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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.19.04]
Manufactured by: Vantec
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The Secret

The secret to Vortex's success is the use of a variable speed rail fan. Rather than have a single 40mm fan blowing over one side of the HDD, the Vortex fan should be able to distribute more air over the entire surface of the HDD, increasing cooling performance. Certainly Vantec's extremely scientific diagrams indicate so:

As noted previously, the fan can operate in low speed (2000 RPM, 28 dBA, 16 CFM) or high speed (3700 RPM, 38 dBA, 30 CFM). 2 extra filters are included.

I can see your eyes bulging right now - 38 dBA? YES! It is VERY loud at high speed. Unless you already have some hefty high speed cooling going on in your case, this is going to be by far the loudest component in your PC. At low speed, 28 dBA isn't as bad, but being on the very front of your PC, it will be noticable. The Vortex is not for the faint of heart, and I'm sure that's perfectly fine for a lot of people here!

Finally, like the Cooldrive 4 we looked at earlier this week, the Vortex has a slick looking top, although you'll never be able to see it once you install it in a case. Unlike the Cooldrive 4 however, the Vortex does not utilize the lid as a heatsink for the hard drive, instead opting to blow air over the drive itself. Let's see how well it does!

The Test

To test the performance of the Vortex, we connected four thermistors to four different locations of a Maxtor 7200RPM 80GB hard drive, and averaged the results. The drive was loaded for 20 minutes, and a temperature was given. We also recorded the temperature of the drive without being installed in any cooler for 20 minutes.

Since we just recently reviewed another 'hard drive cooler', we included the results from the Cooler Master Cooldrive 4 as well. You can check out the full review of that here, when you're done with this review.

Unfortunately, we didn't see much greater results from the Vortex as we did with the Cooldrive 4. And keep in mind that low speed and high speed operation were both louder than the relative Cooldrive 4 fan speeds. Also, the Cooldrive 4 allows for far greater control of fan speed with a knob, as opposed to just 'high' and 'low'.

Keep in mind, however, that even with no extra cooling, our test drive only reached 35 degrees C. This is not very hot at all, and it's possible that it does not reflect the full potential of either of these drive coolers.

Unfortunately, the big loud rail fan doesn't seem to help the Vortex too much, as the temperature worked out to be almost exactly the same as the Cooldrive 4 with its quiet 40mm fan.

Besides the vibration dampener, the Vortex doesn't seem to have any other advantages over the Cooldrive 4, unless you're into the look. The Cooldrive 4 not only offers similar performance, but also adds excellent control over fans, including alarms and temperature monitoring for each one.

Based on our test results, I can't see much reason to suggest the Vortex over the Cooldrive 4, except maybe in price (it can be found for around $32 at NewEgg at the time of publication, while the Cooldrive 4 goes for about $41).

Revision - 02.19.04 11:51AM PST: It should be noted that our test drive doesn't seem capable of pushing either of these drive coolers to their full potential. Therefore, I am going to remove the 70% score we originally gave the Vortex.

In the future, I am going to try to obtain a drive that better shows the full potential of both these drive coolers, and I have a feeling the Vortex WOULD come out on top.

  • Nice looking accessory for 'industrial' looking cases
  • Decent price
  • HDD dampener
  • Available in black or silver

  • Only 2 fan speeds
  • Loud fan
  • Does not save settings when shut down