Momentus 5400.6 & Scorpio Blue: Seagate & WD 2.5" HDDs at 500GB

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COMPARED TO...

One problem we run into when trying to compare the acoustics of these drive with those of previously tested ones is that the latter did not have the benefit of our anechoic chamber and improved audio test equipment. They were measured in the same room, but before the treatments which eliminated the echoes in the room and lowered the noise floor. The drives tested in this review are quiet, but how exactly they stack up again the previously tested drives is difficult to say precisely.

The last complete comparison table of tested 2.5" drives is on page 3 of the Seagate Momentus 160GB 7200RPM 2.5" drive review. The lowest measured SPL of any drive on that table was 17 dBA@1m, for a Samsung 40GB MP0402H, which has been our quiet HDD champion since it first came to our attention. One of those drive samples happens to be with us still today, so we ran it through our new test procedures in the anechoic chamber.

NOTEBOOK DRIVE NOISE EVALUATION
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version

Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)

Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
Measured Power
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB ST9500325ASG
Date: 12/02/2009
firmware 0001SDM1
8
Idle
16 dBA@1m
0.65 W (heads unloaded)
0.8 W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
18 dBA@1m
2.2W
WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000BEVT
Date: 08/08/2008
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15 dBA@1m
0.8 W (heads unloaded)
0.95 W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
16 dBA@1m
2.5 W
8
Idle
13 dBA@1m
0.75 W
Seek (Normal)
Seek (AAM)
15 dBA@1m
13 dBA@1m
2.35 W

The little old Samsung retains its crown, being quieter by about 3 dBA@1m, and with AAM engaged, it's just as quiet seeking as in idle. Will you be able to hear the increased loudness of the Seagate and WD 500 GB drives over the old Samsung? Maybe. In a laptop computer and quiet room, probably; but in a desktop, if you use soft mounting, probably not.

But drive technology has advanced; increased areal density alone has led to a big jump in read/write speed. The screen capture of HD Tach results for the Samsung tells the story. Few users would accept the 26.2 MB/s speed of the Samsung even if it is 3 dBA quieter; the WD and Seagate, with soft mounting, can be made quiet enough.


The 40 GB PATA Samsung random access keeps pace with the latest 500 GB drives under review here, but the read speed is nearly three times slower.

Another question that comes up is. "How much noise difference is there between these 2.5" drives and standard desktop drives?" Here's a quick comparison between them and the latest desktop drives tested (or retested) in the anechoic chamber.

REVIEWED 500 GB 2.5" DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)
Measured Power
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB ST9500325ASG
Date: 12/02/2009
firmware 0001SDM1
8
Idle
16
0.65 W (heads unloaded)
0.8 W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
18
2.2W
WD Scorpio Blue 500GB WD5000BEVT
Date: 08/08/2008
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
15
0.8 W (heads unloaded)
0.95 W (heads loaded)
Seek (Normal)
16
2.5 W
DESKTOP DRIVES
Seagate Pipeline
HD Pro 1TB
ST31000533CS

September 2008
firmware SC15
4
Idle
15
7.1 W
Seek
16
10.1 W
Western Digital WD1001FALS
July 2008
firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
21
10.9 W
Seek (Normal)
25
11.0 W
WD VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS
300GB, 10K RPM
15 May 2008
firmware 03.03V01
8
[w/o frame]
Idle
15
8.2 W
Seek (AAM)
20
12.2 W
Seek (Normal)
22
12.2 W
Western Digital WD6400AAKS
February 2008
firmware 01.03B01
7
Idle
16
6.8 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
8.1 W
Seek (Normal)
18~19
9.3 W
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD
March 2006
firmware 20.07P20
5
Idle
16
8.2 W
Seek (AAM)
26~27
12.2 W
Seek (Normal)
26~27
12.2 W
Samsung F1 3D
HD753LJ

February 2008
firmware 1AA01109
6
Idle
16
6.9 W
Seek (AAM)
18~19
8.9 W
Seek (Normal)
20~21
10.2 W
WD Caviar SE16 500GB WD5000KS
March 2006
firmware 07.02E07
4
Idle
19
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
19
8.6 W
Seek (Normal)
22
10.7 W
* These drives are references in the sense of previously tested and known entitities to which newly tested products can be compared and contrasted against.

The usual advantages of 2.5" drives over desktop drives are lower noise, lower vibration and lower power / heat. The laptop drives are still far more energy efficient, but these days, the difference in noise is starting to blur, especially if all the drives are softmounted. The quietest desktop drives are now quite close to the laptop drives. Their higher moving mass tends to increase the overall vibrational noise more than the smaller 2.5" drives, so they still still benefit more from soft mounting.



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