Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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ccom
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Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by ccom » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:17 am

I have a WD20EARX whose humming noise is very annoying (apart from some quiet high pitched electric noise from the Seasonic PSU, it's the only noise I can hear.)

It seems like it's not vibrations, but actually airborne noise that is very loud. It's coming from the upper front part of the drive and pressing my hand onto it makes it much quieter. Is this normal? What can I do about it?


Clarification: The WD20EARX is new, and while I don't have any equipment to test the noise levels, I believe it's significantly louder than the 12 dB of the spcr test. I tested various damping materials in vain (like case damping foam, towels, etc.,) but my hand seems to be the most effective solution... The worst part is that I don't have a 5.25" bay for an HDD enclosure.
Last edited by ccom on Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

flemeister
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Re: Airborne Noise with WD20EARX

Post by flemeister » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:02 am

Perhaps you could lay something heavy on top of the drive, to simulate your hand pressing down on it?

Check out the second half of this page: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1004-page4.html

ccom
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by ccom » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:16 am

(The noise is in idle. Actually, the hum is so loud that I cannot hear any difference between idle and seek.)

It's a great idea to increase the weight of what I am trying to damp it with. It does help, but not to a comfortable level or what I can achieve manually.

After casually testing various combinations, it seems almost like the increased weight does dampen the airborne noise effectively, but the drive's strong vibrations carry over to the damping material, which then in turn makes the humming noise. It would explain why my hand is so much more effective: it's also pretty good at damping the vibrations.

MikeC
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by MikeC » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:58 am

ccom wrote:...I tested various damping materials in vain (like case damping foam, towels, etc.,) but my hand seems to be the most effective solution... The worst part is that I don't have a 5.25" bay for an HDD enclosure.
Do you have a spare hand? :lol:

We've mentioned the amazing acoustic/vibration damping effect of live human hands here & there; glad someone else noticing and commenting. 8)

You could try one of those gel packs for icing injuries. You can get them at any drug store. Alternatively, a small plastic bag with sand sealed in it.

Your drive does seem unusually noisy. I wonder if this is indicative of any other problems. Have you tried a full SMART analysis or other diagnostic scans?

ccom
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by ccom » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:31 am

I'm also glad that someone else noticed that hands are great for this purpose^^

Your ideas are very promising: I'll try them as soon as I get to a store.

I did a SMART check some weeks ago. It turned out that the drive did accumulate an unreasonably high number of "Load/Unload Cycles" (about 17'000) after about a week of use, but that problem was resolved by wdidle3. If the drive was quiet enough to actually hear seeks, I'd be disappointed by its lack of AAM and APM support, though.

Yes, I agree. Either I've got a drive that's unusually loud, or WD actually altered the drives not just the firmware (to not support AAM...)

SebRad
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by SebRad » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:42 am

Hi, I have one of these drives and not noticed any noise from it at all.... but it's in Scythe Quiet Drive and sitting on foam and not even inside the case(!) so it's very well isolated.
Crystal Disk Info will report your drives SMART values and health, as will Speedfan.

I'll try and open it up and check it out more thoroughly later when it's quiet round here and report back to you.
Seb

ccom
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by ccom » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:33 am

That'd be great.

Unfortunately, my case doesn't have a second 5.25" bay. Otherwise I'd get an enclosing loke the Scythe Quiet Drive, too.

SebRad
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by SebRad » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:41 pm

Hi, ok it's now midnight ish in rural Gloucestershire and I can't really hear any ambient noise. Basically at the moment any noise stands out clearly, no idea what that makes the actual noise level, maybe as low as 10~12dB(A).

I've unplugged the CPU fans and turned the case fans down to zero leaving the 2x 92mm fans on the video card and the 80mm PSU fan, like so:
Image

The WD20EARX is outside the case, under the desk, in a Scythe Quiet Drive.
A Scythe Quiet Drive is, in my opinion, a great bit of kit. Inner aluminium shell around the drive and tightly screwed to it has rubber (like) pads on it the damp it from the outer while still transferring heat top and bottom. All round sides is padded with foam, probably takes 2~4dB(A) off a HDD, that's the difference between a loud and quiet one. Does need a lot of room and not cheap either but will be useful until mechanicals are totally replaced by solid state.

Image

Also comes with rubber blocks to fit it in a 5.25" bay and there is a 2.5" drive version that fits a 3.5" bay so could use a laptop drive and fit in normal desktop drive bay and be pretty quiet.

I cut a hole in case floor behind the motherboard tray...
Image

and put it out the case, sitting on bit soft foam:
Image

From seating position I can't hear it, when I kicked off a search the seeks were faintly audible.
If I put my head in front of the desk, ~0.5m from the drive I can vaguely make out it's noise, with my ear right up to it it's easy to hear.

I then tried again with the drive removed from the SQD. Idle noise was louder, but still quiet and unobtrusive, barely audible from my seating position with the drive under the desk. Forgot to test out seeks...

I then mounted the drive in the case, 4 screws tight in to an aluminium case, not good for noise...
Image

Image

There is nothing between the drive and the outside and idle noise was now quite audible, typical HDD like really, some whoosh and touch of high metallic whine, but bare in mind this is dead quiet environment and PC and the absolute level is quite low.
Seeks were plainly audible, but that's expected when screwed to the case, especially open aluminium one.

To try give an absolute level on this I employed a 1000rpm 120mm Xilence case fan, this is a decent smooth sounding case fan.
Image

Off a Fanmate at full 950rpm, I was sitting in front of the PC, the fan was a touch quieter than the EARX, I lost the sound of the fan ~800rpm.
With the drive off I could make out the fan's noise down to ~600rpm

You can use Crystal Disk Info to read the SMART info and compare to mine:
Image

Example of unhealthy drive:
Image
[This Seagate 5k4 laptop drive is way louder than the rest of my PC!]

If your drive is making unpleasant noises I would suggest that it's not as it should/could be and see if you can RMA it with WD for a replacement.
Seb

ccom
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by ccom » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:40 am

Thank you very much for your thorough and kind reply.

It's a great idea to compare noise levels with a fan's rpm. It gives some absolute scale. I tested my WD20EARX against a "be quiet" 92mm pwm fan and their noise levels are about the same at about 1200-1400rpm. If it weren't such a huge hassle, I'd RMA the drive.

Anyway, since your drive was made in June, it's still possible that they changed their drives after that flood in Thailand.

SebRad
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by SebRad » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:05 pm

Hey, no problem. Ref the fan speed noise level I guess yours isn't dissimilar, 120mm@950rpm ~ 92mm@1200rpm. Although this was with my drive screwed in to the case, even then the noise wasn't unpleasant in nature.
Can you suspend your drive if it isn't already? If no 5.25 bays can you put it sideways in the 3.5" bays or somewhere else in the case.
Alternate though, hard drives hold their value quite well, especially with the supply problems at the moment. How about buy another drive and hope it's better and transfer you data to it then sell the old drive on eBay or the like? Shouldn't be far out of pocket and never with out a drive.
Sometimes you can provide a credit card details and get advanced replacement drive to transfer data and they only charge if you fail to return the old drive.
Seb

idbirch
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by idbirch » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:19 am

Hi, I joined just to post here as I also own a WD20EARX which is ridiculously loud for a green drive (sounds more like a old school 7200rpm drive). The hum/vibrations can be heard from downstairs when the house is really quiet and I've had to resort to setting the Windows power management setting for hard disks quite low because it's so annoying.

Sometimes before I go to bed, I have to RDP onto the machine and use HotSwap! to spin the drive down. I have a lot of disks (15 WD20EARS plus a few WD15s and older WD10s) and they're all so much quieter than this heap of junk. I see nothing worrying on the drive health report, I'm starting to believe the drives are just crap. I certainly don't want to buy any more with the racket they make.

I can pay a bit extra at the moment to get the older SATA2 EARS drives but obviously supply of those won't last long. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've tried all sorts of hard disk utilities to see if I can somehow cap the rotation speed of the drive but that was fruitless.

rogermota
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by rogermota » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:50 am

I'm looking to buy a 2TB green but have come across some not so nice info like the OP's (and others' ) noise problems and about the drive coming in 4 platters (all review units were 3 platters). My theory is that after the floods the WD20EARX drives are being shipped in 4 platter configuration which would make them louder and slower than when they were first sold.

I've contacted WD to no avail. But maybe we can get a poll of info going to better inform everyone. The best database of drive/platter configuration that I know of is: http://rml527.blogspot.com/

The WD Green section on the above site hasn't been updated since July 2011 (before the flood). But we can gather from the info that the drives with identifier code 00PASB0 (it's next to the model number, e.g. WD20EARX-00PASB0 written on the drive itself) is in a 3 platter configuration. That's the drive @SebRad has.

The newer drives (at least some of them) are 00AZ6B0 (which is not on the database). It appears this drive (and possibly others) are 4 platters.

@ccom, @idbirch, and anyone else reading this, if you could post your drive's identifier code and date of manufacture, we can start to get some idea about what's going on.

fjf
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by fjf » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:32 am

I just got a WD25EZEX (a 2.5TB), and it is pretty much silent. There is no difference with a WD20EADS I also own.

justice99
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by justice99 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:53 pm

idbirch wrote:Hi, I joined just to post here as I also own a WD20EARX which is ridiculously loud for a green drive (sounds more like a old school 7200rpm drive). The hum/vibrations can be heard from downstairs when the house is really quiet and I've had to resort to setting the Windows power management setting for hard disks quite low because it's so annoying.

Sometimes before I go to bed, I have to RDP onto the machine and use HotSwap! to spin the drive down. I have a lot of disks (15 WD20EARS plus a few WD15s and older WD10s) and they're all so much quieter than this heap of junk. I see nothing worrying on the drive health report, I'm starting to believe the drives are just crap. I certainly don't want to buy any more with the racket they make.

I can pay a bit extra at the moment to get the older SATA2 EARS drives but obviously supply of those won't last long. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've tried all sorts of hard disk utilities to see if I can somehow cap the rotation speed of the drive but that was fruitless.

Hello, i have 5 WD20EARS and there are 3 on them in my computer, since a month i used to hear a very annoying noise, like a rolling metal noise.

This noise came from on of them, i sent it yesterday for RMA, i hope they will change it for a quite one.

So i put another HDD on my computer, its was great for 2 days, but now another one is making the same noise, not as louder as the one i RMA, it's really annoying, i dont know what to do, and i have another one that i can't RMA which makes the same noise, so its 3 HDD over 5, its really too much.

If WD dont change them, i will sell them and buy HDD from another company, its so frustrating, its like these HDD works well for couple of months, and then its strat to make such ugly noise.

Image

justice99
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Re: Airborne Noise of WD20EARX

Post by justice99 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:55 pm

Hello again,

I finally RMA my very noisy HDD, and WD sent me a brand new one, its not a green model but black.

Now, since 2 days im facing a new problem again, another HDD is making a very little noise, more like a little buzz.

It's really anooying to have to RMA HDD all the time. Maybe it's normal, what do you think ?
After a certain amount of hours, HDD start to make a buzzing noise.

What can i buy to isolate my inernal HDD ?
My specs are on my signature.

Thanks in advance.

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