WD Caviar Green 2TB & Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB: Two Very Quiet Drives

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, 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.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds 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. 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 recording starts with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if applicable), and seek with AAM disabled (if applicable).

  • Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADSIdle: 13 / Seek (AAM): 13 / Seek (Normal): 13~14 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Pipeline HD ST3500321CSIdle: 14 / Seek: 15 dBA@1mOne Meter

Comparatives:

  • Seagate Pipeline HD Pro 1TB ST31000533CSIdle: 15 / Seek: 16 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB WD6400AAKSIdle: 16 / Seek (AAM): 16~17 / Seek (Normal): 18~19 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Samsung F1 750GB HD753LJIdle: 16 / Seek (AAM): 18~19 / Seek (Normal): 20~21 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB ST31500341ASIdle: 17 / Seek: 19 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate 7200.11 1TB ST31000340ASIdle: 18 / Seek: 19 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB WD5000KSIdle: 19 / Seek (AAM): 19 / Seek (Normal): 22 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB WD1001FALSIdle: 21 / Seek (AAM): 21 / Seek (Normal): 25 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Western Digital Raptor 150GB WD1500ADFDIdle: 16 / Seek (AAM): 26~27 / Seek (Normal): 26~27 dBA@1mOne Meter

CONCLUSIONS

The slower rotational speed of the smaller Seagate Pipelines make them competitive with similar capacity Western Digital Green Power drives in the green/quiet market. It's curious that the larger 1TB drive does not also employ 5900RPM speed. Both the Caviar Green 2TB and the Pipeline 500GB turned out to be quiet, power efficient drives, welcome components for silent PCs. Neither are ideal for those seeking the fastest performance, but they are good enough for typical day-to-day use, they won't make a dent in your electric bill, and they are the quietest 3.5" drives we've tested in our anechoic chamber.

With such a large gap in capacities, the two drives we tested here are not in direct competition with one another. However, it is difficult for us to ignore that the 2TB Caviar Green bested the 500GB Pipeline in terms of noise, vibration, performance and power consumption (once the heads are unloaded) — even though the win is by just a nose. Its massive capacity makes its achievement that much sweeter. In years past, the largest drive was also the always the loudest and most energy guzzling model on the market. The 2TB Green commands a hefty price premium, however— $300 is enough to acquire 3TB of storage using smaller drives... although it'd be a louder and less power efficient solution.

Many thanks to Western Digital and Seagate for the review samples.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
Momentus 5400.6 & Scorpio Blue: Seagate & WD 2.5" HDDs at 500GB
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro 1TB Hard Drive
Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB: The Perfect Balance?
WD and Seagate take steps to fix terabyte drives
Caviar Black: WD's Performance 1TB HDD
Samsung F1 750GB & 1TB Drives: Fast... and Silent?
WD SE16 Caviar 640GB is now Blue
WD VelociRaptor: A Triple Crown

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