Date: July 27, 2006
Author(s): Matthew Harris
With the quiet computing push that’s becoming more and more popular today users are finding that the last hurdle in truly silent computing is the HDD. While there are many ways of quieting the noise generated by your drive some only help to decouple the vibrations generated by the drive from the PC chassis while others end up enclosing the drive so completely that it runs perilously hot. Today we take a look at one that offers decent cooling and quiet in one package.
Silent computing. I remember when it first surfaced in force on the ‘net about 5 years ago, it was a crazy fad. Especially to guys like me that are seeking to maximize performance by any means necessary. Here were these guys that were stripping the fans from their cases, putting low CFM fans on heatsinks and undervolting and underclocking their CPUs just to achieve silence or as close to silence as they could get. It was outrageous!
Fast forward to today and with the evolution in case design and HSF units for CPUs and GPUs we’re seeing the possibility of silent performance PCs. Now that we’ve got the heat being removed at a reasonable rate and we can use low RPM 120mm fans to do the work that was once done by screaming 80mm fans to evacuate the heat from our cases we’ve come to notice certain things…ROM and R/W drives are actually pretty noisy during reads and writes and HDDs make a pretty decent racket during seeks along with transmitting a good deal of vibration to our cases.
Logisys claims to have the cure for our ills in the form of the HD-Silencer. Here’s what Logisys has to say about it:
This is the ultimate solution in hard drive cooling and silencing by using the latest heatpipe technology. This product doest not only offer more cooling power but also noise reduction. The finned aluminum heat sink plus 4 heatpipes offer the very best in heat dissipation. The HD cooling silencer is compatible with all hard drive that run at 10,000 RPM or lower. Air born noise is exceptionally low because the hard drive is mounted by specially designed rubber blocks, which stop any vibration noise generated by the hard drive, and significantly reduces those annoying "rumbling" and "clicking" noises that are very common in hard drives.
Right off the bat I take exception with the description, there are no heatpipes. There are four rubber standoffs that serve as isolators as you’ll see shortly but as to heatpipes, there are none. Let’s take a look at what exactly the HD-Silencer does entail.
As you can see the Silencer comprised of an extruded aluminum heatsink shell. The silencing is accomplished by the gray sheet which is a woven cloth backing covered on both sides by a silicone material. This sheet has an adhesive that affixes it to the interior of the shell. I personally think that Logisys should perform this step for the consumer since getting the sheet affixed squarely with the shell without bubbles is a time consuming step whereas they could make a jig to do it in next to no time at all.
After you’ve affixed the silicone sheet to the casing it should look something like this:
The next step is to attach the end pieces, the front piece has a thick piece of foam that holds the drive tight to the end of the enclosure. Sadly the picture I took of that step came out blurred so I have to omit it but the next image showing the drive in place in the shell will show you what I mean.
The front end piece covers the opening completely and is held in place by two counter-sunk machine screws. The rear end piece covers about 75% of the opening leaving the bottom 25% open to allow the connectors for the drive to be free for easy access.
As you can see here the milled spots in the side of the enclosure are where the four rubber isolators attach to the housing. These are where you attach the silencer to your case and this is why the silencer won’t work with rail type bays although I think that if your rails screw onto your 5.25" devices you should be in luck. A word of warning here, the screws included with the isolators are bigger than the holes in my Armor, to accommodate them I’d be forced to drill out the screw holes in my bays to fit.
While not a huge issue for a new build it is a pain in the rear for an existing system as you’d end up with metal shavings in your case forcing you to disassemble more of your PC than you’d intended. I personally just popped smaller screws through the holes and have the silencer hanging in the bay. The isolators fit tightly to the sides so it’s not rattling around in there but it’s hardly a method of attachment you’d want to pursue if you plan on moving your PC very much.
Once you’ve gotten the drive in place you put the bottom foam piece in place to prevent any electrical shorts from occurring and to stop the drive from rattling on the bottom piece. The bottom piece is attached with four screws and buttons the enclosure up nicely. If you’ve got a slimmer drive (Maxtor drives spring to mind) you’ll end up with the drive too far down in the enclosure to allow you to attach the power or IDE or SATA plugs, if that’s the case don’t bother, your drive needs to be 1" thick.
This is how the finished HD-Silencer looks. the front has a pretty nice raised Logisys logo that’s been milled to raw aluminum. The sad thing is that you’ll never see it, the HD-Silencer is designed to fit in your PC chassis far enough back from the front to allow you to put the drive bay cover in place lending a nice stealth look to the installation.
From the rear you can see that the connections for the drive are freely accessible. Once in place you can easily hook the drive up meaning that you don’t have to attach the cabling and try to thread it through your PC as you install the enclosure.
This is what I mean about the enclosure sitting back from the front of the case, in fact I think it sets far enough back that it could conceivably fit behind a switch type baybus especially if you drill the holes for the screws back a few mm.
That wraps up the assembly and installation of the Logisys HD-Silencer now on to the fun part: Time to dissect my findings.
In use I found that I can’t hear the drive access noises when running disk defrag or I’m loading programs like I used to. In fact the noises have diminished to the point where I have to strain to hear them. This is in comparison to the same drive that I’m using for my storage drive. I had bought 2 of the same drives for running RAID-0 but after a catastrophic failure a few years ago I’ve forgone striping due to the potential for data loss. It does however allow me to compare what I’m gaining in terms of quiet and losing in terms of heat dissipation.
Using Everest Ultimate to monitor my HDD temps through the onboard temp diode via SMART I’ve never seen more than 1*C difference between the drives idle and 2*C under load. Mind you that both my drives are being cooled by a 92mm fan and are (or were) in the same drive bay. With one moved to the HD-Silencer the temps on the drive still cooled by the 92mm fan have remained the same, 29*C idle and 34*C load, load being heavy disk defragging. The drive that I moved to the HD-Silencer has gone from 28*C idle and 32*C load to 34*C idle and 38*C load.
That’s an increase of 6*C idle and 4*C load. The drive’s not going over 38*C at any time so I’m still fairly comfortable with the temps. I’ve seen other silencers that keep the drive isolated in a box with no fans (as this has no fans) and there is no direct contact with the drive to the box’s sides at all. Those tend to run the drives up to the neighborhood of 50*C under load so I’m impressed with the Logisys design. Even though the silicone sheet seems like it would make a better insulator than TIM (thermal interface material) it does indeed do a decent job of transmitting the heat to the finned case of the HD-Silencer.
When it’s all said and done I’m awarding the Logisys HD-Silencer a 7/10. I’m dinging them for the heatpipe claim which is patently false and for the larger screws on the isolators. Otherwise the HD-Silencer is a fine product that does it’s job as advertised and manages to make some improvements over competing products. I know I’d feel perfectly safe tossing a Raptor in one and never be worried about toasting my drive.
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