Seeking Sounds of Silence

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2002, 10:16
Category: Archive

The 20GB HD in my PowerBook G4 started out a bit loud but the whine seems to have gotten worse over time. The thin profile and metal casing of the TiBook doesn?t help to muffle sound either, but a recent upgrade has brought me peace and quiet along with significantly more storage and faster rotational speed. I opted for a 48GB IBM Travelstar drive which rotates at 5,400 rpm vs. the more common 4,200. This new drive has fluid bearings and at idle is so much quieter than the original drive, I?m in heaven. The drive is slightly thicker and heavier ? 12.5 mm. vs. 9.5 mm., so it won?t fit in the iBook. Not to worry, Toshiba has just introduced a 9.5mm 40GB fluid bearing 5,400 rpm drive with a 16MB cache and I?m curious as to whether it is a quiet as this Travelstar.

Over at, Mike Breeden has noted the problem of laptop drives becoming louder over time. His site provides a tremendous resource for drive compatibility as well as providing great installation instructions. Some people have complained about the ?coke-bottle? rattling these drives make while accessing data, but I don?t find it annoying like the constant moan of the old drive. It is important to make sure the grommets are correctly installed or any drive will be louder in the TiBook. When upgrading your internal HD, there is more to consider than capacity and physical height. Rotational speed, cache size and quietness all factor in. My old drive now resides in an external firewire case and is as loud as ever.

[Ed’s note: Sound has also improved on the PowerBook’s fan noise; having listened to the 800 model it’s significantly quieter than my 1st-generation 400. For those of us doing audio recording, these are serious considerations, even as we make use of long FireWire and mic cables to distance our recording rig from our noisy machines! -PK]

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