Even a small amount of research on quieting HDDs in SPCR should have led you to these oft-repeated fact:
- Noise is made by moving components in two different ways: Acoustically, and via structure-borne vibrations.
- With hard drives, direct acoustic noise is often less intrusive than noise caused by its vibrations when installed normally in the chassis.
- The world biggest HDD maker, Seagate, says mounting methods matter more in perceived noise than direct air-borne noise.
- Mechanical decoupling is any method to minimize firm contact between structures, usually in an effort to reduced transmission of vibrations that can cause noise.
So.... on to the rankings:
Elastic suspension is unbeatable for mechanical decoupling of HDD vibrations. You can hear and feel the difference. Putting your hand on a case with HDDs that are elastically suspended, you can feel no vibration whatsoever. None of the grommets I've tried -- including the soft blue EAR grommets with proper shoulder bolts -- achieves as good isolation.
My ranking of HDD silencing methods (assuming a quiet HDD like a Seagate Barracuda IV or Samsung SP series):
- My original soft elastic suspension using stretchy elastic from a sewing shop.
- Aphonos frameless elastic suspension alternative his elastic looks kind of thick but you could use a thinner stretchier one
- NoVibesIII- but without last top O-ring (which forces drive to bottom out) - heat a potential problem when mounted in CD bay though.
- Soft foam under HDD on floor of case -- this is as effective as all the above and even keeps HDD cool if in a low airflow impedance case near front vent.
- Ralf Hutter's sorbothane strips under HDD solution used for his Antec 3700BQE (~guesstimate of performance -- haven't played with exactly what he has)
- EAR grommets w/ proper bolts in proper cage. Still some coupling of vibrations.
- Zalman ZM-2HC1 heatpipe HDD cooler/silencer in 5.25" bay. Keeps HDD pretty cool but doesn't isolate as well, rubber grommets too hard, IMO. Combining this with suspension and placing it just about anywhere in the airflow path in the case would be great for noise and cooling.
SmartDrive - This doesn't totally belong here, because it is an enclosure device, not really a vibration dampener, per se. But does reduce damping, keeps the HDD from getting hot, and with an already quiet HDD, makes acoustic noise pretty much disappear together. Suspending this in elastic would be the ultimate, but the front bottom of a case that does not have 3.5" cages all the way to the floor is the only place you could do it.
Marginally better than normal mounting - Rubber grommets as used in Antec & Evercase HDD mounts and similar
Eh - Plastic screwless rails as used in some cases
Worst- normal, tight screw mounting
I have actually tried all the above ( )
The suspension systems do fine for transport just by temporarily wedging some foam around to keep the HDDs from getting jostled out/knocked.