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 Post subject: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:48 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Sweden
Hey, new member here!
I've been looking at a lot of reviews on this website and I'm glad there are others that share the goal of having a silent computer. Most wouldn't understand if I said my computer is noisy because when compared to the average PC it isn't, but I'm very oversensitive when it comes to sound, especially ticking, whining, humming etc. Subtle things most can ignore.


Long version:
So back in late 2009 I built this rig, using an Antec P183 case with its specially featured CP-850 power supply. I think both of them have been reviewed here in the past. (Some more specs are Asus P6T Deluxe V2 mobo, Intel 920 CPU @ 3.32ghz, 6GB DDR3 Corsair RAM, and back then a Radeon 5870 graphics card)

The hard drives I picked were two 640GB WD Black. Both because they had good reviews at the time and they came with a 5 year warranty. I'm not a guy who enjoys swapping computer parts every year so I wanted everything to last, and it did for quite some time.

I mounted the hard drives vertically in the lower HDD cage using the special screws with silicone grommets. I remember the first time I overtightened them and had a lot of vibration noise from the HDDs but took them out and loosened them, and never had a problem with vibration again, and I was fine with the seek noise, coming from another computer with just as distinct "loud" seek noise.

After running fine for just over 6 years, the power supply started behaving strangely, it restarted itself randomly and I had to replace it. Got me a Corsair RM650i which is supposed to be one of the most quiet and reliable ones out there at the moment. After 2 months of normal use, something in the PSU exploded and thankfully nothing else was destroyed but the PSU itself, for which I got a replacement within a few days from the local computer shop.

Either way, since this new PSU was just half as tall as the original Antec one (which had an unusually tall form factor only fitting their own cases) it left a "hollow" above it, which must've caused some echo/reverb or something because I started hearing the HDD seek noises echoing in the case for the first time. After a while I got used to it but never liked it.

A couple months ago I decided to get a new graphics card, and went with MSI GTX 1060 Gaming 6GB. So far it seems fantastic, and is very very quiet except for some slight buzzing every now and then at heavy load, which I guess is normal. The fans of this card were so quiet compared to my old 5870 that I started hearing how bad the case fans and CPU fans sounded, as if they had just started humming in a way I hadn't heard. This lead me to replace the upper and back original Antec case fans with new Noctua ones. I also enabled the BIOS to control the case and CPU fans to make them more silent. It didn't affect the CPU or mobo temps much.

Now, I started hearing a humming in the lower compartment, probably caused by the case fan blowing through the two vibrating hard drives and echoing at the back. That's my guess at least. I lowered the speed of the case fan in front of them in an attempt to make it less audible and it worked but the HDDs were running too hot for comfort, so I went back with full fan speed.

At this time I also started hearing some kind of "bubbling" sound, something caused by the vibration of the HDDs. I thought: Ok, they've been running in the same position without the screws being touched for 6 and a half years, maybe it's time to make sure they're not loosening.

I took the HDD cage out a while ago and loosened the screws and tightened them carefully on all sides again. After doing this, they started vibrating like they had never done before. I took them in and out of the case, trying different "tightness" on the screws on both top and bottom of the cage and nothing helped. They vibrated so heavily that it somehow reached the side panel which sounded like a drill. All I could do to make it tolerable was enable AAM in HD Tune, something I didn't even know about until doing some research at that point.

AAM did solve the seek noise echo, but the vibration of the HDDs just being spinning is truly awful. It creates a hum at 120hz which I learned is the sound of a 7200rpm drive spinning. This hum echoes through the case and vibrates on the table as well. (I have the PC next to my monitor on a small desk, nowhere else with space enough to put it) Add to that the pulsing hum from the case fan / HDDs and the "bubbling" vibration sound they now make. That night I said to myself: No more. I'm getting an SSD and an external HDD.

(Not sure if it's necessary but here's a photo from when the PC was first built. http://i.imgur.com/5u6LXHI.jpg I don't have any new photos and I'm not able to capture one right now.)


TLDR version:
Two WD Black 640GB HDDs in an Antec P183 case mounted with silicone grommets started vibrating heavier than ever after close to 7 years, (almost 3 years power on time) and I'm looking for good replacements.


I went ahead and bought myself a Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD along with an external WD Elements Desktop 2TB. (Went with the 850 Pro after reading about how MLC doesn't suffer speed losses in the long run as much as TLC, and also, 10 years warranty!) I've had my files pretty much split over my two WD 640GB drives since way back. Win7 + Programs + Games on the C drive, and also a lot of music, photos and movies. Now the plan is of course to have the SSD pretty much as a pure OS+Programs+Games drive, and maybe keep the very most important personal files there too, but moving all the rest of the music, photos, movies etc to the 2nd drive. This is something I'm going to do before installing the SSD so I can clone my main drive to spare me a lot of hassle. (No worries, I've done lots of research and know what has to be done to prepare, boot repair CD, partition alignment etc. Also started running my SATA connections as AHCI to prepare, since I learned about NCQ and how it works wonders with SSDs.)


So, of the new drives I've only been able to try out the external WD Elements Desktop 2TB so far. I'm familiar with WD's external drives since I already own 3 old ones of different types, which I use for different kinds of backups.

Sadly I was very negatively surprised by how bad the quality of this new 2TB drive was. The design was made so you were only allowed to have it standing as a book, with two "cheap" rubber feet on the bottom which could barely keep the drive standing straight and still while operating. Not to mention it was noisy compared to my old external drives. Especially lots of clicking and seek noise.

Now I know these typically contain the "cheapest" drives, which now is WD Blue 5400rpm if I remember correct. I guess the clicking I heard was the constant head parking which is apparently set to 8sec on these drives.

Either way, the instructions clearly states the drive isn't allowed to be moved while operating, yet it could barely stand still with the horribly bad design it had. So the decision was made that I am going to return it to the shop and get something else.


Now to the point of this wall of text, for which I apologize! It's just how I am. I rather explain thoroughly from the beginning just in case it's necessary rather than having to answer lots of questions later.

I'm at a dilemma here. The reason I wanted to try having an external drive as my 2nd was obviously to avoid the vibrations in the PC case. Now I realize maybe it's not a good way to go. Maybe there are internal drives that are silent enough to not vibrate so heavily? Or should I go with a more portable external drive? I've heard horror stories about how quick those are to fail and I truly want reliability as well, even though I know computer parts always equals failure in the end.

It is quite confusing to research what drive to choose. I understand from recent reviews here and there that the WD Black series are the heaviest vibrating drives, but also the only ones to come with a 5 year warranty. (If a high performance drive can have a 5 year warranty, why are there no quieter drives made for storage with 5 years warranty?)

You might notice I've only mentioned WD so far, it's because I've had their drives for many years and these WD Black drives really showed reliability over almost 7 years. Well in truth, they haven't failed yet, they're just vibrating a lot more. Where I live in Sweden, I can only get Seagate, Toshiba or WD internal hard drives. And from all I've read Seagate seems to be the brand with most drive failures, and Toshiba, not sure. And no place to buy HGST drives here. I guess I somehow just trust WD but this new external drive made me wonder.

I would want 2TB of space (Though technically I could live with 1TB) so I've looked at the popular WD Red 5400rpm, as well as the WD Blue 5400rpm. I know Red is meant to be used 24/7 in a NAS but that sounds to me like a drive meant for storage. On the other hand I've read that they're now suddenly louder than they used to be?! What about vibration? They at least have 3 years of warranty but why not 5?

And WD Blue 5400rpm, only 2 years warranty, said to be quiet and to be the old Green drives "repainted". At the same time I'm thinking a Blue must've been in that external WD I got, but of course on a PC one could run wdidle to make the head parking happen way less often. Still, how's the quality on this drive, and only 2 years warranty?

Or should I go with a portable 2TB drive? I only have USB 2.0 ports so I guess that means low transfer speed. But are there any long lasting, quiet portable drives? I keep reading customer reviews from shops all over the world that portable drives keep failing within a year or are loud and so on.

This is all so confusing not to mention I'm thinking about what if I get an internal drive again, how to mount it to make it quiet? Can I place it on a couple kitchen sponges at the bottom of the case? Or would that make them move around from vibration? I'm not sure if I could manage building a bungee cord setup. It's actually pretty stressful since I can't afford any more expensive alternatives that would've been natural if I had a better economy like a wireless NAS with RAID or similar, to keep in another room.

I've spent most of what I can for a long time on PC parts this year so I really need a good advice for a quiet and reliable storage drive. Thanks in advance!


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:22 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2003 12:27 am
Posts: 55
Location: Scotland, UK
I would suggest a Samsung/Seagate M9T in a Scythe Himuro Mini, but the Himuro Mini is no longer made.

You can get the M9T for about £80 with a 2 year warranty or £60 inside Seagate Expansion drive

I would be interested to see how you get on, as I would like to replace my old 2TB drive, its a bit noiser in its old age and my PC quieter.


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 6346
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Welcome to SPCR.

I don't have a specific HDD model to recommend, but I do have some comments. My current setup had an SSD for OS/Apps/some games/docs and an HDD for everything else (media/stored games/SSD backup). Playing music would cause the HDD to spin up for a while, spin down and then repeat for every track or two. So, I opted to buy a second SSD and put all of the media on it and used the HDD solely for backups. 500GB class SSDs are getting to be pretty cheap and you don't need to buy a fast one for media.

That leaves you with an HDD for backups. You could keep the external WD Elements for that or go with a different one. My take is external drives have shorter lives due to cheap power supplies and because they are external -> more likely to be dropped. I have a single platter WD passport (2014 design) sitting on top of my mom's Mac Mini and it is whisper quiet. Don't know how the new design is for noise. Upside is USB powered. Downside is pricey above 1TB and higher platter count than comparible 5400rpm 3.5" drive.

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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:06 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:48 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Sweden
Thanks for the replies!
Oh, believe me if I could afford a 1TB SSD I'd go for that for my internal storage. But since I've had to replace my PSU, case fans, graphics card and hard drives this year I've spent almost all my savings I had kept for this reason. I will definitely consider it in the future though.

As for the Samsung M9T, the shop where I get all my PC parts don't have their drives, they do have the Seagate Expansion but I don't feel like voiding the warranty to get a hold of a drive that I wouldn't be able to return if it failed.

I buy all PC parts at this shop because no matter how long into the warranty period, they take care of any eventual RMA instead of pointing me to the manufacturer. That's reason enough!

WD Passport, maybe I should try that. But does the platter count affect vibrations a lot? I'd probably get a 2TB one. Downside is I have only USB 2.0 ports. Not sure what transfer speed that would equal on a drive that is also drawing its power from the USB port. I'll definitely return the WD Elements one though, it's just too loud and standing very unstable on those cheap rubber feet. If I'd hit the desk by accident it would tip over.

If I do get an internal drive I might just go with the Blue 5400rpm 2TB. After all it's said to be a repainted Green and they were known to be quiet and have low vibration.


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:12 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 6346
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
WD Passport external has the 2.5" WD Scorpio inside..which they call Blue now. Yes, more platters leads to more vibration. I'd lean toward a 3.5" if going for 2TB.

Green/Blue 3.5" is fine.

You can negate vibration by hanging the HDD from the cage with elastic bands. There are a couple of threads on this.

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Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:32 pm 
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Posts: 78
I am running Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 and Western Digital WD Green 2TB, WD20EZRX inside my NAS box. The Seagate is loud, but the WD Green is really silent. Got it recently, although they are not produced any more, they are still on sale in some (online) shops. Otherwise I would have tried a Blue, as long as it is a slow spinning drive.


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:12 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:48 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Sweden
Still trying to decide between a WD Passport Ultra 2TB and a 3.5" WD Blue 5400rpm 2TB.

If I get the internal drive, I know it would be quite problematic for me having a hard time working on things like this, (I have some disabilities that makes me get exhausted from physical work pretty quickly, which wasn't nearly as bad in 2009 when I built the computer) to make an own elastic band mount.

Would it be possible to tie a 3.5" drive to some kitchen sponges with elastic bands and put it flat on the bottom of the case? Or would that be a bad idea? I don't even know about the heat resistance of elastic bands and kitchen sponges, but I guess hard drives won't get that hot. Or would the drive "jump around" if it's not actually tied to the case itself somehow?


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 Post subject: Re: Help choosing a quiet 2TB HDD
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:59 pm 
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Location: Sweden
Letting the HDD rest on a foam brick at the bottom of the case works fine. But make sure it's secure. Kitchen sponges sounds a bit flaky. Electronics side up for better cooling and maybe lower risk of ESD damage.

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