It is currently Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:43 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: iMac - noisy hard disk
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:42 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
A week or so ago I posted here about my two-month-old iMac, and its noisy hard disk. The drive emitted a high-pitched whine, the same quality as an electric drill, except that it was only just audible. Sadly it made using the iMac impossible for me. It was stressing me out.

To cut a long story short, I took it to an Apple service centre (100 mile round trip!) and they couldn't hear the noise. Their workshop was relatively quiet but still had the same acoustics of a standard office - laser printers whirring away, people talking, an X-Serve howling in the corner...

Back home, it did appear to go away for half a day, but then came back.

Faced with the prospect of using ear-plugs whenever I booted my iMac, I had no choice. I cracked open the case, invalidating my warranty, and replaced the drive with an older Western Digital model I had hanging around. Servicing an iMac is surprisingly easy if you have any PC building experience, and there were no surprises. The main issue is folding back the metallic shielding material.

A quick reinstallation of OS X later, and now the noise has gone! I'm left with just the noise of the fans, which are low and whirry. It's not a 100% pleasant sound but I can live with it. I'll probably buy an external USB caddy for the old drive and use it for backup. A metal case should block the high-pitched whine.

So the moral of the story is:

1) iMacs are definitely not silent, despite what you might read. Bear in mind that most people use their iMac to play music, and rarely hear the computer in silent mode. However, to be fair, my iMac is many times quieter than an average stock PC.

2) Part of the noise problem is caused by the fact the computer + fans + drive is located on the desk in the iMac unit, around 30in from your ears. As far as silence is concerned, this is a fundamental design flaw. If the computer components were in a base unit on the floor, I wouldn't be able to hear them.

3) There are MANY stories about the poor quality of Apple hardware out there on the web. Apple didn't even give me a shoulder to cry on, and told me some drive noise was inevitable. I love OS X but this will probably be the last Apple product I buy.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:04 am 
Offline
Moderator

Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2002 7:11 pm
Posts: 7369
Location: Maynard, MA, Eaarth
Hello,

What size and brand was the noisy drive? And what size iMac and model is it?

_________________
Sincerely, Neil
http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
NeilBlanchard wrote:
Hello,

What size and brand was the noisy drive? And what size iMac and model is it?


The iMac was a 20in 2.16GHz Dual 2 Core model. The drive was a Seagate Barracuda 7200.9, 250GB (ST3250824AS). There's an Apple logo on the drive's label so I'd guess it's from a batch specially made for Apple.

I'd be very interested to hear if anybody else has had issues with noise from iMacs.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
Rather annoyingly, the new hard disk is sending vibrations through the iMac base and into the desk below. This is generating additional noise! :roll: As I mentioned, in terms of silent computing, the iMacs have some fundamental design flaws. But I'm not licked yet!

I've improvised a solution involving a cork notice board suspended on thumbtacks. The iMac sits on this. It's dampening the vibrations, but it's not a very elegant solution.

What's the best vibration dampening material? My instinct suggests rubber, but I'm guessing that the least dense material possible will be better... Maybe some thin sheets of polystyrene? I've tried using paper/books but it doesn't work. Any advice welcomed.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:36 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2003 4:14 am
Posts: 143
Location: Finland
My 20" c2d imac came with a 250GB Western Digital, which does not have a whining sound. It's the most silent stock computer I've seen, but you can still hear it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
kamina wrote:
My 20" c2d imac came with a 250GB Western Digital, which does not have a whining sound. It's the most silent stock computer I've seen, but you can still hear it.


Interesting that you have a different drive on an otherwise identical computer. Mine's a Seagate model. If you notice, Apple don't quote component model info, apart from on their US websites. This might be because of legal obligations -- perhaps the law says they have to.

I agree with what you say about the noise level. My iMac is many, many times quieter than any PC I've even owned. But it's much louder than any notebook I've ever owned. I really want silence for my work and I'm very disappointed with my iMac. At the moment I'm trying to "live with it".

I was wrong in a previous message. Actually, most of the noise comes from the hard disk motor. The Seagate model originally in my iMac had an annoying high-pitched motor whine. If this were in a PC case, surrounded by metal, the whine would probably be inaudible. But in an iMac, it's sitting in a plastic case around 30in from your ears.

The Western Digital model I replaced it with still has drive noise and vibrations, but not the annoying whine. The actual fans in the unit, which become audible if the drive spins down after inactivity, are much quieter, although relatively high pitched (not really a low, soothing whirr).

Whether the noise is annoying or not depends what you use your iMac for. The iMac comes with a remote control and media center software. It's not supposed to be quiet -- ever! (Unless it's turned off).

I've learned my lesson. Next time I'll be getting a notebook for office work. Additionally, I'll be auditioning it and sending it back if it ain't quiet enough.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:58 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2003 4:14 am
Posts: 143
Location: Finland
The exact model of my drive is WDC WD2500JS-40TGB0.

There's definatly no high pitch sound coming it, but according to my tests it is still probably the loudest component in the imac. I found an app that allows you to change the fan speed, and tried changing all 3. I did not notice a big change in the sound level with small increases to fan speed, so the only thing left is the disk.

But personally I don't find this to really be louder then my notebooks, maby it's just that the sound has a lower steady frequency. By notebooks I mean a last gen G4 powerbook, macbook pro, HP NC 8000 and a fujitsu business class Centrino. All pretty silent. Maby the powerbook was more silent...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:33 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
kamina wrote:
The exact model of my drive is WDC WD2500JS-40TGB0.

There's definatly no high pitch sound coming it, but according to my tests it is still probably the loudest component in the imac. I found an app that allows you to change the fan speed, and tried changing all 3. I did not notice a big change in the sound level with small increases to fan speed, so the only thing left is the disk.

But personally I don't find this to really be louder then my notebooks, maby it's just that the sound has a lower steady frequency. By notebooks I mean a last gen G4 powerbook, macbook pro, HP NC 8000 and a fujitsu business class Centrino. All pretty silent. Maby the powerbook was more silent...


Silence is relative, of course! As I sit here, with the house heating activated and water gurgling through the pipes, I can't really hear the iMac, aside from the faint rattle of disk access and a slight ticking noise of one of the fans.

Normally I work in a completely silent office. You've heard the phrase, "You can hear a pin drop"? That's my office during working hours. I even took a clock off the wall because it was making too much noise.

In that kind of silence, yeah, I can hear the iMac. In that environment, it's far from silent.

When using my iBook G4 in the same room, I can just about hear its hard disk, but it's a million times quieter than the iMac. I've never used any other computer in the office. I would get-out my old Compaq notebook for testing but I really can't be bothered.

Maybe I ended-up with a dud iMac, I don't know, but the final word from me: If you want a quiet computer, get an iMac. But don't expect it to be silent. I even think saying, "virtually silent", as seems to be constantly said about the iMac, is pushing it. I would say the iMac is quiet compared to most off-the-shelf computers.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:38 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2003 4:14 am
Posts: 143
Location: Finland
I can accept that. I can definatly hear sound from the imac, more sound then my last pc made. Actually my last pc was inaudible with the case open, but when I closed it there was a faint hum (alot less then the imac).

If it was made from proprietary parts I would void the warrenty and look into changing all the fans. As is, I think I have to wait till the 3y warrenty runs out.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:04 am
Posts: 17
A final word on this. Looking at pictures of Intel iMac disassemblies around the web, it appears the hard disk was mounted with the top of the drive (ie the label side) facing the BACK of the machine.

On my iMac, the drive is the other way around. it's mounted top-side up. Additionally there's no way to invert it because the mounting bracket is specifically designed for the drive to go that way around. The SATA/power leads also won't connect if the drive is inverted.

I'm not sure which side of a drive emits most noise but if it IS the top-side, then that might explain why some people with early Intel/PPC iMacs described them as virtually silent. The sound of the hard disk was being sent through the back of the computer, rather than through the TFT panel and into the user's ears.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group