Three new performance drives challenge the establishment: Seagate's Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB) and Western Digital's WD600BB as well as 800BB (60 and 80 GB). They are characterized by a rotation speed of 7,200 rpm, resulting in high data transfer rates and quick access times. While former drives usually were hot and loud, the latest generation is surprisingly quiet - without any impact on performance.
In contrast to standard desktop drives, which run at 5,400 rpm, performance drives are expected to be fast. Previously, speed was attained at the expense of critically high temperatures. Now, with their fourth or fifth generation of 7,200 rpm drives, manufacturers have been able to reduce the amount of heat generated by these fast drives. Noise levels have also been lowered quite a bit, and although all companies offer acoustic management (the access speed can be altered via software in order to reduce noise emissions), only few software utilities are officially available to make use of it.
We have not been talking much about acoustic management for hard drives. In any case, there are components in your computer that can generate much more noise than a hard drive - powerful CPU and GPU fans as well as fast CD drives are usually much louder. In my opinion, acoustic management is pretty useless if we've already got fans running at 4,000+ rpm to keep today's CPUs alive. As you will see in the benchmarks, the new hard drives give you no reason at all to make an issue about noise level - all of them run very quietly.