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Data Storage Hardware

Home Brew Hard Drive Silencer/Cooler 274

infodragon writes "As I was looking for ways to silence my system I ran across this article demonstrating a sandwich approach to silencing and cooling a hard disk. Quite a novel idea compared to other silencing techniques!"
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Home Brew Hard Drive Silencer/Cooler

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  • by anaphora ( 680342 ) * on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:27PM (#7276452) Journal
    I always hold my drive between my legs while I'm using my system. The vibrations and heat lead to an enjoyable computer experience.
  • by abolith ( 204863 )
    $27 is a bit high for something I could make in my garage with a few spare parts. Ya it may not be as good but I think saving that much money would be worth it to only have 50-70% reduction in noise.

    • The Bottom Line: My HD sandwich works well. It quiets the HD substantially, keeps it much cooler, and cost me just US$12 to implement.

      it only costed $12, where did you get $27 from?
  • mmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by hankaholic ( 32239 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:32PM (#7276483)
    demonstrating a sandwich approach to silencing and cooling a hard disk
    That's funny, I just applied the same approach to silencing and cooling some bacon.
  • Easy solution... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:33PM (#7276487)
    Use a notebook hard drive with a 2.5 -> 3.5 adapter (and possibly a 3.5 - 5.25 adapter if you like). Less noise, less heat, less power. (Also less space and more money, but oh well).
  • Old news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Code-Ex ( 655722 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:34PM (#7276501)
    The author of that article now is editor for Silent PC Review []. It's also not the first time I've mentioned this site [].
    • A commercial item just like this, albeit a bit pricey, is made in Japan. The Smart Drive [], now in its 2nd generation (as the "2002" model), does a great job of sealing off HDD noise, IMO (I own and use two). It seems to combine heat transfer through the aluminum and a bit of convection within the enclosure to keep the drive cool.

      Let me also be an advocate of Silent PC Review []; if anything, quieting your computer through equipment modifications or replacements suggested on the site could benefit your health t

  • by dgerman ( 78602 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:35PM (#7276505) Homepage
    I use them for 2 disks. The enclosure works well. It reduces dramatically the whining of the hard disk. The drive runs a bit hot, but within specs. The one in this machine has been on for several months now, and it is still going.

    Now I only buy barracudas.

    Silencing your PC is like getting into HiFi audio. The curve money spent vs. noise reduction becomes asynthotic.
    • I bought a hard drive cooler/ silencer by coolermaster and it didn't quiet my harddrives noise at all. They claim it silences hard drive noise, but I don't see how it could - it's just a metal case...NOT recommended.
    • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @10:08PM (#7277558)
      You may have already tried it, but suspending the drives with gasket or any elastic straps in your 5 1/4" bays does wonders. I would never use a directly coupled drive (even with rubber grommets) again. The drives do run hotter since none of the heat can conduct through the sides, but it is extremely effective. The difference is truly dramatic.

      Start with a quiet drive and then suspend it and you may not need an enclosure. In any case, the best system is to enclose the drive and then suspend the enclosure. Although MikeC on SPCR did some testing and found that a suspended enclosure was not much quieter than the suspended drive alone, at least in his system.

      No matter what, it's likely that hard drives will remain the most difficult to quiet noise source. Ramdrives are the way to go for a silent system.
  • by leekwen ( 677248 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:39PM (#7276536)
    i've been using maxtor hard drives (diamond max series or something) for a while now, and i haven't heard anything from them since i upgraded my 2 giger many years ago. so i automatically assumed all modern hard drives don't make noise.

    what does make noise though are the 9 fans in my case. however, when i try to sandwich them i don't get the same temperature benefits like the reviewer does with his hard drive. oh well.
    • Most people just don't hear them above the roar of their 3 or 4 or 5 fans on their computer. The Maxtors I've had make a fair amount of noise whine I've noticed. I recently put a Seagate Barracuda and can't hear it at all - on average they run almost a half Bel quiter than the Maxtors (2.5 vs 3.0) . Of course I've water cooled my system and put inside Panaflo fans on the case and PSU.

      I have to look at the power lights to see if it's on.

    • Hard drives have gotten quieter, but on the other hand computers have gotten a lot louder.

      With that said, I can't hear either my Maxtor 120GB 7200RPM or the RAID 1 array of Samsung 5400RPM drives. I reduced a lot of noise when "retired" the 1st generation Maxtor 40GB drive I had - that sucker was LOUD. (And by retired I meant I just gave it to my sister to use. It still works perfect)
  • by number_man ( 543418 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:42PM (#7276556)
    It has a soothing, droning quality. In my home (office) I have a PC that sounds like a harrier (sp) in the midst of full-throttle vertical take-off.

    It has a desperate need for cooling with two athlons, four hard drives and two cd/dvd media drives (in a mid-size tower) -- I need all the fans I can get...

    Anyway, I like the noise...It gives me a sense of controlling some level of power, power that requires this level of noise to tame...
    • I've got a server tower next to me which dates back to 1993 with a giant PSU

      Rather like a re-heated Concorde takeoff....

      I've long since binned my ear defenders as my tinnitis now drowns it out ;)
  • Meh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:43PM (#7276565) Homepage
    Just put 4 or 5 computers in your room and you'll never hear the harddrives at all.
  • Working aluminum (Score:5, Informative)

    by The FooMiester ( 466716 ) <[goimir] [at] []> on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:46PM (#7276578) Homepage Journal
    Aluminum can be cut with a medium tooth blade and a jigsaw. It drills VERY easily as it is soft. Not so soft, however, as to be unable to take threads. You can do it with some scraps of aluminum at home even with modest tools. If you cut threads into the holes you could do away with the nuts on the backside and not have any bolt sticking out.

    I don't reccomend using aluminum for this project, however. It would be much better to do it with copper, as it conducts heat better, is denser(even more sound dampening), and you won't have an issue with galvanic corrosion like you will with aluminum on steel parts.

    Copper is softer than aluminum, so you'd have to bolt it thru as shown in the picture.

  • actually... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by niker ( 593109 )
    the idea on both links you showed is exactly the same - to increase the mass, so its inertia increases, making the whine from the motor and the seak vibrations displace a lot less of the drive's enclosure. in sum - not a novelty compared to the comercial product. by the way, that's the sleaziest temperature measurement I've ever seen: notice that the temp diode touches the alu plate, as well as the disk - obviously, he's not reading the true disk's temp. to finalize, check out the date of the overclockers
  • by rpozz ( 249652 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:49PM (#7276599)
    The hole in the top of the hard drive (used to balance pressure?) would be covered. Which is not cool.
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:51PM (#7276618) Journal

    The Bottom Line: My HD sandwich works well. It quiets the HD substantially, keeps it much cooler, and cost me just US$12 to implement.

    If you don't count the roughly $11,368.43 of his time spent on implementing, testing, and documenting the solution. I suspect he's an engineer. A programmer would wrap a towel around the drive, pause for a moment, and then say "Yeah, that's quieter." (Note: this is not speculation. I've have seen this.)

    It takes an engineer to cook up something like this and then spend 10x the effort to figure out how many dB reduction there was.

    -- MarkusQ

  • by Atomic Frog ( 28268 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:52PM (#7276621)
    Your fan can be always on, as can be your hard drive. The point being, it's a constant, steady noise source, which makes a perfect candidate for active noise cancellation.

    Anyone tried it yet? Just record a sequence from your computer, then play it back and keep adjusting the phase until everything's quiet.
  • by Eros ( 6631 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @07:54PM (#7276634)
    You know back in the day, we had a light on the front of the case that indicated when the hard was being read. It was used as a way of determining when the computer was really locked or was just slow as hell -- waiting on IO. After a while a person wouldn't even look at the light, but learned to listen for the drive.

    Nowadays there is no light on many cases, and the drive noise is all that is left -- when you can hear it.

    I mean, how the hell else am I suppose to know when Winblows is thrashing or the lastest game has locked?

    Anyhow, am I the only one that finds a computer's white-noise calming and smoothing?

    P.S -- Why the hell don't many newer cases come with a fucking proper reset button!
  • by superchkn ( 632774 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @08:00PM (#7276676)
    So how much of the heat reduction is due to the aluminum plates, and how much is due to the fact that the hard drive now sits in front of stream of cool, fresh air instead of a stale hot air pocket at the top of the case?

    I'd like to see a comparison where the drive is mounted in a practical manner where you can actually move the case without the need to open it up and remove the hard drive first.

    And even if the plates are securely fastened to the bottom of the case, it'd still be more informative to provide heat measurements with the hard drive alone positioned in that same location.
  • Still necessary? (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @08:05PM (#7276711) Journal
    The article was dated 2001, who knows how long before that the actual enclosure was built, but it seems to me that modern drives aren't as loud as they use to be.

    Manufactures have now addressed the noise issue and 7200rpm 120+ gig drives can be purchased that are quieter than a whisper @ 10 feet []; whisper = 3 bels, or 30db (decibels = tenths of a bel). Sure it does nothing for the heat, but I think hard drive enclosures are a thing of the past, unless you're holding on to that old 6.4gig drive.

    • ...from their computer? If it is 30dB at 1M / 3ft then that is approaching quiet enough. Just because new drives are a lot quieter doesn't mean there isn't some room for improvement.

      That said, in most systems, these new drives would be far from the weakest (or loudest) link. Optical drives are often pretty loud on read, and I'd love to downclock their speed without a contrived app in the system tray. A lot of fans could be replaced with fans of roughly similar CFM rating (a percent or three) but be 3-6
  • I have 4 computers located a few feet from my bed which are on 24/7, and though still noisy, it just doesnt botther me, I guest Ive just dont have that great hearing that others have :(.
    • yeah, approximately 3 feet from my pillow is my rack with 4 computers on it, and 2 3com 24 port switches. next to that is my main computer with 5 case fans, 4 SCSI 10k rpm drives, and 2 40GB IDE drives.

      That thing is loud as hell (I'm told), but I have trouble sleeping without the fan noise. The fans in the switches alone were enough to bug my ex. I work in the CSL at University of Wisconsin, so I guess I'm accustomed to hearing the fan noise of about 400 computers in the platform, not to mention all the
    • I have 4 computers located a few feet from my bed which are on 24/7, and though still noisy, it just doesnt botther me, I guest Ive just dont have that great hearing that others have :(.

      Sometimes my neighbour (I live in a terrace) plays music when I want to sleep. I'm not talking about music loud enough to be considered noise pollution -- I can just barely hear a murmur, but it stops me sleeping because I strain to try and work out what tune he's playing. I put a desk fan on at its lowest setting, and tha
  • I bought a new Seagate, which is very quiet and nice and planned to remove my old one and silence it somehow. For time being, I removed it from the mounting and placed vertically inside the case so I could mount the new one properly... and then, it went quiet! All of sudden, I don't hear that awful scratching noise, it's all nice, silent... and surprise-surprise - it still works! :)
  • Gap filler (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr. Mu ( 603661 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @08:28PM (#7276854)
    From the article:
    "There are significant air gaps between the HD and the metal plates on both sides of the HD. I did not consider using thermal compound - the gaps are too big."
    That's why Bergquist [] makes their Gap Pad [] product. I've used it in other applications, and it works. Plus, its cushy resiliency should knock another dB or two off the sound level.
  • Has anyone tried... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @08:31PM (#7276865)
    On a disk where there is not much write access, ever tried using a large flash drive such as a 2 GB USB flash drive? Sure, it's expensive but there are no moving parts to fail. Oh, and no noise :)
  • My gateway box is a lot quieter than it used to be - but I sure don't recommend the method it got quieter by.

    Specifically, the power supply fan on it (a lowly Pentium 200) packed it in. I didn't notice for months, so it's evidently not a problem... but it is a lot quieter than with the fan running! :)

    Now I just need to find a Pentium compatible "big block of aluminum" CPU cooler, and I can get rid of the CPU fan too.....
  • Nice and all, but what I need is a way to keep a 3COM Corebuilder 3500 layer 3 switch quite. The dang things keeping me up at night.
  • Computer Silence (Score:5, Informative)

    by rMortyH ( 40227 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @09:13PM (#7277188)
    I work in a computer music and acoustics research lab and we're always after a quieter PC. We've considered a solutions like this, but we've decided it wouldn't really be necessary for long. Here's why.

    Among the many reasons for having a hard drive in every computer, two of the big ones were the Microsoft vision statement, and the fact that the network was much slower than disk. The latter is no longer the case.

    The fact that network is now faster than local disk is a MAJOR development.

    We've experimented with RedHat 9 with nfs root on older hardware with no disk and no fans, with 100Mb bootable NICs. We found to our surprise that they ran faster than with standard (non UDMA) ide. So, we're trying it now with newer hardware and gigabit, and some BIG heatsinks. So far, so good. We can optimize the central storage for speed, and the systems do, in fact, run noticeably faster in most cases, in addition to being nearly* silent.

    We hadn't counted on the added bonuses, but there are many. We can change an entire system disk by moving dirs, reexporting, and booting the machine up. Poof, new system. We can install and uninstall packages on machines while they're off! We no longer have two or three extra gigs on each machine, all our nfsroots are from a single physical filesystem (so far) so they all have the same amount of free space, much more efficient! And if a machine offends you, you can yank the plug out. No local fsck!

    *Note that the machine is never truly silent. Without any fans or disks, you can still hear a certain noise that sounds like it's happening when the disk used to seek. It's the toroids in the power supply! The network traffic causes HF noise in the power lines, which is filtered in the power supply and causes the chokes to vibrate slightly. The noise is very low, it would easily be drowned out by the quietest of fans, but in a totally silent room with no other PC sound, it's quite audible. There is also some low and infrequent clicking while the machine is warming up and cooling down, due to the thermal expansion of the heat sinks. This doesn't happen during use, when the temperature is more or less constant.

    I'm supposed to document all this and I've been lazy, so if you want the rundown on booting redhat 9 without a hard drive, write to my spare address ( and I'll finish the page and send you the link.

    • We developed a special high-speed 10+MB/sec parallel port for a customer. We tested the software on our system, and then took it to the customer's site to try out on their spiffy 4-processor Sun.

      The test program would read data off one computer and transfer it to the hard drive of another. We hooked it up, and it worked great... then we checked out the setup a little closer... they were using a network drive, not a local drive. The two computers were talking to the same server, connected with fibre. The se
    • we are trying a similar lab setup at my high school, a migration that i am one of the 3 students in charge. We are using k12LTSP (redhat 9 based, and supported) and are goign to make thick clients out of the 30 machines in the lab(all programs are loaded off the server, and run on the machine once loaded... also, we will have a couple gig drive in each machine for a /tmp directory) far so good, have a long ways to go, but am learning a lot!

      PS: we are at the stage of booting off a floppy to load the b
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2003 @09:19PM (#7277236) Homepage Journal
    I mean, c'mon! Fan & disk noise are some of the best sedatives I've ever come across, especially on a warm afternoon with just a bit of a breeze blowing through the lab. Get comfortable in your chair, and a high enough level of white noise from your systems, and you'll be out like a light in ten minutes, tops.

    Seriously, folks, this works a lot better than counting sheep (cybernetic or otherwise). Take it from one who knows. Silence that stuff, and you'll have no easy way to fall asleep on your keyboard. ;-)

  • I'm sick of all this limp-wristed shit.

    I want my rig LOUD.

    Just like all them hondaboys and bikertwits. I want people to KNOW when I'm computing. I want flames shooting out of the motherfucker, smoke pouring from every vent, and DECIBELS, baby DECIBELS!!!

    Make it SCREAM goddammit!

    If the sonofabitches on the next block are still sleeping when I'm done downloading a file at 3am then I'm not done with my mods!! RARRRRAGGGGGHHHHAAAAHHOOOOOOOOGAAAAA! Take THAT you pansies!!

    • get one of those 480V three-phase motor/generator rigs that data centers use to keep the power even. The ones at my former job required hearing protection to enter the room, about 140db. Don't use that panty-wasted 120V single phase girlie crap on your masheen.
  • In about a year the first solid state drives will start rolling out. I'm telling you my AMD64 will be silent. Only thing I'll complain about is the waterpump noise :)

  • Parts needed:

    - a gallon sized plastic tub
    - a gallon of water
    - 1 heavy duty ziplock bag
    - small tube of silicone sealant
    - (optional) ice

    Assembly and implementation is an exercise left to the reader.
  • That's a nice writeup of an old idea, with lots of pretty pictures. It was a good approach a couple years ago when all hard-drives generated a fair bit of noise. Some drives made today (e.g. Seagate Barracuda IV's and V's (but not the SATA version unfortunately)) are effectively noiseless once placed inside a case that is more than two feet from your ears. (You're not going to hear them over your PSU unless it uses a fanless design such as those from TKPower) The Barracuda's aren't the fastest drives on
  • The IBM drives used in this article are perhaps the most notoriously loud drives out there. I eradicated them from my systems and have found that all the 7200 RPM Seagates are the quietest. I have also used the Silent Drive enclosure (I have two of them) and they work well on drives at 5400 RPM but only some single-platter 7200 RPM drives due to heat generation. Most modern drives allow you to find out their temperature so if you're worried you can monitor it. The Silent Drive does have metal plates tha
  • Smart's reporting that my disk drives are running at 37 degrees! Is SMART not accurate? Why did he use an external thermal sensor?
  • ..Was my best friend's .357 SIG revolver, fired at a range of about 30 feet.

    However, as you can see, the drive itself had some issues with data integrity after I applied the solution.


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