SPCR Does CES 2007

The Silent Front
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ARCTIC COOLING

SPCR's favorite Swiss cooling products company was on hand with new VGA coolers and an expanded fan line. The new coolers, the Accelero S Series, are passive heatpipe coolers. Very narrow, and very tall, with thin, widely spaced aluminum fins, the S1 and S2 are designed to project far past the edge of the VGA card into the free air space of the case to capture passing air currents. The documentation provided by Arctic Cooling promises better than stock HSF cooling with zero noise.


Accelero S1 & S2 VGA coolers.

Arctic Cooling is also expanding their line of fans with a new series that features “Patented PST (PWM Sharing Technology)”. Taking advantage of the 4-pin PWM fan control features built into new motherboards, the PST system uses an integrated PWM amplifier to extend the signal from controlling just the CPU fan to controlling up to 5 case fans. Could be quite useful, depending upon the specifics of its implementation.

COOLERMASTER

CoolerMaster had a handful of interesting new coolers on display.


Watercooling isn't everyone's thing, but CoolerMaster is putting in a good effort
with this self-contained system with universal CPU/GPU waterblocks.

The Aquagate Viva (upper unit) and Aquagate Duo Viva (lower unit) are CM's new self-contained watercooling solutions. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the system is the interchangeability of the coolers for both GPU and CPU use. This is the first time we know of that a single cooler has boasted a mounting system and accessories that allows the same base unit to be used for either application. Considering that new GPU's are likely to be producing as much or more heat than the CPU in the system, this seems like a logical development. The radiator/pump units can be mounted on a space PCI slot, or in 5.25 or 3.5” drive bays. Onboard thermosistor controls automatically adjust the radiator fan speeds from 100 to 4,800 RPM, depending upon system temperature.


CoolerMaster's passive VGA cooler is featured front and center.

Also on view was CoolerMaster's brand-new passive GPU cooler. As yet unnamed, the cooler, pictured here in front of their massive CoolViva Pro GPU cooler, features a combination of conventional aluminum heatsink as well as a remote heatpipe-cooled fin assembly for the rear of the card. More details as they become available.

COOL-IT SYSTEMS

Specializing in thermoelectric-based CPU cooling systems for the cooling-at-all-costs crowd, Cool-It is probably not a household name for those looking to build quiet PCs. But they are looking to change that. For those not in the know, thermoelectric cooling uses powered heat pumps to move heat through a heatsink more quickly than ordinary conduction using the Peltier effect.

One of their newest cooling systems, the Freezone, is being marketed as much for its quietness as for its ability to cool CPU's down to frosty temps. The key to the quietness is an innovative software control system that uses “Predictive Cooling Technology”.

Unlike typical automatically adjusting CPU cooling systems that wait for either the CPU or the heatsink itself to increase in temperature before adjusting the cooling system, the Cool-It software monitors the loading on the CPU and adjusts the wattage of the TEC units to maintain a constant CPU temperature, rather than merely reacting to changes afterwards. If it works as advertised, the technology should help reduce the changes in noise from the fans ramping up and down by using smaller, faster, and silent changes to the TEC power levels to compensate for momentary changes in CPU heat output without changing the fan speed at all.


Peltier-based watercooling: The ultimate in exotic technology.

SEAGATE

With the exception their newly announced terabyte 3.5” drive, most of Seagate's CES display was devoted to a variety of consumer-oriented hard drive enclosures and portable gadgetry. Both Seagate and Hitachi were competing for the bragging rights of having the first terabyte drives. While only the on-staff marketing guys will remember who was first, the Seagate version does have a technical advantage over the Hitachi, at least on paper: Seagate's 1TB drive is a four platter drive, while Hitachi is using five platters to reach the magical terabyte level. Conventional SPCR wisdom is that fewer platter and fewer heads equals less noise. Time will tell whether this holds true for this latest round of jumbo drives.

In the mass of external devices one did catch enough of our attention to merit a closer look: a new-and-improved Mirra. Internally identical to the previous model, the improvements are limited to a new case and a new version of the software suite. The previous case, which was apparently nicknamed “the pig” within the confines of the Seagate HQ, took a lot of abuse in our review. The new case is custom designed just for the Mirra appliance, and promises to be both smaller and quieter. The whiny 40mm PSU fan is gone, replaced by a fanless laptop-style AC/DC brick. According to Seagate the new software fixes many of the issues we saw with the previous version, and has enhanced features and stability.


The Mirra has been given a much needed facelift...


...and both cooling and noise have been improved at the same time.



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