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Cooler Master Cool Drive 6 Cooler Master Cool Drive 6: We take a look at Cooler Master's latest hard drive cooler, which does more than just cooling.
Date: August 18, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Although heat is an issue for many parts of a computer system, the hard drive is something a lot of people do not think about. Everyone knows it generates heat, especially when they began hitting 7200rpm a few years ago, but generally I would imagine most of us just stick it into our hard drive bays without much thought. If you're lucky, perhaps there will be an 80mm fan directed in the general direction of the drive, but that may be it.

Generally, this has always been enough for me. I've never been all that impressed with some drive coolers that resort to a measly 40mm fan, which is why I don't use them. I never bothered with hard drive heatsinks either, as all my cases have large fans that blow air directly over the drives. Granted, this generates more noise than a 40mm fan, and my indifference may seem a bit odd given I'm kind of noise conscious, but an enclosure is going to have to do more than just cool to get my attention.

The we'll be looking at today is what I would classify as being different. At first glance, it looks like any other drive cooler, right down to the LED backlit LCD temperature display. There are a couple other features, but what caught my eye is the ability to monitor the drive's disk space and transfer speed.

Specifications

Dimension 150 x 43 x 208 mm
Fan Dimension 4.4 cm
Display LCD
Temperature monitor range 10°C-90°C/ 50°F-122°F
Power Input 12V/ 1.5A +/- 5%; 5V/ 0.5A +/- 5%
Fan Output <5V 12V/ 1.5A
Material Aluminum

Cooler Master Cool Drive 6

Cooler Master uses a fairly large packaging box, which does a good job at protecting the contents. The box itself was a little worse for wear, but the blame can be directed at our friends at Fedex. Inside, we have the Cool Drive, installation screws, and some data cables.

The Cool Drive 6 measures approximately 6" wide, 1.5" high and 8.25" long, and is composed primarily of aluminum. Cooling is provided by a 44mm fan on the front of the unit. While the top of the device is anodized black, the bottom is mostly silver. The silver portion of the Cool Drive 6 is the hard drive tray itself.

You can use almost any 3.5" hard drive, from IDE to SCSI, as the rear of the Cool Drive 6 is open. What is nice about the tray are the rubber grommets that reduce the drive vibration, thus cutting down on some noise.

Six screws are used to install the hard drive, after which, four more are used to reinstall the bottom tray to the main chassis. All the fan control wires and thermal probes are fished out of either side of the drive.

On the front of the device, we have the LED backlit LCD screen which displays the information you configure the device to show. The display readout is configured by a series of buttons located on the front of the device. Surrounding all the buttons and LCD are the air inlet holes.

Facing the Cool Drive 6, the left buttons are setup as follows (going from top to bottom, counterclockwise): °C/°F toggle button, Back button, and Alarm on/off button. On the right side (going from top to bottom, clockwise): Up button, Enter button, and Down button.

Cooling Performance

The hard drive used for the test is a Maxtor 80GB 7200rpm hard drive. We'll be reading the temperatures during a disk defrag, and recording results from the main chassis, cache memory, and the exterior of the drive motor. We'll be comparing the Cool Drive 6's performance with and without the fans on, as well as comparing the temperatures of the hard drive outside of the Cool Drive 6 (placed in a Cavalier 1 case with no fan cooling it). All temperatures are in °C.

Cool Drive 6 (fans on)
Cool Drive 6 (fans off)
Bare HDD
80mm fan
Chassis
39
40
45
41
Cache Memory
44
44
47
45
Drive Motor
40
41
49
43

Compared to a bare hard drive, a hard drive encased in the Cool Drive 6 is indeed much cooler. The chassis alone reduces the temperature quite a bit, though the small 44mm fan does not do too much more. It is relatively silent though, and we'll take the extra 1°C with it on. I'm sure most of you probably have cases where the hard drive is installed in front (or behind, depending how you look at it) of the case's intake fan. The Cavalier 1 does feature this installation method, and with the stock 80mm fan on, we saw temperatures close to the Cool Drive's (sans fan) performance.

Final Words

If you're not using any cooling for your hard drive, it's an invitation for disaster. Our temperatures aren't that bad, but depending on your case load out, it is possible that your hard drive can be running in excess of 50°C. A well designed case can certainly improve drive cooling, and if you got the space to place a hard drive in front of the intake fan, the Cool Drive may not seem mandatory. That being said, if your hard drive is in less than an ideal spot (perhaps due to a water reservoir or pump in the way, or your case simply isn't well put together), the Cool Drive 6 wouldn't be a bad idea. It cools very well, even without the fan on, and fits easily into an available 5.25" external bay.

The Cool Drive 6 is certainly more than just a hard drive cooler though, as it has the ability to control fan speeds and monitor your temperatures. This essentially makes it a three-in-one device, negating the need for a dedicated fan controller or temperature monitor. If you happen to be using two devices for fan and temperature monitoring, you can now free up some external bay space if it's something you need. The hard drive monitoring is a nice tool, though not something I would consider a deal breaker since your PC needs to be on for this to work. In that case, the information the Cool Drive provides is something you can easily gather from your operating system.

Whether or not you need the Cool Drive 6 will depend on what your current setup is. If you're only interested in cooling, and your case already does an adequate job of keeping your hard drive cool, this is not a required purchase. If you need the cooling, the device does the job well, plus it has the added benefit of controlling your fans, monitoring temperatures as well as allowing you to keep an eye on your hard drive storage space and speed.

Pros: Good cooling, useful features, attractive design. Well built and quiet.

Cons: Not required if you have decent cooling in place.

Bottom Line: A solid and useful product from Cooler Master. It packs a lot of features into a well designed hard drive cooler, and eliminates the need for several devices that do the same job.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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