Seagate FreeAgent Go 1TB and 640GB portable USB drives

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MikeC
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Seagate FreeAgent Go 1TB and 640GB portable USB drives

Post by MikeC » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:21 am


Jordan
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Post by Jordan » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:15 pm

Great review :)

For an external backup solution I searched long and hard for a 2.5" enclosure that actually had a power switch! I eventually found one (IcyBox 250StU). It's not particularly quiet but I only use it for backups so I can easily switch it off after so I don't need to disconnect it to power it down.

Being unable to power them down without disconnecting them is my only issue with most of these drives, but this one seems like it might be quiet enough to leave connected and not notice it. It means it's potentially still prone to a power spike, though.

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Post by wouterr5 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:22 pm

Excellent review - too bad it doesn't have USB3 or E-SATA indeed, i could've stored my games on it if it had.

Considering how few people i know that have a problem with the noise level of their external hard drive, it's great that Seagate pays attention to the noise.

One question on the measurements: Wikipedia says that to be able to hear tones at 2 Khz or lower, they must be above 0 dB. However, this harddrive is probably still hearable from 1 meter in a quiet room at night, while according to SPCR's measurements it never crosses 0 dB below 2 Khz... So, is Wikipedia wrong or is there something i missed :)

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Post by MikeC » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:34 pm

wouterr5 wrote:One question on the measurements: Wikipedia says that to be able to hear tones at 2 Khz or lower, they must be above 0 dB. However, this harddrive is probably still hearable from 1 meter in a quiet room at night, while according to SPCR's measurements it never crosses 0 dB below 2 Khz... So, is Wikipedia wrong or is there something i missed :)
There are so many ways that "dB" is used that w/o the actual Wikipedia reference, I can't answer. However, I can say that there's a difference in SPL -- the total sound pressure at a specific distance -- vs the peak in a spectrum. The curve never actually reaches 0 dBA at any frequency, but the overall SPL is still 12.3 dBA/1m: SPL is the "sum" of all the pressure at every frequency.

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Post by JamieG » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:34 pm

I've owned the 500Gb version of the Seagate FreeAgent Go for about six or so months now and have been really impressed with its very low noise levels. Nice to have my impressions confirmed by a SPCR review.

The dis-assembly was really interesting - good to know how well the inner cage works! Great review Mike!

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Post by Flanker » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:59 pm

wow, nice review, and nice product

I wonder how they compare against the WD passport essentials.
I got a 320GB version of the WD and the only time i hear it is when they turn off and the spinning slows down, during operation they are inaudible.

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Post by david_f1976 » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:42 am

Interesting. I've recently bought a completely fanless pc with the aim of putting it in the living room. Just playing about with it at the moment and so have a 2.5" internal hard drive installed (Western Digitial 1200 BEVS from memory) but the noise from it is distracting when nothing else is happening in the room, e.g. I'm reading. Just mulling over options in my head but any ideas on how the noise from these Seagates would compare with putting the existing hard drive in a Scythe hard drive enclosure mounted in a rubber-grommet bay or elastically suspending my current drive?

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Post by HammerSandwich » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:11 am

Nifty little drive. Thanks for taking it apart for the review.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:29 am

david_f1976 wrote:Interesting. I've recently bought a completely fanless pc with the aim of putting it in the living room. Just playing about with it at the moment and so have a 2.5" internal hard drive installed (Western Digitial 1200 BEVS from memory) but the noise from it is distracting when nothing else is happening in the room, e.g. I'm reading. Just mulling over options in my head but any ideas on how the noise from these Seagates would compare with putting the existing hard drive in a Scythe hard drive enclosure mounted in a rubber-grommet bay or elastically suspending my current drive?
The first option is probably better than the second because it tackles both airborne and vibration noise. WD1200BEVS is a 120gb model, which suggests it's a bit older, maybe? If so, a newer drive might be quieter. Hard to say.

I can tell you that after playing around a bit with the bare 1tb Seagate drive from the FreeAgent Go, I think it's actually quieter than the 640gb model (which I did not take apart)... and it will probably find a home in my own htpc, where a single 500gb drive is running out of space. Sample variance in HDDs isn't that bad, but whether they are all like this is hard to know without trying out at least a few, not just one, but if one can be this quiet, there's hope for more of them to be this way, or at least close.

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How fast is the bare drive directly connect via sata

Post by jstyles » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:30 am

I would be interested in how fast the bare drive is outside of the usb case. Can you test the speed of the 1tb drive direclty connect to sata or e-sata?

Thanks

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Re: How fast is the bare drive directly connect via sata

Post by MikeC » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:49 am

jstyles wrote:I would be interested in how fast the bare drive is outside of the usb case. Can you test the speed of the 1tb drive direclty connect to sata or e-sata?

Thanks
w/HD Tune Pro on Win7-Intel SSD system via SATA: Avg. read - 67mb/s, random access - 21ms

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Re: How fast is the bare drive directly connect via sata

Post by jstyles » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:36 am

MikeC wrote:
jstyles wrote:I would be interested in how fast the bare drive is outside of the usb case. Can you test the speed of the 1tb drive direclty connect to sata or e-sata?

Thanks
w/HD Tune Pro on Win7-Intel SSD system via SATA: Avg. read - 67mb/s, random access - 21ms
Thanks again

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Post by tempeteduson » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:47 am

Jordan wrote:For an external backup solution I searched long and hard for a 2.5" enclosure that actually had a power switch!
Another solution you might consider is a USB hub with independent power switches for its ports, like this, this, or perhaps this (if you can find one).

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Post by Jordan » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:01 am

tempeteduson wrote:
Jordan wrote:For an external backup solution I searched long and hard for a 2.5" enclosure that actually had a power switch!
Another solution you might consider is a USB hub with independent power switches for its ports, like this, this, or perhaps this (if you can find one).
That's pretty neat! Would never have even thought to look for them. I have the enclosure now though :)

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Post by bozar » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:42 am

I wish the drive without the chassis where available for purchase.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:51 am

bozar wrote:I wish the drive without the chassis where available for purchase.
I think the reason the 12.5mm thick 2.5" drives are not available bare is because the demand for them would be extremely low. They don't fit in any notebooks. The 640gb 9.5mm thick Momentus is available, but it's not the biggest capacity bare 2.5" model Seagate offers right now. Oddly, the biggest is a 750gb 7200rpm model.

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Post by BeerParty » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:57 pm

An excellent topic for review. I would debatable whether your review is 'overdue', but I wouldn't think to argue with your decisions :wink:.

I have had the 500GB version of this drive for several months now. I did not consider its acoustics when I bought it since I only planned to use it infrequently, but was impressed by how quite it was when I started using it. I'll add my 'thumbs up' to this product for anyone who is considering purchasing an external drive.

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Post by Luke M » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:38 am

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Post by zoob » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:36 pm

Excellent review. I hope you get to do a follow-up on the GoFlex. It's a neat idea, but having separate cables is a PITA. The G-Drive Mini is what I'm using now.. plenty fast over FW but boy is it noisy as heck.

BTW noticed a booboo, page 4, paragraph 1:
Seagate's Scorpio 2.5" notebook drives are much quieter than the 3.5" models, but they aren't exceptional

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Post by Monkeh16 » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 am

I'm not sure why you're bothering to try and give power consumption figures for these drives. It's not possible for them to use more than 2.5W.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:34 am

Monkeh16 wrote:I'm not sure why you're bothering to try and give power consumption figures for these drives. It's not possible for them to use more than 2.5W.
Simply not true, as reported. That's close to what they draw in idle, and in seek it doubles. I actually tried it on 3 different systems; the notebook had the lowest power draw. Besides, measuring and reporting power consumption is standard on every review we do.

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Post by Monkeh16 » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:38 am

MikeC wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:I'm not sure why you're bothering to try and give power consumption figures for these drives. It's not possible for them to use more than 2.5W.
Simply not true, as reported. That's close to what they draw in idle, and in seek it doubles. I actually tried it on 3 different systems; the notebook had the lowest power draw. Besides, measuring and reporting power consumption is standard on every review we do.
USB 2.0 is limited to 500mA @ 5V. The drive would be unable to draw more from a single port on most systems (some are not strict about it). The AC consumption is a widely inaccurate measure, especially under I/O load.

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Post by tempeteduson » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:50 pm

Mike,

I agree with Monkeh16. Power consumption of twice what the USB 2.0 specification allows is not right. Heck, even USB 3.0 provides a maximum of only 4.5 W. You do caution in the article that this figure might not be accurate, but you state in your post above as if it is. I feel that this shouldn't have been reported in the first place.

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Post by MikeC » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:36 am

OK, Monkeh16 & tempeteduson...

...you're probably right in that I either should have done a more through job of covering power consumption or not done it at all. So, since I already did it, I went back and studied the issue some more and rewrote more complete findings in that section.

Reproduced here:
We know from testing many 2.5" drives in the past that they typically idle at 1W or less, and peak at about 2.5W during write/read operation. A reading of the USB 2.0 and 3.0 Specifications indicates that maximum rated current for each port is 500mA and 900mA, respectively, at 5V. This translates to 2.5W per USB 2.0 port. The current is supplied by the 5V standby line in a PC, usually rated for at least 2.5A. However, the specs appear to be recommended ratings for external USB devices. The Intel ATX12V Power Supply Design guide v2.2 mentions, for example, that on wakeup, an external USB device may cause a "peak currents as high as 3.5A lasting no more than 3 seconds", referring probably to spin-up of an external hard drive. It's not clear whether there is current limiting in the port circuitry; non-compliant devices might be able to draw more than 2.5W, with potential higher than normal long-term stress on the USB circuitry in the PC.

In the recent past, some external 2.5" drives were supplied with a USB cable that had two plugs on the PC side to ensure enough current could be drawn safely. As you know from photos above, the cables for these FreeAgent Go drives have just one port per end. Still, the drive in our FreeAgent Go 1TB is rated for 0.75A at +5V or 3.75W, probably the maximum at spin-up. (See the last page for photos and details.)

It's not easy to test the power draw through a USB connection. About the best we could come up with was to monitor the power draw of a laptop while running these USB 2.0 external drives from it. The battery from the notebook was removed altogether to prevent any extra power going to charge the battery.

The result aren't exactly definitive, but it appears that the 640GB and 1TB draw about the same power from the USB line when idle. The 2.6~2.7W AC additional at idle seems inordinately high given that the drives actually pull no more than 1W DC, even if you includes the power lost through the AC/DC conversion of the laptop. During read/write, the power jumps to around 5~6W AC maximum, which again seems too high. In any case, running these (or any) USB-powered drives off a laptop will have some impact on overall run time on battery; many low power laptops draw just 10~15W AC in normal use, so even the minimal additional load of a USB drive in idle could result in a 10~20% reduction in untethered run time.

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Post by Monkeh16 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:54 am

Some root hubs have current limiting circuitry, some don't, hence my comment on less strict systems.

You may want to note that most laptops will entirely disable the root hub unless a device is connected, and that USB has very high (relative) CPU load, which easily pushes up the AC power consumption.

You could fairly easily make a cable to check USB power consumption: Cut the insulation open, break the +5V line, and patch it through a reasonably accurate ammeter (a good quality multimeter would do the trick). Be aware of the risk of data corruption, however.

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Post by MikeC » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:16 am

Monkeh16 wrote:Some root hubs have current limiting circuitry, some don't, hence my comment on less strict systems.

You may want to note that most laptops will entirely disable the root hub unless a device is connected, and that USB has very high (relative) CPU load, which easily pushes up the AC power consumption.

You could fairly easily make a cable to check USB power consumption: Cut the insulation open, break the +5V line, and patch it through a reasonably accurate ammeter (a good quality multimeter would do the trick). Be aware of the risk of data corruption, however.
Good points... and a good idea re- USB cable power monitor. I made a shunt resistor cable-break to monitor the power of SATA and ATA drives, so this should be no problem. Still have a 0.01 ohm resistor or two. Next time I break out the soldering iron and want another project to tackle...

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Post by tempeteduson » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:42 am

Mike,

May I ask why you need an external shunt resistor to measure voltage and apply Ohm's law? You can easily splice in an ammeter directly.

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Post by wouterr5 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:16 pm

Eum, Mike - on the last page, there is a link to the sound of the 640 GB version, but the link points to:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/files/sou ... d18dba.mp3

The sound sample doesn't sound like a hard drive indeed :)

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Post by MikeC » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:29 pm

wouterr5 wrote:Eum, Mike - on the last page, there is a link to the sound of the 640 GB version, but the link points to:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/files/sou ... d18dba.mp3

The sound sample doesn't sound like a hard drive indeed :)
Strange... amazing no one commented before. Corrected, btw, w/ this file:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/files/sou ... tgo640.mp3

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