Normal Harddrive Noise

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jetblast, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. jetblast macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    #1
    I'm on my third unit, and the HDD makes irritating clicking noises on all of them, even when no apps are running. The ones I've seen at Best Buy are dead quiet. To put things in perspective, I currently have my ceiling fan on and can't hear the Mini. When the room is quiet, I can hear it sitting on my desk about 2 feet away.

    Is that normal or should I try a fourth unit?
     
  2. SoCalReviews, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #2
    HDDs will often make normal random and infrequent quiet clicking noises even when they are not using applications but just to make sure I would try the warranty service and take it in to an Apple store to have them look at it and listen for problems. They could run HDD tests or they might set it next to another identical model of Mini to compare and determine if you got one in a series batch of defective or excessively noisy Minis. I have noticed from past experience with PCs that some brands of HDDs make louder clicking sounds than others but that doesn't mean they are necessarily defective.

    It could be your one or more of your applications that are still running. While you may not be using applications they still might be actively operating in the background and accessing the HDD. It could be that the room you work in is extremely quiet and moving the location of the Mini under your desk or somewhat farther away might solve what seems to be excessive noise from the HDD. If the noise is constant I would check the cooling fan for potential defects. I would also recommend possibly upgrading the RAM from the stock 4GB to up to 16GB which could help alleviate constant "page outs' to the HDD. If you still can't determine the problem you could try a replacement #4 from BB but if it's a manufactured batch of Minis with louder than normal HDDs maybe you will have better luck with another model of Mini.
     
  3. borostef macrumors 6502

    borostef

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    #3
    I think those noises are normal... My Mini made them too, but not any more... I replaced the HDD with an SSD and now it is dead silent... :D
     
  4. SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I upgraded all my Minis that have HDDs to 16GB RAM and while they were a bit slower and noisier before the upgrade they all seem to run practically dead silent now too. :p
     
  5. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 27, 2013
    #5
    uhm, how is ram affecting HDD noise?
     
  6. SoCalReviews, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #6
    There is less need for the OS to access the HDD since running applications can be buffered in available RAM instead. This has been true for more than 20 years or since the time PCs with HDDs have been available and OS's began using virtual memory to overcome the limitations of available RAM.
     
  7. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #7
    Pretty simple about RAM vs HDD noise.
    Minimal RAM means that HDD is accessed more often - so could be noisier.
    Adding more RAM, then the HDD is not accessed so much, and (over time) may be less noisy. In theory, the HDD does not work as hard when there's RAM to spare.
     
  8. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    yeah, fine but it access hdd all the time still for any app, any save etc... no?
     
  9. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #9
    Yes, when disk access is needed, then the disk is accessed.
    More RAM (in general) means that drive access (for disk page-outs, for example) will be less frequent. SO, in general, less disk access means less noise from the hard drive.
    Yes, the HDD is accessed frequently in normal use. BUT, adequate RAM will help the HDD, because it will not be working so hard, as the HDD will be accessed somewhat less often.
    (in theory)
     
  10. SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Exactly... and OS X by design tends to have the user keep applications open and run in the background which is why a large amount of available RAM is especially important for Macs. The standard of 4GB RAM on base model Macs can be very deficient for moderate to power users. 8GB should be the minimal upgrade and 16GB should cover most user's needs. I wish 32GB RAM kits were available for the current line of Minis. Adding more RAM also can help increase the lifespan of HDDs and SSDs since there will be less access to those drives.
     
  11. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #11
    And, if you want a silent drive, replace the HDD with an SSD.
    You won't hear any noise, at least from the drive… :D
     
  12. SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Right...but if you don't have enough RAM that SSD will be accessed more frequently which may lead to significantly more wear and tear on it's memory system which is supposed to be more reliable than HDDs but the SSDs still have rated usage and failure rate limitations like HDDs do.
     
  13. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    in either case the HDD won't be silent.... as previous poster suggested... sorry for nitpicking though. :)
     
  14. haravikk macrumors 65816

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    May 1, 2005
    #14
    A Fusion Drive can help all but eliminate HDD noise (except when it has to be used); my setup is a 120gb SSD fusioned with a 3tb RAID array, but the SSD part definitely seems to house the OS and most common stuff, which means that when I'm not loading big files or infrequently used ones then my HDD use drops off to zero, and silent. Of course they're pretty noisy when I do need a huge or infrequent file, but that's the cost of using such a (comparatively) tiny SSD.

    Basically the same idea as adding more RAM though; the more space there is on the SSD the less the OS has to push requests through to the HDD. So with a Fusion Drive you can have all the capacity but with (normally) silent running.
     
  15. SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    #15
    I can only speak from my own experience with the Mini and the 16GB RAM upgrade. I leave my Mini on or let it go into sleep mode. I almost never notice the sound of my HDD clicking or spinning from my Mini that is in a very quiet room with it located two feet away on my desktop. However, I do hear the fan spin up and down once in a while. :)
     
  16. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
    #16
    look at your page outs and swap right here.

    0 page out and o swaps means I never went to the disk due to lack of memory.


    any one with billions of them will have a lot of hdd noise. notice I have 16gb ram.
     

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  17. jetblast thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 16, 2013
    #17
    I just want to say I picked up my fourth unit today. This one came pre-installed with Mavericks and it's DEAD silent. It seems I just had bad luck with some faulty batches previously!

    I have multiple apps open and still haven't heard the HDD click. Thanks for your input. I had a feeling it wasn't normal.
     
  18. RoryO macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #18
    Did you have to do anything special to get a Fusion drive that spins down the HDD portion? I recently returned a new iMac with 3TB Fusion Drive because I found the HDD too noisy. I was hoping it would behave like you describe, and only spin the HDD when accessing files on that drive. But in my experience the HDD was spinning when ever the fusion drive was in use which meant it was spinning all the time. I even went to great lengths to spin down the HDD to see how much noise was left over to judge if I'd mind the noise of an SSD only imac. This was before mavericks was released, perhaps something changed?
     
  19. haravikk macrumors 65816

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    #19
    I don't think the HDDs will spin-down in a Fusion Drive, as that could potentially add huge delays when opening files not on the SSD. But at idle a hard-drive shouldn't make any noise at all, except maybe a faint whirring up close.

    My HDDs are Hitachi Deskstars and they are especially noisy when active, but when idle (but not spun down) they're inaudible inside my Mac Pro. I've never found a Mac Mini drive to be any different, and I would have thought the iMac would be the same; I have two Mac Minis now, with just the stock HDD (so no SSD helping to reduce noise) and I can barely hear them even when they're active.

    I'm actually running Mountain Lion on most of my machines so I don't believe so; I have Mavericks on a small partition for testing though.


    I just find it really strange you're experience much drive noise, personally I've found the fan inside the Mac Mini to be noisier than a (mostly) idle hard-drive, but even that's not saying much as even under heavy load I wouldn't exactly call the fan noisy either. And I actually have pretty sensitive hearing so even things like minor buzzing from a power adaptor annoys the hell out of me (which begs the question of why my Mac Pro's GPU fan hasn't driven me insane yet, but that's not really important here). I only have an older iMac (2009 I think, don't really remember) but it's usually as quiet as my Mac Minis are, maybe a touch noisier when the disk is under load.

    How long did you have the iMac for? It's possible your Fusion Drive was still "settling", but personally I found mine was about right after about a day, and I only have a relatively tiny 120gb SSD (on top of 3tb of HDDs). So most files I open give me audible HDD noise, but when I'm just generally browsing and stuff it's all from the SSD. The official Fusion Drives should be a single 3tb drive with 256gb of SSD I think, so I would thought it would have an easier time.
     
  20. RoryO macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #20
    Thanks for the details, I misunderstood and thought you meant the disks were spun down vs just being idle. It was just the idle noise I didn't like in the iMac, I've been using a MacBook Air for a few months and I've been completely spoiled by the silence, that thing really is silent, every thing else so far has been audible and post Air thats just too much for me to listen to for 8 hours day. I think the standard for computer noise should be measured in units of "Idle Macbook Airs". I was thinking of going to a Mac Mini because I hear they are quiet, and if they are not as quiet as an Air, I can put it away in a cupboard to silence it. With an iMac you have no choise but to have the "noisy" bit right in front of your nose. Thanks for the details
     
  21. jetblast thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 16, 2013
    #21
    Everything was fine until I installed more RAM. Now the fan is constant and much louder than before. It's not as irritating as the HDD clicking, but it's definitely more noticeable. I must have triggered something while doing the installation.
     
  22. SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

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    Dec 31, 2012
    #22
    It might be time for some official Apple brand ear plugs. :apple: ;)
     
  23. haravikk macrumors 65816

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    May 1, 2005
    #23
    Have you already tried swapping the old RAM back in to see if that resolves the fan issue? Where did you get the new RAM from, any details about it such as brand?

    I've never had a machine spin up its fans because of RAM though, which is a bit odd, usually it happens if a temperature sensor is disconnected, but you shouldn't be able to do that while installing RAM…
     
  24. jetblast thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 16, 2013
    #24
    I'm using Crucial. When I initially installed it, it only showed 4 GB of RAM (I was trying to install 8), so I went back and made sure they were secured in. I had a hard time with the bottom stick, so maybe I did something wrong.

    I'm using headphones for now.
     
  25. ajaan macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2013
    #25
    I had that same clicking problem from the HD on my 2012 iMac, but not on the 2011 iMac (wonder if it's the HDs that were used on 2012 models of iMac and Mac Mini). Drove me nuts too.

    However, I too bumped up the RAM in the 2011 iMac, which couldn't be done in the 2012 model. The 2011 model was pretty much silent.

    Currently on a 2012 Mac Mini i7 2.3. Got the BTO SSD just to be sure, and obviously the machine is just about silent.
     

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