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Thermaltake Hardcano 5
 
 
Date: May 24, 2002
Catagory: Cases & Cooling
Manufacturer:
Written By:
 


are well known for their Orbs. Golden Orbs, Blue Orbs, Super Orbs, Dragon Orbs, etc. Their more conventional coolers, such as the Volcano series, have also been quite popular. They have products for video cards, memory, and now, hard drives. With the average IDE hard drive spinning at 7200RPM, in a cramped, or poorly cooled case, you risk disk damage due to the heat possibly warping the platters.

Granted, the previous example is probably an extreme scenario, but heat in general is bad. Your hard drives are probably one of the busiest system components, spinning up whenever you change web pages, or playing a game. I'll bet if you power down and touch the hard drive chassis right now, it'll feel fairly warm to the touch. Of course, the hard drive isn't the only heat source in your PC, and there are several other components that produce a fair amount of heat. How much heat is probably a big question mark, as other than the CPU, your motherboard doesn't really provide any way to monitor the temperature of your video card, or your memory.

Let's say your system cooling is in check, and in fact, it's more than enough. Chances are, your PC makes enough noise to rival a Californian earthquake. Alright, maybe it's not that bad, but unless you have a rheobus, your fans are probably spinning at 100% capacity, making a hella lot of noise to keep an idle system cool.

That, my friends, brings us to Thermaltake's latest invention, the Hardcano. The Hardcanos are hard drive coolers that have built in temperature probes to monitor the heat radiating from your various components. The Hardcano 5, which we'll look at today, even has a fan control switch built in to slow down a fan, of your choosing. In case you're simply web browsing, instead of playing video games, you can lower fan speeds to a lower level, thus lowering the noise.

Specifications

P/N A1282
Fan Dimension 40x40x20 mm
Rated Voltage 12V
Started Voltage 7.0V
Rated Current 0.11A
Power Input 1.32W
FAN Speed 5000±10% RPM
Air Pressure 1.50mm- H2O
Max. Air Flow 5.1CFM
Noise 23dBa
Bearing Type Sleeve bearing
Life Time 30,000 hours
Connector 3 PIN

Thermaltake packages everything you need to setup the Hardcano 5. You got the thermal tape, mounting screws galore and a 3 to 4 pin adapter. It arrives about 90% assembled, and all you have to do is install your hard drive, and close the top cover. Fabricated out of aluminum, it'll match any silver coloured aluminum case nicely, as well as dissipate heat (due to aluminum's thermal properties) at the same time.

The top cover was something of an enigma to me. It sure adds a very complete look to the package, but I didn't really see the point. Don't get me wrong, as it's well made and looks great, but it's going into the case anyways. If this was an external unit, great, but it's addition probably just added 10$ to the price.

Once we remove the cover, we can see the rail for mounting your hard drive. Nothing much to say, as installation is as simple as putting in four screws.

Anyhow, fairly detailed instructions are included, so don't worry about messing up. If you do, well, you shouldn't be opening your case up to begin with.

Now, considering that this is billed as a hard drive cooler, the 40mm fan doesn't do much to impress me. This is th esame fan they've used on their memory coolers, so I can tell you that it won't create much noise. Ah well, I suppose some airflow is better than none at all. To the left is the battery for the LCD, and to the right is the same fan control box we've seen with the Volcano 7+. Simply plug your heatsink fan (or any other fan) into the power adapter, and you're set.

The fan control has three options. You can allow the fan to run full bore, half speed, or at a low setting. How much noise and performance that gets cut down will really depend on how loud your fan is to begin with. I wouldn't exactly expect miracles if you have an 80mm Delta.

The thermal probe that Thermaltake includes is worthy of some mention. Unlike other thermal probes, this one is very thin, and pliable. There is plenty of cord to reach pretty much anywhere in the case. The downside to it is that because it's so thin, you can risk breaking it if you're not careful.

Plenty of thermal tape is included, so we used a little to attach the probe to our hard drive. It is a hard drive cooler afterall, so I was curious to see what ind of numbers we'd get from it. I've seen applications on CPUs, video cards and memory, so it's up to you to choose what it is you want to monitor.

Because the LCD is on battery power, you'll get a constant meter of the temperature. Since we do a lot of heatsink tests around here, this is useful for us as it allows us to properly gauge the system temperature before bootup, and measure various readings when testing heatsinks.

Aesthetically, the brushed silver matched very well with our Lian-Li PC60. I didn't like the curvature in the front all that much, and I think a flatter design would have looked better. Anyways, it still looks a lot better than our beige Live! Drive.

Performance

For testing, the only thing that was important to us was the hard drive temperatures. This would test the performance of the 40mm fan, as well as letting us know if the LCD and thermal probe worked. Of course, if this test is successful, we'll know that you can attach the thermal probe anywhere. The hard drive used was an IBM Deskstar 40GB. To stress it, I started a defrag of multiple partitions, and took the reading, with the fan on and off, when the temperature topped off. We took idle temperatures as well, with the fan on and off.

Not much of a difference here, as the hard drive isn't really doing anything anyhow. With barely a half degree between having the fan on, and having the fan off, there isn't much to write home about.

Exactly the same results. At 0.4C difference, I can pretty much conclude that the 40mm fan isn't doing anything. How about the aluminum properties of the Hardcano? Well, it's pretty much a non factor as the temperature of the hard drive in our Antec 630SX case was a steady 36.5 as well. Keep in mind that the hard drive is only resting on the aluminum standoffs, and maybe a design where more of the hardcano makes contact with the hard drive would result in better scores.

I should note that the fan control worked flawlessly, though it did little to actually lower the noise on our Delta much. It went from a high pitched squeal, to a low pitch squeal. Now, the lower pitch is less annoying, so the fan control works as advertised, but I wouldn't count on it making that big a difference if your fan is loud to begin with.

Final Words

We came away from our Hardcano 5 review with mixed feelings. As a hard drive cooler, it simply doesn't fit the bill. The 40mm fan is woefully under powered, and if you got a RAID array, investing in multiple Hardcanos for the sole purpose of cooling the drives is pointless. The fan control does work as advertised, but is limited in usefulness, as it'll ultimately be your fan that will determine how much less noise you'll hear.

All is not bad though. The temperature probe and LCD are quite useful, and if you're a statistics freak, you'll love the ability to monitor the temperature of everything you have (albeit, one at a time). The brushed aluminum looks very swank, and you'll undoubtably impress your techie friends with it. It is a bit on the pricey side, but it retails for half of what the DigiDoc costs, and does almost the same thing, if not more.

Thermaltake:

Pros: Easy installation, multiple use LCD and temperature probe, fan control, looks great.

Cons: Doesn't do much for hard drive cooling, top cover seems redundant.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss it in our forums

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