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If you regularly listen to your hard drive grinding away, chances are the case it is screwed into is amplifying the noises to an extent. By isolating a hard drive from the metal frame of a case, you can potentially cut back on these sorts of sounds.
Though, this is highly dependent on the drive and case being used, and will be different for each particular instance.
Testing the ZM-2HC1: As a general rule, we prefer to test cooling devices on a synthetic test bed, but sometimes that just isn't possible. To test out the Zalman ZM-2HC1 we've enlisted the help of a Seagate 120GB hard drive and an Omega HH501DK thermometer.
To measure temperatures from the hard drive a Type-K thermocouple was placed directly over the center of the platters, and held in place with some tape. With the thermocouple is insulated from passing air currents with a small piece of foam, we proceeded to test the hard drive with and without the Zalman ZM-2CH1 installed.
The results are pretty simple; without anything attached to the Seagate drive we recorded temperatures on the order of 39.3 degrees Celsius, and with the Zalman ZM-2CH1 installed the drives temperature dropped to about 37.0 degrees Celsius. The drive was mounted to the base of a case, and was tested for passive cooling alone.
I was considering adding in some results the Zalman ZM-2CH1 with a little added airflow care of a case mounted fan, but there are so many variables that the results wouldn't be worth much use. We tested a couple different configurations, and in each case the temperature of the drive naturally dropped, but how much you can expect temperatures to fall all depends on fan positioning, airflow, case pressure, and ambient temperatures. Suffice to say, with a fan blowing on the Zalman ZM-2CH1, the unit is able to cool a hard drive better than if the hard drive is left alone.
Ultimately, I think the Zalman ZM-2CH1 hard drive cooler is a bit of luxury; it does work to lower the overall temperature of a hard drive, but the hard drive really doesn't need to be cooled to that degree. At least not in a typical desktop computer.
If we look at a totally silent case where there are no cooling fans in the case, in the power supply, or elsewhere, I think the Zalman ZM-2CH1 would certainly have a more important role to play in maintaining acceptable hard drive temperatures. But again, it is not a really critical item to have.
That being said, where Zalman have really done the low noise cooling enthusiast a helping hand is by bundling in this heatpipe based hard drive cooling with vibration absorbing rubber mounting points. While the cooling factor is debatable for a standard case, the affect of neutralizing parasitic case vibrations caused by a noisy hard drive in a silent PC is quiet important.
By catering to that application, Zalman have given the Zalman ZM-2CH1 a few tangible qualities which I'm sure a silent PC enthusiast will appreciate. Bottom line though, unless you are really working to build a fully silent case, the Zalman ZM-2CH1 isn't going to be fully utilized.
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