Seagate Momentus 7200.2 160GB 2.5" hard 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. For comprehensive HDD performance testing results, we recommend Storage Review, who have a long established reputation as the specialist in this field. Their review of the Momentus 7200.2 can be found in a roundup of several 160 GB notebook drives.

The 7200.2 was compared with our reference notebook drive, Samsung MP0402H, that we profiled in a recent notebook drive review. It was also compared against its predecessor, 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.

Unfortunately, AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) is not supported as a user-configurable option on the Momentus 7200.2, 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 using the seek test of HDTach 3.0.4.0.

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
Seagate Momentus 7200.2 ST9160823ASG
April 2007
firmware 3.AAB
7
Idle
20 dBA@1m
1.0 W (heads unloaded)
1.2 W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
22 dBA@1m
3.0W
Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS
September 2005
firmware 3.04
9
Idle
21 dBA@1m
1.7 W (heads unloaded)
2.9W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
22-23 dBA@1m
3.7 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

Although it measured 1 dBA@1m lower than its predecessor, the noise quality of 7200.2 is not really an improvement. Subjectively, the measurement can be heard in the slightly lower amount of whooshing — the sound of air turbulence over the disk spinning at 7,200 RPM. However, there was also a high pitched electronic squeal that was lacking in the original. The squeal was not directional and could be heard from almost any angle.

Seek noise saw a similar 1 dBA@1m improvement, and this difference was audible subjectively. The seek noise had a deeper quality with less sharpness on each individual seek. The volume and the amount of rumble increased a lot when the drive was placed on a hard surface, indicating that resonance could be an issue when the drive is hard-mounted.

The level of vibration was much higher than any other notebook drive we've seen. The vibration rating of 7 is the lowest score we've ever given a notebook drive, and there's no question soft-mounting could improve things here — it's the only notebook drive we've encountered that actually needs it. Making things worse is the 7,200 RPM rotation speed, which has a fundamental frequency of 120 Hz — significantly more audible than the 90 Hz frequency of a 5,400 RPM drive. The only good thing we can say is that it's possible we got a bad sample. It's so far out of line with our usual expectations (and the original 7200.1) that we can't help but wonder if most of samples are better than this.

In comparison to the Samsung reference drive (and most regular notebook drives) there is no contest. As with the original 7200.1, the 7200.2 sounds more like a desktop drive than a notebook drive. While we have recommended notebook drives as ultra-quiet alternatives to regular drives in the past, that recommendation does not apply in this case.

The brightest spot for the 7200.2 is the amount of power it consumes — it's back in line with our expectations for notebook drives, consuming a single watt in idle, and jumping up to ~3W during seeks. This is a huge improvement over the 7200.1, which consumed more power than any other notebook drive we've tested.



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