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Which are the least noisy *large* SATA drives?

Western Digital Drives - The Preferred Drives of FreeNAS and TrueNAS CORE


Junior Member
Mar 1, 2014
Due to my apartment being small, and for practical reasons, my NAS is located just 3ft/90cm from my head when I sit at my desk. The NAS chassis is a Fractal Design Node 304, and for the past ~6 years I've had 6x 4TB WD Red drives in it (WD40EFRX). It's been working fine, and I haven't heard anything from the NAS when the disks have been idle.

I recently switched to 2x 18TB WD Ultrastar DC HC550 drives. Noise levels were a big concern when choosing disks, and comparing the spec sheets for the 4TB and the 18TB drives, I thought the idle noise levels would be lower. The 4TB drives are 25dBA/28dBA idle/seek, and the 18TB drives are 2.0Bels/3.6Bels idle/seek.

But now, with two 18TB drives, I can constantly hear the hum of the disk drives even when they're idle. OK, apparently 2.0Bels isn't just an alternative way of writing 20dBA but with a lower (marketing-friendly) number, as I naively believed after googling and finding a simple dBA-Bels converter. So even though I now only have two disks, my NAS is louder.

The 18TB drives are also doing some work every ~5 seconds, which means that in addition to the humming, I'm also hearing them seeking or whatever all the time.

So, my question is: are there any quieter large drives out there, suitable for NAS use, that you guys can recommend? By large, I mean 18TB or possibly 16TB.


Wizened Sage
Jun 2, 2016
3.6Bels = 36 deciBels...

a difference of 3 dB is often said to be twice as loud... so a 8db difference when seeking is a lot.

Sometimes drives have Automatic Accoustic Management settings which can be used to quiet them down. I don't know if this applies in your case.

It appears you can set the AAM in the TrueNAS ui. Edit the drive, change it, see if it actually makes a difference.

FWIW, maybe 10 years ago, it did work for me to quiet the seeking clicks on an overeager HD.
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Neophyte Sage
Dec 30, 2020
Bels would be pure sound pressure, but the A in "dB(A)" means that a weighting function is applied to take account of human sensitivity to different frequencies. So there's no simple conversion from (deci)bels to dB(A).

In my experience, 6 relatively large drives in a Node 304 always make a slight hum, with 6*12 TB WD Red EFAX possibly being a little quieter than 6*10 TB (mix of EFAX and shucked "white label" EZAZ)—whether this is acceptable is a highly personal question.