Should I use notebook drives (or not)?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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teejay
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Should I use notebook drives (or not)?

Post by teejay » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:36 am

I'm building a few entry-level systems for family members, all basic home PC usage, nothing fancy, "just" quiet. I have a hard time deciding between 2.5" and 3.5" disks. I like the intrinsic benefits the smaller drives offer (lower noise level, less power consumption), but I'm not yet sure if using them for run-of-the-mill systems intended for average users & usage is a good idea.
My conclusions so far:
  • Price difference is almost negligible at the 250 MB point
  • Synthetic benchmarks are pretty close
  • "Real world" benchmarks puts the notebook drives ~30% behind
I only have hands-on experience with either high(ish) performing PCs with 3.5" disks and notebooks with 2.5" ones, but I've never matched a notebook drive to a fullblown PC. Any insights or experiences?
[size=75]I: E5200 OC, Ninja II, Gigabyte P45, ATi HD4850 w/ S1, Raptor + Samsung disks in Quiet Drive, Enermax Modu82+ 425W, Lian Li V1000, 2x Nexus 120 PWM
II: A64 3000+, Ninja, DFI nForce3, headless, Samsung disks suspended, Enermax Pro82+ 385W, Antec 3000B padded & dampened, 2x Nexus 120 B&W[/size]

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Post by frenchie » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:04 am

Hi,
I used one for about a year in an SQD before switching to an SSD.
I works perfectly for everyday use (word processing, web browsing, watching movies...) and for some gaming (far cry, COD4...). The best thing is they're quiet, stay very cool, are are very small. Drawback is the price per GB.
Other than that, for "normal" veryday use, the speed difference with a regular drive is close to none.
I'd recommend one for a small system where the space to fit the drive is an issue. Otherwise, compared to one of the SPCR recommended drives, it's not worth it IMO.
Hope that helps.
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Post by MikeC » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:36 am

Speed is usually not that big an issue unless you have a speed freak, in which case, you shoud go SSD. Not that you can't perceive the difference between a 5400/2.5 vs 7200/3.5 -- I can, but it's usually not a big deal. There are many other bottlenecks esp. if you work a lot on the web that it's a minor issue. The only slightly nagging issue I have is that laptop drives are not intended for 24/7 use -- laptops stay turned off a lot more than desktops. Esp. in home servers, torrent boxes, etc, normal laptop drives may fail sooner than usual.

Hitachi actually offers the "E" series 2.5" drives (in 7200/5400) that addresses this:
[quote]Around-the-clock data operation
Hitachi employs specific microcode to allow the Travelstar E7K200 to deliver 24 x 7 access to data. These models broaden the product line to make it more suitable for data intensive applications requiring round-the-clock operation. Travelstar E7K200 provides leadership capacity, performance, durability and power utilization on a proven platform for quality and reliability. The E7K200 can support the stringent demands of â€
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teejay
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Post by teejay » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:09 pm

The idea of my parents (60+) as speed freaks made me smile :)

I'll be building simple E5x00 based systems in an NSK3480, really nothing fancy whatsoever. Usage will be some light stuff: a bit of browsing, some MS Office, maybe a late-night session of Mahjong or Minesweeper, that's about it. Definitely no 24x7 usage :)
Usually, for this type of system I have found the hard drive to define the lower limit in terms of noise, even when soft mounted or suspended, which got me thinking about 2.5" drives. I was actually looking at 7200rpm models exclusively: extrapolating both replies, performance should be on par with 3.5" models, noise levels should be a bit lower (I can still suspend or softmount the drive if needed), and power consumption will definitely be lower.
For a less-than-€10 premium, this sounds like the way to go.
[size=75]I: E5200 OC, Ninja II, Gigabyte P45, ATi HD4850 w/ S1, Raptor + Samsung disks in Quiet Drive, Enermax Modu82+ 425W, Lian Li V1000, 2x Nexus 120 PWM
II: A64 3000+, Ninja, DFI nForce3, headless, Samsung disks suspended, Enermax Pro82+ 385W, Antec 3000B padded & dampened, 2x Nexus 120 B&W[/size]

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Post by Eunos » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:49 am

This has been discussed quite a bit, and I have the impression that the lines between 2.5 and 3.5 have been significantly blurred in the past year or 2. Firstly, there are some very high capacity (and very reasonable value) 2.5" drives around. There are also low-rpm, quiet-oriented 3.5" drives like the EcoGreen.

The 7200rpm 2.5" drive is considered a no-man's-land by some as it does not specialise in low noise or high performance, but I think the bottom line is that there isn't that much difference any more.

Mike's comment regarding 24/7 operation is true, however on the flip side, only 2.5" drives are designed to operate in cramped, ill-cooled conditions as well as taking a few knocks. As a result I find them easy to quieten using home-made enclosure methods to become practically silent.

So to summarise: personally I use only 2.5" drives on any system I build today as I consider them the quietest overall, but a low-rpm 3.5" drive is worthy of consideration.

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Post by jhhoffma » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:05 am

I use all three, but in different situations.

For my HTPC, I'll never do anything but a 2.5" 5400rpm again (until SSD becomes practical). Since all media is stored on the WHS, large capacities are not required and high disk performance is not required. Low power is also more beneficial here.

For my "High-performance gaming machine" I'll stick with a quiet 3.5" 7200rpm, just to help a little with load times.

For my WHS, I use all 3.5" drives, a 7200rpm drive as the boot drive and 5400rpm drives whenever I can for excess storage (I have a few left over 7200rpm drives, though) due to lower power consumption.
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Post by widowmaker » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:11 am

MikeC wrote:The only slightly nagging issue I have is that laptop drives are not intended for 24/7 use -- laptops stay turned off a lot more than desktops.
Nice to learn something new everyday. This is such an obvious point but I never thought about it.
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Post by teejay » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:29 am

Thanks a lot for all the insights! Much appreciated.
[size=75]I: E5200 OC, Ninja II, Gigabyte P45, ATi HD4850 w/ S1, Raptor + Samsung disks in Quiet Drive, Enermax Modu82+ 425W, Lian Li V1000, 2x Nexus 120 PWM
II: A64 3000+, Ninja, DFI nForce3, headless, Samsung disks suspended, Enermax Pro82+ 385W, Antec 3000B padded & dampened, 2x Nexus 120 B&W[/size]

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Post by Riffer » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:33 am

Yep, MikeC, good post.

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Post by greenfrank » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:35 am

I have a good experience with 2.5" hdds for desktop use. No problem at all. As wrote by others, these disks are smaller, quieter and more frugal on power consumption.
I don't know if a 24/7 use could damage them: my pc is active only 6 to 8 hs p/day.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:47 am

greenfrank wrote:I don't know if a 24/7 use could damage them: my pc is active only 6 to 8 hs p/day.
I'm not suggesting "damage" with 24/7 use, just a higher rate of failure or shorter life than with standard 3.5" drives. But it should be noted that there are 3.5" drives that are apparently better optimized for 24/7 use. Seagate's HDDs for conusmer electronics, for example - http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/produc ... lectronics
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Post by StartledPancake » Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:36 am

To be honest I havent seen any indications that laptop drives are any less reliable in a very large 8x5 corporate enivronment. We (one of the worlds largest banks) use laptops for >50% of our workstations and the failure rate is very, very low.

Admittedly its not 24/7 but with local applications like Outlook with its OST cache and syncronsied offline files these drives get hit pretty hard without kicking the bucket.

I have two laptop drives in my home Windows Storage Server in RAID 0, although they back up once a week to an additional 3.5" internal drive. Very fast and very low power usage, if your using RAID with 3.5" you may be looking at an almost constant 14w power consumption because the drives dont get chance to spin down. Just my 2 penneth.

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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:47 am

7200 vs 5400 for the same density is a very large speed boost in real usage. a 7200 speed laptop drive is not quiet. So, you are going laptop drives for lighter use and silence and keeping them normally at 5400.

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Post by MikeC » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:29 am

~El~Jefe~ wrote:7200 vs 5400 for the same density is a very large speed boost in real usage. a 7200 speed laptop drive is not quiet. So, you are going laptop drives for lighter use and silence and keeping them normally at 5400.
This is changing. The Seagate 7200.4 500gb drive I recently reviewed is pretty quiet -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/More_500G ... ook_drives It got suspended in a PC I just finished buidling, and its overall SPL is about 15~16 dBA/1m. That's with three slow spinning 120mm fans along with the Seagate. Hanging just above front intake vent, it stays at 29~31C in 22C ambient.
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Post by ilovejedd » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:07 am

greenfrank wrote:I don't know if a 24/7 use could damage them: my pc is active only 6 to 8 hs p/day.
I tend to leave my laptop on 24/7. I think the longest I've gone without rebooting is two months. I've set it so it doesn't go into suspend mode and spin down the hard drive when the adapter is plugged in. So far, I haven't had the HDD fail on me yet (knock on wood). That's in a relatively higher heat and higher shock environment than if the drive was mounted inside a fairly static desktop case. I think it likely that a laptop drive will last just as long as a desktop drive even with 24/7 operation.

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Post by dhanson865 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:55 pm

MikeC wrote:
greenfrank wrote:I don't know if a 24/7 use could damage them: my pc is active only 6 to 8 hs p/day.
I'm not suggesting "damage" with 24/7 use, just a higher rate of failure or shorter life than with standard 3.5" drives. But it should be noted that there are 3.5" drives that are apparently better optimized for 24/7 use. Seagate's HDDs for conusmer electronics, for example - http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/produc ... lectronics
It's worth noting that notebook drives used in a notebook will see higher ambient temps in real world use than a notebook drive suspended in the free air of a tower style case (even a mini tower is voluminous compared to the free space in a laptop let alone a netbook.)

I wouldn't worry about the lifetime of one rotating disk versus another. SSDs are the way of the future and any rotating disk you put in will be obsolete before the rest of the system so you'll likely replace it even if it never fails.
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RAID levels thread http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=388987

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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:19 pm

MikeC wrote:
~El~Jefe~ wrote:7200 vs 5400 for the same density is a very large speed boost in real usage. a 7200 speed laptop drive is not quiet. So, you are going laptop drives for lighter use and silence and keeping them normally at 5400.
This is changing. The Seagate 7200.4 500gb drive I recently reviewed is pretty quiet -- http://www.silentpcreview.com/More_500G ... ook_drives It got suspended in a PC I just finished buidling, and its overall SPL is about 15~16 dBA/1m. That's with three slow spinning 120mm fans along with the Seagate. Hanging just above front intake vent, it stays at 29~31C in 22C ambient.
that's just crazy. 15 db's... wow. I'ma gonna go get one.... lets see the price now....

also, compared to a standard netbook 160gb drive, what is the power usage I wonder? this could effect heat and battery usage for such a misery lil box.

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