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Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology. Our methodology focuses specifically on
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. For comprehensive HDD performance testing results, we recommend
who have established a long reputation as the specialist in this field.
Our test drives were compared against our reference drives, the Seagate Barracuda
IV and Samsung Spinpoint P80, which are profiled in our methodology article.
To get a good idea of where the drives in this review stand, it is important
to read the methodology article thoroughly. It was also compared against several
high-capacity drives: A 500
GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.9, and 400 and 500 GB models from Hitachi,
the 7K400 and 7K500
Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:
- Airborne acoustics
- Vibration-induced noise
These 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.
Unfortunately, AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) is not supported as a user-configurable
option on the Barracuda 7200.10, which means that our standard means of generating
seek noise via the AAM test function in Hitachi's
HDD Feature Tool could not be used. Instead, seek noise was generated
by copying a large file set within the drive. Unfortunately, this task does
not require as much random seeking as the AAM test, so seek noise was not as
constant as usual. To compensate, we spent more time than usual listening to
and measuring the seek noise.
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 noise at the time of testing was 18 dBA. For the record, room temperature
All four of the high capacity drives were relatively loud at idle. Subjectively,
the 7200.10 sounded the nicest of the bunch, but it was still significantly
louder than our quiet but out of date reference drive, the Seagate Barracuda
IV. The noise character had the smooth white noise quality that we have come
to expect from Seagate, but without the nasty pure tone that affected the 7200.9.
However, given how variable the reports of the 7200.9 have proved to be, we
cannot conclusively say that it has escaped altogether. Our sample was fine;
yours may not be.
Seek noise was quite a different story. The 7200.9 sample had sharp, abrupt seeks, and this aspect was even more in this 7200.10.
In fact, the peaks measured 34 [email protected], making it the first drive we've
measured above 30 [email protected] The implementation of Automatic Acoustic Management
(AAM) to reduce the seek noise is sorely missed.
To be fair, the average seek noise was much more pleasant than the worst-case
peaks. Perhaps because of its enormous capacity, it was more difficult than
usual to find a combination of tasks that would produce consistently loud seeks.
After all, our installation of Windows occupied less less than one percent of
the drive's capacity. The density of data was so high that there seemed to be
comparatively few long-stroke seeks.
It is difficult to know how this would affect noise in an actual system. Much
depends on how the drive is used and the specific types of noise that the listener
is sensitive to. Those who can live with the occasional crackle of a long-stroke
seek if the average noise level is quite low could find the 7200.10 to be perfectly
acceptable. On the other hand, those who find seek noise annoying will not like the 7200.10.
A new record was set for the amount of power consumed at idle: The 7200.10
is the first drive we've seen that consumes more than 9 watts at idle. As this
would suggest, the drive ran quite hot; by the end of the acoustic testing,
during which the drive was resting on a nonconductive piece of foam, I was unable
to touch the drive for more than a second or two. (Editor's Note: Wimp! ) According
to the internal thermal sensor, the drive temperature at this time was 53°C
The power consumed when the drive was seeking seemed unusually low, especially
considering that Seagate specified power consumption a couple of watts higher
than we measured. Given how high the power consumption at idle was, it seems
unlikely that our measurements were completely accurate. Perhaps the difficulties
with maximizing seek noise also apply to power consumption.
Even though the internal temperature did not exceed the maximum operating temperature
of 60°C, this does not bode well for the drive's longevity when soft-mounted
inside a case. The 7200.10 needs metal-to-metal contact to conduct heat away,
as can be attested by the ~15°C drop in temperature shortly after the drive
was placed on our aluminum "resonance box".
Unfortunately, soft-mounting is exactly what is needed to counteract the high
vibration coming from the 7200.10. Past Seagate drives have tended to be quite
good in this area, so we were disappointed to find that the vibration level
of this drive was higher than most of the other drives in our collection.
Audio recordings were made of the drives and are presented here
in MP3 format. The recordings below contains ten seconds of idle noise followed
by ten seconds of seek noise with AAM enabled and ten seconds more with AAM
disabled. Because Seagate does not support AAM on any of their current drives,
recordings for the 7200.9 and 7200.10 omit the section with AAM enabled and
are therefore only twenty seconds long.
Keep in mind that the recordings paint only part of the acoustic
picture; vibration noise is not recorded, and drives often sound different depending
on the angle from which they are heard.
Barracuda 7200.10 ST3750640AS (Idle: 24 / Seek: 28-34 [email protected])
Barracuda 7200.9 ST3500641AS (Idle: 24 / Seek: 26-29 [email protected])
Deskstar 7K500 HDS725050KLA360 (Idle: 26 / AAM: 26 / Seek: 28 [email protected])
Deskstar 7K400 HDS724040KLSA80 (Idle: 25 / AAM: 27 / Seek: 27-28 [email protected])
Barracuda IV ST340016A (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23 / Seek: 25-26 [email protected])
case fan @ 5V (17 [email protected]) Reference
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE
These recordings were made
with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The hard
drive was placed on soft foam to isolate the airborne noise that it produces;
recordings do not take into account the vibration noise that hard drives
produce. The microphone was centered 3" above the top face of the hard
drive. The ambient noise during most recordings is 18 dBA or lower.
To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the
original), try playing the Nexus 92 fan reference recording and
setting the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the
volume and play the other sound files. Of course, tone controls or other
effects should all be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on
how to calibrate your sound system to get the most valid listening comparison,
please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans
on page four of the article
SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.
Seagate has done it again. The Barracuda 7200.10 is an exceptionally
large drive with exceptionally loud seeks. Its suitability for a low noise system
depends on how much those 750 GB are needed within a single drive. If huge capacity is not an absolute
necessity, there are undoubtedly quieter and cheaper alternatives. If it is
needed, a pair of 300~400 GB drives might prove to be quieter in the long run,
especially if you consider seek noise the biggest issue. On the other hand,
if idle noise is more important, a single 7200.10 is probably a quieter choice
than any other combination of drives.
Although the 7200.10 does not allow seek noise to be reduced with
AAM, the immensely high areal density made possible by perpendicular recording
may be able to help make up some of the difference. Our real life testing showed
that, on the whole, the loudest seeks were few and far between. We cautiously
attribute this to the reduced number of long-stroke seeks on such a large drive.
Although this cannot compensate entirely for the lack of AAM loud seeks
are loud seeks, no matter how infrequent the 7200.10 rarely hit its 34
[email protected] peak when accessing large contiguous pieces of data.
Even more than usual, whether or not a 750 GB Barracuda 7200.10
is in your future depends on your specific sensitivities and usage patterns. It is always a compromise between noise and capacity, but deciding
whether or not this one is a good compromise is up to you.
Many thanks to Seagate
for the Barracuda 7200.10 sample.
SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
Seagate Momentus 5400.3: 160 GB Notebook
Drive & Introduction to Perpendicular Recording
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9, 500 GB
Hitachi Deskstar 7K500, 500 GB
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400, 400 GB
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums.
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