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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.10.02]
Parts by: Thermaltake, Zalman, Seagate

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UPDATE - Since this article was written 3 years ago, a lot of the information found within is somewhat dated. For information on the latest in Silent PC Hardware, please visit our affiliate site, How To Build a Silent PC.


Seagate Barracuda ATAIV

Now that we are getting closer to our goal of an entirely noiseless PC, we need to ditch the basic 7200 RPM HDD by Maxtor (or IBM or WD, etc) and replace it with something more suitable to our needs.

Seagate's Barracuda series was actually known as being one of the noisier HDD lineups around.  Things have changed in the latest iteration however.  Spinning at 7200 RPM, the noise and vibration would be simply unbearable in our silent system.  Seagate's solution to this problem: what Seagate likes to call "SoftSonic".  They also call it "Sound Barrier Technology" in their PR spins.  What it really comes down to is them replacing the traditional ball bearing motor with one using Fluid Dynamic Bearings.

According to Seagate, the 40GB (single platter) 'Cuda IV emits 20 dB while spinning at 7200 RPM, and 24 dB while seeking (with acoustic management enabled, which will slow it down slightly).  Since the human ear cannot really distinguish any sound below 25 dB from ambient noise in all but the most silent scenarios, what you have here is a completely silent hard drive.

FDB is also known to increase the reliability of drives, because there is no concern of imperfect bearings, or worn bearings.  We all know what it's like to have a drive with worn out bearings.... If your HDD starts to sound like a blender, it's time to ask for an RMA.  Just last week I sent 2 hard drives in for RMA with worn bearings that were not even 1 year old (Maxtor and IBM).

FDB is not quite the 'breakthrough revolution' Seagate is pushing it to be, but they are the first to offer it in their entire high end desktop lineup.  I can guarantee that as drives get bigger and faster, they will all be using FDB as a solution.  Right now though, the Barracuda IV is the quietest 7200 RPM drive you can find, and is perfect for our silent PC!

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