Although hard drive noise has not been a significant issue in recent years, thanks to noticeable improvements and optimization in the acoustics area, both products we looked at in this review manage to do a great job of reducing hard drive idle noise and especially random access noise. The 3RSystem L-1100 T.REX case and the GUP Smart Drive Neo HDD silencer reduce activity noise to levels that are close to drive idle levels. At the same time, there’s no need for concerns about cooling and drive temperature, as both products are suitable for running high-performance 10,000 RPM drives.
The Korean company 3RSystem provided the L-1100 T.REX case, which is a quality mid-tower case for the PC mainstream. It is equipped with sound-deadening mats on all interior surfaces, and a spring-assisted mounting on the hard drive cage. Both measures ensure a noticeable difference in hard drive noise. Two 120 mm fans make sure the drives don’t overheat.
However, the Smart Drive Neo HDD silencer by the Japanese company GUP did an even better job in eliminating noise, and in cooling the WD740 drive we used for this review. Frankly, we did not expect such a convincing result, as the drive is literally locked into the enclosure, preventing any air exchange. However, the spring-buffered metal bridges on which you place the hard drive not only decouple the drive from the Smart Drive enclosure, they also ensure a firm contact between the drive and the top cover, which serves as a heat sink. (Ed.: it's worth noting that we were only able to find the Smart Drive Neo on one e-tailer's page, selling for an astounding $80. Hope you really love your quiet computing!)
Regular users who simply want to make sure their system makes only as much noise as necessary should definitely look for computer cases that include spring mounts or similar mechanisms to avoid hard drive vibration being transferred to the case. Sound proofing mats like the ones we found inside the L-1100 T.REX case provide additional value.
The silencer is mostly interesting for sensitive users, or for those who insist on minimizing noise for various applications. A no-noise HTPC may not be fast enough, but using the Smart Drive Neo will get you rather close to no noise if paired with a case that is as effective in reducing noise as is the L-1100.