iMac HDD noise now far too intrusive, what are my options?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by G.O.B, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. G.O.B macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    Hi all,

    Got a 27" iMac in December 2010, and immediately disliked the HDD noises, but put up with them. Recently, though, they've been FAR too loud, to the extent that music, TV, films, games, etc. are overwhelmed by it, or - at the very least - it ruins the experience. What are my options? I have AppleCare, it's only a few months old, and I'm in the UK. Just don't know where I stand.

  2. flipster macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    Dont let anyone tell you its normal, its not.

    This happened to me, was told it was normal, but got fed up with the distractions so i went to the apple store and expressed my feelings very nicely.

    they were very nice about it, replaced the hard drive and now the new one i have is completely silent.

    go to the apple store, tell them that it is not normal, and its very distracting and makes the machine unenjoyable. if that fails, which it shouldn't, tell them you paid for a quality machine and got crap.

    my imac with the new hard drive is completely silent and i couldn't be happier
  3. chris98vf macrumors regular


    Mar 3, 2010
    I had the same HDD noises from my 21.5 I got back around Black Friday. I expected them to get worse but they are actually gone now. Seagate drives are by far the worst on the planet in my opinion ever since they absorbed Maxtor which for it's time was the worst.

    I'd take it to Apple and have them swap it out. If it's overwhelming your audio on the iMac it's more than your normal HDD grumble. Get it fixed before it eats your data.
  4. Detosx macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    I will have to find a way to take mine back, though there is no Apple store anywhere near my city and I don't drive. I went into an Apple dealer today and tried an identical model. I started up a couple of Applications. The drive was silent! I put my ear against the metal. Hardly a sound, even when I started up multiple applications. With my iMac, even with earplugs, I can hear the digestive bass rumble 'trump-trump' from the Seagate. I was going to change out the drive for another with a bigger capacity but I can't find Apple firmware online for the Hiatchi or Samsung models that iMacs sometimes come with, never mind Apple's firmware for the Seagate. I am assuming there must be different revisions of firmware AP25 out there for the Samsung 1TB drives.
  5. flipster macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    I know that apple uses the black caviar drives from western digital. my friend has a 1 tb one, and its completely silent
  6. Detosx macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    The blacks have a reputation for being good, as in fast, but also noisy as compared to the slower running WD green drives when used in non-Apple PCs. I can confirm that from system building. If they run quiet in iMacs that is perhaps testimony to how well they are decoupled from the interior and the acoustic properties of the iMacs case. I don't have a favorite at the moment but I used to favor Samsung. Apparently not so long ago there was a bad batch of those in iMacs, too.

    But even were I to swap the hard drive out for a new one I don't have access to Apple's modified firmware for any of the drives they use. I would be swapping out one problem for a new one.
  7. flipster macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    As far as my knowledge goes, there just hard drives. Swap out the old one for a black caviar western digital, my friend's is silent so im not sure about its reputation. As for the green drives, there slow, that's why apple doesn't use them.
  8. Detosx, Feb 22, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011

    Detosx macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    I am afraid with the 2010 iMac it looks to be more complicated, though few people on the tech boards seem to know about it.

    I wanted to know why Apple flash the Seagate drive with their own firmware. In the 2010 model said firmware apparently monitors HD temperatures and regulates the speed of the hard drive fan via the temperature sensor built into the Seagate. I imagine this was a cost cutting measure as previously, I believe, in some earlier iMac models, Apple glued a temperature sensor to the hard drive (?) making it a simple enough swap over. Apparently in the 2010 model without firmware even with the correct propriatory lead plugged in for the model of hard drive you are using, said lead, without that firmware, doesn't retrieve needed data, causing the HD fan to spin up to a speed faster than it needs, though this might still be relatively silent compared to what some with noisy Seagate batches are enduring, I don't know. There are some relatively straightforward workarounds talked about in recent postings on OWC's blog and Apple's own forums. One appears to involves a relatively expensive purchase of a temperature sensor (I think around $22) to glue onto the dive in a specific spot, the other some very basic electronics knowledge to prevent the fan from doing this, and also, essentially, a short. There is also a terminal command, I believe, to slow the fan.

    I would rather no one quote me on any of this because I have no direct experience of the internals of iMacs, never mind the 2010 model, but instead search out these threads yourselves (are we allowed to link to rival forums? I got in trouble a mild lecture from a moderator on another board for doing that so avoid it). I think this is a developing story. I would think if just swapping out the hard drive did any harm we would know about it long since but I would like to get this right.

    Edit - check out OWC's blog entitled 'Proprietary cable can put the brakes on upgrading Late ’09 iMacs' not the OWC's talk about different hard drives needing different proprietary cables, though that is interesting, but the comments section talk about the greater firmware issue. The blog was about the late 2009 model but in the comments section people discuss problems with the 2010 model HD temp/fans issue, firmware and workarounds.
  9. KKramer macrumors member


    Feb 9, 2010
    Just get the SSD and it's dead silent.

    Old, mechanically spinning drives:
    • have their own noise
    • contribute to overall heat in your iMac thus making iMac fans spin faster and louder.
  10. Detosx macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    They do and some are especially noticeable in a PC if you momentarily stop the case fans. I was stunned yesterday, though, when I tried an iMac in John Lewis. It was so silent I had to confirm it wasn't using an SSD. Even putting my ear against the case, so quiet - and that had the same model of Seagate as I am using, so clearly they are not all rogue drives.

    I am considering an SSD but don't want to buy a fitting kit that is absent from non SSD sold iMacs. I want to see if I can cut and bend some bits of aluminum to size and drill out screw holes. If anyone has a link to the correct dimensions it would be good to see. Velcro and/or double sided tape might work but no, the latter dries out quite quickly in warm air environments. I am not prepared to glue it in place. Dimensions of the fitting kit, anyone?

    I suspect for the 2010 model you need to buy a temperature sensor to stop the fan spinning up, which would be another hidden cost so to speak.

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