Articles: Cases/PSU

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Test Results

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.

Zalman GS1000

The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom: HDD1 is in the top bay while the other three occupy the bottom compartment.

The temperatures of the CPU, graphics card and mainboard are normal in every mode, but we cannot say the same about the HDDs. There is nothing terrible about them, yet the temperature of 45-47°C is too high for a modern system case and too close to the dangerous limit of 50°C which should not be exceeded. The service life of a HDD is shortened greatly under high temperature. The two fans in quiet mode must be unable to create a strong airflow to cool the HDDs effectively. This is also indicated by the big difference between the HDD in the top bay and the three densely packed HDDs in the bottom compartment. The top HDD has better ventilation, which explains the difference in the results. This is all quite disappointing considering that the GS1000 does not provide for installation of fans in front of the HDD cages. In order for your HDDs to feel comfortable in this system case, you will have to select cool HDD models, install a second exhaust fan at the top, and adjust the fan speed as necessary.

When it comes to noise and vibration, the GT1000 is like every other modern high-quality product. With our configuration we could only hear the noise from the HDDs’ heads whereas the system fans and the air flow through the vent holes were almost imperceptible.

Zalman Z-Machine GT1000, 80 mm @ 5 V

The first two HDDs were located in the front cage (numbered from top to bottom) while the other two, at the bottom of the case (numbered from front to back). The fans were powered by 5V.

The GT1000 is much better at cooling HDDs. Neither of them is hotter than 40°C even under load. The outermost HDDs in the cage and the second HDD at the bottom are somewhat worse in terms of cooling. The other components are cooled less successfully than in the GS1000. The graphics card is especially uncomfortable as it lacks vent holes to take cool air from.

But what if we increase the speed of the intake fans by switching them to 12V?

Zalman Z-Machine GT1000, 80 mm @ 12 V

As expected, all components are 2-4°C cooler now.

The downside is the increased acoustic noise. The fans are quite audible even at 5V and become comparable to the actively working heads of the four HDDs at 12V. This noise does not come from the fans’ bearings, which are all right. It is the hiss of the airflow passing through the front grid and getting lost in the labyrinth of the HDDs and numerous rollers that hold them. The impellers of the fans are not ideally shaped and add to the noise, too. However, it is the complex route the air has to take that is the main cause for that. Therefore we recommend using this system case with low-speed fans, balancing the cooling of the HDDs and the overall noise. Perhaps the fans’ speed should be reduced further, but the system case does not allow that. You have to either replace the fans or use a fan speed controller capable of reducing voltage below 5V.

It is all right with vibrations: the rigid chassis and the employed HDD fastening system suppress them easily.

And finally, let’s compare the two system cases. The temperatures of the coldest and hottest HDDs are shown below.

Easy to see, the GT1000 is somewhat cooler than its big cousin when idle. The difference is especially conspicuous with the HDDs: the difference of 10 degrees in the temperature of the best HDD is quite a lot.

There is the same gap when the HDDs are under load: their temperatures are comfortable in the GT1000 and rather alarming in the GS1000.

The GS1000 is also inferior when the CPU is under load. The graphics card is the only component that is colder in the GS1000 than in the GT1000.

This is the highest load typical of home computers. The GS1000 cools the graphics card well enough – better than the GT1000 with the fans set at maximum speed. The GS1000 is also good at cooling the CPU, but the HDDs spoil the picture: the worst HDD is as hot as 43°C, which is too much. So, you should not pack too many HDDs into this system case. We guess it should better be used for top-performance workstations that don’t need an advanced disk subsystem.

Comparing the performance of the GT1000 at different fan speeds, you can lower the temperature by 3 degrees at the expense of your acoustic comfort. We don’t guess this is a fair exchange. The system case is good enough even when its fans are powered by 5V.

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