"Green" drives without narcolepsy? WD AV-GP or Samsung F4?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Makosuke, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. Makosuke, Nov 19, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010

    Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    My situation: I have a Mini-based server running with a FW800 external case (Newer Ministack quad-interface) for the main shared data volume. It is great, and works almost perfectly.

    My issue: I have one of the first-gen Green WD Advanced Format drives in the FW800 case, a WD15EARS. It is fast, cool, dead-silent, and I would love it, except for the fact that regardless of settings or access, it spins itself down constantly. Others have seen the same behavior, at least with this case; even with the drive being accessed actively, it spins down (and of course immediately back up) after only a minute or so. I've tried updating the case firmware, and modifying the drive's firmware with their DOS tool to extend (or disable) the spindown, none of which help. (I also saw the same behavior with an older non-advanced format WD Green drive, so pretty sure it's firmware, not a bad unit.)

    My question: Anybody tried other "green" drives in this sort of setup, and/or have a recommended drive that won't constantly nod off when I'm trying to use it? I want a "green" drive both for the temperature/noise/power advantage (it's in my living room and on 24/7), and because for the most part a 7200RPM drive won't get any advantage over a good 5400RPM one on a FW800 bus.

    The WD AV-GP ("WD##EURS") series--they're designed for DVRs and such--sound promising (I'm assuming a DVR wouldn't take well to the drive sleeping on it, and they're supposed to be designed for high duty-cycle use), but after my WD experience to date I'm a little nervous about them, particularly given the price premium. I do actually like WD in general, but I've gotten sick of this issue, and will go with a Samsung F4 or similar if necessary.

  2. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    That is probably part of what makes those "green" drives green! Maybe shop for a normal drive that is rated for silence?
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Try disabling "Set hard drives to sleep when possible" from System Preferences > Energy Saver
  4. Pak^Man macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Is that really true?

    Or do you mean only in your case as you have a server going?

    I would think if you were using your external for video editing etc, there would be a speed difference vis a vis 7200 vs 5400.... or is the FW800 definitely the bottleneck? :confused:

    I would almost think a louder, faster 7200 rpm would be less annoying than a 5400 rpm "Green" driving spinning up and down....
  5. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    It is, but there's also the 5400RPM factor in overall power consumption; my point of asking was to see if anybody had experience with a low-power 5400RPM drive that DOESN'T have this issue. If none exists, then I'm stuck with either living with it or eating the couple of bucks extra in PG&E bills.

    No effect--first thing I tried. Nor, as I said, does going into the drive's firmware and telling it to disable auto-sleep--apparently the EARS models ignore that parameter. Nor does having the OS touch a file on the drive every minute--still spins down, then immediately back up. I've tried pretty much everything there is to try in terms of preventing sleep.

    In a situation where you're dealing with a lot of small random transactions, then the reduced latency of a 7200RPM drive versus 5400RPM would result in somewhat better transfer rates, even on a relatively slow bus interface. However, this drive primarily gets used for large media files and small, single data files. In the case of the small files, speed is not relevant one way or the other. In the case of large media files, however (like video, or RAW photos) maximum data throughput is the bottleneck.

    At theoretical max throughput, FW800 can handle 100MB/s; in real-world situations, benchmarks usually put it in around the 75-80MB/s range. In comparison, StorageReview's roundup of 5400RPM drives put both the current WD and Samsung F3 in the 105-110MB/s range. Which is to say that FW800 is already the bottleneck at that point, and the added throughput of a 7200RPM drive won't get you much if anything (well, except at the end of the drive, if it's almost full).

    Even if there was a modest speed improvement, though, I'd still prefer the quiet and low power.

    Less annoying in terms of random stalls while doing something, yes. Less annoying in terms of sound, no--the WD EARS drive is so quiet I can barely even hear the spinup in a completely quiet room at night with the closet door open. With it closed, I can't hear anything.
  6. Mav3067 macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2009
    WD Green

    I purchased a WD 2.0TB Caviar Green drive about 3 weeks ago and haven't noticed this behavior with it. I am running a Macally Quad interface case. It is dead silent; the drive in my PVR which sits right next to it is way louder. I am using mine for time machine so that may have something to do with me not noticing the narcolepsy.

  7. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Mav3067--do you know if your drive is a WD20EURS or WD20EARS? I'm assuming the latter, but it would make a difference if you've got the EURS version.

    I'm also curious if yours is one of the newer 3-platter drives (older WD20EARS models, of the same vintage as mine, have four), but to be honest I don't even know how to check that myself. I ask because I'm wondering if they've changed something in the firmware of newer ones (and I'd be trying very hard to get a 3-platter version either way--less platters and heads = less to fail).

    I'm not sure that you'd notice the issue with it being just a Time Machine volume, though--even if it did randomly sleep while doing a backup, it wouldn't affect anything you're going to notice. Could also be that the firmware in your case is different from mine, and that's the difference.
  8. Chic0 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    I'm new to NAS setups and recently purchased the Synology DS211J after getting advice from guys on this site. For the hard drives, it was between the WD Green 2TB and the Samsung F4 2TB. I eventually opted for a couple of Samsung drives due to their excellent low power consumption and low noise.

    After umming and arring over it, my decision was made after a member here recommended me checking out the reviews on Silent PC website. The review for the Samsung sold me.

    I haven't had a chance to setup my NAS yet and wont be able to for a few weeks.

    This is the site : http://www.silentpcreview.com/section13.html
    They review the WD Green drives along with loads of others. Maybe there is something in there about the WD spinning down.
  9. Makosuke, Dec 6, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

    Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    A follow up, in the event others run across this thread considering the same drives.

    I decided to give the Samsung F4 a shot, partly so I had a data point other than WD drives in this enclosure, partly because I just wanted to see what Samsung has to offer these days (haven't bought one of their drives since the PATA era), and partly because the F4 guarantees 3 platters, while the WD GP 2TB only has 3 platters if you get one of the newest ones manufactured, and there's no real way to tell if most retailers have new or older 4-platter stock.

    After a few days of use I can note the following:

    * It runs VERY cool, on par with my 3-platter 1.5TB WD EARS-series GP drive, which is really saying something--that's the coolest drive I've had in memory.

    * While still a very quiet drive, it is noticeably noisier than my EARS WD drive; it makes slightly more noise on spinup, and it's significantly louder seeking. On the plus side, the whine at idle is almost inaudible unless you're right next to it, which is about the same as the WD, and it's still a very quiet drive overall.

    * I haven't used it enough to be positive, but it seems to have exactly the same way-too-fast spindown issue as the WD. I'm now 80% convinced this is actually a problem with the NewerTech miniStack v3 enclosure, not the drives.

    * Speed is hard to say since my only use is on a FW800 enclosure accessed over Gbit Ethernet, but so far as I can tell it's quite snappy.

    If I were buying based purely on noise output, I'd unquestionably chose the WD for the quieter seeks, unless their 3-platter 2TBs are louder than the 3-platter 1.5TB. Otherwise the F4 seems to be a solid, remarkably cheap drive in the same class as WD's equivalent. Longevity, of course, remains to be seen--I've been happy with all the WD drives I've installed in the last few years at home and work, but then all the really old Samsung drives at work are still cranking away as well.

    I'll reserve final judgement on the narcolepsy until I've used it some more, but assuming it continues to have the same issues I guess it's time to prod tech support some more and see if this is a known issue or if I have a bum case. If I figure anything else useful out I'll post again.
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I have a WD10EADS that I don't think spins down all the time...if it does, I can't hear it. I just installed a 750GB GP I had lying around, and I do hear that spinning up and down, so I guess it's just the old models that do that.
  11. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Is this in a NewerTech miniStack v3 case, or a different one? Curious, because I'm becoming convinced it's the case that's the main issue, not the drive.

    Also, WD10EADS is the old model; the WDxxEARS series (AKA "Advanced Format" drives) are the newer ones, and even within that model line there are now two levels of "newness" depending on the particular model and when it was manufactured.
  12. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I don't have that case, just providing another data point.
  13. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    I have two 2 TB EARS drives in a Windows Home Server PC and I've never noticed that spindown behavior. It sounds like your controller to me.

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