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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:25 PM   #1
sh77
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Question The ideal iMac for hypersensitive ears?

I'm going to buy an iMac but I'm torn between the two size options.

The 21.5" is very tempting but the lack of an SSD/Flash-only option on this one is off-putting. The mid-2011 model I bought in (surprise surprise) mid-2011 suffered from the dreaded HDD hum/vibration/resonation problem that many seemed to get, and I had no choice but to return it. I notice that there's a Fusion drive option, but it's still essentially a HDD.

The 27" with the 768Gb flash drive seems a good choice, except that I'd need to sell half my internal organs to be able to afford it. But no mechanical drive means my ears would love it.

Do the smaller, slower HDDs in the latest 21.5" refresh solve the vibration problems or are users still experiencing this?

My priority is silence. If I have to spend the extra (and it's a lot of extra) for a non-HDD option, then I guess I'm stuck with the 27" option, though I can't help but feel that's a bit overkill. Then again, my ears and my sanity would love it.

I'm almost entirely new to iMacs and OS X too, so I have no real idea of what I'll end up using it for most. I know the 27" is geared more towards the 'serious' user, but I've been using a 26" monitor on my PC for years so the size wouldn't daunt me too much even if I was just surfing and playing the odd game. However, having owned a 21.5" previously for a short amount of time, I loved the 'compactness' (apologies for made up word), and found the 1920x1080 resolution more than adequate. 2560x1440? I'm wondering whether this is a bit too much. But if the HDDs are still vibrating, I guess I have no option but to go big.

I realise that for most users humming/vibration isn't a big issue, but I'm blessed with a pair of very highly tuned ears that can hear a mouse sneezing from a mile away.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:29 PM   #2
jmpage2
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All macs, regardless of internal storage option, have fans, and you will hear those fans to some degree, depending on what you are doing with it.

For you, the best option would appear to be to purchase the 21.5" and either take it apart yourself, or pay someone to take it apart, and replace the 2.5" stock mechanical hard drive with an SSD drive like the Samsung 830 or 840 Pro.

To put things into perspective, I can't hear my 27" Fusion iMac over the other background noises in my home. The sound of the forced air fan for example is much louder than the iMac ever gets. If I put my ear right up to the iMac, or if I've been playing a long session of Diablo 3, I can just barely hear it making noise. I am much more concerned with the noise level in my home theater, so for movie playback I custom built an HTPC with a passive cooled power supply and a single quiet CPU fan, and at normal movie playback volume you can't hear the PC running.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 12:40 PM   #3
sh77
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Thanks for the fast reply.

Getting an SSD installed by a third party is certainly an option I would consider, though I'd be a bit hesitant due to voiding my warranty - and if something were to go wrong, I'd only curse myself for not going for the 27" option.

As for fans, I'm more than happy with their noise - during the time I owned the 21.5" I never heard them. And it appears that the 2012 model has just a single fan, reducing potential fan noise further. It was the HDD vibrating in the chassis and resonating through my desk that made me go a bit insane. It really was off-putting. But then again, I have weird ears.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:29 PM   #4
OlMighty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sh77 View Post
I'm blessed with a pair of very highly tuned ears that can hear a mouse sneezing from a mile away.
That was me; I have a very quiet sneeze.


As far as the imac is concerned, if it's anything as quiet as the Macbook air I'm writing this on then it'll be virtually silent. In a completely quiet room, no air con, no outside sounds, I have to strain to hear that it's on at all. In which case, maybe SSD would be overkill for an imac, but if you're avoiding HDD vibration then that'd do it.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #5
Tri-stan
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If you have hyper sensitive hearing buy a tower or mac mini and hide it away so it cant be heard, then make sure of a monitor with a quiet back light. With my old tower pc I could hear my screens back light over the actual computer.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 09:19 PM   #6
bobcan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sh77 View Post
I realise that for most users humming/vibration isn't a big issue, but I'm blessed with a pair of very highly tuned ears that can hear a mouse sneezing from a mile away..
As someone who works in the Audio Industry, I will suggest some 'soothing background noise' or a Quality Set of Earplugs..
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 04:35 AM   #7
trustever
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Originally Posted by sh77 View Post
Thanks for the fast reply.

Getting an SSD installed by a third party is certainly an option I would consider, though I'd be a bit hesitant due to voiding my warranty - and if something were to go wrong, I'd only curse myself for not going for the 27" option.
In case you get the job done by an apple authorized repairer you should not be voiding the warranty at all, others can correct me should I be wrong.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 05:19 AM   #8
Tri-stan
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In case you get the job done by an apple authorized repairer you should not be voiding the warranty at all, others can correct me should I be wrong.
I think this is the case is most countries but if you open your iMac to install something like a ssd then as long as you dont damage something in the process then your warantee is not void. If say Apple can prove that it is broken by you opening the case then so be it you shouldn't have opened your iMac. I just wonder what they would do if you took your iMac in for repair and they saw an aftermarket ssd inside. I think if I was taking my machiene in for repair I would take out my ssd and reseal the iMac. If it has to be replaced then goodby ssd.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 05:51 AM   #9
trustever
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in your case I will continue paying a visit to apple authorise repairer, they will surely be less fussy about an aftermarket ssd in your Imac should the reason for the visit not be related to the upgrade that has been done
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 07:03 AM   #10
wmy5
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I just bought an iMac with 1TB FD. From my experience, I can tell you the mechanical drive the new iMac used is very very silent, even though it's a 7200rpm drive. Actually the fan noise is the only thing can be noticed.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 07:22 AM   #11
Nismo73
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Originally Posted by wmy5 View Post
I just bought an iMac with 1TB FD. From my experience, I can tell you the mechanical drive the new iMac used is very very silent, even though it's a 7200rpm drive. Actually the fan noise is the only thing can be noticed.
I agree. If I put my ear to the iMac, I can hear the hard drive a little when it comes out of sleep for a few seconds, but at viewing distance I can only just about hear the fan/air noise. With a little bit of music on, or general ambient noise, I don't hear the iMac.
I don't know if people are hearing the hard drive on non-fusion iMacs during regular task use.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 07:28 AM   #12
Chris Blount
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The new iMacs with fusion drive are very quiet. Don't worry about it.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 08:00 AM   #13
Irishman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sh77 View Post
I'm going to buy an iMac but I'm torn between the two size options.

The 21.5" is very tempting but the lack of an SSD/Flash-only option on this one is off-putting. The mid-2011 model I bought in (surprise surprise) mid-2011 suffered from the dreaded HDD hum/vibration/resonation problem that many seemed to get, and I had no choice but to return it. I notice that there's a Fusion drive option, but it's still essentially a HDD.

The 27" with the 768Gb flash drive seems a good choice, except that I'd need to sell half my internal organs to be able to afford it. But no mechanical drive means my ears would love it.

Do the smaller, slower HDDs in the latest 21.5" refresh solve the vibration problems or are users still experiencing this?

My priority is silence. If I have to spend the extra (and it's a lot of extra) for a non-HDD option, then I guess I'm stuck with the 27" option, though I can't help but feel that's a bit overkill. Then again, my ears and my sanity would love it.

I'm almost entirely new to iMacs and OS X too, so I have no real idea of what I'll end up using it for most. I know the 27" is geared more towards the 'serious' user, but I've been using a 26" monitor on my PC for years so the size wouldn't daunt me too much even if I was just surfing and playing the odd game. However, having owned a 21.5" previously for a short amount of time, I loved the 'compactness' (apologies for made up word), and found the 1920x1080 resolution more than adequate. 2560x1440? I'm wondering whether this is a bit too much. But if the HDDs are still vibrating, I guess I have no option but to go big.

I realise that for most users humming/vibration isn't a big issue, but I'm blessed with a pair of very highly tuned ears that can hear a mouse sneezing from a mile away.

Thanks in advance.
I would characterize my own hearing as normal, and I have the HDD in my 2012 iMac. It runs pretty damn near silently.

All the time. From 16-24" away. If I put my ear up against it when I'm playing a 3D game, I hear a little.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 09:02 AM   #14
GaiusBaltar
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I have the iMac 27inch i7 3.4 AND have hypersensitive ears, and I assure you that the thing is dead silent, even under heavy load. I have a fusion drive (and it's almost half full so it's not that I'm not only using the SSD part)

yesterday I thought I heard the HDD but that seemed to be my external one )
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