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 Post subject: Watercooled HDD silencers
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 12:48 pm 
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I hope some of you can spare time to help me find out more about watercooled HDD silencers, and whether they're worth using.

There's very little information available on these, and most of it seems to be in French or German, apart from the odd translated manufacturers blurb. I was looking at the Aqua Computer Aquadrive and SilentStar HD-Single and dual available at WizardDesigns.co.uk.
I managed to glean from a google translation of a French forum that the Aquadrive can cool a 15K SCSI drive to 35ºC, but couldn't work out how effectively it quietens the hard drive. If it could muffle a Raptor without making it overheat, great!

The big question is, should I just suspend the HDD(s) in the path of some airflow, and avoid the restriction in the watercooling loop? Assuming I'm using an MCP600 with a Thermochill HE120.3 radiator, CPU, GPU & NB blocks already, would one of these just kill what pathetic flow rate I had left?

If I go ahead with the V1100 plans detailed in My first SPCR thread*, keeping the HDD area and PSU seperate from the rest of the case airflow, would it still be worth using a drive watercooler just for the noise reduction?

*Shameless plug - no-one's replied to that yet! :( Am I doing something wrong?

Finally, if I give up on the V1100 and use a standard case with the radiator on a bottom intake, am I better off using a watercooled PSU and a rear case fan to get airflow across the other warm components? Or am I better off just getting a naturally quiet aircooled PSU, and maybe? just using that and the positive pressure from the three fan radiator to produce adequate airflow?

Thank you in advance for all your help.


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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 12:50 pm 
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I was thinking about HDD coolers too - I guess if you can get the cooler in the loop, you can just pack the hdd in a block of foam or sheets of sorbothane or something to kill everything... anyone know if this works :)

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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2004 6:09 pm 
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Well, at least in the US, there really aren't any good commercial HDD blocks, AFAIK. Most of the ones that are available are Aluminum. However making a reasonably good performing drive block setup is probably the easiest DIY block project there is. The work is simple, and relatively few things are needed in the way of tools.

Keep in mind that even the worst heating hard drives put out relatively little heat, the problem with drives comes with the long heat soak that builds up if the heat isn't dissipated. Thus almost any level of supplemental cooling will do for a drive.

The first question is what part of the drive to cool, I've seen designs that worked on the top and / or bottom (top is cover plate, bottom is PC board) and others that work on the sides. all reports are that either approach will work fine if done properly, the choice should be based on the mounting desired and ease of build. Either type of cooler is going to increase the size of the drive mount, obviously top / bottom coolers will make your drives taller, and side coolers will make them wider. Space must also be allowed for plumbing connections, to the extent possible, I like to make my hookups on the end opposite the cables just to space things out a bit.

Most of the heat in a hard drive comes from the air friction of the platters inside the drive housing, and whatever area of the drive is cooled, the remaining heat will be rapidly transferred to it by convection / conduction. I have even heard of people sticking a GPU or NB block on a handy area of the drive and getting good results. The PC board on a drive doesn't contain any major heat generating parts, and shouldn't need any extra or specific cooling.

The technique I suggest is to use copper plates (Approx 1/8" - 1/16" (2-4mm)) and 3/8" or 1/2" copper tubing soldered together and connected with standard copper plumbing fittings.
If making a top / bottom cooler, it may be good to use 1/4" tubing if you don't mind the increased restriction.

Side coolers are very simple and work well with multiple drives, figure out how many drives you want to cool, and then make two copper plates the appropriate height, and with holes drilled for mounting the drives (use a 3.5" drive bay for a template) In between the rows of drive mounting holes, run lengths of copper tube soldered to the plates, make bends as needed with pipe fittings, and connect the two sides with short lengths of appropriate sized poly or Tygon tubing (whatever you use in the rest of the system) If you watch your overall width, you can mount the assembly in a 5.25" drive bay. I've also seen setups where the person used the side coolers to replace a 3.5" drive cage (this was more advanced metal working)

Top / bottom coolers are made in a similar way, only the plates would be drive sized. If cooling multiple drives, an alternating layer technique is useful, with one cooler on the top and bottom of the stack, and an additional cooler between each pair of drives. The between drive coolers should have plates on each side. The hard part is figuring how to fasten the stack of drives and coolers together.

Quote:
The big question is, should I just suspend the HDD(s) in the path of some airflow, and avoid the restriction in the watercooling loop? Assuming I'm using an MCP600 with a Thermochill HE120.3 radiator, CPU, GPU & NB blocks already, would one of these just kill what pathetic flow rate I had left?

With that pump, your flow rate shouldn't be all that pathetic if you plumb everything else right. I would use a series / parallel setup, so that all the coolant went through the rad and the CPU block, then I would split the flow and send half to the GPU and the other half to the HDDs, NB, and any other devices getting WC'd. That should give you plenty of flow. Alternatively if you just left the drives hanging in the airflow coming off those three rad fans you should be OK without WC'ing the drives.

Quote:
If I go ahead with the V1100 plans detailed in My first SPCR thread*, keeping the HDD area and PSU seperate from the rest of the case airflow, would it still be worth using a drive watercooler just for the noise reduction?

In and of themselves, an HDD cooler won't do much for noise, it's biggest advantage is that it will allow the drives + cooler assembly to be encased in some form of noise deadening enclosure w/o cooking the drive. Suspending the enclosure might work, but would be a challenge because of the added bulk / weight, plus the need to deal with plumbing connections. Rubber grommets are out, the drives need to make good mechanical contact with the plates.

Quote:
Finally, if I give up on the V1100 and use a standard case with the radiator on a bottom intake, am I better off using a watercooled PSU and a rear case fan to get airflow across the other warm components? Or am I better off just getting a naturally quiet aircooled PSU, and maybe? just using that and the positive pressure from the three fan radiator to produce adequate airflow?

Assuming all three fans are blowing into the case, the positive pressure should be MORE than enough to ventilate the case, I would just use a quiet aircooled PSU and skip the rear exhaust fan.

Gooserider

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2004 9:31 am 
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I like the idea of splitting the flow (perhaps using an RBX-style block?) - though the NB and HDDs might be a little starved of flow when the water has the option of going through the lower restriction GPU branch instead, neither NB nor HDDs require that much active cooling, so this should work fine for my purposes.

The coolers I'm looking at mount in a 5¼" drive bay, cool the drives from the sides, and have sound insulated top and bottom plates, combining cooling and silencing into one unit. These enclosures mount to the 5¼" bay using grommets. All in all, a nice, simple solution, without too much effort involved, all for £60 or £70. As long as they muffle the drive noise enough, that's money well spent (well, budgeted for at this stage) in my book.

Thanks for all your help, gooserider! I'm a lot more sure of what to do now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2004 3:24 pm 
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Sorry about L.U.F.C., Spod. Must be a tough break.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 3:18 am 
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Your sympathy is appreciated... but I've never cared much about football, and I've only been living in Leeds for a few years, so I'm not really that devastated. Leeds Rhinos (rugby club) are doing really well, so it all balances out, I guess. Surprised to hear the news travelled so far! Three clubs get relegated from the premiership every season, is it that much of a surprise that it's Leeds this time? I wouldn't know. Perhaps it'll give some other club a chance for some glory. There's always a bright side :)

I don't suppose anyone has any experience (or theories?) of how well watercooled HDD silencers should quieten the drives? I first heard of these things from a post here by chylld, perhaps I should PM him (edit: or her)... I'm sure the drives will be cool enough, but it's not worth the money unless it makes a significant difference to drive noise.

Oh, and if anyone can help out in my case & cooling thread, I'm still hoping to find out what problems I'll have mounting a 3x120mm radiator (with fans on top) in the bottom of a case like the SLK3700BQE.

Thanks all!

(Edit) P.S. The Black Ice radiators aren't that well regarded, but is the Thermochill HE120.3 a respectable alternative to a heatercore? I think it's dual pass, and the shroud is only 9mm, but OTOH, it's bigger than most heatercores, so will it work comparably well?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 4:47 am 
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gday Spod,

the prices for those hdd coolers are absolutely ridiculous. unless you're overclocking your hdd (yes, it can be done) you really won't need it. i would definitely just alter the hdd positioning and/or the case airflow so that the hdd's are benefiting from whatever case airflow you have. this is sufficient.

adding hdd waterblocks will add another restriction to your loop and will not result in any performance gain, as far as i can see. (save for the aforementioned hdd overclocking)

quietening the hard drives can be achieved through selecting a good hard drive to start off with, as well as padding as much of the surrounding case areas as possible with acoustic material. you'll end up spending less money on something almost as effective and much kinder to your wallet should you decide to add another hard drive.

if you do have a problem drive though, i've read that the new silentdrive hdd enclosure doesn't overheat the hdd as much as the old version did. i can't comment on these claims, but i would much rather buy a silentdrive than an aquadrive.

thermochill radiators - well a radiator can be judged by eye. just compare it to what you see in your local radiator repairman's heatercore catalog, taking into account core volume, fin density, and of course, price. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 8:12 am 
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wussboy - well i'm gutted anyway :(

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 8:42 am 
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Thank you, chylld. I appreciate your opinion.

I wasn't expecting any performance gain from watercooling the HDDs, but I didn't want to use a drive enclosure that would raise drive temperature to risky levels, especially if I chose to use a Raptor. You can get a Smart Drive 2002 Copper for $75, which probably wouldn't be much cheaper than the SilentStar when translated to UK prices, but it would mean trying to get some airflow to the 5¼" drive bays.

I think you're right, though - suspend the drives in some airflow, use noise damping mat on the case, choose the drive carefully, and if it's still too noisy, then look at enclosures.

Regarding radiators - at Overclock.co.uk the HE120.3 is only £10 more than the dual 120mm heatercore with the optional acrylic shroud (which I'm told isn't a good shroud anyway). The Thermochill is certainly the more polished, and easy to integrate, design (size notwithstanding).
However, if you're telling me that heatercore would work better, perhaps with lower airflow, than the Thermochill, then maybe it's worth the effort to make it work. I've only got the website pictures to judge fin density from, and they claim that Thermochill use (or copy) a heatercore (design) anyway.

I'm still willing to go with a generic heatercore from somewhere, I just need a bit more convincing that it's clearly better than the HE120.3, that's all. :)

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2004 1:54 pm 
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from what i've heard, the HE120.3 offers little performance gain over the .2. to me, the added space equirements don't justify it. it's up to you though :)

and yes the thermochill uses a heatercore design.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 7:05 am 
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That's a fair point... I suppose it depends on how much heat I expect to dump into the system. But then, if a 3x120 Thermochill is little better than a 2x120 Thermochill, is a 2x120 generic heater core more better than the HE120.2? Probably, but perhaps not that much.
If the Thermochill is like a heatercore, but more expensive, and perhaps not as good as the best heatercores - well, that sounds like a compromise I can accept, given the relative difficulty of finding a good heatercore in the UK and the extra steps involved in mounting it. But I'll keep in mind the possibility of reverting to a 2x120mm design if space is a problem.

Thanks, chylld. It may sound like I keep disagreeing with your advice, but you've helped me a lot! :) [/i]


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 8:40 am 
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tolietduckuk, GQ had a great article called "How to ruin a Prem club in 800 days." Brilliant. I realize 3 teams go down every year (I was pissed when the Hammers went down) but Leeds was a big club. Champions league big.

I think watercooling your HD is legit...at least I plan on doing it, because I've watercooled everything else in my system, and I want to have no case fans, which means the normal cooling of a HD isn't going to take place. I tried having no case fans except for my ST-400's 120mm fan, but using overnet overheated my harddrive, so I need to do more. Just normal usage the temp was alright, but d/ling 150kbps for 8 hours straight really taxes the ol' hard drive.

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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 6:28 am 
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Are you using passive cooling, wussboy?
I figured that if I'm going to have 2 or 3 fans blowing through my radiator, they might as well contribute to case airflow as well. Also, by putting them inside the case, at the bottom, they'll hopefully be a lot quieter than if I had them out in the open. And any sound emitted downwards should be muffled by the carpet.

And was that an article in GQ Canada, or GQ UK? Or is there only one GQ for both?
Oh, and toiletduckuk - I hope I didn't offend/upset you with my lack of geographical affinity. I'm just not a football person. My most local team was Southend United for 18 years. and I don't even know what division they're in right now!


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 6:54 am 
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Spod - no offence taken, no :)
It's pretty hard to insult a Leeds supporter nowadays, I've gotten used to the intentional jabs now.. :)

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 9:05 am 
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I'm going to put the whole radiator/pump contraption into a wood box with carpet all inside it and put 2 fans on the rad.

That was the UK GQ (February edition, Gwyneth Paltrow on the front), not the North American one. They are VERY different. In my opinion the NA one blows. Smaller. Less interesting. Only NA sports personalities. No nudity. No fassion. Blah. I would get a subscription to UK GQ, but they charge double what it costs to go down to the local magazine store and buy it new!

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 2:43 pm 
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wussboy wrote:
I'm going to put the whole radiator/pump contraption into a wood box with carpet all inside it and put 2 fans on the rad.


sounds exactly like my setup :) just make sure you decouple the pump from the box otherwise it'll vibrate your box to oblivion. the problem i have with my box is that although it's nice and quiet in this room, if you go downstairs there's a very audible HUMMMMM sound. turns out the vibrating box is passing all its vibration to the floorboards below! :)


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