Articles: Cases/PSU

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Test Results

First, let’s view the results for each system case and check out the cooling of HDDs depending on their position.

AeroCool Hi-Tech 7 Pro

The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom.

As you can see, the 400mm fan is effective. All components are cooled well. The AeroCool Hi-Tech 7 Pro does not have problems in any of the operation modes. The mainboard and graphics card feel especially comfortable. Their temperatures are usually 5°C higher in other system cases.

The HDDs are comfortable, too. The first HDD, located separately from the others, is not much cooler, which means that every HDD gets enough of fresh air.

But I must confess the Antec Nine Hundred, with a more modest fan but different airflow design, cooled hard disk drives more effectively. I do think the difference is due to the airflow design: in the Antec Nine Hundred, the HDDs are cooled by the air from the intake fan located nearby. In the AeroCool Hi-Tech 7 Pro, they only get a portion of the air from the giant. The turbulence is unavoidable with this cooling design and has a negative effect on the overall cooling efficiency. Still, the AeroCool Hi-Tech 7 Pro is very good at cooling all components anyway.

Alas, it works with quite a lot of noise produced by the 400mm fan even when the latter is rotating at only 400rpm. I could hear the air passing through the fan grid and the noise of the fan’s impeller which was not rigid enough. The impeller was producing a low humming sound which was only quieter than the clacking of the HDDs’ heads. Otherwise, it was the main source of noise, louder than the HDDs’ spindles and the rest of the fans. The 120mm fan at the back panel could not be heard when its speed was set at 700rpm.

AeroCool M40

The first HDD is closer to the center of the case. The second HDD is closer to the side panel. This mainboard doesn’t have integrated temperature monitoring, so I used a thermocouple of the system case.

Overall, the 120mm fan on the front panel does a good job cooling the components inside the AeroCool M40, excepting the HDDs. The HDDs seem to get only a tiny portion of fresh air that cannot cool two HDDs squeezed in the narrow space. This is especially conspicuous in the IOMeter test: the HDDs are as hot as 50°C, which is undesirably high.

I could not help carrying out a small experiment by installing an 80mm Scythe Kaze-White SY802512WH-VR to the back panel of the top half of the case and setting its speed to the minimum of 1300rpm. Frankly, I had not expected the fan would solve the problem of HDD cooling because it was situated at the opposite corner and there was little room for airflow due to the design of the interior and the cables. So, I prepared even more reinforcement: a slim 60mm fan I had taken from an old Socket 370 cooler fitted nicely to the front panel in front of the HDDs.

First, I did not connect the 60mm fan and limited myself to the 80mm one. As a result, the temperature of each component lowered by 2°C over the previous tests and the HDDs even got cooler by 5°C, so their temperature was quite normal again.

And when I then connected the 60mm fan, hoping to lower the temperature of the HDDs even more, I could hear its sound distinctly but observed no cooling effect. The HDDs had the same temperature irrespective of the 60mm fan.

So, the system case obviously does not draw, especially at the top. In the default configuration of the M40, there is a very weak airflow for the HDDs and the installation of an additional 80mm fan at the top of the back panel can help improve their cooling dramatically. If you still think this is not enough, but don’t want to lose your acoustic comfort, you should consider quiet and cold (i.e. economical) hard disks from Western Digital’s Green Power series. Installing a PSU with an 80mm fan may have an effect, too.

As for the noise factor, it was the CPU cooler’s fan that was the main source of noise in my configuration. The HDDs’ heads could not compete with it even. To check out the noise from the system case proper, I just unconnected the CPU cooler. The airflow was strong enough to cool the idle CPU. The result satisfied me completely: I could hear neither the 120mm fan at the front panel nor the 80mm fan I had added to the back panel. The fans were quieter than the hum of the HDDs’ platters rotating at 10,000rpm. I guess that’s an excellent result for a compact system case.

AeroCool ExtremEngine 3T

The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom.

Although the AeroCool ExtremEngine is equipped with only one 250mm on the side panel, it copes with cooling just fine. Every component feels good in every mode, and their temperature is lower than in ordinary system cases under the same load. The 250mm fan does it job well.

Take note that the temperature of the HDDs depends greatly on how close to the center of the fan the particular HDD is. The third and fourth HDDs, being exactly opposite, feel the most comfortable while the first HDD gets less fresh air.

The AeroCool ExtremEngine leaves an ambiguous impression in terms of noisiness. It is not quiet due to the exterior features, namely to the decorative turbine in the front panel. Passing through it and through the fan behind, the air produces some noise.

The 250mm side-panel fan was silent at 600rpm.

AeroCool V-Touch A

The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom.

The AeroCool V-Touch A is comparable to the M40 in terms of noisiness. That is, I could only hear the HDDs because the system case had only one 120mm fan working at 700rpm.

There is a price you have to pay for the silence, though. The single back-panel 120mm fan can only take the warm air off the CPU cooler and mainboard but cannot help the graphics card and does not cope at all with the densely packed HDDs when the latter work under load. The HDDs actually find themselves in an unventilated corner. The middle HDDs feel especially bad, being 50°C hot under IOMeter. This temperature is dangerous as it may shorten the service life of an HDD. The solution is obvious, of course. You should install an intake fan in front of the HDDs. Without it, even economical HDDs placed apart from each other will have an alarmingly high temperature.

It is also simple with graphics cards: you should use a model whose cooler can exhaust the hot air out of the system case. You can also install an additional fan to the side panel.

Finally, let’s compare the system cases. The results below refer to the basic configurations, without additional fans (as I have written above, adding an 80mm fan into the AeroCool M40 helps reduce the temperature of the HDDs by a few degrees).

The Hi-Tech 7 Pro comes out the winner in the idle mode, but the ExtremEngine 3T is not far inferior to it. In fact, this is a battle of a big fan with a very big fan. And I must confess the 250mm model is my favorite. Although somewhat worse at cooling, it is much quieter.

It is the M40 that loses with most of the components, yet its results are not bad overall. The proper relative position of the fan and the graphics card helps the M40 cool the graphics card better in comparison with the V-Touch A.

The models with big fans are much better at cooling highly loaded HDDs. They don’t differ from each other, however, notwithstanding the difference in the fan size. The V-Touch A proves to be the worst. In its basic configuration with one fan it can’t cope with cooling our four HDDs.

Under high CPU load the leaders are almost equal to each other. The Hi-Tech 7 Pro is better in the temperatures of the graphics card and the worst HDD. The M40 is no good. Its back-panel 80mm fan is not enough to cool the HDDs.

The 400mm fan makes the Hi-Tech 7 Pro the winner under maximum load. Take note of the good performance of the compact M40. You can accommodate a rather advanced gaming configuration in it despite its modest dimensions.

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