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 Post subject: HDD vibration & noise reducing methods - ranked
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 1:40 pm 
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Time for a sticky on this topic, methinks...

Even a small amount of research on quieting HDDs in SPCR should have led you to these oft-repeated fact:
  • Noise is made by moving components in two different ways: Acoustically, and via structure-borne vibrations.
  • With hard drives, direct acoustic noise is often less intrusive than noise caused by its vibrations when installed normally in the chassis.
  • The world biggest HDD maker, Seagate, says mounting methods matter more in perceived noise than direct air-borne noise.
  • Mechanical decoupling is any method to minimize firm contact between structures, usually in an effort to reduced transmission of vibrations that can cause noise.

Subjectively, mechanical decoupling of HHDs not only reduces the low frequency hum that you probably think is an intrinsic part of a PC's noise signature; it also reduces high frequency noise and can virtually eliminate seek noise.

So.... on to the rankings:

Elastic suspension is unbeatable for mechanical decoupling of HDD vibrations. You can hear and feel the difference. Putting your hand on a case with HDDs that are elastically suspended, you can feel no vibration whatsoever. None of the grommets I've tried -- including the soft blue EAR grommets with proper shoulder bolts -- achieves as good isolation.

My ranking of HDD silencing methods (assuming a quiet HDD like a Seagate Barracuda IV or Samsung SP series):

Best
- My original soft elastic suspension using stretchy elastic from a sewing shop.
- Aphonos frameless elastic suspension alternative his elastic looks kind of thick but you could use a thinner stretchier one
- NoVibesIII- but without last top O-ring (which forces drive to bottom out) - heat a potential problem when mounted in CD bay though.
- Soft foam under HDD on floor of case -- this is as effective as all the above and even keeps HDD cool if in a low airflow impedance case near front vent.

Better
- Ralf Hutter's sorbothane strips under HDD solution used for his Antec 3700BQE (~guesstimate of performance -- haven't played with exactly what he has)
- EAR grommets w/ proper bolts in proper cage. Still some coupling of vibrations.
- Zalman ZM-2HC1 heatpipe HDD cooler/silencer in 5.25" bay. Keeps HDD pretty cool but doesn't isolate as well, rubber grommets too hard, IMO. Combining this with suspension and placing it just about anywhere in the airflow path in the case would be great for noise and cooling.

Good
SmartDrive - This doesn't totally belong here, because it is an enclosure device, not really a vibration dampener, per se. But does reduce damping, keeps the HDD from getting hot, and with an already quiet HDD, makes acoustic noise pretty much disappear together. Suspending this in elastic would be the ultimate, but the front bottom of a case that does not have 3.5" cages all the way to the floor is the only place you could do it.

Marginally better than normal mounting - Rubber grommets as used in Antec & Evercase HDD mounts and similar

Eh - Plastic screwless rails as used in some cases

Worst- normal, tight screw mounting

I have actually tried all the above ( :roll: )

The suspension systems do fine for transport just by temporarily wedging some foam around to keep the HDDs from getting jostled out/knocked.

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Last edited by MikeC on Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:19 am, edited 7 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 5:33 pm 
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Seems to me most of these DIY solutions lack one important thing.....a method to transfer some of the HD heat into the frame. The standard HD mounting (solidly mounted with screws to the case) at least has the possibility of acting like a heatsink. Most of the de-coupling methods used around here, actually increase the temperature of the drives.

When I set out to de-couple a few hard drives, I did not want them to run hotter. Here's the two I'm using now....both work well at de-coupling, at the same time not adding any heat .

de-coupled HDs in a 3.5 bay


copper HD cage


another copper HD heatsink


Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Nov 16, 2003 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 5:58 pm 
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They're not all DIY -- it's a mix. And the ranking is clearly by vibration reduction, no other criteria.

Your solutions certainly keep the HDDs cooler, but you're depending on rubber grommets, which IMO, just lack the elasticity needed to get rid of the HDD noise the way suspensions do. They're also complex solutions that most people (even here) don't have the tools, skills or desire to pursue.

My favorites are still Aphonos' -- bare HDD suspended by elastic / bungie cord just behind the front intake vent or my original of a 5.25" drive cage with elastic webbing, placed, again, just behind the front intake vent. In my set up, the top drive reads 38-42C, the bottom one always 5C cooler (they're both 'cuda IV 40G). No direct fan, just one back panel Panaflo 80L at 6V. They're plenty cool enough, and this system is under 20 dBA / 1meter. Absolutely novibration can be felt when touching any part of the case, and certainly no HDD vibration-induced noise can be heard.

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Last edited by MikeC on Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 6:05 pm 
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On the other hand, Bluefront, I didn't mean to sound negative about your HDD noise reduction techniques. If you could try a couple of the ones on the list and rank your solutions honestly against them, I'll go back and add them to the ladder ~ where they belong by vibration reduction capability.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 7:19 pm 
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Hey...no offence taken at all. I just think if at all possible, we should consider the whole picture when doing mods, including the effects on temperature of the de-coupling.

Most of the suspension methods you show, mount the drives in a 5 1/4" bay. I'm not usually willing to sacrifice those bays for use by a 3 1/2" drive. Also.....The 5 1/4" bays usually have limited airflow due to their placement in a normal case. And if you open up a vent in front of the drives, no doubt sound will escape. I think the bottom front of the case offers the best solution for hard drive mounting.

Both of the two methods I use transmit no vibration to the case...none at all. The first setup (the 3.5" decoupling) had really noisy, vibrating drives. After the grommet mounting, it's completely quiet. Couldn't get any better.
The second method with the copper cage is the best setup......but it was a bear to construct. I'm not doing that again, although the final result exceeded my expectations. I'm working on another similar, but easier to make, design. Copper is the way to go for HD mounting/heat-sinking. If you keep it simple, it's not a difficult build.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 7:46 pm 
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Quote:
...consider the whole picture when doing mods, including the effects on temperature of the de-coupling.

The reasons this is merely commented on rather than integrated into the ranking...

1) temperature effects vary tremendously on the details of the precise location / implementation.

2) I wanted to be totally clear on how effective these methods are on vibration-induced noise.

As my last post detailed, in my ZERO conduction decoupled mounting setup, I get very reasonable temps (anything under 40C is perfectly safe IMO) because of the placement in the airflow path just as the outside air comes into the case. This is the best position. The worst position is up high, decoupled in a closed CD drive bay.

I will develop a more detailed & comprehensive table for this info and use it to update the Recommended HDD pages.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 1:13 am 
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I have one very good DIY solution:
http://www.teschke.de/heatpipes/Neues/B ... os_hd.html
(box with Zalman VGA Heatpipe cooling)
I am dreaming about having one of this every night...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:01 am 
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MikeC - Thanks for the sticky. I wish this had all been gathered into one place last month when I was trying to get rid of my HDD vibration problem. I eventually found all the same info by searching but it took quite a while. Two thumbs up from here in Sunny SoCal!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:04 am 
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After reading the dans-data review halfway, I came up with an idea... I have no idea how safe it might be. The harddrive suspension that Mike C lists in the best category, using cheap elastic material could be improved upon. Unless I'm wrong then the main downside to decoupling your HDD's this way is the heat. So why not attach a heatsink? This might be perfect for sonata's that have the hdd's in front of the front air intake. I won't try it because i don't have a spare heatsink but I have a feeling I'm onto something.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:19 am 
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Dingus wrote:
So why not attach a heatsink?

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article22-page1.html
is your friend...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:40 am 
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sorry, i just did a search throu spcr and found 1794 links to posts about hdd heatsinks. Damn. I thought i was on the edge of revolutionary thought, but it turns out i'm just tired.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 3:01 pm 
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Just a quick note on the "underwear" elastic I use: It's round in cross-section and has a core of a few rubber bands -- not ordinary rubber bands. A somewhat stretchty fabric is wrapped around the rubber core. Some have very small diameter (1/16"), and others are 3/16". You can choose the degree of elasticity.

I usually go for something ~1/8", not the stiffest or the softest. I have never had one break on me. I've probably used them in at least a dozen PC in the last ~18 months.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 5:16 pm 
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Here's another hard drive de-coupling/heatsink device I built a few months ago. It's made to mount in two different ways....either sitting directly on the floor of the case with foam pads on the four feet/tabs, or suspended in the air using elastic straps from a sewing shop (similar to MikeC's methods).

This particular setup does not require you to solder the copper pieces together, although doing so will increase the cooling efficiency. I have not used this unit yet, but I'm certain it would run cooler than a normal HD mount, at the same time being de-coupled.

copper HD mount


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:37 am 
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Very nice job!

I have built something similar recently, though nowhere as elaborate. I'll try to get some photos together, but not just yet.

Basically I've bolted two right-angled "L" pieces of thick aluminium to the sides of the drive so that the flanges point outwards at the bottom and the drive is lifted up. Underneath the bottom of the L is a layer of foam. Underneath is a wooden base that holds the foam to the metal - countersunk holes are drilled into the wood and long screws hold the whole thing together. The complete assembly is velcroed to the base of the case (another layer of dampening) where a low speed Panaflo is blowing across (and under) the assembly. Non-stressed temps in a normal room temp are < 40 degrees easily (on a 7200.7). A dodgy ASCII drawing looks like this:

Code:
          |                    |
          |      [--HDD--]     |
       ___|                    |___
         ________________________
        |                        |
        |         Foam           |
        |________________________|
       ____________________________
      |___________Base_____________|



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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2003 6:04 am 
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Curtis wrote:
Very nice job!

I have built something similar recently, though nowhere as elaborate. I'll try to get some photos together, but not just yet.

Basically I've bolted two right-angled "L" pieces of thick aluminium to the sides of the drive so that the flanges point outwards at the bottom and the drive is lifted up. Underneath the bottom of the L is a layer of foam. Underneath is a wooden base that holds the foam to the metal - countersunk holes are drilled into the wood and long screws hold the whole thing together. The complete assembly is velcroed to the base of the case (another layer of dampening) where a low speed Panaflo is blowing across (and under) the assembly. Non-stressed temps in a normal room temp are < 40 degrees easily (on a 7200.7). A dodgy ASCII drawing looks like this:

Code:
          |                    |
          |      [--HDD--]     |
       ___|                    |___
         ________________________
        |                        |
        |         Foam           |
        |________________________|
       ____________________________
      |___________Base_____________|



Very nice idea with those "L" brackets! They raise the HDD off the foam to let cooling air flow beneath it. Sitting an HDD on an insulating layer of foam has always been my main gripe about that type of dampening scheme. Your method removes that from the equation and adds the heatsink cooling effect of the aluminum "L" brackets into the equation. Nice!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:16 pm 
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Thanks. 8)

I was thinking exactly along those lines - I didn't like the idea of sitting a device like a hard drive directly onto the foam. I was previously using the brackets in a suspension setup a while ago, but I didn't like the results (either cooling or silencing). The cool thing (pun intended) about my little idea is that it is easily adaptable. You can add more foam for better silencing, bolt on a top plate of aluminium to turn it into an enclosure or extend the height of the bracket to cater for two drives. Whatever, I liked the idea if sidesinking, airflow and decoupling in the one package.

Well I think that's enough blowing of my own horn, I just hope someone finds my idea useful for themselves. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2003 8:17 am 
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What I've done is to stack my hdds on the base of my case at the front with my intake fan blowing over them. Instead of placing the bottom hd directly on the foam that I have on the base of the case, I have screwed in cable clips so that the hd will sit 1/2" above the foam so air can flow under the drive. The 2nd hard drive is sitting on top of the other one, but sitting on two 1/4" slits of foam that I cut out. So both the hard drives are decoupled, mounted on foam and allows airflow to go around them. My hd temps hover around 35C when idle and 40C when in use.

I'll take some pics when I get the chance.


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 Post subject: Re: HDD vibration reducing methods - ranked
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2003 4:05 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
Best
- My original soft elastic suspension – using stretchy elastic from a sewing shop.


Yep i agree! Ive done it too!

Heres my version of:

Image

Um...

Image

and

Image

That stuff i got is sewing elastic... you know the stuff that lines your pants and keeps them on... you...

Works a treat!!!! A lot better then balancing it on foam and also does not restrict air flow at all!

BTW, if you want to check out my silentpc project, go here: http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=8473

Seal

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2004 5:47 pm 
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An easy way to put a hard drive on the floor of the case is to use an
MF 520 5.25" mounting frame, available from many Web sources. Put Velcro on the bottom of the mounting frame (the side away from the hard drive) and on the floor of the case wherever you want to stick the hard drive. Use sewing elastic or ultralight bungee cord to make a cradle just as above, but add a z-plane loop (around the top and bottom of the hard drive, perpendicular to the 2 suspending loops) and the hard drive can't fall out out the cradle during transport. The entire assembly process only takes a few minutes, less time than it takes to round up the components.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2004 2:33 am 
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yeah - what i have done is to suspen the drive when its within a ZALMAN heat pipe thing!! - cos it get to hot with out the extra cooling (ie 60+!!)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2004 7:47 am 
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Here is a link to my hard drive suspension design, inpired by MikeC. It is designed to sit in the bottom of the computer case, in front of an intake fan, or intake hole. This yields VERY good cooling and noise reduction.

http://www.ocforums.com/vb/vb/showthrea ... did=234798

I am working on a new design, specifically for the Antec 3700/ D8000/ Compucase LX-6A19. I'll update my thread with new pictures, soon.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 6:16 pm 
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Well...finally got around to scanning a photo of my contraption. Have a look here for the interested.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 12:47 am 
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Curtis, thanks for sharing....but it doesn't seem like that foam will do much good when there are screws going right through it, still attaching things to the rigid structure.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 4:01 am 
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wow curtis thats a very good design! LOTS of cooling, especially the with the metal plates conducting heat away too, whats the bottom layer of material? It kinda looks like leather or something non-rigid for some reason...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 3:31 am 
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Wurly - yeah...I'm not too happy with the foam I'm using. It's pretty rigid and doesn't do much to dampen anything. I'm toying with replacing it with thick sponge foam - the stuff you wash dishes with. As for the screws, I don't think they are much of a problem. The foam should dampen the vibrations before they get transmitted to anything that might rattle. At least if the foam were decent... :)

Seal - Thanks. :)
The bottom layer is a rigid "masonite". It's a kind of thin but fairly sturdy wood, or wood composite. It's almost like thick, solid cardboard. Attached to the bottom of that are a couple of velcro strips that keep the wood/metal contact to a minimum. Makes for a nice stable mount too so you can move the case around without fear of the drive falling off.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:13 am 
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Curtis - I think you missed Wurly's point. It's not the foam that's the problem, but the fact that you have screws going through the foam and dirctly connecting the plates, pretty much cancelling any benefit of having the foam there in the first place. Try removing the screws and see how it sounds. It should be more quiet that way. I assume you wanted some sort of support so the drive won't move. You could try tieing the pieces together with string or someting soft instead of the screws.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:16 am 
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What I recently did was to take a couple of drive rails for fitting a 3.5" drive into a 5.25" drive bad and screwed them into the bottom of my case near the front intake. I spaced them farther apart then they would be in a 5.25" bay so there was enough room to use rubber hair bands to suspend it. So I get the benefit of having the drive in the bottom near the intake vents and also the benefit of suspending. Plus unlike just setting in on a piece of foam, it's fairly secure and doesn't move easily.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:22 am 
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BillyBuerger wrote:
What I recently did was to take a couple of drive rails for fitting a 3.5" drive into a 5.25" drive bad and screwed them into the bottom of my case near the front intake....Plus unlike just setting in on a piece of foam, it's fairly secure and doesn't move easily.


I'll be trying something similar, as soon as I get the parts. I'll let y'all know how it turns out...


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 2:27 am 
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BillyBuerger wrote:
Curtis - I think you missed Wurly's point. It's not the foam that's the problem, but the fact that you have screws going through the foam and dirctly connecting the plates, pretty much cancelling any benefit of having the foam there in the first place. Try removing the screws and see how it sounds. It should be more quiet that way. I assume you wanted some sort of support so the drive won't move. You could try tieing the pieces together with string or someting soft instead of the screws.


Perhaps it'll make a difference. I'll give it a shot in the future to see if it makes much difference.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 5:16 am 
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Do these systems work to reduce seeking noise?
My Seagate 7200.7 SATA 150 120 Gb is crunching like a beast. :?


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