Coolpacks for a cool and quiet drive!

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

alleycat
Posts: 740
Joined: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:32 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Coolpacks for a cool and quiet drive!

Post by alleycat » Sun Jul 18, 2004 5:26 am

This idea deserves its own thread. It's not my idea, but I heard about it from cruelsister elsewhere in this forum, and I didn't want it getting buried and lost forever. Coolpacks are those reusable gel-filled bags that you can freeze. The brand name here in Australia is 'Esky' and they cost AU$2.50 each at Coles. I put a hard drive between two (unfrozen!) coolpacks. As you can seeit's just sitting there on the floor of my very cramped microATX case.

The coolpack does a pretty good job of isolating the drive from the case. There's still a bit of vibe getting through, but it's barely noticeable and I don't think it would take much to eliminate it altogether. I would guess that laying some kind of foam mat in the bottom of the case would do the trick. The coolpack does an excellent job of removing seek noise. There's not a big difference in noise reduction from just having the drive sitting on one coolpack or having the drive sandwiched between two, but I wanted to experiment a bit with temps etc. The Samsung drive and a single Panaflo 80L @5V are the only noise sources in the system, so this is one very quiet computer.

What is most remarkable about this technique is the temperatures. As you can see from the photo, the coolpacks are blocking the crudely hacked-out intake near the HDD. The case has very low airflow, and there would be almost no airflow over the coolpacks/drive. The coolpacks have been installed in my system for 10 hours now, and I've done some scans and a defrag to try to get the drive to heat up. The highest temperature reached was 31degC during the defrag. About 2 hours later, it is back down to 29degC which seems to be where it settles. That's about 10degC above ambient. When my drive was mounted in the normal manner, temps were around 35degC. So not only is the drive now running cooler (and of course quieter, and with less airflow), but the high thermal mass of the coolpacks tends to even out the temperatures, allowing only very slow rises and falls. That's got to be good for the drive. I'd like to see someone in a warm climate try this (it's winter here), to see if the rise above ambient is the same.

I'll be looking at ways of incorporating this concept into future silent PC designs, as I think it holds a lot of promise.

Thanks to cruelsister for discovering this idea!

cruelsister
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:20 am

Post by cruelsister » Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:18 am

Thanks for trying it Alleycat (you made me blush, btw).

I'm in Wisconsin,USA (summer) and get about the same results temp wise that you do. I really like the fact that my hottest running HD, the Seagate 7200.7 basically will remain at case temps except for moderate spikes during a defrag. Nothing better than having a HD heatsink that will also muffle noise and end vibration.

But what I most appreciate is that my WD 800JB is now just as quiet as my Seagate IV.

Bluefront
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: St Louis (county) Missouri USA

Post by Bluefront » Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:35 am

If this idea is working as described, it could be a useful invention.....cooling and dampening the HD at the same time. The cover of the gel-pac is providing a good thermal interface to the drive, understandable because of the intended use for the things.

My only worry would be the eventual deterioration of the gel-pac cover, leading to leaks. I suppose you could put the gel-pac in a small open top leak-proof container. That could protect the computer from leakage, but the drive could still get wet with the gel. I guess there are ways around this.

Neat idea, cheap, easy, multi-purpose.....now let's see one in action. :)


Take this one step further......cut a hole in your motherboard tray behind the cpu. Put a gel-pac in that spot, against the back side of the cpu, so when you attached the outer case cover, it would squish against the gel-pac and transfer heat from the CPU to the case side. An aluminum case would work best of course.

heh....Aluminum cases that really do cool better. :D

Gnep
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:54 am
Location: UK

Post by Gnep » Sun Jul 18, 2004 8:49 am

There are ones also available specifically made to fit round a bottle of wine as a sleeve. I have one here with the name "Rapid Ice" written on it. I just gave it a try around an old floppy drive, and it seems to fit perfectly - snug as a bug and completely wrapping around it. Also almost exactly the right lenght too.

Excellent idea cruelsister!

Gnep

dimva
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 6:01 pm

Post by dimva » Sun Jul 18, 2004 9:46 am

But does it reduce idle whine?

Edward Ng
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 2696
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2003 9:53 pm
Location: Scarsdale, NY
Contact:

Post by Edward Ng » Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:56 am

Wow that drive looks so...

comfortable...
[size=75][b]Contributing Writer, SPCR
[url=http://www.ngtechnik.com/]NgTechnik[/url][/b]
[url=http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=6134]Want something reviewed? Help us get samples![/url]
[url=http://www.silentpcreview.com/article98-page1.html]Donate for Patron or Friend Status![/url][/size]

sthayashi
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 3214
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:06 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Post by sthayashi » Sun Jul 18, 2004 11:42 am

Maybe this is just paranoia talking here, but shouldn't you do something to ensure that you don't cover the hole that says "Do Not Cover this Hole?"
[size=75][url=http://www.twolf1300.net/sthayashi/SPCR/systems.html]My Power Rig, Storage Rig, HTPC and Main Rig[/url][/size]

ONEshot
Posts: 257
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2004 11:37 pm

Post by ONEshot » Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:14 pm

I'm a little confused.

If the gelpack isn't frozen, how does it help temperatures? Is it because the heat is transfered through the packs? Or what?

Thanks.

somebody
Posts: 207
Joined: Thu May 22, 2003 2:47 pm

Post by somebody » Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:50 pm

ONEshot wrote:I'm a little confused.

If the gelpack isn't frozen, how does it help temperatures? Is it because the heat is transfered through the packs? Or what?

Thanks.
Yes. I think it is just doing what it does when it it frozen (absorb heat), but at room temperature.
Last edited by somebody on Sun Jul 18, 2004 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

josephclemente
Posts: 580
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: USA (Phoenix, AZ)

Post by josephclemente » Sun Jul 18, 2004 1:04 pm

Very nice idea! I wonder if this can be used with suspension, laying on top of the drive, without adding noise?

But one thing - I notice you are running a Samsung drive. What temperature does your drive report when your first turn it on, after it has been off a few hours?

The reason I ask is because Samsung drives are well known for lying about their temperatures. My 160GB Samsung always reports it is below ambient. Right now, after recently turning it on, it is the impossible temperature of 12C (about 16C below ambient)! The reported temperature will get higher, but it will still be unbelievable.

I let my Samsung hit 31C (on sensor) a few times before, and it is MUCH hotter to the touch - it "feels like" it is in the 45C range.

cruelsister
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:20 am

Post by cruelsister » Sun Jul 18, 2004 3:49 pm

The packs I found to be of the best use are the type made by Polar Tech Industries- type is "Ice Brix".

Code: Select all

http://www.polar-tech.com/iceflt.htm#standard
They're just a little longer and a little wider and about as thick as a hard drive. Just the right size to place side-by side on the bottom of a case, or used by itself on a HD cage ledge. Also guaranteed leak free.

As to the temps, I've just finished a 3 hour bout of photo editing. Ambient temp is 28C. My hottest drive is the Seagate SATA; it never exceeded my case temp of 38C (nor have I seen it do so in the 2 weeks I've ben using the packs).

Best thing is: I got the WD 800JB for $20 after rebate but hated it for it's noise. Now I have a silent drive that was purchased at an excellent price.

dimva
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 6:01 pm

Post by dimva » Sun Jul 18, 2004 5:56 pm

cruelsister wrote:The packs I found to be of the best use are the type made by Polar Tech Industries- type is "Ice Brix".
Where did you get them?

cruelsister
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:20 am

Post by cruelsister » Sun Jul 18, 2004 6:03 pm

I'm a medical resident. A Pharmacist friend happened to mention that the Pharmacy gets these things constantly when drugs needing refrigeration are delivered (in styrofoam boxes with these beauties inside)- they usually throw them away. If you have a friend or relation that works in a lab or hospital, this could be a good source. I guess food stores might be flush with them also, but I wouldn't know since I rarely have time to eat.

If not, similar items (cold packs) are sold in Pharmacies as heat-cold packs for muscle pulls, etc.

alleycat
Posts: 740
Joined: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:32 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by alleycat » Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:13 pm

Bluefront, I knew you'd come up with some creative idea for this! I don't think we need to worry too much about the coolpack breaking, provided one with a strong cover is chosen. I've only ever had one develop a tiny leak years ago after much use. I used it to keep my lunch cold during summer when I was working as a driver in a car with no aircon. Everyday it was going from way below freezing to about 50degC in the car, while at the same time having various things thrown on top of it. Then I would take it home and refreeze it ready for the next day. That cycle was repeated for months.

Dimva, I don't think you need to buy any particular brand, just the 'best' looking one you can find. At my local shopping mall I found 3 different brands in 2 different supermarkets before I decided on the ones to get. Unfortunately they do not get rid of the whine. That was one of the reasons why I tried sandwiching the drive. All other aspects of drive noise are dramatically reduced, but high frequency noise obviously requires a different strategy. As soon as I get a bigger case I'll be trying some special felt which I got from an auto hifi shop. Just laying some across the drive makes quite a difference to the whine. How to combine it with the coolpacks though...

Joseph, it seems that my Samsung drive is reporting temps correctly. It reports temps around ambient from a cold start. I previously had a Seagate Barracuda IV which ran hotter, both as reported by MBM, and to touch. At no time have I ever felt the Samsung to be more than warm to the touch. The lowest temperature I've seen was yesterday when I installed the coolpacks after returning with them from the supermarket. My PC had been on all day and the HDD temperature was in the usual low 30s. I left the computer on while I installed the coolpacks. Within minutes MBM was showing 16degC. It took 2 hours before the temperature settled at 29...

pandamonium54
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 6:33 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO
Contact:

Post by pandamonium54 » Sun Jul 18, 2004 8:20 pm

That's really interesting.... I'd like a few to try out... *wink wink*

dimva
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 6:01 pm

Post by dimva » Mon Jul 19, 2004 12:03 am

alleycat wrote:Unfortunately they do not get rid of the whine.
Damn! I guess it's time to go to mcmaster for some foam.

Also I checked the nearest Rite Aid, but they didn't have anything good. All other pharmacies were closed because this was a Sunday night.

postul8or
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 11:33 am
Location: Canada

Post by postul8or » Mon Jul 19, 2004 10:28 am

sthayashi wrote:Maybe this is just paranoia talking here, but shouldn't you do something to ensure that you don't cover the hole that says "Do Not Cover this Hole?"
This same thing occurred to me this morning after having read the article last night.

I guess you could try cutting off a straw or something like that to keep the hole clear. If I were a marketing type I'd give it a name like the hard drive snorkel or something! I guess I should head down to the patent office and copyright that name ;)

My 2nd question:

To reduce the amount of noise from the hard drive, which part of the hard drive is key to cover up to block noise? Do you want it on the flat part (top and bottom) as demonstrated in the example...or is there a fair amount of noise transmitted through the skinny dimensions and corners of hard drives as well?

I remember reading once when building speaker boxes that a fair amount of noise comes off of the sharp corners of a speaker. In a typical cube shape there would be 8 points...anyway, the idea was to sand the points down and round them off to reduce noise. I wonder if there is any similar effect in a hard drive that is important here. In a speaker the idea is to avoid distorted sound, I wonder if the corners of a hard drive do release some specific kind of frequency that should be considered when trying to make a quiet system. Maybe this frequency distorts to be a little lower than the high pitched squeal produced by the motor heard through other parts of the drive. I admit, this may be a complete non-issue. Just thought I'd throw an odd ball idea out there.

cruelsister
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:20 am

Post by cruelsister » Mon Jul 19, 2004 4:29 pm

In my case I have 3 drives. One of them is placed on the metal support for the now removed HD cage. As the support base is shorter than the coolpak that I used I placed a layer of thin hard foam to extend it, and placed the coolpack on that, then the drive on top of the pack.

For the other 2 HD's, they're at the case bottom where I laid 2 packs side by side with the drives on top of that. In my case (Antec 1080) I didn't feel the need to sandwich the drives with the packs.

But I assure you that this method does a great job in silencing the drives, which was my primary goal. Totally putting the possible thermal advantages aside, this method seems to let you use whatever drive you want and still have it silent. That is for any drive that doesn't emit a high pitched whine (so basically any ATA drive you can get).

postul8or
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 11:33 am
Location: Canada

Post by postul8or » Mon Jul 19, 2004 5:27 pm

cruelsister wrote:In my case I have 3 drives. One of them is placed on the metal support for the now removed HD cage. As the support base is shorter than the coolpak that I used I placed a layer of thin hard foam to extend it, and placed the coolpack on that, then the drive on top of the pack.

For the other 2 HD's, they're at the case bottom where I laid 2 packs side by side with the drives on top of that. In my case (Antec 1080) I didn't feel the need to sandwich the drives with the packs.

But I assure you that this method does a great job in silencing the drives, which was my primary goal. Totally putting the possible thermal advantages aside, this method seems to let you use whatever drive you want and still have it silent. That is for any drive that doesn't emit a high pitched whine (so basically any ATA drive you can get).
It would be cool to see a picture of the current configuration you've got going there. I'm sure others would be interested to see it as well, just depends if you've got the time and energy to take the pictures for us.

If I read you correctly, you are saying that this takes a fairly quiet hard drive to start with and helps to make it nearly silent.

In terms of taking a drive that is noisy is hell and seeing improvement...there isn't much. This is the position I'm in with my 120 Gb Western Digital. Sounds like I should buy a little kit to convert it into a backup drive or something because I won't be able to make it silent no matter how hard I try.

Tibors
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 2674
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:07 am
Location: Houten, The Netherlands, Europe

Post by Tibors » Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:35 am

postul8or wrote:[...] In terms of taking a drive that is noisy is hell and seeing improvement...there isn't much. This is the position I'm in with my 120 Gb Western Digital. Sounds like I should buy a little kit to convert it into a backup drive or something because I won't be able to make it silent no matter how hard I try.
Don't say that until you tried the rubber box.
3) MSI RS480M2-IL | A64 3000+ | Freezer 64 | SS-301HT | 7200.7 PATA 40GB
5) Intel D525MW | Intel 320 40GB | Vertex II 180GB

alleycat
Posts: 740
Joined: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:32 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by alleycat » Tue Jul 20, 2004 1:05 am

Postul8or, if you haven't tried decoupling your drive, you really should. Any of the techniques will make a huge difference, each with its own advantages. You might not make it 'silent', but you may end up with something you can live with.

By the way, what hole are you referring to? There isn't one on my drive.

EDIT (3 hrs after original post): Dimva, good news. I've just been playing around with the positioning of the coolpacks and I have been able to substantially decrease the volume of the whine. It is still present when I get up close, but from a metre away in my quiet apartment all I can hear is the 5V Panaflo! It seems there is more to learn...

cruelsister
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 4:20 am

Post by cruelsister » Tue Jul 20, 2004 5:54 am

Dump the Panaflo's and get TC1's and you won't hear anything.

sthayashi
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 3214
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:06 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Post by sthayashi » Tue Jul 20, 2004 6:11 am

*pulls out Samsung drive that's about to be RMA'd*
You're right... I can't find the breather hole on my drive either.

Most of the hard drives I've used in the past have a hole to equalize the air pressure within the hard drive.

So does anyone know where the breather hole is on Samsung hard drives?
[size=75][url=http://www.twolf1300.net/sthayashi/SPCR/systems.html]My Power Rig, Storage Rig, HTPC and Main Rig[/url][/size]

Jan Kivar
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 1310
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 4:37 am
Location: Finland

Post by Jan Kivar » Tue Jul 20, 2004 6:34 am

It might be under the PCB. I've read that this is the case with some drives, but can't remember whether it concerned Samsung or not.

Cheers,

Jan
[size=75]E6600 (2GHz@1,163V, 3GHz@1,237V), Ninja rev. B, AB9 Pro, 4x1 GB Corsair (CM2X1024-6400), MSI 7600GS, Samsung HD501LJ/HD401LJ/SP2504C, Plextor PX760SA, Seasonic S12-430, Nexus Fans, Antec Solo, ViewSonic VP201b[/size]

greeef
Posts: 355
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:08 am

Post by greeef » Tue Jul 20, 2004 6:58 am

postul8or wrote:I remember reading once when building speaker boxes that a fair amount of noise comes off of the sharp corners of a speaker. In a typical cube shape there would be 8 points...anyway, the idea was to sand the points down and round them off to reduce noise. I wonder if there is any similar effect in a hard drive that is important here. In a speaker the idea is to avoid distorted sound, I wonder if the corners of a hard drive do release some specific kind of frequency that should be considered when trying to make a quiet system. Maybe this frequency distorts to be a little lower than the high pitched squeal produced by the motor heard through other parts of the drive. I admit, this may be a complete non-issue. Just thought I'd throw an odd ball idea out there.
What you are describing here is diffraction - sound waves run along the flat face of the front of the speaker and on hitting the sharp edges are slightly retransmitted, the sharp edges act as virtual sound sources.

Unfortunately this sound is out of phase with the original signal and only serves to blur the sound and ruin the stereo image somewhat. It also only applies to sounds of a fairly high frequency.

This second transmission is far quiter than the original, if anything it would only serve to make the noise more "white" and less focused, which is easier to ignore.

Nice idea though, dont think it applies to hard drives, but if you're very VERY fussy about cooling it could apply to external case design - acoustic properties of furniture in a room and suchlike.

griff

postul8or
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 11:33 am
Location: Canada

Post by postul8or » Tue Jul 20, 2004 10:40 am

greeef wrote: What you are describing here is diffraction - sound waves run along the flat face of the front of the speaker and on hitting the sharp edges are slightly retransmitted, the sharp edges act as virtual sound sources.

Unfortunately this sound is out of phase with the original signal and only serves to blur the sound and ruin the stereo image somewhat. It also only applies to sounds of a fairly high frequency.

This second transmission is far quiter than the original, if anything it would only serve to make the noise more "white" and less focused, which is easier to ignore.

Nice idea though, dont think it applies to hard drives, but if you're very VERY fussy about cooling it could apply to external case design - acoustic properties of furniture in a room and suchlike.

griff
I'm glad I have one less thing to worry about. If I purchase a couple of cool packs I will probably see how much of a difference it makes if I put the cool packs on the sides as well.
alleycat wrote:Postul8or, if you haven't tried decoupling your drive, you really should. Any of the techniques will make a huge difference, each with its own advantages. You might not make it 'silent', but you may end up with something you can live with.

By the way, what hole are you referring to? There isn't one on my drive.
I will try to decouple the hard drive or do something like a cool pack or rubber box. My real dilemma is the way my case is built. I think it was bluefront that had the same style of box as I do, where there are like 5 hard drive bays going all the way to the bottom of the case. Anyway, my main option would be to mount the drives vertically to fit in the existing space, which I have questions about the goodness of this for the HD. I know it will work and has worked, but does it double the chance of a hard drive crash etc. Really I feel the answers are indicating it's okay, but are fairly subjective answers nonetheless (the wording by the manufacturers lead me to believe it will work, but their conflict of interest to sell more product must be considered!).

Edit: Note I have a thread about vertical hard drive mounting already on the go. Also worth noting I have tentatively ruled out the 5 1/4" CD bays for a horizontal mount because of poor ventilation. I could jerry-rig a fan, but would prefer that there were real screw holes to put a fan in.

I'm not sure how much of a chore it would be to take those hard drive bays out of there. Unscrewing preferable, cutting with dremel or tin snips or something would be a little more permanent and not preferred!

No matter what I do, it will take some creativity and most of all time.
Tibors wrote:Don't say that until you tried the rubber box.
Unfortunately I think this 120 GB disk is 4 platters @ 30 GB a piece (darn I'll have to double check maybe it's 3 @ 40). 1 or 2 platters can stay at an okay temperature in tight enclosures, but 3 is questionable and 4 is doubtful.

Correct me if I am wrong...

Tibors
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 2674
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:07 am
Location: Houten, The Netherlands, Europe

Post by Tibors » Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:52 pm

There are theads on the forum where boxes are combined with a Zalman heatpipe harddisk cooler.
3) MSI RS480M2-IL | A64 3000+ | Freezer 64 | SS-301HT | 7200.7 PATA 40GB
5) Intel D525MW | Intel 320 40GB | Vertex II 180GB

PositiveSpin
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 5:03 am

Post by PositiveSpin » Sun Jul 25, 2004 3:20 pm

dimva wrote:But does it reduce idle whine?
Maybe you need to use the "whine cooler" version?

:)

postul8or
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 11:33 am
Location: Canada

Post by postul8or » Sun Jul 25, 2004 6:36 pm

Tibors wrote:There are theads on the forum where boxes are combined with a Zalman heatpipe harddisk cooler.
I'm coming to the conclusion that experimentation is the only answer. I can't see how putting a box made of a material such as rubber would have much of an advantage with a heatpipe cooler. Why? I simply don't see that the rubber would conduct much heat to the heatpipe to release the heat. Maybe it defies logic (or my at least my logic) and ends up working, which is why the experiment must be done.

The really frustrating part for me is that I bought this case with the hard drive bays going all the way down the bottom of the case. This eliminates a lot of potential experiments such as the bluefront birdhouse and things like that. Even the coolpack experiment would have to be done in a 5.25" bay, which is alright for 1 drive, but will present problems if I try to do it for 2 drives I think.

Anyway, I think the first thing I'm going to try is unplugging my Western Digital 120 Gb drive to see how loud the other devices are. If they are all pretty quiet I'm thinking I'll buy 2 Seagate 200 Gb drives, put them in a RAID, and things should be pretty quiet just based on components (nevermind provisions for quietness in my case).

dimva
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 6:01 pm

Post by dimva » Sun Jul 25, 2004 6:40 pm

PositiveSpin wrote:
dimva wrote:But does it reduce idle whine?
Maybe you need to use the "whine cooler" version?

:)
:x



:wink:

Well looks like I have found a place to buy coolpacks (shoprite). Problem is they're $5 each, bringing up total cost of quieting 2 drives to $15 (or even $20).

I'd like to test how it silences one drive before continuing but I need to restart my computer (haven't done that in a couple of weeks).

Post Reply