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Old SCSI drives very loud.

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First post, by Justin1091

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Hi all,

Been using this HP Workstation X4000 for years and it's HDD's have always been very loud. While I got a bit used to it I keep wondering if this is how it was originally sold? Can't imagine it, the HDD's make a lot of noise. Even the PC case and floor of the room vibrate when the system is powered on. Putting something heavy like a book on it reduces it though.

I think the PC is from about 2003, the two drives are original 'HP Invent' Seagate SCSI 160 10K RPM, most likely also from 2003. I haven't noticed performance issues with them, but maybe someone can share any similar drive benchmarks?

Do they vibrate more as they age and make more sound?
Probably a dumb question, but is there anything to make them less noisy?

Attached to this post is a recording of powering up the PC, attention: watch out with volume on your speakers 😀

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Reply 5 of 29, by Justin1091

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Hmm, I thought old drives could become louder with age but that isn't true then? The noise doesn't really bother me, just wondering if drives can get louder with age. I took the drive out and kept it in my hand and there was almost no noise., probably the case attributes to the vibrating and the noise then.

Reply 7 of 29, by Disruptor

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Maximum DC current +5V 1,1A ~ +12V 2,8A ~ 39,1W

Reply 8 of 29, by TheMobRules

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Justin1091 wrote on 2020-09-28, 21:34:

Hmm, I thought old drives could become louder with age but that isn't true then? The noise doesn't really bother me, just wondering if drives can get louder with age. I took the drive out and kept it in my hand and there was almost no noise., probably the case attributes to the vibrating and the noise then.

Old drives can become louder as the bearings start to wear out, especially those that have thousands upon thousands of power-on hours. But that usually doesn't come close to the inherent loudness of many SCSI drives like the one you recorded, those sound like that even when new, intended for server rooms where noise isn't a problem. The high rotation speed is probably also a big factor when it comes to the noise levels.

Reply 9 of 29, by The Serpent Rider

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You don't want to know how loud these things get on random access workload.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 10 of 29, by uridium

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Loudness denotes quality!

Heh.. on a serious note, I had a new system "back in the day" with 2x 15k Atlas II disks in it and that was noisy as. Definitely use some rubber feet but watch out for heat as often the contact with the drive cage was part of the heat-sink.

I have 2x 147gb 15k Atlas-II's in my SGI Octane2 currently and it makes 'about' the same noise level as the old ones did back in the day in the Kayak. So yeah.. as the guy up top said.. classify it as a 'feature' (tm) and know in your heart that db levels denote quality level. :> If anyone complains, loudly proclaim that you can't hear them over how awesome your drives sound.

Reply 11 of 29, by chinny22

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Dealt with a few workstations in my life.
Under a desk in an open office they just become part of the background noise, never as quiet as their IDE counterpart but not as noticeable as a quiet room in a house.

If you listen to this when the 4th HDD led lights up, you can hear the sound of a drive with a bad bearing compared to the rest (all 10k drives)
https://youtu.be/Y_ztYj80HSY

Same machine with a mix of "newer" 10 and 15k drives
https://youtu.be/SmDx2ZM44JU

Reply 12 of 29, by imi

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Justin1091 wrote on 2020-09-28, 21:00:

Do they vibrate more as they age and make more sound?

well, bearings do age, add to that 10k RPM and you've got a result ^^

I have some way older SCSI drives that sound like a jet engine.

Reply 13 of 29, by Dominus

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I'm still angry that this friend of mine back then convinced me to go SCSI... what a horrible idea... Since then I developed real sensitivity to noisy PC gear... 😀

Windows 3.1x guide for DOSBox
60 seconds guide to DOSBox

Reply 14 of 29, by dionb

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Grzyb wrote on 2020-09-28, 21:25:

Seems perfectly normal for 10K RPM drives - they weren't designed for workstations, but rather for servers, with no people around.

Oh, a lot of them were specifically for workstations, and they could be even worse. I have an old 7200rpm 1.8GB drive that was originally in my Sun SparcStation 20, from the days that 4200rpm was considered fast for IDE. That thing is the single loudest drive I have ever heard - it makes my full-height 5.25" 600MB SCSI drive that can do a decent impression of a 747 powering up sound like a subdued calm fan. I've replaced it with a 10k drive to reduce the volume. This Seagate Cheetah 10k is one of my quietest SCSI drives despite the high speed. I love those Cheetahs, also have a 15k in a dual P3 system that is quieter than an older 10k Quantum Atlas V originally also in the system.

Reply 15 of 29, by The Serpent Rider

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I still use last gen Velociraptors and oh boy they are crickety on some workloads.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 17 of 29, by uridium

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red-ray wrote on 2020-09-29, 18:53:

Compared to DEC RM03s then your drive seems quiet!

I See your RM03 and raise you 3x RL02's in my 11/93 :>

Reply 18 of 29, by Justin1091

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Very interesting guys, thanks to you all for the insights! I'm going to try and find some rubber rings to put between the cage and the drive.

Another thing, I notice they're difficult to obtain, at least in my country and for reasonable prices. And the ones I do find usually have this 'server' SCA connector I once used at work with those caddies. I see some of you use 15K ones in PC's, do 15K drives exist with Molex power connectors? And is it possible to use a SCA one in a desktop PC, using some sort of converter (or convertor, heh)?

What about U160 vs U320, think the difference is noticeable in say, starting up the PC and playing games? Or is it most noticeable for a fileserver for example.

Reply 19 of 29, by dionb

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Justin1091 wrote on 2020-09-30, 21:16:

Very interesting guys, thanks to you all for the insights! I'm going to try and find some rubber rings to put between the cage and the drive.

Another thing, I notice they're difficult to obtain, at least in my country and for reasonable prices. And the ones I do find usually have this 'server' SCA connector I once used at work with those caddies. I see some of you use 15K ones in PC's, do 15K drives exist with Molex power connectors? And is it possible to use a SCA one in a desktop PC, using some sort of converter (or convertor, heh)?

Yep. SCA-80 is nothing more than 68p wide SCSI combined with power and ID selector lines - so a simple passive adapter with a few jumpers for the ID works fine. There are definitely 68p 15k drives, but later in SCSI existence, they tended to be SCA, even in workstations.

What about U160 vs U320, think the difference is noticeable in say, starting up the PC and playing games? Or is it most noticeable for a fileserver for example.

Starting up and playing games involve random reads, and for those, seek times are far more important than throughput. In general, higher rotation speed give lower seek times, so a 15k drive on U2W (80MBps) would feel faster than a similar 10k driver on U320. That said, drives with U320 tend to be newer and newer drives tend to be faster (with lower seek times) regardless of rotation speed, so U320 15k probably beats U160 15k, all other things being equal - but it's a much smaller effect than rotation speed.

Note that SCSI is spectacularly backwards compatible, and with correct termination you can connect just about anything (except HVD drives/controllers - stay away from them unless you know what you're doing) to anything - as in you could use a U320 drive connected to an 8b narrow SCSI controller in a 5150, or a 10MB drive connected to a U320 RAID controller. Usually this is pretty nonsensical, and performance will suffer, but there can be cases where you might want to. If so, you almost certainly can.