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler, I used a program called HDTune to gather information about the temperature and CPU utilization. In addition, I used an infrared thermometer to test the temperature of the drive's surface and the surface of the heatsink. I used my 500GB Western Digital Caviar to test the cooler as it was the hottest running drive in my system.

Testing Setup:

 

The temperature reported by HDTune and the IR thermometer both dropped when the drive was installed into the drive cooler, even though the hard drive was moved from an area that had excellent air flow to a location that was a little more tight and had worse air flow.

 

Lower is better

 

In addition to the temperature dropping, the CPU utilization dropped and the average transfer rate went up. Apparently, the cooler temperatures provided by the cooler were able to allow the hard drive to operate more efficiently.

 


 

These results show that the hard drive cooler did its job well and was able to improve both temperatures and performance from the drive.

Conclusion:

While hard drives do not generate a lot of excess heat, the heat that they do generate can decrease performance and cause your drive to fail. With a hard drive cooler, the heat is dissipated more efficiently, allowing the hard drive to run cooler and perform better. The Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler does a great job of doing this. A lot of people, including myself, don't believe that every cooling solution needs a fan, and the passive design of the Ultra does a great job addressing this need. With both an increase in performance and a drop in temperatures, the cooler was able to hit upon the two things that all hard drive coolers should do. Also, when the drive is installed, there is nothing flashy or showy, keeping things modest for those who like their computer that way. The only downside to the cooler is something that really depends on what case you own and what hard drive you put into the cooler, as the Ultra can take up more than one 5.25" bay in some situations. If you are looking for a hard drive cooler, whether to increase performance or protect your data from sudden failure, the Ultra Aluminum Hard Drive Cooler would be an excellent choice.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: