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HOW WAS IT DONE?
Those who have read some of our other hard drive articles probably know already
that we rate the Seagate 7200 RPM 3.5" desktop drives the noisiest on the
market today. This has been the case for a good half dozen years, since the
days of the Barracuda IV and V drives, which were really the first quiet desktop
HDDs to appear. Seagate's Momentus 2.5" notebook drives are much quieter
than the 3.5" models, but they aren't exceptional, more or less on par
with typical offerings from Western Digital, Samsung, Hitachi, etc. So considering
that the last 5400 RPM 2-platter Seagate Momentus 2.5" 500GB drive we tested
measured 16~18 dBA@1m, how does a 3-platter 1TB FreeAgent Go drive achieve an
SPL level of barely 12 dBA@1m?
If you read SPCR's Hard Drive
Testing Methodology, you'd know that Seagate was the first HDD maker
to clearly document how vibration-induced noise is often the biggest
cause of audible noise in a hard drive. Their suggested solution to "structure-borne
acoustics" is to mechanically decouple the drive from whatever it is
mounted to by using dampeners of various types. This is an
approach to HDD silencing that we've embraced from the very start of our
web site. So, presumably, this is also the approach behind the performance of
these FreeAgent Go drives. It wasn't enough for us to presume this, however.
A first-hand look seemed easy and pertinent, so....
The back edge of the top panel of the 1TB model had developed a tiny gap, probably
due to rough handling around the lab. Some careful work with a small blade screwdriver
was enough to pull this cover off entirely. It was held with quite strong adhesive
all around the edge. As suspected, the piece is made of aluminum, as is the
bottom, with a plastic outer frame in between.
The Seagate FreeAgent Go 640GB and 1TB external USB 2.0 drives proved to be
the quietest such devices we've had the pleasure of using. Their acoustics are
so good that even the most demanding no-noise proponents should have no complaints.
The decent performance, large capacity and independence from AC power makes
them a pleasure to use. The internal damping which makes such low noise possible
should also help these devices better withstand the knocks and bumps that they're
bound to get in normal handling. Hopefully, the little peeling that made the
internal examination of the 1TB model possible is an anomaly borne of our careless
handling in the lab. They are strongly recommended.
We hope that the newer FreeAgent GoFlex series employs similar shock-mounting.
With their USB 3.0 interface capability, they would probably make ideal accessories
for anyone seeking both high performance and low noise in convenient, massive,
Seagate FreeAgent Go 640GB and 1TB external USB 2.0 drives
SPCR Editor's Choice Award
* * *
Articles of Related Interest
Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
NoVibes III HDD Decoupling Rack
More 500GB notebook drives:
Seagate 7200.4 & Hitachi 5K500.B
Momentus 5400.6 & Scorpio
Blue: Seagate & WD 2.5" HDDs at 500GB
* * *
this article in the SPCR forums.
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