I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX...

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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stealthycow
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I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX...

Post by stealthycow » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:14 pm

For the past few months, for some reason I cannot explain, my computer has been driving me nuts. Something just "clicked" inside of my head, and suddenly I realized I was living with a jet engine. So I discovered silentpc, and a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff I never imagined buying, here I am.

I got my Seasonic X-560 and WD5000AAKX on the same day...one was the biggest improvement yet, but the hard drive...well, unbearable might be too strong, but I can't stand it. I have a couple of 120mm Noctuas (with the low noise adapter, of course), an Antec True Quiet 120mm (set on low of course) and an 80mm Noctua zip tied to my videocard (still waiting on my Gelid Icy Vision). I cannot hear any of them, except the 80mm when I'm gaming and set it to 100%...and even then, it isn't too bad. Really, I can't. I've stopped every fan and I honestly cannot tell the difference.

But the hard drive...it's a replacement for a 4 year old Seagate which developed a very annoying, very high pitched, constant whine, so I obviously had to get a new one. Naturally, I searched around these forums and read the reviews, recommended drives, etc., settled on a Caviar Blue because I heard good things and honestly couldn't imagine using a 5400RPM drive (and can't afford a SSD).

It's so loud, though! The seeking goes in and out...I guess that's what it's supposed to be like, but sometimes it'll be quiet and sometimes it'll go for minutes. That isn't my main problem, though, but rather...I believe you guys refer to it as "airborne acoustics"? Of course this is a constant noise, whirring and whirring and whirring. I know it isn't the vibration. I suspended the hard drive with some Stretch Magic like I saw in the pictures, and I can't really say that had much of an effect. When I touch my case I can't feel much of any vibration, suspended or not, so I'm sure it's the drive's whirring, and not vibrations, that is getting to me.

It bothers me SO much because I booted my PC with the hard drive unplugged by accident when I first got it, and it was so, so silent it nearly brought a tear to my eye before I realized what was really happening. I feel like I have reached perfection here, EXCEPT for the hard drive, and it's killing me.



So anyways, so sorry for the long-winded post, I'm just a little frustrated and wanted to tell my stories. Basically I'm asking for a recommendation? I'm returning the WD drive, I think, because I'm not convinced that any kind of enclosure will help. When I was looking for drives I completely looked right past the 2.5 drives....I don't know why, really...so I've been reading into those. I've also been thinking about 5400/5900rpm drives...my Seagate was 7200rpm, but 4 years old, so I figure maybe a 5400rpm drive 4 years later might not be such a decrease in what I'm used to?

I want silence, basically my top priority. If a 5400rpm drive is get-used-to-able, I'm willing to give one a shot. I don't want to deal with RAID or anything like that. This will be my only drive, so storage space is important, but I'm used to a 250gb drive so I don't really need 1TB or anything crazy like that (although I won't say no if the price is right). I'll be trying my best to read reviews and this forum for a while, just thought I'd make a post for once.

Edit: Here's what I've been looking at...

WDEARS drives. From what I've read, very quiet, high capacity, but still 3.5" so I dunno if it'd be a better option than a notebook drive. Also 5400rpm, but again, used to 4 year old 250gb 7200rpm so dunno if it'll be much worse.

Pretty much all the 2.5" notebook drives. I've been reading through the reviews, and besides the fact that a lot of them are kind of dated already, none really seem to stand out. I guess the WD Scorpio Blue, since it's recommended, and the Travelstar 5k500.B, since it's recommended, but again, none stand out. Was thinking a Scorpio Black. 2.5" but 7200rpm, don't really know.

Then one that really stood out to me, the Momentus XT. Obviously the fastest choice, I've read people saying it's not really worth it but that was when they were more expensive than they are now. Still, $99 for 500gb makes it the most expensive choice, but maybe worth it. Only thing keeping me from buying it is noise, because I've read mixed reviews - good silentpc reviews, newegg/amazon reviews seem to be conflicting on the noise front, but then again many of those people are on laptops which I'm sure changes the game.

So...yeah, decisions decisions! Right now I'm dealing with my old drive's high pitched whining, and it's driving me CRAZY, so I might not even wait for a response!
Last edited by stealthycow on Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

HFat
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by HFat » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:44 am

I've tried a Seagate 2.5'' 7200 rpm (reviewed by SPCR) and it was fairly quiet.

But I think you should consider a short-stroked 3.5'' 5400 rpm instead. You can use the rest of the drive for "bulk storage". As long as you're accessing only the short-stroked part (so no backgronud AV scanning or anything of the sort which would kill performance anyway), your drive will be quicker than its specs. Be sure to get the highest platter density if you want good sequential performance as well as tolerable random performance.

SSDs are not all as expensive as you might think by the way.

stealthycow
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by stealthycow » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:07 pm

Well this is embarrassing. I posted this, had to get verified, then edited it which also had to get verified so the topic was removed from the page...and I just gave in to temptation and picked up the momentus XT from compusa (they have competitive-to-amazon/newegg prices, when did this happen???), so I guess this topic is useless now...

But I guess I can tell you guys I'm really happy with this drive! It's still the loudest component in my system, but that's only because everything else is so silent. It is very, very quiet in comparison to my old Seagate and that Caviar Blue, and very quiet in general. I rarely hear the seeking noise, and when I do it's barely audible. Super fast to, too...I can't even imagine what a SSD is like.

As for SSD pricing, yeah, I don't really know much about SSDs to be completely honest. I just had a hell of a time justifying a $100 HDD, and I dunno...I'm on a very old LGA775 mobo with a core2duo and I've spent so much money thanks to silentpc already that I didn't want to digest a SSD.

Conclusion: Momentus XT made me happy and I am an impatient person who should have known better than to post a topic.

Jim G
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by Jim G » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:49 pm

I have five WD20EARS/EARX drives on at the moment inside a case not 3ft away from me right now and I can't hear any of them... and there's a sixth sitting in open air on top of the case that's also inaudible apart from some faint clicks - it's having about 500GB of data transferred to it right now, though, so I can't blame it. They're quiet, consume a very small amount of power for a large capacity 3.5" drive and are pretty good $/GB-wise - I've got several more on order and will continue to buy them. I'd give that a go first.

Abula
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by Abula » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:09 pm

Personally i would save toward a small ssd for OS/Apps like Samsung 470 64GB SSD and Hitachi 5k500b for storage, i own 2 (about to order 2 more) in my media streamer and in my experience the most quiet mechanical hdd i have used, not silent but very quiet, also very little vibaration, to me the perfect hdd, but for OS a 5400 laptop drive.... idk, to me too slow, a small ssd should give you a really fast and quiet setup.

kuzzia
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by kuzzia » Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:02 am

I believe you have four decent options if you also need the performance. Some of the alternatives has been mentioned already:

1) quiet 7200 3,5". SPCR has reviewed the hitachi Deskstar 7k1000.c and the Western Digital Blue 1TB WD10EALS. Bottom line is, that while the Hitachi is quieter than the WD, it also vibrates more. But that's not a problem if you suspend it.
As a side note, the 320 GB/platter (640 GB) WD Blue idled at 16 dBa/1m according to another SPCR-review. Here, the 500 GB/platter (1 TB) idles at 14 dBa/1m.. Going backwards, the 250 platter drive would probably idle at 18-20 dBa/1m. Just a thought.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/hitachi-wdblue-1tb

2) Seagate Momentus XT. You mention the SPCR review as well, and the Momentus XT was measured to emit very little noise. It would definitely be in the "recommended hard drives" sector if it was updated more regularly.

3) Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB ST9500420AS. A 7200 rpm 2,5" drive which performs like a 5400 rpm 2,5" (i.e. very quiet.)

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1071-page4.html

4) SSD's... Really try to squeeze the budget just a bit further. Besides the advantage in acoustics, the performance vs. a regular HDD is stunning which every SSD owner will verify. A 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 (25 nm) costs the same as the Momentus XT 500 GB here in Denmark.

I have the same 250 GB/platter generation WD drive as you, just the green 5400 rpm version. I do game once in a while, and I browse the web a lot. Subjectively, the HD is fast enough, except for opening multiple programs simultaneously. My WD Green really struggles in that discipline. This occurs especially when booting because I open lots of programs, even though I am using a Launch manager. Opening Firefox and Dropbox, for example, feels like an eternity. That can be very annoying! But if you only open one application at a time, you should not feel any particular lack over some of the fast HDD's. The new generations of WD Greens have evolved too, and since their platter densities have more than doubled, the sequential performance has also received a noticeable boost.

HFat
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by HFat » Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:18 am

kuzzia wrote:3) Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB ST9500420AS. A 7200 rpm 2,5" drive which performs like a 5400 rpm 2,5" (i.e. very quiet.)
I'm not saying it would be a bad choice but I've compared the single-platter version (only one sample) with the single-platter 5K500.B and the 5400 rpm Hitachi which is more quiet. It's especially obvious once the drives are mounted into a case (I got a few people to listen). Suspended, the difference might be smaller.
kuzzia wrote:Opening Firefox and Dropbox, for example, feels like an eternity. That can be very annoying!
If that's the problem, you could launch these relatively small programs from a RAM drive (assuming you have enough RAM, which is cheap nowadays).

kuzzia
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by kuzzia » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:42 am

HFat wrote:If that's the problem, you could launch these relatively small programs from a RAM drive (assuming you have enough RAM, which is cheap nowadays).
Are those RAM drives easy to use? I've heard of them, and they do make a lot of sense. Can you tell me how I can set up a RAM drive, or maybe recommend an application, if that's what is needed. As you can hear, I know very little about it :?

HFat
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by HFat » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:25 am

It's one of those things which is unneccessarily complicated in Windows. I haven't done it in Windows for nearly 10 years so I don't know which would be the best software to use now or if Microsoft finally integrated the capability in the core OS.
With decent software, it's easy to use as long as you use "portable" software (see portableapps.com). Just make a script which creates the RAM drive and copies your apps there at boot or something. It's a little more complicated with "non-portable" apps: you need to install to the RAM drive and you might not be able to run the software from the hard drive without tweaking stuff... unless you're willing to go the extra mile and to create a dedicated partition (which is of course easier if you have a volume manager) for the stuff you want to use from a RAM drive.

In a free OS, creating a RAM drive can be as simple as:
mount -t tmpfs -o size=128M tmpfs /ramdrive
And to remove it:
umount /ramdrive
You can allocate larger chunks than you're likely to use because no more actual RAM is allocated to your RAM drive than you've written to it.

With a dedicated partition, it works like this:
-create a small partition on your hard drive
-mount it somewhere (you don't have to use drive letters on Windows: you can mount stuff in a directory like people usually do in most operating systems)
-install your software to that partition
And then when you want RAM speed:
-remount your small partition somewhere else
-mount the RAM drive where the small parition is normally mounted
-copy the files from the small paritition to the RAM drive
(-and copy them back to the small partition whenever you make changes you want to keep)
Obviously you don't want to do this manually so you should write a script if your RAM drive software doesn't offer that feature.

kuzzia
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by kuzzia » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:26 am

Ohhh, that sounds too complicated for the average Joe like me.. I'll just stick with Win7 + 4 GB, but thanks for the effort. :)

HFat
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by HFat » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:40 am

It sounds like you've got a SSD so I wasn't suggesting you should use a RAM drive. It was more for people who don't have a SSD... and also to satisfy your curiosity (how did people live without SSDs?).

johnniecache7
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by johnniecache7 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:23 pm

I'm afraid you got a bad example I run WD5000AAKX and it's slient drive with no issues.

jamotide
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by jamotide » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:49 pm

If you can afford a 560 seasonic, why not a 100$ SSD. I hate HDD noise, it drives me nuts. I use a 80GB SSD now and only use external HDDs for spacier stuff, HDDs which I can turn OFF.
I guess if you had to get a normal HDD, those netbook 2.5 ones are pretty silent, the one in my Dell mini ,which is totally passive, only clicks occasionaly, and hums very silently if you press the ear on the netbook, so I guess that would be ok. But it is very slow! Get a SSD!

loimlo
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by loimlo » Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:55 am

kuzzia wrote: I have the same 250 GB/platter generation WD drive as you, just the green 5400 rpm version. I do game once in a while, and I browse the web a lot. Subjectively, the HD is fast enough, except for opening multiple programs simultaneously. My WD Green really struggles in that discipline. This occurs especially when booting because I open lots of programs, even though I am using a Launch manager. Opening Firefox and Dropbox, for example, feels like an eternity. That can be very annoying! But if you only open one application at a time, you should not feel any particular lack over some of the fast HDD's. The new generations of WD Greens have evolved too, and since their platter densities have more than doubled, the sequential performance has also received a noticeable boost.
I've to say SSD did improve my system responsiveness greatly compared to legend WD 6400AAKS (2x320GB platters).
Firefox 3 launch time
Before SSD: 6~7secs. Very common for lots of extensions
After SSD: 2~3sec. Fantastic!

Btw, I'm running the budget-minded Kingston SSDNOW 64GB which is definitely not the best SSD in the wild.

Anatorax
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Re: I was so close to acceptable, then I bought a WD5000AAKX

Post by Anatorax » Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:29 pm

How come nobody mentioned Scythe Quiet Drive?

Basically, it is a box with foam inside where you put your HDD to make it silent. If you are in USA or EU you should have no problems getting it. It is about 30$ - 30 EUR. It is the best solution after SSD for quiet drives. You can put practically any HDD in it and it will do the job. It increases the temperature by 2-3C degrees, but it is not something to worry about. Seriously, just don't waste your time on searching for quiet HDD's, because they will always stand out acoustically. I have some crappy Samsung 7,200 rpm in it and cannot hear a thing from my PC.

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