Quiet 4- or 5-bay RAID enclosure

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
What is the quietest 4-bay or 5-bay RAID enclosure for the Mac that everyone likes? Either USB3 or Thunderbolt. I just got an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 and the thing is LOUD! I'm sure it works find but the noise is driving me batty. This is the first 4-bay RAID that I have had in quite a while, but I did used to have the original Drobo and don't remember it being nearly as loud. I have it sitting on my desk next to my mini and a WD MyBook which are both almost completely silent. I wanted a 4-bay for the added storage and redundancy (not to mention reducing cable clutter) but I don't know if I can take this. Is there any solution other than putting the thing in a cabinet or closet? How about a Drobo 5D or Pegasus R4? Any other suggestions?
 

nkawal

macrumors regular
Jan 12, 2011
157
21
NYC
I have the same enclosure using WD Enterprise RE4 drives and it not loud. You may have a defective unit or failing fans.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
I have the same enclosure using WD Enterprise RE4 drives and it not loud. You may have a defective unit or failing fans.
That is why I bought this unit because of several review that said it was "not loud". I have 4 Toshiba DT01ACA300 drives in min which I think is the same drives that OWC uses in their 12TB version. I guess "not loud" is relative however. How would you compare the "loudness" to a Mac Mini or iMac for example? True, compared to a full-up Windows tower it is quiet I suppose, but I was hoping for something a little less obtrusive.
 

nkawal

macrumors regular
Jan 12, 2011
157
21
NYC
That is why I bought this unit because of several review that said it was "not loud". I have 4 Toshiba DT01ACA300 drives in min which I think is the same drives that OWC uses in their 12TB version. I guess "not loud" is relative however. How would you compare the "loudness" to a Mac Mini or iMac for example? True, compared to a full-up Windows tower it is quiet I suppose, but I was hoping for something a little less obtrusive.
Well, I have a 2011 Mac Mini and its dead silent. Except for doing power intensive tasks. I made the switch from a Full Tower Power house PC to the mac mini and i cant see my self going back. Yes, i still use windows but thats another story.

I have the same drives in my Synology DS213+ NAS and that's Loud when accessing the drives.

I am actually going to buy another of the QX2 enclosure and run it as a backup of the other.

I currently have it connected via esata that is connected to a Lacie Thunderbolt Hub to the Mac Mini. Much better performance over firewire 800.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
I just tried an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual (Thunderbolt 2-drive) and a CalDigit T3 (3 drives but no hw RAID). Admittedly both had fewer drives but both were considerably quieter than this unit, and both of them were also all metal like this one. Oh well guess I'll learn to live with it or find something else somewhere that I can actually observe the unit before I buy. I wish reviews all had dB ratings for devices like this (Synology does list this but nobody else seems to do so). Maybe I'll get a noise meter so that I can test to see what my threshold of tolerance is...
 

danny_w

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Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
Does your fan change speeds ("smart" fan)? I read reviews that said the fan starts of high and then slows down after startup, but this may be the older USB2 model (mine is the new USB3 model just released). Mine stays at a constant speed no matter what is happening.
 

hfg

macrumors 68040
Dec 1, 2006
3,566
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Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
Can you determine whether it is the fan or the disk drives that you are finding distractingly loud? I have mine (OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2) under my desk and can barely hear it if I try hard, but I think it is the drives that I am hearing. Not much you can do about drive noise, but if it is the fan, you might be able to get a replacement that is quieter from the vendor.
 

RoastingPig

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
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SoCal
What is the quietest 4-bay or 5-bay RAID enclosure for the Mac that everyone likes? Either USB3 or Thunderbolt. I just got an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 and the thing is LOUD! I'm sure it works find but the noise is driving me batty. This is the first 4-bay RAID that I have had in quite a while, but I did used to have the original Drobo and don't remember it being nearly as loud. I have it sitting on my desk next to my mini and a WD MyBook which are both almost completely silent. I wanted a 4-bay for the added storage and redundancy (not to mention reducing cable clutter) but I don't know if I can take this. Is there any solution other than putting the thing in a cabinet or closet? How about a Drobo 5D or Pegasus R4? Any other suggestions?
have you considered the new thunderbay iv from owc. i am also looking for something quiet to acomodate my nMP.

theres a review of it here. but the reviewer says there still some noise since theres a huge fan to cool 4 hard drives.

http://macperformanceguide.com/Reviews-OWC-Thunderbay.html
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
4,383
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Austin, TX
Can you determine whether it is the fan or the disk drives that you are finding distractingly loud? I have mine (OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2) under my desk and can barely hear it if I try hard, but I think it is the drives that I am hearing. Not much you can do about drive noise, but if it is the fan, you might be able to get a replacement that is quieter from the vendor.
I tried removing the drives and powering it up and most of the noise is still there without the drives. I downloaded a db meter for my iPhone (not very precise I know but it gives me relative readings with the unit on and off).

Unit OFF: 57dBa
Unit ON (w/o drives): 62dBa
Unit ON (w/ drives): 63dBa

So it looks like most of the noise is coming from the fan, not the drives. Of course I can hear the drives some if I access them, but barely.

----------

have you considered the new thunderbay iv. i am also looking for something quiet to acomodate my nMP
I considered it but OWC says that it has the same fan as the Qx2 (makes sense, as it looks like it is based on the Qx2). It also does not have the hw RAID controller, which makes no sense at the price they are asking; essentially you pay $220 more for the TB connection but lose the hw RAID, so it is just a JBOD. I did have the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual for a while (it does have hw RAID) and it was much quieter but it has only 2 drives and you have to open the case to change drives. Its fan was smaller and made a higher pitched sound.
 

RoastingPig

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
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I considered it but OWC says that it has the same fan as the Qx2 (makes sense, as it looks like it is based on the Qx2). It also does not have the hw RAID controller, which makes no sense at the price they are asking; essentially you pay $220 more for the TB connection but lose the hw RAID, so it is just a JBOD. I did have the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual for a while (it does have hw RAID) and it was much quieter but it has only 2 drives and you have to open the case to change drives. Its fan was smaller and made a higher pitched sound.
ohh i didnt see that it didnt have hardware raid, that sucks...did you every try the elite pro dual with two ssd's thats what i wanted to do but couldnt find any ssd benchmarks on that unit.
 

danny_w

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Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
ohh i didnt see that it didnt have hardware raid, that sucks...did you every try the elite pro dual with two ssd's thats what i wanted to do but couldnt find any ssd benchmarks on that unit.
No I did not try ssd's (mine was a sealed unit with factory supplied drives) but I believe that somebody else on this board did and the results were not too promising (not surprising since I'm sure it's intended for hdd's). I think there are quite a few better solutions if you want to use ssd's.
 

RoastingPig

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
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No I did not try ssd's (mine was a sealed unit with factory supplied drives) but I believe that somebody else on this board did and the results were not too promising (not surprising since I'm sure it's intended for hdd's). I think there are quite a few better solutions if you want to use ssd's.
i seen the pegasus j4 but im told most of those units are power faulty. im hoping the cal digit t2 has a use your own drive option
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
4,383
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Austin, TX
i seen the pegasus j4 but im told most of those units are power faulty. im hoping the cal digit t2 has a use your own drive option
I would expect the CalDigit T2 to be the same as the T3 and require their own drives; they said that all of their drives going forward will use the same drive sled. I had a T3 and it was great except for that one thing. However somebody said that they emailed CalDigit and was told that if they do change drives it only voids the warranty on those drives, not the entered unit. At the price of the 3TB T3 ($449) you can basically throw away the 3 1TB drives that come with it and still have a decent price for a small 3-bay enclosure with drive trays for $50 less than the empty ThuderBay IV.
 

RoastingPig

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2012
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I would expect the CalDigit T2 to be the same as the T3 and require their own drives; they said that all of their drives going forward will use the same drive sled. I had a T3 and it was great except for that one thing. However somebody said that they emailed CalDigit and was told that if they do change drives it only voids the warranty on those drives, not the entered unit. At the price of the 3TB T3 ($449) you can basically throw away the 3 1TB drives that come with it and still have a decent price for a small 3-bay enclosure with drive trays for $50 less than the empty ThuderBay IV.
thats true. in order to remove the drives you need Torx 9 security or tamper proof wrench.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Original poster
Mar 8, 2005
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Austin, TX
I did a chat with OWC and could not get any straight answers so I am returning the unit. I went and bought a Drobo 5D today to try out and even with all 5 drives installed and accessing it is S-O-O-O much quieter than even the empty Qx2. I know it is not going to be nearly as fast (although the Qx2 is no speed demon) but speed is not really what I need nearly as much as QUIET. Why have an almost silent Mac Mini and then drown the environment in noise?

I hate to spend so much money but I think I will give the Drobo a good test over the next several days to see how I like it. I do however wonder about how much noise the Pegasus2 R4 makes, since it is the same price empty as the Drobo 5D; unfortunately my Apple store did not have any to try, and I even had to explain to them what it was and that yes indeed they sold it (and that only Apple sells the diskless version). Does anybody know how they compare?
 

GerhardMiller

macrumors newbie
Feb 16, 2014
4
0
Hi Danny,

Had exactly the same experience.

Definitely quite a bit of fan noise. The fan is constantly running, even if drives spin down -- I had the first one replaced, as I thought it was defective, but alas, the second one exhibited the same noise level. I'd say unbearable for any work environment, esp. since my Mac Mini is whisper quiet.

My solution: Replaced the stock fan with a Noctua NF-B9 redux-1600 (17 dB/A), very easy to do, and much much quieter. Can still be heard, but much better than the original fan. With a 2-3 meter USB cable I can place the Qx2 far enough away to be bearable.

Without the fan replacement I would have definitely returned it.

What I don't get is why OWC doesn't include a better fan -- esp. since they offer a more quiet replacement fan on their website. Other than that my experience was that their service is impeccable.

All in all, recommend the product -- with the replacement fan.
 

hkoster1

macrumors regular
Jul 29, 2012
131
22
The Netherlands
Well, the current OWC ThunderBay 4 is supposed to have a quieter fan than earlier models, but I can still hear it in addition to my choice of Hitachi drives cluncking along. And my hearing is no longer top!

I finally sprung for the Corning 10m Thunderbolt cable, so that I could put the TB4 in my utility room. Makes for a pricy solution, all told.
 

ColdCase

macrumors 68030
Feb 10, 2008
2,957
139
NH
The ThunderBay IV I received last week is quiet as a mouse. You can hear disk drives churn away as there is little sound insulation
 

FireWire2

macrumors 6502
Oct 12, 2008
363
6
What is the quietest 4-bay or 5-bay RAID enclosure for the Mac that everyone likes? Either USB3 or Thunderbolt. I just got an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 and the thing is LOUD! I'm sure it works find but the noise is driving me batty. This is the first 4-bay RAID that I have had in quite a while, but I did used to have the original Drobo and don't remember it being nearly as loud. I have it sitting on my desk next to my mini and a WD MyBook which are both almost completely silent. I wanted a 4-bay for the added storage and redundancy (not to mention reducing cable clutter) but I don't know if I can take this. Is there any solution other than putting the thing in a cabinet or closet? How about a Drobo 5D or Pegasus R4? Any other suggestions?

This is the driver-less quietest RAID/JBOD box...
http://www.amazon.com/Dual-Thunderbolt-RAID-SATA-Windows/dp/B00GNE2B8G
 

MCAsan

macrumors 601
Jul 9, 2012
4,524
410
Atlanta
Look at the LaCie range of enclosures. You can get enclosures for 1, 2, or 5 drives with a variety of interfaces. My 2Big and d2 enclosures are very quiet.

Note they do not sell empty enclosures.
 

g4cube

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2003
760
13
Look at the LaCie range of enclosures. You can get enclosures for 1, 2, or 5 drives with a variety of interfaces. My 2Big and d2 enclosures are very quiet.

Note they do not sell empty enclosures.
Check their Outlet Shop on the www.lacie.com website. May times there are some good deals that sell out quickly. You can get ones with smaller drives and swap them out with larger capacity drives.

I was able to pick up a few 5big Thunderbolt drives a few months ago when they were transitioning to the Thunderbolt2 model.

Both use a low speed fan.
 

bennibeef

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2013
339
161
I have also a Drobo 5D and love it. Its quiet for what it does, it sits next to a mac mini which acts as a server in a normal room I am in daily. I dont notice it.
 

m4v3r1ck

macrumors 68020
Nov 2, 2011
2,341
347
The Netherlands
Warranty issue refurbished Lacie!

Check their Outlet Shop on the www.lacie.com website. May times there are some good deals that sell out quickly. You can get ones with smaller drives and swap them out with larger capacity drives.

I was able to pick up a few 5big Thunderbolt drives a few months ago when they were transitioning to the Thunderbolt2 model.

Both use a low speed fan.
Thanks for the link!

Checked the Dutch devision:

What are refurbished products?

A return of a customer or vendor for cosmetic damage.
A return of a customer or vendor due to a quality problem.

How are products updated?

Any product intended for renewal, is investigated.
After the repair of the defective product is re-packaged.
Products that have been renewed in the factory must meet high quality standards.
Be aware of very faulty external power supplies that comes with them.

ONLY 90/180 DAYS warranty! :eek:
 

g4cube

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2003
760
13
When I got mine, came with new, unused power supply. Sometimes these are simply open, store return products that cannot be sold as new.

Just in case, I have several power bricks as spares. My experience, a product only fails when you have no spares. Spares are good peace of mind.
 

m4v3r1ck

macrumors 68020
Nov 2, 2011
2,341
347
The Netherlands
When I got mine, came with new, unused power supply. Sometimes these are simply open, store return products that cannot be sold as new.

Just in case, I have several power bricks as spares. My experience, a product only fails when you have no spares. Spares are good peace of mind.
Good policy indeed!