Seagate FreeAgent Go 1TB and 640GB portable USB drives

Storage
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NOISE

Let's get this out on the table immediately: These FreeAgent Go drives are virtually inaudible in normal use. In an ordinary room with some ambient noise, like a computer or two running (even if they are very quiet ones), the only way to tell whether one of FreeAgent Go devices is running is to pick it up off the bare desktop and hold to close to an ear. With some Windows power saving modes, the drive actually stops spinning, and the only way you know it's getting any power at all is the light on the casing. Virtually no vibration can be felt with either drive; this was actually morte true for the large 1TB sample than the smaller 640GB one. When plugged in and left running on a bare desktop, neither model can be heard from a meter away in a 18~20 dBA ambient home office.

Here is a screen capture from our Spectrum PLUS Audio Analyzer, and the SPL reading of the 640GB model from 1m. As mentioned, the 1TB device might be a mite quieter, but it's hard to say because both are so quiet.


The only change from the ambient curve in the chamber that the FreeAgent Go drive causes is the little bump centered at 8~900Hz. Note that its peak doesn't even reach the 0 dBA point.

There's really no difference at all between the idle and seek noise, even though the latter can be heard as a bit of muted chattering from very close up. The change from idle barely registers on the spectrum analyzer screen, and its hardly audible as a change in the recording below.

An Audio Recording of the FreeAgent Go 640GB was made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. It represents a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. There was no need to make a recording of the 1TB model; it sounds the same.

The recording starts with 7 seconds of ambient noise, followed by 10 seconds of the drive in idle. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is barely audible, back the volume control off a touch to make it just inaudible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparatives (all bare drives):

  • Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 500GB 2.5"Idle: 14 / Seek: 15 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB ST9500325ASG 2.5" — Idle: 16 / Seek: 18 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000BEVT 2.5" Idle: 15 / Seek: 16 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Samsung F2 EcoGreen 500GB HD502HI 3.5" Idle: 12 / Seek (AAM): 15 / Seek (Normal): 16 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate 7200.11 1TB ST31000340ASIdle: 18 / Seek: 19 dBA@1mOne Meter


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