Product Review – Kyle Lunau
With today’s hard drives spinning faster and faster, ULTRA has released a product to cool your hard drive quietly without the use of fans. So let’s have a look at this baby.
As with all ULTRA products, the HDD cooler comes in a rather nice looking box that includes all relevant information.
On the back of the box there is a slightly more detailed explanation of the unit.
Upon opening the box we are presented with the full color installation sheet.
Then the cooler and its various bits of hardware.
The box contains the cooler, vibration dampening mounts, screws, and a grounding wire.
The cooler has four heatpipes and a top heatsink that is designed to make contact with the top of your hard drive. The four spring screws are tightened or loosened to create proper mounting pressure against the hard drive.
The smaller holes allow the unit to be mounted into a 5.25″ bay with the included vibration dampening mounts. The larger holes are for the hard drive screws.
Moving closer to installing a drive into the cooler, let’s get a closer look at the hardware. This bag contains four screws for mounting the drive to the cooler and four screws for mounting the cooler to the case. Finally we also get a short green cable to ground the drive to the case.
This bag contains the four mounts for the cooler.
The mounts appear to be like giant motherboard standoffs with a hard rubber wrapping around the outside. Unfortunately the fact that the rubber is hard and that it is only COVERING a normal metal mount leads me to believe that these mounts will not dampen vibrations at all.
Now let’s get down to the installation – I’m going to be installing a 160 GB Seagate 7200.9 hard drive in the cooler.
Simply insert the drive like so.
Screw the drive in and flip it over.
Uh – Houston we have a problem. The Seagate is too thin to touch the top heatsink. A MAJOR design flaw here, as the Seagate isn’t even the thinnest drive on the market right now.
Next I installed the cooler’s mounts. To attach the grounding wire, you simply screw it onto the unit using one of the mounts. Problem is the wire is thick and keeps you from screwing the mount all the way in. This didn’t effect installation into my computer case, but I just thought I’d mention it.
To install into your case simply slide the cooler/drive into a free 5.25″ drive bay.
Then screw it into place and attach the grounding wire.
Now for some temperature results. First, the Ultra Cooler installed in my case’s hard drive rack with a 120 mm intake fan blowing over the drive.
And then with the cooler installed and the 120 mm fan off. No I didn’t mix the results up, the ULTRA hard drive cooler is out-gunned by 8 degrees – a pretty bad showing here.
It was unfortunate but the ULTRA hard drive cooler turned out to be a bad performer. Sure, it probably would have performed better with a top of the hard drive touching the top heatsink, but I doubt it would outperform the 120 mm fan cooling the hard drive. My thought is that the cooler may be hindered by bad contact with the HDD due to the lack of some sort of thermal interface material.
- Looks cool
- Allows you to mount an HDD in a 5.25″ drive bay
- Easy installation
- Operates without fans
- Poor performance in comparison with a 120 mm case fan
- Poor design of vibration dampening mounts
- Poor design of top heatsink system
- Kind of expensive at $42.99 USD from the ULTRA site
- Use some sort of TIM to improve performance
- Allow for different drive heights within the cooler to allow slim drives to touch the top heatsink
- Use soft rubber mounts, or suspend the cooler from rubber bands to lessen vibration
- Include a means to mount a fan to the unit
IF you don’t have a fan blowing over your drives and IF you need to mount a drive in a 5.25″ bay and IF you just want something that looks cool, the ULTRA HDD Cooler MIGHT appeal to you. If you don’t fall into any of the three above categories, then you really don’t need this product.