Scythe Quiet Drive 2.5

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TESTING

The Scythe Quiet Drive 2.5 was tested by installing a notebook drive in it, then testing the combination as we would any HDD. By using previously tested HDDs or testing them before putting it in the SQD2.5, before and after results can be examined to determine the effects.

SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology article provides full details, and the only significant change in our testing procedure is that as of mid-2008, we're conducting the acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially as the SPL approaches 20 dBA and below, which is the territory of laptop drives. Both airborne acoustics and vibration-induced noise were evaluated objectively and subjectively. Vibration noise was rated on a scale of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Two different 2.5" drives were tried:

  • Hitachi Travelstar 7K100: Older 100GB 7200rpm drive with 15~17 dBA@1m typical noise
  • Seagate Momentus 7200.4: Brand new 500GB 7200rpm drive with 14~15 dBA@1m typical noise

The 7200rpm drives were chosen for the testing over more common 5400rpm models because they are closer in overall performance to standard desktop drives. The SQD2.5, hopefully, would allow the silent PC enthusist to have his cake and eat it too: Silent operation, high capacity and little or no compromise in performance compared to a 7200rpm desktop HDD.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 23°C.

TEST RESULTS

The Scythe enclosure made both drives quieter, with about the same degree of noise reduction, 3~4 dBA@1m. Vibration on both drives improved a notch as well, putting them in league with the best 5400rpm drives.

The Seagate 7200.4's acoustics were already excellent, but in the SQD2.5, they improved to 11 dBA@1m at idle and 12 dBA@1m during seek. This is about as good as it gets, as our anechoic chamber's noise floor is just under 11 dBA. The drive in the SQD2.5 was inaudible at one meter regardless of activity level, and it was difficult to tell whether the drive was on even at shorter distances.

Hard Drive Acoustics: Bare & Enclosed
Drive
Activity State
Vibration 1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Airborne Acoustics
(SPL@1m)
Bare
Enclosed
Bare
Enclosed
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB
Idle
7
8
14 dBA
11 dBA
Seek
15 dBA
12 dBA
Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 100GB
Idle
7
8
15 dBA
11 dBA
Seek
17 dBA
13 dBA

The SQD2.5 made a super quiet drive even quieter, but we wanted to see how it would handle something louder. With this in mind we also tested an older 7200rpm notebook drive, a somewhat noisier Hitachi Travelstar 7K100. Its acoustics improved tremendously in the SQD2.5. Enclosed, it became inaudible at idle, and the previously sharp seeks were muffled to very soft "thumps."

The drives ran slightly hotter in the SQD2.5 compared to bare on the bench top, but the temperature rise was very modest, a maximum of 2°C under test loads over about an hour long period.

Hard Drive Temperatures: Bare & Enclosed
Drive
Temperature in °C
Bare
SQD2.5
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB
27~30
27~32
Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 100GB
25~28
26~29

FREQUENCY SPECTRUM ANALYSIS

Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB at idle, bare and encased in SQD2.5


At idle, bare drive.

Idle, in SQD2.5.

Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB at seek, bare and encased in SQD2.5

During seek.


Seek, inside SQD2.5.


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