eSATA idea

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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doveman
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eSATA idea

Post by doveman » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:01 pm

I came across this "Combo Power & Serial ATA Backplate" http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?Mod ... 0&doy=20m6 today and I'm wondering if I could use this with either a WD WD5000AAKS or a Samsung HD501LJ and my SATA1 motherboard.

I've got no experience with SATA so forgive me if I'm missing something, but wouldn't this do away with the need for an external PSU for the HD and the associated problem of not being able to put it into Suspend mode?

Could I then use a Sycthe Quiet Drive outside my PC to silence the HD, or would there be a better/cheaper way of doing that. I'm wondering what sort of temperatures the HD would run at, either bare or in the Quiet Drive.

I see there's also a "PC Front Panel with SATA Data and Power" http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?Mod ... 4&doy=20m6 available, which might be of interest to somebody.

Steve_Y
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Post by Steve_Y » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:21 pm

That should work fine, but have you checked that none of the available enclosures will suspend the drive?

That isn't something I've ever tried as I don't use suspend mode, but the externally powered eSATA enclosures I've used do turn off the drive when the PC is shutdown. Maybe some of them (at least the better models) support other power management features?

Personally I like powering my drives externally, it takes a bit of load off the computer's PSU, allowing it to run cooler. Based on my messing around with a Kill-A-Watt, those little external power bricks are pretty efficient. They also allow you to place the drive further away from your PC; eSATA cables can be 2m in length, I haven't seen SATA power cables that are as long.

In my experience drives don't reach dangerous temperatures when running outside of the case. They don't run particularly cool, but as long as the room temperature is reasonable they should be OK. I'd have thought that would be true whether or not the drive was in a Quiet Drive enclosure.

I'm using a couple of Freecom eSATA drives, which have internal fans to keep them cool, but I'm also using a 500Gb WD5000AAKS in an Akasa Integral P2 that's passively cooled. The thin aluminium of that case doesn't have much contact with the drive and isn't much of a heatsink, yet I've had no trouble running it outside the case 24/7.

In my opinion eSATA is a great thing for low noise storage. Being able to place the drive up to 2m away from the case makes it a lot easier to keep the drive quiet. Previously I'd used laptop drives and network storage, but obviously they lack the speed of a 3.5" SATA drive.

doveman
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Post by doveman » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:34 pm

Where I'm coming from is having read the reviews of the Icy Dock and Antec MX-1 enclosures, it seems that the former results in significantly increased noise with no lowering of temperature whilst the Antec lowers temperature significantly but still with an increase in noise over the bare drive.

At the end of the Icy Dock review, an idea is floated of putting an eSATA drive in an "acoustically padded drawer". I'm intrigued by this idea, although I imagine there may be some problems with keeping the drive cool in such a drawer but it seems rather a waste of money to buy an enclosure if one is going to do this (although having said that, perhaps the temperature reduction afforded by the MX-1 would be useful in this regard).

I take your point about eSATA cables being able to go up to 2m long. If, as it seems, the backplate I linked to uses SATA cables for the external connections, as the internal cables are 0.3m long the external ones couldn't be any longer than 0.7m.

I generally try to avoid using external PSU's where possible just because it's such a hassle to unplug them when not in use and it seems rather wasteful to leave them plugged in all the time, although perhaps I'm allowing my observations about how warm they get, to lead me to make incorrect assumptions about how much energy is being wasted. It's good to know that eSATA enclosures generally power down with the PC as the USB enclosure I'm currently using doesn't do so.

So, basically I don't want to spend a not inconsiderable sum on an eSATA enclosure that does nothing to reduce noise to my satisfaction. If this can be achieved using a Scythe Quiet Drive, or something similar, and a 0.7m SATA cable (which restricts it to being placed on top of the back of my PC case, personally not a problem) then that seems a better idea. Alternatively, an eSATA backplate with a 2m eSATA cable connected to a bare drive with an eSATA to SATA connector, along with an external PSU, with the drive placed in some sort of acoustically padded drawer, might be a cheaper and more effective option and I'd be grateful for any pointers on where to get a suitable PSU from and designs for such a padded drawer.

doveman
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Post by doveman » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:08 am

I've searched around and failed to find any SATA power cables anywhere close to a useful length. If the WD or Samsung drives still have a Molex connecter, perhaps I could just use a Molex cable for the power, although I don't know what length these are meant to go to. I see that the Thermaltake MUSE eSATA (A2319) takes the power from a PC Molex, using a DIN style connector for the lead from the backplate to the enclosure but I haven't been able to find out how long this lead is.

Perhaps my best option would be to buy a cheap eSATA enclosure, complete with an eSATA PCI backplate and PSU (although internal SATA to eSATA backplates are fairly cheap so it wouldn't matter too much if this wasn't included). As a cheap enclosure is likely to be rather noisy, I'd probably just cannibalise the PCB and put the drive in a DIY acoustically padded enclosure.

EDIT: I have now found a 91.44 cm SATA power cable
http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?Mod ... 0&doy=21m6
which I think would be OK combined with a short Molex->SATA adapter such as this 6cm one
http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?Mod ... 6&doy=21m6
to keep the total length under 1m. Then, I could use a SATA data cable and just pass both cables through a suitable opening in the PC case, doing away with the need for a backplate.

Alternatively, this 60cm SATA power cable
http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?Mod ... 4&doy=21m6
would seem to be suitable for use with the Combo Power & Serial ATA Backplate, with it's internal 30cm cables. Using a backplate would reduce the risk of the data cable coming loose from the motherboard.

gb115b
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Post by gb115b » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:25 am

maximum length of a sata cable is 1m according to the spec...

esata should be 2m

Steve_Y
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Post by Steve_Y » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:42 am

doveman wrote:Where I'm coming from is having read the reviews of the Icy Dock and Antec MX-1 enclosures, it seems that the former results in significantly increased noise with no lowering of temperature whilst the Antec lowers temperature significantly but still with an increase in noise over the bare drive.
None of the enclosures I’ve tried do much to reduce noise. Despite its lack of fans, the Akasa enclosed WD drive is actually just as loud as the fan cooled Freecom drives (I’m not sure what actual HDDs are used in them). The Akasa’s aluminium enclosure does nothing to reduce idle whine and it amplifies seek noise considerably. Even sitting the enclosure on soft foam and a couple of gel packs doesn’t do much to help.

An enclosure that’s actually designed for noise reduction would definitely be a better choice if the drive has to be situated nearby.
doveman wrote:At the end of the Icy Dock review, an idea is floated of putting an eSATA drive in an "acoustically padded drawer". I'm intrigued by this idea, although I imagine there may be some problems with keeping the drive cool in such a drawer but it seems rather a waste of money to buy an enclosure if one is going to do this (although having said that, perhaps the temperature reduction afforded by the MX-1 would be useful in this regard).
That’s the main reason why I bought two fan cooled drives; I intended to place them inside a small wooden cabinet at the side of my computer desk, with holes cut in the underside and back of the cabinet to allow airflow. If they were still audible I was going to try lining it with acoustic foam, and use a duct of sound absorbing material to muffle the sound of the enclosure fans if necessary. Overall I’m convinced that this would have worked quite well and is still something I might try in the future.

In the end I realised that the 2m eSATA cables allowed me to place the drives in a different room. I already had satellite TV, telephone and networking cables running through a partition wall, into a spare room that’s just used for storage, and then into a bedroom. I just had to move my desk a little closer to the wall, enlarge the existing hole, and run through the cables. Even though it’s a very thin wall, it easily blocks any HDD whine and fan noise, with seek noise only audible if I listen carefully; evidence that a sturdy drawer or wooden box would probably do a good job of blocking the same noise.
doveman wrote:I take your point about eSATA cables being able to go up to 2m long. If, as it seems, the backplate I linked to uses SATA cables for the external connections, as the internal cables are 0.3m long the external ones couldn't be any longer than 0.7m.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen 2m cables with an SATA connector on one end and eSATA on the other, allowing you to connect an eSATA drive directly to an internal port. AFAIK the only differences between eSATA and SATA cables are that eSATA has more shielding, along with a different connector that’s designed to be repeatedly detached and inserted without breaking. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t have a 2m cable with internal SATA connectors as long as it has eSATA shielding. Perhaps it’s worth looking around to see if such a thing exists.
doveman wrote:I generally try to avoid using external PSU's where possible just because it's such a hassle to unplug them when not in use and it seems rather wasteful to leave them plugged in all the time, although perhaps I'm allowing my observations about how warm they get, to lead me to make incorrect assumptions about how much energy is being wasted.
The heat produced by something like that is a pretty good indication of its power consumption, but it seems strange to me that your external PSUs would get hot when not powering a drive. With the drive turned off the little power supply with my Freecom drive barely warms up. I haven’t measured its power consumption with a Kill-A-Watt, but I doubt it uses more than a watt or two of power when not in use.

To be honest I’m not that fanatical about minimising power consumption. I suppose I should care about a few wasted watts here and there, but overall as long as the computer is cool and quiet I’m pretty happy. My UPS uses nearly 10W, so the few extra watts from external power bricks aren’t going to make me lose any sleep.

If it bothers you then maybe you could put the drive (and any other externally powered devices) on a separate power extension with its own on/off switch, a bit quicker than having to unplug them each time.

doveman wrote:It's good to know that eSATA enclosures generally power down with the PC as the USB enclosure I'm currently using doesn't do so.
That surprises me a bit. I’ve used the USB connection on my Freecom drives a few times and they do turn off along with the PC. I’d assumed that this was a pretty standard feature, although that's mainly because most of the other USB drives I’ve used are 2.5â€

doveman
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Post by doveman » Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:57 am

Steve_Y wrote: None of the enclosures I’ve tried do much to reduce noise. Despite its lack of fans, the Akasa enclosed WD drive is actually just as loud as the fan cooled Freecom drives (I’m not sure what actual HDDs are used in them). The Akasa’s aluminium enclosure does nothing to reduce idle whine and it amplifies seek noise considerably. Even sitting the enclosure on soft foam and a couple of gel packs doesn’t do much to help..
Thanks for the info about the Akasa. I'd already dismissed it as it doesn't come with an eSATA backplate, which I haven't seen available seperately anywhere but I certainly wouldn't want to get anything that increases the noise.
Steve_Y wrote:That’s the main reason why I bought two fan cooled drives; I intended to place them inside a small wooden cabinet at the side of my computer desk, with holes cut in the underside and back of the cabinet to allow airflow. If they were still audible I was going to try lining it with acoustic foam, and use a duct of sound absorbing material to muffle the sound of the enclosure fans if necessary. Overall I’m convinced that this would have worked quite well and is still something I might try in the future..
Some good ideas there. I guess it would be best to put the intake hole on the underside, rather than the front, as far as noise is concerned. If using bare drives (IE not already in fan cooled enclosures), would you use an intake or an outtake fan (or both)? If using an outtake fan, either on it's own or in conjunction with an intake fan, might there be any point in ducting that?
Steve_Y wrote:In the end I realised that the 2m eSATA cables allowed me to place the drives in a different room. I already had satellite TV, telephone and networking cables running through a partition wall, into a spare room that’s just used for storage, and then into a bedroom. I just had to move my desk a little closer to the wall, enlarge the existing hole, and run through the cables.
Nice idea. Unfortunately, the other side of my wall is the great outdoors and a 30 ft drop :)
Steve_Y wrote:I’m pretty sure I’ve seen 2m cables with an SATA connector on one end and eSATA on the other, allowing you to connect an eSATA drive directly to an internal port. AFAIK the only differences between eSATA and SATA cables are that eSATA has more shielding, along with a different connector that’s designed to be repeatedly detached and inserted without breaking. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t have a 2m cable with internal SATA connectors as long as it has eSATA shielding. Perhaps it’s worth looking around to see if such a thing exists.
Can't say I've seen such a thing but I'll have a look for them. Is there any difference between SATA I and SATA II cables which would allow the latter to be longer?
Steve_Y wrote:The heat produced by something like that is a pretty good indication of its power consumption, but it seems strange to me that your external PSUs would get hot when not powering a drive. With the drive turned off the little power supply with my Freecom drive barely warms up. I haven’t measured its power consumption with a Kill-A-Watt, but I doubt it uses more than a watt or two of power when not in use.
I've done a quick check today and it's only my USB enclosure's brick that has this problem, so it must just be a poor design I guess.
Steve_Y wrote:That surprises me a bit. I’ve used the USB connection on my Freecom drives a few times and they do turn off along with the PC. I’d assumed that this was a pretty standard feature, although that's mainly because most of the other USB drives I’ve used are 2.5â€

mai9
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Re: eSATA idea

Post by mai9 » Tue Jun 26, 2007 11:39 am

doveman wrote:I've got no experience with SATA so forgive me if I'm missing something, but wouldn't this do away with the need for an external PSU for the HD and the associated problem of not being able to put it into Suspend mode?

Could I then use a Sycthe Quiet Drive outside my PC to silence the HD, or would there be a better/cheaper way of doing that. I'm wondering what sort of temperatures the HD would run at, either bare or in the Quiet Drive.
(I didn't read the whole thread, but here's my comment)

I have an external hdd sata enclosure that can plug directly to molex, and therefore -as you say- can suspend (which is something I don't use), it has a small fan that is quiet enough for me. Its name is: SNT-2316SATA, the price was 25€ and here's a review (which is offline at this moment): http://www.dansdata.com/sntboxes.htm

doveman
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Post by doveman » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:30 pm

Cheers for that mai9. I'll take a look at the review when it's back up.

doveman
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Post by doveman » Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:27 pm

This looks interesting: http://svp.co.uk/products-solo.php?pid=2891

It works over both USB and eSATA (comes with a backplate) and gets it's power from the USB connection instead of a power brick. This obviously requires both the eSATA and USB cables to be connected to use it as a eSATA drive but I don't see any problem with that.

doveman
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Post by doveman » Fri Jun 29, 2007 5:19 pm

Steve_Y wrote:I’m not sure where you’d get an external power brick with a power connector suitable for a bare drive. The ones with enclosures generally have their own proprietary power plugs and I haven’t seen any sold separately. The only ones I can think of are some power bricks featuring a molex connector that were sold with USB-IDE adapter cables. I bought one from eBay years ago but could never get the cable to work reliably. Despite the extra expense, to me getting a decent quality eSATA enclosure seems like a better option. Having said that, I would be interested in the details if you do find suitable external power supplies...
I can't claim the credit for finding this (Bluefront lead me to it in this thread: viewtopic.php?p=350690) but this looks like it could be useful http://www.jab-tech.com/12v-DC-Power-Su ... -3776.html. With an easily obtained Molex->SATA power adapter, this should work fine.

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