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Noise levels
While some folks spent Black Friday stampeding through retail stores in search of deep discounts, I was holed up in the garage trying to spruce up our noise testing for hard drive reviews. We don't have the space for anything elaborate, but I was able to whip up an 18" x 20" anechoic chamber on the cheap using 3/4" MDF lined with acoustic foam. Say hello to the Box 'o Silence, which is meant to isolate drives from the background noise of the Benchmarking Sweatshop.

Our TES-52 digital sound level meter slides into a hole drilled into one end of the box, and SATA power and data cables have been routed through another hole at the opposite end. Both holes are sealed tight with additional foam to prevent external sounds from seeping into the enclosure. To keep the lid nice and tight, elastic cord hooks onto anchor points at each corner.

The cord is leftover material from the suspension system designed to hold hard drives in place. Drives are suspended exactly 4" from the sound meter's foam tip and about the same distance from the box's floor, ceiling, and side walls. To ensure the lowest possible ambient noise levels, we swapped the test system's graphics card for a passively-cooled Gigabyte model and unplugged one of the Frio's dual fans. Noise levels were measured after one minute of idling at the Windows desktop and during an HD Tune seek test.

The Momentus XT 750GB has impressively low noise levels at idle and under load. So does the Scorpio Black, which is only a fraction of a decibel louder. Props to Seagate for lowering the Momentus XT's noise levels by several decibels; the old model is noticeably chatty in comparison.

Power consumption
We tested power consumption under load with IOMeter's workstation access pattern chewing through 32 concurrent I/O requests. Idle power consumption was probed one minute after processing Windows 7's idle tasks on an empty desktop.

The Momentus XT 750GB has to power two 7,200-RPM platters in addition to 8GB of flash memory, so I can understand why it consumes more juice than the Scorpio Black. Rather than tasking Adaptive Memory with speculatively caching data that would allow the drive's platters to be spun down more often or for longer, data is cached only if it will improve performance.

Note that the SSDs consume close to the same amount of power as the hybrids and mechanical drives. Switching to a solid-state drive is unlikely to deliver a substantial improvement in notebook battery life.