Best external quiet drive solution for imac 27

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sensamic, May 31, 2010.

  1. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #1
    Hi everyone.

    I want to buy or build my own external drive to use as the main drive of my imac 27. Im looking to build one that is very very silent. I was thinking of buying a WD Caviar Green (they say its a very silent drive) and an external case that powers by usb or firewire 800 and has no fans. Is the WD the quietest drive in the market right now? Is it really that quiet or does it make some noise?

    My other solution is to buy a SSD and an external case that powers by usb or firewire 800 too. Are there external cases that can be powered just by the firewire 800 instead of the usb?

    Any other ideas?

    How about buying a 32GB SSD and put it in an external case connected to the imac by usb and powered by usb and then a WD Caviar Green in another case connected by usb and powered by usb too? This way the OS would be in the SSD and all my music and videos and such would be on the WD. Is this a good way?

    Which drive is quieter? The SSD or the WD Caviar Green? Or are they basically the same and make no noise at all?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    Finland
    #2
    SSD is quieter but it's ridiculous to use it in enclosure as FW800 will only allow 1/3 of its speed to be used. WD Green is pretty quiet so get on of those. 3.5" drives need more power than USB can offer so you need external power supply
     
  3. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #3
    The Caviar Green is very nice, and those with the 500GB platters are pretty fast.

    The most important thing regarding the noise is to get a good aluminium case without a fan.
     
  4. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Mar 26, 2010
    #4
    Is there a quieter drive than the WD Caviar Green?

    I have found some interesting external cases with USB 3.0. Is there any way to keep the transfer rates of USB 3.0. with a cable or adapter to USB 2.0? That way I could keep those amazing transfer rates in the imac 27.
     
  5. KaneBaker macrumors member

    KaneBaker

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    #5
    Not possible.Physically you won't even need an adapter. The plug is back wards compatible, but your chips set and physical plugs can't take advantage of the USB 3 spec so it will run at USB 2 speeds.
    The green drive is ok, but you will hear it it when it's active.

    On the upside the garbage audio chip in my 27" imac puts so much noise into my studio monitors that it doesn't matter. I need to get an external firewire audio card. I'll likely just switch to a tower so i can make it internal though.
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    #6
    Haven't found any but of course there CAN be. Is it noticeable? Likely not

    The USB port in iMac can't handle more than 480Mbit/s (USB2 maximum).
     
  7. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Mar 26, 2010
    #7
    I think I found the solution Im looking for:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/on-the-go

    I'll buy that external case and put inside an SSD and then connect it to the imac by firewire 800, which will be used to power the drive too. That way I'm sure it will be almost completely silent, except from the fans of the imac, but that I dont care about.

    What do you guys think? It looks pretty good.
     
  8. Deanster macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    #8
    So, that's kinda crazy.

    Until a couple months ago, I was running almost the setup you're discussing above in my 20" Aluminum iMac - an 80 gig Intel X-25M SSD internally with the OS and application folders on it, and a Seagate 750 Gig 3.5" drive in an Icydock Firewire 400 enclosure for the User folders.

    This setup works great, with a couple caveats. Startup, application launch, etc. is BLAZING fast. The SSD on the internal SATA connection is ludicrously fast, and the 80 gig drive had more than enough room for everything that's not in my User folders. In general, access to documents and things on the external drive was fast and efficient.

    The only hassles were that that particular Seagate drive is LOUD, and tends to run hot. The IcyDock enclosure is a good one, but not silent either. Also, the contrast between the effectively instant response of the SSD and the slower response of the external drive became more evident, and was sometimes frustrating - great example is launching Mail.app - the app itself comes up almost instantly, as it's on the SSD, but all my e-mail is in the User folder, so it takes a while to populate. Previously, it all came up at once... Not a problem, per se, but just a reminder that sometimes you're limited to the pace of the slowest link. Also the FW400 link began to feel very limited for large transfers, like making a bootable backup.

    That brings us to the biggest limitation - while there's no problem running OS on one disk, and Users on another, it's a big hassle when it comes to creating a bootable backup, especially. I normally use SuperDuper to copy my primary disk onto an external, then I'm done. With two disks, I need to have two partitions on the external, and run backup twice. Not a showstopper, but a legitimate hassle.

    Your plan seems to have things 'backwards', with the big drive internal, and the SSD external. While putting an SSD in the external enclosure will surely be silent, you're putting the fast part of the system (SSD) on a slow Firewire connection, and the slow part (large hard drive) on the fast SATA connection. I'd strongly recommend putting the SSD inside, and bulk storage external. The Caviar Green drives are good, and pretty quiet, but part of that is that they're 5400RPM drives - fine for use on Firewire in an enclosure as a data drive, but maybe not the best choice for an internal multi-purpose drive.

    Honestly, what I'm doing now is just running the internal 1TB drive that came with my 27" iMac. It's very fast, and I don't find the start or launch times to be a problem, even coming from the SSD before. It's big, quiet, and keeps everything in one place, and both OS and data are on the SATA interface, which is a significant positive. I may someday go back to the SSD system drive in this, but the install is a giant pain, and the TOTAL benefit of the SSD/external data setup isn't worth it, for my needs. I got some really sweet spikes of performance, but in the end, having 100% of my system on SATA won out over having half on SSD/SATA, and the other half on HD/Firewire.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #9
    Thanks for the advice!

    I know the setup Im saying is not perfect. My main goal is to have a quiet imac to work with. I hate the sound of the internal Seagate drive of the imac 27. I really dont care about losing some of the speed benefits of the SSD. Im not in the SSD market because of its great performance and speed. Im on the SSD market by force because I want a quiet drive. Maybe in the future I'll buy another SSD aiming to have great speed and performance. Right now, all I care about is silence. I work at night sometimes in completely silence, and the noise from the imacs drive bothers me a lot.

    Thats why Im looking to buy an SSD and then unmount or eject the internal drive of the imac and just work with the SSD externally. I hope that this way I'll be able to work nice and quiet.
     
  10. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    Mar 1, 2010
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    New Jersey
    #10
  11. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #11
    Is it as quiet as an SSD? If there is any hard drive that is almost as quiet as an SSD I would prefer it, since it is more cheap, obviously. The problem is that Im not completely sure that one of these hard drives is that quiet. On the other hand, SSD is definitely quiet 100%.

    Do you hear the OWC hard drive working at all on a completely silent room?
     
  12. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

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    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #12
    Most noise comes from fans and there are no fans in this model. Dual external drives, like RAID enclosures make noise because they need fans. When spinning mine is barely audible and never comes close to being a distraction. However, I only turn it on about once/day for backups.
     
  13. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #13
    Okay, so I just did a test.

    I restarted the imac from the dvd of Mac OS X that comes with. Then, I went to Disk Utility and unmounted the internal hard drive of the imac and close the app and spent some minutes in complete silence trying to see if this way the hard drive would be completely quiet.

    Its weird. Every 30 seconds or so I heard a very little noise, probably from the hard drive. It was like the hard drive spinning for just one second every 30 seconds. Maybe to do a check? I dont know, but Im almost sure the noise came from the hard drive.

    So then, you still hear the internal hard drive even if you unmount it? Im confused. I thought it would stop completely and be completely quiet. The imac was very quiet, except for this little noise every 30 seconds. Is there a way to stop this little noise from happening at all?

    Maybe this little noise happened because I did this test from the dvd of Mac OS X? Is this possible? So then, if I do again the test, but this time from an external SSD, there will be no noise at all?

    What do you guys think?
     

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