Articles: Cooling

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Idle Mode

The numbers are rather astonishing. Of course, I had suspected the temperature would be lower than with the other, above-described Thermaltake cases, but not that much. In fact, these temperatures can only be achieved with an open testbed, and this system case proved to be one: the large window that serves as an air inlet allows the CPU cooler and the graphics card to freely take fresh outside air in for cooling. The only disturbing fact is the higher temperature of the hard disk drive. The additional tray worsens the cooling of the drive somewhat. On the other hand, that 33°C temperature is far from dangerous. As for the graphics card, it is equipped with a controllable fan which rotates at its minimum at such temperatures of the graphics core. It is only the temperature of the graphics card’s PCB that was a little lower on an open testbed than in the Shark. In theory, such a large air inlet should considerably help the graphics card in hard operational modes, but we will talk about that shortly below. Right now I will check the computer at high CPU loads.

CPU Burn Mode

Considering that we use an air-based cooling system with a low-speed fan the numbers are exceptional: an impressive 58°C under load for a dual-core Intel Pentium Extreme Edition! The slightly higher temperatures of the other components can be disregarded altogether: they are still very low. Now let’s see how this system performs in games.

VGA Burn Mode

As I expected, the graphics card feels most comfortably. As for the central processor, its temperature seems to suggest that it is absolutely idle most of the time.

The temperature of the hard disk drive in the HDD Burn Mode was a disturbing 46°C. This is not dangerous yet, but if the room temperature were 30°C (if you have hot summers), for example, instead of 20°C, you would have an undesirable 55°C and even higher. The problem has an easy solution, however. You can just open the front door and let the front fan breathe normally. By simply doing so you can reduce the temperature of the hard disk drive by 9-10°C! So, it is the front door that should bear the blame for this situation. Yes, it looks beautiful, but the manufacturer forgot about vitally important vent holes. It is the sadder since there are enough spots in the front door where vents could be made without spoiling its looks. By the way, this is a hint to you. If you are skilled enough, you can correct this deficiency with your own hands in a couple of hours and get a system case with close to perfect ventilation.

Thus, Thermaltake’s Shark will become a jewel of any computer system with its excellent exterior design, exceptional cooling of the system components and good size/weight characteristics. With all these advantages, the product is not free from drawbacks, however. Particularly, it is impossible to use noisy cooling systems because the side panel isn’t totally blank – you’ll hardly want to have a virtually open system case with fans rotating at 4000-5000rpm anywhere near you. A water-cooling system would be an ideal solution for the Shark, since the manufacturer has already done some preparatory work for its comfortable installation.

The front door is not designed well in terms of cooling, so you’ll have to open the front door a little in summer or in a non-air-conditioned room to keep the temperature of the drives low. Or you can redesign the front panel by yourself, if you’ve got appropriate skills.

Yet despite all these drawbacks it is possible to assemble a fast, quiet and beautiful computer in this system case with little effort if you just take the right approach to building it.

Our Verdict: Thermaltake Shark

Average retail price - $160, without a power supply

Highs: Superb exterior; aluminum chassis and decorative front door; big window (air inlet) in the side panel; clever internal design; removable trays for hard disk drives; easy assembly; high quality of manufacture

Lows: Incorrect design of the front air inlet; acoustically open design

Conclusion: This is a beautiful and highly functional system case. It suits ideally for top-end computer systems and comes at a relatively low price

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