More 500GB notebook drives: Seagate 7200.4 & Hitachi 5K500.B

Storage
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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 recordings start 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).

  • Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB ST9500420AS Idle: 14 / Seek: 15 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 500GBIdle: 14 / Seek: 15 dBA@1mOne Meter

Comparatives:

  • Samsung F2 EcoGreen 500GB HD502HIIdle: 12 / Seek (AAM): 15 / Seek (Normal): 16 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Pipeline HD .2 1TB ST31000424CSIdle: 12 / Seek: 16 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADSIdle: 13 / Seek (AAM): 13 / Seek (Normal): 13~14 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Pipeline HD .2 500GB ST3500414CSIdle: 13 / Seek: 13~14 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB ST3500321CSIdle: 14 / Seek: 15 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB ST32000542ASIdle: 14 / Seek: 17 dBA@1mOne Meter
  • 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 Black 1TB WD1001FALSIdle: 21 / Seek (AAM): 21 / Seek (Normal): 25 dBA@1mOne Meter

CONCLUSIONS

Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB - We're at a loss to explain how this 7200rpm drive can be quieter than the 5400rpm Momentus 500GB with the same number of platters that we reviewed in the spring. Perhaps one or both of our samples are atypical — it's hard to say one way or the other without a few more samples of both models. Regardless, our Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB sample was surprisingly quiet, beating out the 5400.6 by 2~3 dBA@1m. It does vibrate a bit more though, making its overall acoustics similar to the WD Scorpio Blue 500GB. In a laptop, this difference may indirectly make it noisier than the 5400.6.

The 7200.4 performs well, in league with some of the "green" desktop drives with reduced rotational speeds. It's a bit slower than most 7200rpm desktop drives, but the difference is not big. It also uses very little power, only marginally more than a 5400rpm 2.5" drive.

As we reported a few days ago, inside a Scythe Quiet Drive 2.5, it is a cheap silent alternative to a solid state drive. Slower, for sure, but higher capacity than you could get from any SSD for even 10 times the price.

Travelstar 5K500.B 500GB - Hitachi's half terabyte 5400rpm notebook drive is a nice addition to the available options for consumers. It's very quiet, matching the Momentus 7200.4 500GB sample vibrates very little, and is very modest in its power consumption. It beats out the other two 500GB 5400rpm notebook drives we've tested, the WD Scorpio Blue and the Momentus 5400.6, for both acoustics and power. Performance is similar, except for random access, which is a touch slower. We doubt the random access speed difference will be noticed in actual use, especially in a notebook computer.

The Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 500GB and the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB are both fine hard drives, whether used in a desktop PC or a portable, and can be confidently recommended, especially for any computer user who seeks to minimize noise.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 500GB and Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB
are both Recommended by SPCR

Many thanks Seagate and Hitachi for the product samples.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
5900rpm Seagate Hard Drives: Barracuda LP, Pipeline HD .2
Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Silent 500GB 3.5" HDD
WD Caviar Green 2TB & Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB
Momentus 5400.6 & Scorpio Blue: Seagate & WD 2.5" HDDs at 500GB
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro 1TB Hard Drive
Scythe Quiet Drive 2.5

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