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Our sample was 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. Their
review of the 150 GB Raptor pitted it against every other drive in their
database in both enterprise and desktop categories.
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 the
previous version of the Raptor, which we
reviewed a little over a year ago.
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.
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 16 dBA. For the record, room temperature
At idle, the new Raptor was quieter than every other 3.5" drive in the
lab except for our old standby, the Barracuda IV. That includes the older Raptor
(only slightly quieter), Samsung's 80 GB Spinpoint models, and Western Digital's
own 500 GB Caviar SE16. Deciding between the Raptor and the Barracuda IV was
very difficult and it took a several A/B comparisons and a number of second
opinions before we finally settled on the Barracuda as the quieter drive. Much
of this difference had to do with the subjective quality of the noise; the Barracuda
had a more broadband sound that was more muted than the Raptor. That said, the
difference was very difficult to pick out from a distance of one meter, even
when we knew what to listen for.
Unfortunately, poor seek noise disqualified the Raptor from consideration for
the title of quietest full size drive (this
title was recently captured by another Western Digital drive, the newest Caviar
SE16). While the 74 GB Raptor did not have great seeks, they were light
enough that they could be ignored most of the time. This was no longer true
of the 150 GB Raptor. The measured difference may only have been 1~2 [email protected],
but the seeks were no longer easy to tune out. Of course, this difference is
subjective; some people may prefer the new sound. We disliked it because the
seeks sounded fuller and heavier, but were still quite sudden and sharp.
Although several levels of AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) could be enabled
Feature Tool, the changes never produced any audible difference in seek
noise, nor did the power consumption change. For practical purposes, the Raptor
does not support AAM.
The vibration level was about average for a 3.5" drive, although the resulting
noise was a little more audible thanks to the higher frequency of the vibration.
Unlike 7,200 RPM drives, which cause resonance at ~120 Hz, the Raptor's 10,000
RPM spindle speed produced a hum at ~167 Hz. Thanks to the quirks of the human
ear, a 167 Hz tone is more easily heard than a 120 Hz tone, so the Raptor was
effectively louder than a slower drive with a similar level of vibration.
Power consumption was surprisingly low considering the high spindle speed,
although it did increase a bit compared to the older Raptor. This allowed the
Raptor to stay in the middle of the pack it still consumed more power
than any of the other two platter drives in our collection, but it was competitive
with many of the bigger drives that have three or more platters.
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
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.
Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD (Idle: 20 / AAM: 27 / Seek: 27 [email protected])
Digital Raptor WD740GD (Idle: 21 / AAM: 24-26 / Seek: 25-26 [email protected])
Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS (Idle: 21 / AAM: 21-22 / Seek: 23 [email protected])
Spinpoint P80 SP0802N (Nidec) (Idle: 21 / AAM: 23-24 / Seek: 25-26 [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
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.
Our feelings towards Western Digital's Raptor line have not changed
significantly with this new revision. It is still a very quiet drive at idle
(perhaps even a little quieter than before), but it is marred by noisy seeks
that go with the drive's high-performance status (which are certainly not
But, chances are, if you're in the market for the best performing
drive available, the seek noise may well be something you have to live with.
Western Digital doesn't really have competition in the sector. Seagate's 750
GB Barracuda 7200.10 reportedly comes close when it comes to performance, but
that drive is one of the loudest
we've ever tested.
Bottom line is, if seek noise isn't something that bothers you
and you feel the need to have the highest performing drive on the market, you
may have a Raptor coming your way in the future. If performance isn't a requirement,
a much quieter drive can be had for about the same price in the form of a notebook
drive. Or, if shelling out US$250 for a hard drive is too much for you (or your
significant other) to swallow, one of Western Digital's mainstream drives may
be much cheaper and quieter.
Many thanks to Western
Digital for the 150 GB Raptor sample.
SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
Western Digital Drives: Raptor 74GB and Caviar
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10, 750 GB: Desktop
Drives Go Perpendicular
Western Digital Caviar SE16 500 GB: Big Low
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums.
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