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Product survey: 5 SATA 500 GB HDD
by Marc Prieur
Published on August 22, 2007

Noise management
For this measurement we place each hard drive in a Textorm Jelly Case in order to avoid any vibration from the desk. A sound probe is placed 12cm above and the PC used is of course fanless so that we can isolate the hard drive’s sound level:

None of these models can really be called « silent» and when combined with fanless solutions they will be slightly noticeable with their rotation alone. Only mono-platter drives will fit into this category, and we are still (of course) far from SSD with flash memory.

In rotation, the E7K500 and its five platters is slightly noisier, but it is especially in access that the difference can be heard. Without acoustic management, the Seagate 7200.10 is noisy, just like the Hitachi E7K500. The T7K500 as well as Western and Samsung models are more silent, though far from being discrete, with the T7K500 emitting the least amount of sharp sound.

The activation of acoustic management allows a noticeable reduction in noise coming from drive access. For Hitachi and Western, access doesn’t really increase noise, which isn’t the case for the Samsung, whose access time is also decreased with AAM. Moreover, while Samsung and Western have similar dBA readings, in practice the Western is more discrete in access. Finally, Seagate still doesn’t offer AAM and 7200.10 owners will have to endure the noise.

To have an idea of the type of noise emitted by these drives, here are some recordings taken with a portable Roland Edirol R-09 recorder placed 12cm above. 15 seconds in rotation were measured followed by 15 seconds in access with acoustic management (except for Seagate) and finally 15 seconds without this option.

- Hitachi E7K500
- Hitachi T7K500
- Samsung T166 - HD501LJ
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
- Western Digital Caviar SE16 – WD5000AAKS

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