The SilentDrive Acoustic Enclosure from QuietPC costs Â£28.20 and is designed to reduce the noise from a hard disk by encasing it in a sound proof case. The plastic outer shell contains a lining of sound absorbing material and the two tight fitting aluminium plates conduct heat away from the drive. A foam backed end cap provides almost complete enclosure apart from the small openings for the power and IDE cable. Quiet PC claims that the SilentDrive can be safely used with most 3.5in 7200rpm or lower hard drives, provided the resultant temperature doesnâ€™t exceed the maximum specified by the manufacturer.
As a precautionary measure, QuietPC can also supply you with a temperature-sensitive sticker to determine the maximum running temperature of your hard drive. Alternatively, if your hard disk supports this feature, a free program called DTemp can be downloaded that will display the drive temperature in your Windows system tray.
Because the enclosure is designed to fit into a 5.25in drive bay, I had to move the hard drive from its original position up to a free 5.25in bay near the top of the case, two spaces below the CD-RW drive. With the drive taken care of, I decided my next task should be to fit the 17 piece Acoustic Materials Kit.
By lining the internal walls with a special composite material, the kit not only reduces high frequency airborne noise from the PC devices themselves but also lower frequency vibrational noise that is often amplified through the case panels. Acoustic foam blocks can also be inserted into the unused drive bays for added noise absorption.
The adhesive-backed case linings can be quite tricky to fit into some of the tight spaces so itâ€™s probably best to do so with a completely empty case. Even if you do make a mistake, itâ€™s relatively easy to peal off and try again. Although our kit came supplied with the C6607 case, similar kits starting from Â£28.20 can be purchased separately from QuietPC, which can then be cut to fit your own particular brand of case.
So what was the upshot of all our hard work? Well, compared to the initial set-up the measured noise levels were now up to 13dB(A) lower, which is a substantial reduction in noise by anybodyâ€™s standards. Plus the hard disk was barely audible when seeking thanks to the SilentDrive enclosure, although the noise from the two case fans was still clearly perceptible. A quick check of the BIOS revealed the system temperature was still fairly low at only 29 degrees C.
There was also no worry of a hard disk failure. After copying 1GB of data between different Windows folders, the DTemp utility reported a maximum temperature of 40 degrees inside the enclosure, which was well below the 55 degree operating limit of our 5400rpm Maxtor drive.