WD Green Power: A New Benchmark in HDD Acoustics & Power

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

Audio recordings were made of the drives and are presented here in MP3 format. The recordings below contains 5 seconds of ambient noise, and 10 seconds of idle noise followed by 10 seconds of seek noise with AAM enabled and 10 seconds without.

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.

  • Western Digital Caviar Green Power WD7500AACSIdle: 19~20 / AAM: 19~20 / Seek: 21 dBA@1m One Meter

Reference Comparatives:

  • Western Digital WD5000KS Idle: 21 / AAM: 21-22 Seek: 23 dBA@1m One Meter
  • Samsung P80 SP0802N (Nidec)Idle: 21 / AAM: 23-24 Seek: 25-26 dBA@1m One Meter
  • Seagate Barracuda IV ST340016A Idle: 20 / AAM: 23 Seek: 25-26 dBA@1m One Meter
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

We also made a couple of illustrative 3D waveform images from our recording. The first below is a 5-second clip of the WD Greenpower 750 during idle. It may be too small for you to see the details clearly; clicking on it will open a 1008-pixel wide image in a new browser window. Note how smooth the waveform is above the 90Hz fundamental, in frequency and over time. This reflects the smooth quality of the drives noise.


Smooth idle noise reflected in this 3D waveform image.

The second 3D image below is a 5-second clip of the WD Greenpower 750 during seek. It's very similar; most of the difference are at or below the fundamental 90Hz frequency, where there are more changes in amplitude (peaks and valleys) over time. The rest of the frequency / time domain is still very smooth, like in the idle waveform 3D image


Smooth seek noise reflected in this 3D waveform image.

CONCLUSIONS

It's the quietest desktop drive we've ever tested. It's the most efficient drive we've ever tested. And it comes in capacities up to 1 TB. What more do you want? As far as SPCR is concerned, this could be the perfect drive — at least until flash media takes over.

We didn't think we'd ever find a drive to replace our trusty Barracuda IV — but then, we never expected a manufacturer to release a mainstream 5,400 RPM drive either. We are pleased and surprised to discover we were wrong on both counts.

The only real question mark hanging over the Green Power is how much the rotation speed affects performance. And, while no reports show it leading the pack, it doesn't seem to be far enough back to worry about. Its high capacity 250 GB platters help mitigate the lower spindle speed.

We're not sure how green the Green Power actually is — we're pretty sure a 4W savings doesn't add up to much, especially given the environmental cost of manufacturing the drives in the first place. However, we're happy to see Western Digital pay attention to this market segment, if only because it means our own neglected segment — silent computing — gets such a fantastic product to play with. Western Digital has recognized that there's more than just performance and capacity. We hope they go far with it.

Many thanks to Western Digital for the Caviar Green Power sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
Western Digital Caviar SE16 500 GB: Big, Low Noise Champ?
Samsung Spinpoint T Series: Successor to a Quiet Legacy
Samsung Spinpoint P120 200 & 250 GB Hard Drives

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