The quietest: 2.5" drives

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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The quietest: 2.5" drives

Post by MikeC » Mon Jul 26, 2004 8:16 am

Even slow 4200rpm drives weren't that quiet as recently as 2.5 years ago (the age of the last notebook I bought). But there's been a transformation in notebook drives over the past year or two, and they are quieter and faster than ever.

Early adopters such as SPCR forum member sclawson and al bundy began posting about these new 2.5" drives in early 2003. Since then, I have verified that the quietest notebook drives are indeed exteremly quiet and perfectly well adapted to desktop computing.

Quiet Notebook drives....
  • are as much as 6-7 dBA/1m quieter than the best 3.5" drive.
  • have so little vibration it can barely be felt
  • can be suspended easily in 3.5" drive bays!
  • run so cool (typically <3W) that active cooling is usually unnecessary even when suspended.
  • offer performance similar to 7200rpm 3.5" drives, esp with 5400rpm speed and 8/16mb cache.
  • cost 25% to 60% more, but with 3.5" drive prices starting as low as US$60-70, it's not a huge hit.
  • still tend to be limited in capacity (usually 80G is the biggest in a line), but getting bigger.
There are already notebook HDD articles and reviews in the Storage Section, some notebook drive listed in the Recommended HDDarticle, and more will come. Short of a ridiculously priced solid state drive, the new notebook drives are the obvious answer for truly silent PCs.

Notebook HDD Articles & News:
IS the Silent PC Future 2.5-inches wide?
Toshiba MK6022GAX 5400/16mb cache Notebook Drive
Samsung's New Silent Notebook Drives

Forum threads:
Info about some quiet notebook hard drives.
The silent future is 2.5" wide.
MikeC and al bundy were right!
Last edited by MikeC on Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by PhilgB » Mon Jul 26, 2004 1:28 pm

I would be very interested in finding out how well 7200 Rpm notebook drives perform noise wise.

http://www6.tomshardware.com/storage/20 ... ks-01.html
http://www.transintl.com/macupgrades/mo ... ?number=95
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storag ... -7200.html

Even if the idle noise is about the same, I'm pretty sure there would be less seek noise, and a much lower heat output. The size would also make suspension much easier.
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Post by MikeC » Mon Jul 26, 2004 1:47 pm

Good question...

Hitachi says about that 7K60...
Acoustics (A-Weighted Sound Power (Bels))
Idle (typical) 2.7; Op (typical) 3.3
Idle (maximum) 3.0; Op (maximum) 3.5
Samsung says about their new "M" 5400rpm mobiles:
Acoustic (Average Sound Power)
Idle -- 1-Disk 2.2 Bel; 2-Disk 2.4 Bel
Random Read /Write -- 1-Disk 2.4 Bel; 2-Disk 2.6 Bel
Just to give you a reference point, Samsung's popular "P80 (80G):
Acoustic (Average Sound Power) Idle 2.7 Bel; Random Read/Write 2.8 Bel
Seagate B-IV 1-platter (Bels)...
Idle: 2.1 (typ), 2.3 (max)
Seek: 2.4 (typ), 2.6 (max)
The 7K60 does not look promising to me.
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Post by PhilgB » Mon Jul 26, 2004 2:02 pm

Hopefully another brand that is known to make quieter products will release a 7200rpm model. If not, the size and heat pluses add headroom for dampening.

I'll try emailing seagate or samsung.
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Post by Copper » Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:46 pm

I look forward to the Samsung review. I am very impressed with them and I'm eager to see how it comes out against the competition.

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Post by the_smell » Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:29 am

It might be worth asking western digital for a sample of their new 2.5" drives...
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=102
'features WD's exclusive WhisperDrive™ technology with SoftSeek™ algorithms to deliver the quietest 2.5-inch hard drive on the market'

After esperiencing WD's previous 'quiet drive' technology I need to be convinced about the quietest drive on the market claim, especially after recently hearing (or not hearing) a samsung 2.5".
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Post by DuckSeason » Sun Oct 17, 2004 5:42 am

I'm really peeved. I had an Acer TravelMate 290 with a nice quiet Fujitsu (from memory) 30G drive in it which I gave it to my sister when I bought a newer TM290 with faster wifi. The new machine came with a Seagate Momentus ST94019A 40G drive which Seagate's site promotes as "inaudible".

Inaudible, my honky white ass. It whines like a mo. And clicks and brrrrs and otherwise wakes up the neighbourhood. It sounds like a bunch of cicadas going for it on a summer's night (okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight). And this isn't even the faster 5,400rpm version - it's the lame 4,200rpm Momentus that Seagate are OEM-ing to suckers like Acer (and me).

Why Acer changed drives I have no idea but I'll be replacing the drive with either a Fujitsu or a Toshiba very soon.

PS When I emailed both Acer and Seagate about it, Seagate gave me the standard corporate b.s. reply and Acer didn't even bother with one despite two further tries. Serves me right for being a repeat customer I guess.

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Post by MikeC » Sun Oct 17, 2004 8:24 am

re -- the WD 2.5" Scorpio: There is already a thread on this -- http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=16106

WD says:
Idle Mode 20 dBA (average)
Seek Mode 21 dBA (average)

I have measured other notebook drives at 4 dBA less in idle -- not sure in seek, but at least 2-3 dBA lower.

I've asked them for samples -- they say: get in line bud.
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Post by ddrueding1 » Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:23 pm

Has anyone considered the Seagate Savvio 10k.1? It requires a SCSI interface, but it will doubtless outperform laptop drives with similar size, noise, and heat.

Here is a review at Storagereview.com

Thoughts?
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Post by Edward Ng » Thu Nov 11, 2004 1:14 pm

Check out the prices on those Savvios and then decide on what most of us are thinking. :?
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Post by Rusty075 » Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:11 pm

Edward Ng wrote:Check out the prices on those Savvios and then decide on what most of us are thinking. :?
$858 at Directron

Hmm.

You can buy a whole lot of dampening material for $858....


....or an entire second PC with a screaming 15K SCSI and gigabit LAN, then just stick that sucker out in the woodshed. :wink:
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Post by ddrueding1 » Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:42 pm

Aww, c'mon guys...surely there must be someone out there with more money and less sense than I...
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Post by sthayashi » Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:53 pm

Rusty075 wrote:....or an entire second PC with a screaming 15K SCSI and gigabit LAN, then just stick that sucker out in the woodshed. :wink:
That's brilliant!!! Here I've been trying to figure out the best way to keep a server PC quiet in my basement, and I can clearly do better by building a woodshed and putting it out there. :D

I better hide my credit cards before my wife takes them away from me :lol:
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Post by inti » Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:16 am

FWIW, I upgraded the noisy IBM/Hitachi Travelstar in my laptop to a 5,400rpm Seagate Momentus (version 1, 8MB cache).

The HDD sits in the front bay of my laptop on my (glass) desk, approximately 1-2 feet from my ear all day every day. My laptop is otherwise silent (fan is mostly off). There is no noise insulation between the HDD and my ears to speak of.

The HDD is almost silent; the remaining noise is a steady, fairly high-pitched whirring from the motor, audible at 1 feet but not at 3 feet. Seeks are almost unnoticeable. The system is so quiet that I can hear the loudspeakers "chatter" with electronic interference when the CPU is processing.

The drive is also nice because it does not seem to 'chug' so much when there is heavy disk activity - maybe just because of the quiet seeks, or maybe that 8MB cache and good firmware really helps - I don't think this drive has NCQ but it is nearly as good. Performance-wise I am very happy with it, it is subjectively nearly as fast as the Seagate 7200.8 (with NCQ) in my desktop system. Maybe it would be slower for a sustained data transfer (for example, muxing a video file) but for normal use it is just dandy.

This HDD is the single most pleasing silent PC upgrade that I have ever done. For anybody who is thinking about it, I am confident that the Seagate Momentus in an internal 3.5" bay would be, to all intents and purposes, completely silent - for example if I were building a Hush fanless PC then that is what I would choose.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:31 am

inti wrote:...I am confident that the Seagate Momentus in an internal 3.5" bay would be, to all intents and purposes, completely silent...
This must be a very different sample than the two I have have experience with. Neither were as quiet as the new Samsung or Hitachi 5400 rpm notebook drives; not only was idle a couple dBA higher, but the real nasty was a constant pure high pitch tone that refused to go away. You mention "steady, fairly high-pitched whirring from the motor, audible at 1 feet but not at 3 feet" -- I wonder if this is the same noise I heard and whether your ambient noise is much higher than mine (~20 dBA most of the time). The noise was clearly audible / annoying to me from anywhere in the same room (20 x 10 x 8', carpeted) with the HDD bare, regardless of angle. I don't think I could standing having it 3 feet away from me inside an undamped PC case. Maybe your notebook does a good job of high freq noise blocking?
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Post by egghat » Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:38 am

German magazine c't has a test of drives in one of their recent issues.

The 2.5" WD are the quietest on the market (by quite a margin).

The 40GB (00HCt0) Scorpio is rated at a mere 0.2 Sone. The 60GB is 0.4, the 80 GB version at 0.5.

The Fujitsus start with 0.8 (40GB) and end with 1.1.

The Hitachis rate between 0.7 and 0.8.

The Seagate Momentus 5400.2 go from 0.7 to 0.8.

Sone is a weighted loudness. Sone 2.0 means two times louder than Sone 1.0. So the difference between 0.2 and 0.8 is 4 times. My Samsung Spinpoint is measured at 0.8 under load. (This is somehwat different from Mike experiences, that no desktop drive can match the quietness of notebook drives ...).

Btw. the quietest 3.5" drive in the test is the new Barracuda series which are rated at 1.3 to 1.7 Sone. With AAM enabled the DiamondMax 10 and the Western Digital Caviar REs stay under 1.0 sone.

The Scorpios really sound interesting (whcih for us mean they don't sound at all :-) ).

And for the real hard core silent PC builders: The 1.8" drives are extremly quiet as well. 0.2 and 0.3 under load, while the model from Toshiba is under 0.1 sone when idling.

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Post by dukla2000 » Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:25 pm

egghat, is your Spinpoint 2.5" or 3.5"? Which capacity? And/or did c't have numbers for any of the 2.5" Samsungs?
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Post by egghat » Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:08 am

What Spinpoint? Where did I write about the Spinpoints?

I digged up an older c't. The Spinpoint M40 (MP0603H; 2,5", 5400 rpm, 8MB Cache) has 0.6 Sone when idling, 0.7 under load with AAM and 0.9 wo AAM.
The 80 GB version is measured with 0.7, 0.8 and 1.1 Sone. So they seem to be quite a bit loader then the new scorpios.

Btw there are some other ver quiet drives measured, but they all run with just 4200 rpm (too slow for me).

The Hitachi HTS424030M9AT00 (2,5",4200 rpm, 2 MB Cache, 30GB) is just 0.2, 0.4 und 0.5 Sone loud. The Toshiba MK6006GAH (2,5", 4200 rpm, 2 MB Cache, 57 Gb) is very quiet too (0.1, 0.3,0.3).

A lot of alternatives, if you don't care about speed, if you need a moderatly fast and quiet 2.5 drive, the WD Scorpios seem to be the route to follow.

Bye egghat.

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Post by Tobias » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:28 am

egghat wrote: What Spinpoint? Where did I write about the Spinpoints?
egghat wrote: My Samsung Spinpoint is measured at 0.8 under load. (This is somehwat different from Mike experiences, that no desktop drive can match the quietness of notebook drives ...).

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Post by egghat » Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:05 am

huh, two postings away. much too far for me to remember ... I'll better go home now ;-)

I reread MikeC claims as well: He thinks, that most 4200 rpm 2,5" drives are much more silent than even the most silent desktop drives. As always ;-) he is right. For all that need speed, the 2,5" 5400 rpm seem to be absolutly wonderful.

Bye egghat.

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Post by rpc180 » Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:42 am

I just replaced the Seagate Momentus in my laptop with a Fujitsu 60GB MHT-AH 5400RPM drive. The Seagate clicked and ticked a lot even when the system was idling. The fujitsu, on the other hand, had a light hum and was very steady when operating. I'm glad I switched out especially with the +20GB in storage capacity.
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Post by perplex » Thu Jun 02, 2005 5:58 am

so... what is the undisputed quietest 2.5inch hard disk? :]

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Post by egghat » Thu Jun 02, 2005 6:17 am

The quietest 2.5" drive with 5400 rpm ist the Scorpio 1 platter (40 GB). This is undisputed. You may find a 4200 rpm drive (good guess is Toshiba) that is a bit more silent. But these drives are much slower.

Noise measurement is difficult: at idle? At load? How to weigh the different noises? Some find high pitches are nerving, some hat deep grumblings. And inside your case the noise characteristics change completly. Is the drive suspended? is your case dampened?

There's no objective measurement, that fits your subjective ears ;-)

Bye egghat.

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Post by perplex » Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:51 am

are the quietest 2.5" hard disks as quiet as an ipod hard disk? ;]

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Post by egghat » Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:30 pm

IIRC the iPod drives are 1.8". And 1.8" are quieter than 2.5" drives, but also way slower. And they have rather strange interfaces that make integration in a normal PC rather difficult (this may change, when 1.8 " drives with Serial ATA become available).

Bye egghat.

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Post by perplex » Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:00 pm

yeh i was just wondering if 2.5" hard disk have comparible quietness to my ipod hdd 8)

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Post by NosniboR80 » Sat Jun 18, 2005 9:55 pm

So, I'm having a lot of difficulty figuring out what is the quietest 80 GB 5400 rpm drive. From all the reviews I'm reading, it seems like it all depends on your ear and how your particular drive performs, not the brand. Are there particular brands to steer clear of? I think I've always heard that Seagate is plagued by clicking, but I've read reviews of almost every drive that I'm interested in having a clicking problem. What's the deal?

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Post by Oliver » Mon Jun 20, 2005 6:52 pm

egghat wrote:What Spinpoint? Where did I write about the Spinpoints?

I digged up an older c't. The Spinpoint M40 (MP0603H; 2,5", 5400 rpm, 8MB Cache) has 0.6 Sone when idling, 0.7 under load with AAM and 0.9 wo AAM.
The 80 GB version is measured with 0.7, 0.8 and 1.1 Sone. So they seem to be quite a bit loader then the new scorpios.

Btw there are some other ver quiet drives measured, but they all run with just 4200 rpm (too slow for me).

The Hitachi HTS424030M9AT00 (2,5",4200 rpm, 2 MB Cache, 30GB) is just 0.2, 0.4 und 0.5 Sone loud. The Toshiba MK6006GAH (2,5", 4200 rpm, 2 MB Cache, 57 Gb) is very quiet too (0.1, 0.3,0.3).

A lot of alternatives, if you don't care about speed, if you need a moderatly fast and quiet 2.5 drive, the WD Scorpios seem to be the route to follow.

Bye egghat.
I am looking for some sort of confirmation of your numbers. So what I would want is a sone rating of the 40GB the MP0402H . I tried to go to the samsung site to find it under the discontinued models section, and well I am not able to get the manual. Can you on your computer?

http://product.samsung.com/cgi-bin/nabc ... tinued+HDD

The reason I want a confirmation of the numbers is I want to know what the relation is in the Samsung MP's and the WD scorpios in the 40 60 and 80 GB models. I want a coorelation. ANd from the 2 sound files I have found here I am not able to make the correlation and extrapolate. I have read comments on the message board, but it is frustrating. I want to know should I really get the lowest size model (wondering what the scorpio 40GB actually sounds like), or can I say move up in the Samsung (is it quieter than the 60GB scorpio).


Well according to your sone figures, then the 60 GB scorpio just reviewed is quieter than a 60 GB Samsung MP0603H; 2,5", 5400 rpm, 8MB Cache is. But what I want to know is what the sone rating is on the 40 GB model (MP0402H) . Because I want to see if those figure jive with what I am hearing from the 2 sound files here at silent pc review. The one being that of the MP0402H and the other being the 60GB scorpio in the recent review. Would the 40 GB scopio version be that much quieter than its 60GB brother? Because to me the idle sounds much louder on the 60GB scorpio than the 40GB MP0402H. So as I see it, it would have to be a lot quieter to duck under whatever the MP0402H sone number is . So just what is it that sone number for that model?

I care most about idle.

Thanks

If you half the sone number, how many dba change is that ( 1.5 ,3, or 6)?

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Post by michaelb » Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:13 pm

Oliver wrote:Would the 40 GB scopio version be that much quieter than its 60GB brother?
I wonder if double platter notebook drives tend to be much louder than single platter. I quote Fujitsu's spec indicating a huge difference, in this thread:
http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=22437

I've bought only single platter drives for use in systems, and use external storage when needed, such as firewire enclosures with 3.5" drives inside.

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Post by perplex » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:56 am

how does hardmounted 2.5" spinpoint compare with 3.5" spinpoint suspended for acoustics?

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