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Cushioning those vibes
Product : Silent Drive
Available from : QuietPC & The Overclocking Store
Price : £ 24.00 (Price includes VAT)
Related reviews : [Quiet PSU]
Discuss this review in our forums

Preface

QuietPC specialise in making products that lower the noise emitted by your computer, and their product range consists of several products which endeavour to lower this noise. The hard drive in any computer is both very loud and produces the most heat of any device inside your case. As spin speeds increase the noise emitted by the hard drive does so too, and this is where silent drive comes in. From the outset we were told that this product isn't here for cooling your hard drive, but to insulate it from the sound produced by it.

Initial thoughts

The main majority of noise is produced when the hard drive vibrates, and therefore the Silent drive is made out of several layers which "cushion" the drive. This both acts as good thermal insulation which was something we were worried about when we first saw it. There are two layers inside the plastic enclosure, one is a reflecting layer, which is lined with aluminium foil. The second (and the thickest layer) is a foam layer which generally "cushions" the drive during operation.

We were concerned initially with the operating temperature of the drive. With the layers of insulation it could cause the hard drive to over heat during prolonged operation. We then found out from QuietPC that they have taken steps to combat this overheating problem. It uses two aluminium heat plates which act as heatsinks and dissipate the heat efficiently.

This cushioning of the hard drive is not a concept, it is quite commonplace in the removable hard drives, as it does a good job of absorbing shocks hard drives can take. Many newer hard drives have little dampers built in which act as shock absorbers, however they don't do very much to change the level of noise emitted by the hard drive.

Installation

Inserting your drive into the Silent Drive enclosure isn't very hard, however getting the power and data cable to neatly come out of the back panel is somewhat harder. There is small slits cut out of the back panel which allows the wires to come out, but when the foam padding is applied to the back panel it makes it a very tight squeeze, and requires some fiddling. After a few minutes of messing around with it, we were able to get a nice fitting with all the cables neatly placed.

The padding that is within the Silent Drive is quite thick and provides a very good insulating from noise and heat. We can't quite understand why the inside of the Silent Drive is padded with a material that has a shiny/silvery surface, since this aids heat insulation rather than sound insulation. The foam that is used is very dense with few air pockets, and this does provide better thermal conductivity than air pockets, and does a good job of providing the drive with this cushioning effect.

Here are some of the statistics about the Silent drive :-

Weight 526g
Physical mounting requirements 5.25" half height bay
Enclosure material ABS plastic
Fire retardant specification UL94V-0 / UL94HF-1
Drive type compatibility 3.5 inch
Drive height 1" (2.54cm)
Drive maximum heat dissipation 5 watts

Measuring hard drive noise isn't the easiest thing to do since a lot of other factors contribute towards the noise generated, however while we had it in our test rig (which of course had the Silent PSU), it did make a very notable difference to the noise produced by the hard drive during general use and when there was data transfer between computers. We have already discussed the installation of this in above paragraphs, and with the exception of neatly tucking away your cables, it is a relatively easy process. As long as you have a spare 5.25" drive bay you will be able to use the Silent drive, some older and larger drives (especially SCSI hard drives) which are taller than 1" would not be able to fit.

We left our test rig running for several days and there was no trouble with the hard drive overheating during operation. However we cannot guarantee this will be the case with very high spindle speed hard drives (12,000RPM +), but our 10,000 RPM Seagate Cheetah (Ultra SCSI) was fine, along with a 7,200 RPM Quantum Fireball (IDE).

We were looking at the design of the Silent Drive in a totally different view, and we thought that if a cooling device was made using roughly the same design as this, then it would be quite effective. Some changes would have to be made, such as the materials used within the drive, and an implementation of an efficient cooling device with in the enclosure, however it would be a successful design and might even challenge Globalwin's ION Storm hard drive cooler.

Conclusions

The Silent drive is priced very resonably and this is certainly a product that you should consider buying if you are looking to reduce the noise produced by your computer. The Silent drive is a well made product with very few faults, and we would have no hestitation in recommending it.

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