Hitachi TravelStar E7K100 7.2k-rpm notebook drive

Storage
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TEST RESULTS

Our sample was tested according to our standard hard drive testing methodology. Our methodology focuses specifically on HDD noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured and described. Performance is not tested, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article.

The E7K100 was compared against our reference notebook drive, Samsung MP0402H, that we profiled in a recent notebook drive review. It was also compared against the Seagate Momentus 7200.1.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and subjectively. Both the subjective and objective analyses are essential to understanding the acoustics of the drives. Airborne acoustics are measured using a professional caliber SLM. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter above the top of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments are relevant to the sample we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at the time of testing were 18 dBA and 22°C.

NOTEBOOK DRIVE NOISE EVALUATION
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
Measured Power
Hitachi TravelStar E7K100
October 2005
firmware MCZOC10HZO
8
Idle
20 dBA@1m
1.5 W
Seek (AAM)
21 dBA@1m
3.8 W
Seek (Normal)
21-22 dBA@1m
3.9 W
Samsung MP0402H
April 2004
firmware UC100-10
8
Idle
17 dBA@1m
0.8 W
Seek (AAM)
18 dBA@1m
2.3 W
Seek (Normal)
19-20 dBA@1m
2.4 W
Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS
Date Code: 06101
firmware 3.04
8
Idle
21 dBA@1m
1.7 W (heads unloaded)
2.9W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
22-23 dBA@1m
3.7 W

Unlike the Momentus 7200.1, the idle noise for the E7K100 was fairly typical of a notebook drive. The bulk of the noise was a slightly hollow-sounding whoosh that should easily fade into the residual fan noise of a quiet system. There was also a slight hum, but it was inaudible beyond about eight inches from the drive. In comparison to the Samsung reference drive, the E7K100 is clearly louder, but it is certainly no worse than most other notebook drives.

Even better, seeks with AAM enabled were virtually inaudible... and AAM comes enabled by default. In fact, they were so quiet that extra care had to be taken when making the MP3 recordings, since it was not obvious when the drive was seeking. It should be noted that the measured noise level for AAM is a little misleading in this respect; subjectively, no difference between idle and AAM seek could be heard except within six inches of the drive.

The measurements are also misleading about the difference between AAM and normal seeks. Even though the measured difference was only a single decibel, the subjective difference was significant: Seeks could be heard clearly in normal mode. Seek noise was characterized by a rapid ticking, much like the sound of cold drainpipes cracking (quietly) when a bath is suddenly emptied.

The level of vibration was about the same as both the 7200.1 and the MP0402H. However, the Hitachi shares a flaw with the Seagate here: Because the drives spin at 7,200 RPM, the resonant frequency is higher, and therefore easier to hear. For this reason, the E7K100 will benefit more from soft-mounting than most other notebook drives.

As mentioned, power management is disabled on the E7K100, so APM was not selectable from the Hitachi Feature tool. Even so, power consumption at idle was about average for a notebook drive and better than the Seagate Momentus 7200.1. Power usage for seeks, on the other hand, was higher. In fact, the E7K100 draws more power than any other notebook drive we've tested when seeking, beating out the 7200.1 by a small (perhaps negligible) margin. Surprisingly, there was very little difference in the power draw between AAM and normal seeks.



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