First let’s take a look at the results of each system case individually and see how the cooling of HDDs depends on their position.
Antec Twelve Hundred @ min fan speed
The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom. HDD1 is located separately, in the center of the cage which is second from bottom. The other three HDDs occupy the bottom cage.
So, there is not much we can say about cooling. It is just perfect. The HDDs, mainboard, CPU, graphics card all feel comfortable. This is even better than an open testbed because an open testbed will never have such a strong airflow around all the components (unless you install a powerful fan to blow at it).
The amount of noise depends on what components you use. With our configuration, the hard disk drives were the main source of noise, being only separated from the user by the mesh and the fans. They are not very noisy at ordinary work, but when they are moving their heads actively (like in IOMeter’s Access Time test), you can hear them well. You don’t need an HDD activity indicator even. The fans, including the gigantic “propeller” on the top panel, are almost silent and only produce a soft hiss of the passing air.
When the speed is increased to medium, the fans begin to hum audibly. At high speed, they are about as loud as our 10,000rpm HDDs.
We also tested the case at the highest settings of all the system fans.
Antec Twelve Hundred @ max fan speed
So, what do we gain by increasing the fan speed to the maximum? Nearly every temperature is 2-3°C lower now, so the cooling efficiency is improved. However, this will only be really useful for users who have very, very hot (i.e. extremely overclocked) CPUs and graphics cards. The minimum fan settings are quite enough for other configurations.
The HDD results are especially impressive. They are as hot as the ambient air in ordinary mode. It is only under load that they become 2°C hotter. The temperature of the hottest of them (these are the outermost disks in the cages as they get somewhat less air) is below 30°C even at the minimum fan speed, which is an excellent result.
Antec A+ Black Pearl WCR Edition @ 1000RPM
The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom. They are all placed in the cage which is closer to the fan.
The HDDs are not cool in the A+ case. The temperature of all the HDDs is over 40°C even under zero load. When loaded, the HDDs are as hot as 51°C which is too much. Besides, the HDDs take a long time to cool down afterwards. The second-from-above HDD is somewhat cooler than the others as it is located opposite the fan. It looks like the fan is too weak while the bays and cages have high aerodynamic resistance. Of course, you can try replacing the fan, yet we cannot recommend this case for multi-disk configurations anyway.
Otherwise, the results are nothing but average.
As for the noise factor, the computer was not loud at the minimum speed of the fans (the display reported 1000rpm). The case is somewhat quieter than the Twelve Hundred under high HDD load and about as loud as it in the other situations.
Perhaps the temperatures will lower if we set the fans at the maximum speed of 1500rpm?
Antec A+ Black Pearl WCR Edition @ 1500RPM
Well, the HDDs are more comfortable now, but not cooler than 40°C. There is not enough airflow around the HDD cage.
The case is noisier in this mode. It is somewhat quieter than the Twelve Hundred at maximum speed, though.
Now let’s compare the two products.
The Twelve Hundred is the winner in idle mode. It does not really need the higher speed of the fans. Its advantage over the opponent in terms of HDD temperature is impressive. It is also good at cooling the mainboard.
Under high HDD load the difference between the two products is obvious. The Twelve Hundred is excellent even at the minimum speed of the fans while its opponent barely copes with the HDDs even at maximum speed. Take note of the small difference between the temperatures of the best and worst HDDs in the Twelve Hundred.
The Twelve Hundred is also better under high CPU load.
When it comes to gaming, the A+ copes almost as well as its opponent (unless you disregard the temperature of the HDDs). Take note of the high difference between the temperatures of the mainboard in the A+ at different fan speeds. The fan seems to be only capable of pumping the hot air off the CPU at low speed (we can recall the special casing here) but at a higher speed it can effectively drive the air through the entire system case. We guess that the A+ really calls for two additional fans for its top panel. It is only then that it will really make a good workstation.