Which quiet, inexpensive SATA drive?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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toronado455
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Which quiet, inexpensive SATA drive?

Post by toronado455 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:09 pm

I'm looking to replace both my old 80GB Baracuda IV internal IDE drives because they emit an ultra high-pitched whine which sounds like an old CRT. I have them de-coupled (suspended) in the case, but that doesn't help with this particular noise.

My storage capacity requirements are low. I'm mostly interested in low-cost and quietness. I'd consider either 3.5" or 2.5" form factors. Whatever will give me the most bang for my buck in terms of quietness rather than storage capacity is what I'm looking for.

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Post by cmthomson » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:13 pm

The Samsung F2 500GB SATA drives (HD502HI) are very close to silent, and at least in the US are incredibly cheap. Probably a bit slower than your old Baracudas, but not much.
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Post by NeilBlanchard » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:07 am

Hi,

The Samsung F3 500GB are only about $50, and they are also very quiet -- and they are pretty fast.
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Post by toronado455 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:41 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, I really like those Samsungs and may end up with one of those 3.5" models.

Still considering the possibility of going with a 2.5", though. I'd be willing to sacrifice some storage capacity to get into a 2.5" at about the same price point. However, not sure that my current system is quiet enough to appreciate/notice it, so it may not really matter.

The main complaint I have with hard drive noise in general is ultra high-pitched whine at idle. Seek noise generally doesn't bother me.

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Post by Eunos » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:10 am

The advantage of a 2.5" drive is it's near-on impossible to overheat them assuming the room itself doesn't get ridiculously hot. Thus they can be wrapped in foam or other inexpensive materials to reduce the sound to basically nothing.

It comes down to a choice between price/speed (3.5") versus extreme silence/efficiency (2.5"), though the differences of both in all these respects are less pronounced than they once were.

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Post by toronado455 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:49 am

Eunos wrote:The advantage of a 2.5" drive is it's near-on impossible to overheat them assuming the room itself doesn't get ridiculously hot. Thus they can be wrapped in foam or other inexpensive materials to reduce the sound to basically nothing.
My current system set up is optimized for suspended drives in such a way that it would be more work to convert it to a foam-wrapped setup than just to swap in another two drives in the same arrangement as I have now. So, whatever drives I get, they are going to be suspended but not wrapped in foam. Given that fact, if there is no advantage of a suspended 2.5" over a suspended 3.5" then it would not make sense for me to go with the 2.5" at this time.
Eunos wrote:It comes down to a choice between price/speed (3.5") versus extreme silence/efficiency (2.5"), though the differences of both in all these respects are less pronounced than they once were.
In terms of speed, if I'm going from a 7200 RPM PATA to a 5400 RPM SATA, will the fact that the new drive is SATA in any way make up for the slower rotational speed? My only concern with a 7200 RPM drive would be if it would be more likely to emit a high-pitched whine than a 5400 RPM drive.

My priorities are in this order:
1. No high-pitched whine
2. Low price
3. Speed

If I can have all three then great. If I can have at least the first two, then I'll settle for that.

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Post by cmthomson » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:08 pm

toronado455 wrote:In terms of speed, if I'm going from a 7200 RPM PATA to a 5400 RPM SATA, will the fact that the new drive is SATA in any way make up for the slower rotational speed?

My priorities are in this order:
1. No high-pitched whine
2. Low price
3. Speed

If I can have all three then great. If I can have at least the first two, then I'll settle for that.
Transfer rates will be higher, but so will latency. The difference is measurable but IMHO not noticeable.

Either Samsung 500GB drive will be silent compared to what you have now, and either runs about $50 in the US. I like the F2 over the F3 because it's a bit quieter and runs a bit cooler. But it's older and a bit harder to find.
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Post by Vicotnik » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:03 pm

toronado455 wrote:In terms of speed, if I'm going from a 7200 RPM PATA to a 5400 RPM SATA, will the fact that the new drive is SATA in any way make up for the slower rotational speed?
A newer 5400RPM drive can be faster than an older 7200RPM drive, mostly due to greater data density. But the interface (SATA vs PATA) has little to do with performance in this case.
A 5400RPM drive will have slower seeks which may or may not matter depending on how you use the drive.
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Post by Shamgar » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:57 pm

I've moved on from 7200RPM 40GB IDE Barracudas to 5400RPM SATA Samsungs both 2.5" and 3.5" and I'm happy so far with the Samsungs. The slower access times will mostly not be noticed. The better transfer speeds will make up for any losses in that regard. I'll later upgrade to the 7200RPM F3s also before I move on to SSDs in the future. But I'll likely still use the F2s for storage and backup.

If I were choosing a budget but good system drive and had to stick with HDD, I'd go for the Samsung F3 7200RPM. It won't be as quiet or cool as the F2 but it won't be far off either.

A 2.5" HDD doesn't necessarily mean it will run cool. Where it's placed and how much airflow it gets is as important. Strangely, the 2.5" 5400 Samsung HM160HI at the bottom of my case on foam with a bit of indirect airflow runs hotter than the 3.5" F2 in an external enclosure with no active cooling whatsoever. The F2s are known to be quite "cold". 3.5" HDDs feel like brickhouses nowadays but are still good and cheap storage.

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Post by whiic » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:02 pm

cmthomson: "The Samsung F2 500GB SATA drives (HD502HI) are ... Probably a bit slower than your old Baracudas, but not much."

Nope. I don't think so.

Samsung F1 Spinpoint (7200rpm, 333GB/pl) has same transfer rate as Samsung F2 Ecogreen (5400rpm, 500GB/pl).

1st generation WD Greenpower (5400rpm, 250GB/pl) has higher transfer rate than 80GB/pl 7200rpm drives like 7K250, 7K400, ML+II, etc.

Barracuda IV is 40GB/pl so even the slowest variant you could theoretically get when buying a 5400rpm desktop drive is quite a bit faster. And getting a 250GB/pl Greenpower is probably impossible by now... current ones are 333GB or 500GB/pl.

Of course there's added latency from slower spindle but the cache is typically 32MB nowadays (16MB on older or cheaper models) where as Barracuda IV probably has 2MB... or even less. Cache reduces number of seeks so even if latency of 5400rpm drive will always be longer than latency of 7200rpm drive, the real-life performance of a new 5400rpm drive will be undoubtedly much better.

toronado455: "However, not sure that my current system is quiet enough to appreciate/notice it, so it may not really matter."

If the only problem with you Barracuda IV is high pitched whine, any (non-ballbearing) 5400rpm desktop drive will be less noticeable.

toronado455: "The main complaint I have with hard drive noise in general is ultra high-pitched whine at idle. Seek noise generally doesn't bother me."

Good, because seek noise is the only thing in F2 Ecogreen that sucks. It's practically inaudible (even variants with several platters hand (edit: and) high capacities) when idling but the seeks aren't that good.

toronado455: "In terms of speed, if I'm going from a 7200 RPM PATA to a 5400 RPM SATA, will the fact that the new drive is SATA in any way make up for the slower rotational speed?"

Nope. Not really. SATA gives you more interface bandwidth. If your Barracuda IV was SATA, it'd still suck in performance. Only recently have HDD speeds starting to exceed interface speed of ATA133 (the fastest PATA speed).

What does make up for the slower rotational speed is higher platter density, bigger cache and improved caching algorithms. Depending on scenario, Native Command Queuing as well... possibly.

toronado455: "My only concern with a 7200 RPM drive would be if it would be more likely to emit a high-pitched whine than a 5400 RPM drive."

Hmm.... I don't think the risk of high-pitched whine is that much bigger for high-rpm drives. The amount of whooshing on the other hand is multiplied by the small 30% speed increase from 5400 to 7200rpm. My 3-platter F1 alone makes about as much noise as all my 5400rpm drives combined... and I have a lot of them running.

cmthomson: "Transfer rates will be higher, but so will latency. The difference is measurable but IMHO not noticeable."

When comparing current generation 5400rpm and 7200rpm, that indeed might be true. Both will be enough and neither will annoy you with their slugginess.

When comparing new 5400rpm to 7200rpm Barracuda IV... the performance improvement will undoubtedly make you fall of your chair. Like when I replaced 20GB/pl Seagate U5 with 80GB/pl Samsung P50 (edit: that would be P80). Boot-up times were a fraction of what they were before. Though in that case, I increased rpm as well as data density. And U5 was known to be extremely slow among other drives of it's generation. (Four-fold density, +30% spin)

Jumping from 40GB/pl to 500GB/pl (Twelve-fold density, -30% spin) will produce similarish increase in performance.

Conclusion: go for 5400rpm. Desktop if you need capacity (I doubt it if you survived with 40GB HDD up until today) or laptop if you want even more extreme quietness. Difference between the two will be completely masked by all but the very quietest of PSUs or CPU coolers.

Laptop HDDs in high capacities cost more than comparable desktop but starting price of both form factors are about the same... the starting capacity is just a lot lower for laptop. Either way, both are good. Just stay away from
-7200rpm laptop: too costly, and probably comparable with 5400rpm desktop in both performance and noise (why pay extra to get similar characteristics in smaller form factor as you obviously don't need small dimensions)
-7200rpm desktop: because 5400rpm will already make a HUGE improvement over your current setup. Even 5400rpm laptop drive will! If Barracuda IV does not annoy you with slugginess, no modern drive will, no matter how slow they spin.
-SSD: they cost way too much (unless you want to go super-duper-hardcore with silencing everything else you already considered quiet enough).
Last edited by whiic on Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Shamgar » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:48 pm

whiic wrote:toronado455: "The main complaint I have with hard drive noise in general is ultra high-pitched whine at idle. Seek noise generally doesn't bother me."

Good, because seek noise is the only thing in F2 Ecogreen that sucks. It's practically inaudible (even variants with several platters hand high capacities) when idling but the seeks aren't that good.
I can back this up. F2 in idle is just about inaudible but in seeking it wants to let you know about it. On startup, it makes some whirring, clunking sounds as well but you get used to it. Other than that, it's a cool, quiet drive for little money. I know whiic doesn't approve of 7200 desktops nowadays but the F3s are not a bad option if you can't find an F2. You don't have to play WD's games either so you'll know what you're getting most of the time.

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Post by _MarcoM_ » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:48 am

A seagate Barracuda 5900.12 is a nice choice, too. It is 5900rpm (so slightly faster than 5400) and 500GB/platter, not too bad. But i don't have one, so i could be wrong :P

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Post by toronado455 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:36 am

I'm learning TONS here, so thanks everyone!

F3 vs F2... what exactly, specifically is the noise that is worse on the F3?

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Post by Kaleid » Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:29 am

Shamgar wrote:
whiic wrote:toronado455: "The main complaint I have with hard drive noise in general is ultra high-pitched whine at idle. Seek noise generally doesn't bother me."

Good, because seek noise is the only thing in F2 Ecogreen that sucks. It's practically inaudible (even variants with several platters hand high capacities) when idling but the seeks aren't that good.
I can back this up. F2 in idle is just about inaudible but in seeking it wants to let you know about it. On startup, it makes some whirring, clunking sounds as well but you get used to it. Other than that, it's a cool, quiet drive for little money. I know whiic doesn't approve of 7200 desktops nowadays but the F3s are not a bad option if you can't find an F2. You don't have to play WD's games either so you'll know what you're getting most of the time.
Yes, but the seek noise can easily be fixed with a program such as winaam.

If the OP wants a truly quiet spinning disk then a 5400rpm or 5900rpm plus a quiet drive soft-mounted will be very hard to hear.

So far I haven't tried a 7200 rpm which is as quiet as sub 6000rpm drives. The idle noise from WD64000AAKS for instance is much higher than the F2 and 5900.12.

I have both a F2 and 5900.12 and they are pretty much the same.
F2 seems to have a lower idle sound but 5900.12 seems to be a bit better with reads and writes. The Seagate has a slightly higher transfer rate due to the extra 500rpm.

Edit:

According to crystalmark 2.2 the Seagate (to the right) is faster:
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Post by Shamgar » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:03 am

Kaleid wrote:Yes, but the seek noise can easily be fixed with a program such as winaam.
Thanks. I will try some further AAM software. My F2 is only on for a short while most of the time so I haven't bothered with AAM. I am determined to make the most of an already good drive. It's serving me well so far.

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Post by dhanson865 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:05 pm

+1 on the Samsung F2 500GB SATA drives (HD502HI) I've been buying these for work and short stroking them since I don't care about capacity. They are fast. If you don't format them to the full capacity if offsets the lower RPM.
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Post by toronado455 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:32 am

dhanson865 wrote:+1 on the Samsung F2 500GB SATA drives (HD502HI) I've been buying these for work and short stroking them since I don't care about capacity. They are fast. If you don't format them to the full capacity if offsets the lower RPM.
If I get a 500GB drive (increasingly likely) I'll probably make at least two partitions and put the OS and apps in the first partition and use the rest of the space for backups or perhaps a third partition for dual boot.

May I ask where you are sourcing the HD502HI from? NewEgg, my usual go-to has it deactivated. (ZipZoomFly still has them, though.)

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Post by dhanson865 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:37 am

http://silentpcreview.pricegrabber.com/ ... ort/qlty=n

I usually check the SPCR pricegrabber and Google products but I only buy from places with a rating of 3.5 stars or higher.

In June and Sept I got them $50 a piece but now $70 seems the going rate. I guess after Christmas the price will drop again.

I regret not grabbing one for home use back when they were $45.

If you prefer Newegg you may want to consider the Seagate 1TB LP drive http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... _-22148411

It's $80 shipped (before tax) and it is arguably the best of the low power 5400/5900 RPM camp.

Ordinarily I wouldn't suggest it as a cheap drive but right now the Samsung drive seems to be in high demand and the price has been distorted.
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Post by boost » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:45 pm

If you don't need a lot of storage space you could get a SSD. Kingston has the first good "cheap" SSD: 40Gb for 130$. It's based on the Intel X25-M G2 from Intel. It doesn't get much faster then this. The price could still be prohibitive.
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Post by toronado455 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:10 pm

dhanson865 wrote:http://silentpcreview.pricegrabber.com/ ... ort/qlty=n

I usually check the SPCR pricegrabber and Google products but I only buy from places with a rating of 3.5 stars or higher.

In June and Sept I got them $50 a piece but now $70 seems the going rate. I guess after Christmas the price will drop again.

I regret not grabbing one for home use back when they were $45.
ZipZoomFly has them for $50:
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDe ... e=10010326

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Post by dhanson865 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:27 pm

toronado455 wrote: ZipZoomFly has them
did zipzoomfly ever make it out of the hole they were in? They got removed from some/all the sales sites due to bad ratings at one point. I don't remember why but something happened.

Take a look at http://www.resellerratings.com/store/ZipZoomFly they have a noticeable number of unhappy customers now.
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Post by toronado455 » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:05 am

dhanson865 wrote:
toronado455 wrote: ZipZoomFly has them
did zipzoomfly ever make it out of the hole they were in? They got removed from some/all the sales sites due to bad ratings at one point. I don't remember why but something happened.

Take a look at http://www.resellerratings.com/store/ZipZoomFly they have a noticeable number of unhappy customers now.
Bummer. I've never purchased from ZZF. Wasn't aware things had gone sour.

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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:50 pm

rotational speed is a bit meaningless when you are going 12x the density plus better software technology on the drive. if you can do sata then it will certainly be faster again.


the big 1.5 TByte 5400 drives actually are very fast at transfering info due to massive density.

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Post by cmthomson » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:00 pm

dhanson865 wrote:did zipzoomfly ever make it out of the hole they were in?
I ordered a spare 500GB F2 from zzf a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived the next day. No complaints here...
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Post by toronado455 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:44 am

cmthomson wrote:I ordered a spare 500GB F2 from zzf a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived the next day. No complaints here...
I think I might have to do that.

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Post by toronado455 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:07 pm

cmthomson wrote:I ordered a spare 500GB F2 from zzf a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived the next day. No complaints here...
Where did it ship from? I'm in CA also. Did you use the FedEx 2-day, or the free FedEx 5-7 day?

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Post by cmthomson » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:39 pm

toronado455 wrote:
cmthomson wrote:I ordered a spare 500GB F2 from zzf a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived the next day. No complaints here...
Where did it ship from? I'm in CA also. Did you use the FedEx 2-day, or the free FedEx 5-7 day?
Shipped from Hayward. I chose the cheapest rate, which was quoted as 3 day, but actually took only one.
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Post by whiic » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:49 pm

toronado455: "F3 vs F2... what exactly, specifically is the noise that is worse on the F3?"

Idle noise is much worse on Spinpoint (F1 (333GB/platter) or F3 (500GB/pl)) than Ecogreen (F1 (333GB/pl) or F2 (500GB/pl)).

F2 and F3 are SAME generation of HDD with different spin rates. Like F1 Spinpoint (7200rpm) and F1 Ecogreen (5400rpm) were same generation. They just decided to make it appear as IF 7200rpm 500GB/pl was superior to 5400rpm 500GB/pl by making faster spinning drive F3 instead of F2. (There exists no F2 Spinpoint at all. They skipped that generation code for high-rpm variant.)

When I say Spinpoints are much worse in idle noise than Ecogreen, I do mean it. But still, they are recommended among 7200rpm drives... but only if you absolutely need 7200rpm... and obviously you don't need high spin rate.

Seek noise of low-rpm Ecogreen is about as bad as high-rpm Spinpoint. That doesn't change. Actually Ecogreen might even be a tad worse.

Kaleid: "Yes, but the seek noise can easily be fixed with a program such as winaam."

I use HDDScan because:
- it is not only for AAM but it can do other useful stuff like SMART, benchmark, diagnostics, APM, etc.
- it's free, regularly updated, nice and geeky program, and latest versions allow exportation of diagnostics/benchmark data.

But anyway, AAM will not completely solve the seek noise issue of F2 Ecogreen. Even with AAM enabled, it will remain on a bit bad side. Around the same noise level as WD Greenpowers with AAM disabled. (WD GPs with AAM enabled are pretty much whisper quiet even during heaviest seeking. Their idle noise is a bit higher in volume and worse in noise quality (noise alternates with actuator position so seeking changes pitch of idle noise, WDs may also make buzzing during reading, etc.). I think Samsung wins here despite the louder seek noise.

F2 EG 500GB recommended by me, even though I only have experience with F2 EG 1000GB (which is laptop-like extremely quiet).
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Post by toronado455 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:08 pm

whiic,

Thanks very much for the detailed explanation on F2 vs. F3. Great information.

It seems clear the 5400rpm drives are going to be best for me since idle noise is my main concern.

I'm going to try to get a couple 500GB F2s, but nice to know that the 1TB version is similarly quiet.

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Post by whiic » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:31 am

A couple of? Why do you need several? More than one computer?

If you have only one computer, buy a single 1000GB instead. It's better than having two 500-giggers. Except for performance. And if performance was not an issue with Barracuda IV, it would not be an issue with F2 Ecogreen, even if there was only one HDD installed.

For certain specific purposes, 2-4 HDDs may boost performance significantly but these purposes tend to limit to stuff like videoediting high-definition video. Separating sources files (1 or more, each from different drive) and destination (a drive not same as any of the sources) can significantly boost editing and exporting speed when dealing with uncompressed or losslessly compressed (non-CPU bottlenecked) videostreams.

Other than that (home theater, gaming, web surfing, 3D modeling, gaming, whatever) you could use just a single drive. Superior caching algorithms and the fact that F2 EG has 32MB of cache instead of 2MB(?) of your old Barracuda should make real-life performance with just one HDD a non-issue for 99% of purposes.
[size=75]Antec 1200 | HX520W | Commando | Q6600 G0 @ 3.15GHz | Noctua NH-U12F | 8GB of RAM | HD 4670 (passive)
7 TB of storage: 1x 1st gen GreenPower (1TB), 1x 2nd gen GreenPower (1TB), 1x 3rd gen GreenPower (2TB), 1x 7200rpm F1, 2x 5400rpm F2 EcoGreen[/size]

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