First post here, starting off with a problem I can't seem to diagnose. First my system:
Gateway system GM5632E (I normally build but I couldn't pass on the price)
Intel Core 2 Q6000 Quad core processor (@ 2.4GHz per core not overclocked)
Intel® (Schroeder Town) G33 motherboard
3 GB 667 PC2-5300 RAM
2 500GB SATA II hard drives (mobo is RAID capable but the drives are not in a RAID)
Geforce 8500GT (I don't game on my PC much, I use it for video editing)
Front panel card reader
Integrated sound card
Asus Video Capture card
Wireless 802.11 G card
400W Delta PSU (+12V1: 12 V / 16 A (max), +5V: +5 V / 14 A (max), +3.3V: 3.3 V / 20 A (max), +12V2: +12 V / 16 A (max), +5VSB: +5 V / 2.0 A (max), -12V: -12 V / 0.3 A (max))
Wireless keyboard receiver (powered from USB)
Vista Home Premium
Basically one of the hard drives, the secondary(non boot) drive I've determined, spins down then powers back up (as indicated by a low pitch that winds up to a high pitch and goes away-with the case off I can hear it power down so I accessed the drive in Explorer and there was a delay before I could see the contents). This happens after maybe 1/2 hour or so of use (give or take). I do have the power settings to "always on", so it's not a power save mode, unless Vista has more setting buried elsewhere. I did drive tests (Gateway has their own Western Digital tester that works from a bootable CD) and both drives pass.
I have pulled the power off of the secondary drive and ran the system with just the boot drive. Didn't have any issues. No spinning up sounds, the system was quiet as a mouse. Swapped the drives and ran the drive test software (didn't have a Linux Live CD handy for a more "real world" test) and the other drive operated just like the boot drive. Run both together and the whining and spin ups/downs return.
My first guess is that the PSU just doesn't have the juice to power these drives. I ruled out the SATA connection because I would probably have problems when I just had one drive hooked up. I haven't dug deeper by removing cards at all. I did swap out cables with the line running to the DVD drive and that didn't do anything either
My second thought was perhaps heat buildup. This is a Gateway system and they built it with a rear outlet fan, a "tornado" tunnel that sucks air from outside the side of the case to blow over the processor and then the fan that on the PSU itself. There's nothing in front by the drives, which are mounted horizontally rather than vertically. Today when I heard the spin down I put a table fan on the floor and blew cool air directly into the case and over the drives (my house in the afternoons is set to 64 degrees F, the computer room is colder by about 4 degrees or so). While I got cold legs out of the deal the drive still spun up and down.
Third thought is possibly the hard drive itself but as I said before, it passed the drive tests with flying colors. I have another PC but its power connectors won't work with this drive. The hard drive test I ran could have been a fluke issue as I've had other drives at work function one day and then not the next due to a bad controller card. I don't have any SATA drives lying about to test this and my IDE drives I don't think would make an accurate comparison.
Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts as to what this could be? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
I had an issue similar to this, one drive turning on and off quite often, turned out the 4 pin molex to SATA power converter for that particular power head had a loose connection to the drive, not enough contact to stay powered on. drive would actually click a couple of times when it happened like it was tring to start again. It seems you have ruled out something like that, but just throwing it out there.
Second thought is going into the BIOS power management and checking to see if it is set to bring your drive to a hault, as well as windows. tell them both to not turn off the hard drive.
This is a power saving feature for Vista. The way it works is that the windows will shut down or spin down the hard drive when not in use and therefore saving power. Very useful for mobile pc to extend battery life.
You can change this by right clicking the desktop and open "Personalize".
Click on "Screen Saver".
Click on "Change Power Settings".
Now there are three "Power Plans" settings. Balance, Power saver and High performance.
Balanced - medium power savings and medium performance.
Power Saver - this will slow down the pc dramatically but saves
power and extend battery on laptops.
High Performance - Great for gaming and I suggest you use this setting
if you play otherwise your pc will slow down significantly
while you play games.
*Now in all this "power settings" you can further customized it's function. Underneath the selection just open the "Change plan settings" and then open "Change Advance power settings"
Open "hard disk" and now you can change when the hard disk to turn off or not. If you want to keep the hard spinning at all times then click down the number (minutes) until 0 or "Never".
This will now allow the hard disks to spin at all times.
If you want to save power and extend battery life then you can select
to spin down the hard disks at a given time.
As for me I change the settings whenever possible. When I'm just browsing the net and listening to music I choose the "power saver" this will help cool down the cpu and the system allowing the fans to slow down and making the overall system cool and quite.
When it's time to play games then I will switch to the "high performance" settings and giving me maximum cpu and graphics card usage, maximizing gaming performance.