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March 4, 2003 by Dru
Dru, who hails from Arizona, became "obsessed with silent computing" about a year ago. He has used computers since the early 1980s and spends 8~12 hours each day on the computer. A home-based software developer, Dru likes to work during the late hours of the night when there's hardly any noise or distractions. He compares a newly purchased Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80G hard drive to his existing Barracuda IV 40G hard drive; they are both single platter models. Dru apologizes for the "subjectivity" of his review and his lack of acoustic measuring tools. There is no need for any apology, as the low noise levels of these drives would have mandated a world-class anechoic chamber and state of the art acoustic measurement tools inaccessible to mere mortals. Dru has given us a very good comparative review, in my opinion. - Mike Chin, Editor
Before I start the actual review, I need to make a couple of points.
- First of all, this review is highly subjective. I do not own any equipment to measure acoustic levels.
- Secondly, the focus of this review is geared more towards the noise aspects of the hard drive and written more for silent enthusiasts.
OK, on with the review..
I thought the best way to review the Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 drive was to compare it against a well known silent drive, namely the Seagate Barracuda IV. The Cuda IV has been out for quite some time and has recently gained more popularity because of its extreme quietness (well, compared to other hard drives) with decent speed for a 7200rpm drive. The hard drives being compared are both ATA.
There's probably not much to notice from the label side of the drive from the pictures below, but I do know some people like to see it for kicks. The Cuda IV does have a clean mirror look to it, and the Cuda 7200.7 has more of a blurred reflective finish.
Here are close ups of the top portions of the drive labels:
From the drive labels, you can see that I'm comparing a 40GB Cuda IV against a 80GB Cuda 7200.7. The Barracuda IV series uses 40GB platters. The Barracuda V series uses 60GB platters. Now, Seagate has caught up with its competition by finally introducing 80GB platters with the Barracuda 7200.7 series. Again, we are striving for silence, so I used the maximum storage available that would fit on 1 platter. Even Seagate's own spec sheets show the 1 platter drives to be slightly quieter than the multi-platter ones.
Things get a little bit more interesting when we compare the other side of the drives. One immediately obvious thing missing on the Cuda 7200.7 drives is the SeaShield. People have been (and still are) wondering why Seagate chose not to include the SeaShield on these latest drives. Is it because Seagate has been able to engineer the internal mechanism to be quieter? Perhaps it was a cost cutting move to save on production? I wish I had the answer but don't. I must remind that the Barracuda Vs do have the SeaShield like the Cuda IVs.
Since it was hard to tell the thickness of the blue foam used with the SeaShield, I decided to take an angle shot shown below. The blue foam on the Cuda IV has a good thickness to it. On the Cuda 7200.7, you can see a very thin type of white foam used. My guess is you need this to separate the circuit board from the drive casing. At first, I thought it was being used to reduce noise but thought it to be too thin. I didn't remove the SeaShield on the Cuda IV but am assuming the Cuda IV has this thin white foam, too.
While looking at the drives on this side, I thought what if we could just remove the SeaShield from the Cuda IV and stick it on the Cuda 7200.7? To me, all the drive holes appear to match up from both drives. Unfortunately, at this time, I couldn't find the right hex driver to remove the 2 screws securing the SeaShield. I'm still thinking about trying it. If I get to doing it, I'll post an update to this review. Now, let's power these up!
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