Hard drive noise is a real bitch. In a system with no fans, it can be the most annoying thing in the world. In fact, even in a system with fans, the pitch of hard drive noise is often the most annoying thing about it.

Take, for example, the 5400 rpm 20 gig Maxtor that shipped with my G4 Cube. It isn't overly loud, but it had this high pitched idle, a sound that you really didn't notice outright until you turned the computer off. Of course, it seeked even louder, making that sort of crunching sound. It crunched a lot whenever I'd compile anything.

Take, as a counterexample, the 7200 rpm 80 gig Seagate ATA IV drive that I replaced it with. This drive is a marvel. Quiet, for starters. After listening to it start, it idles so quiet that it cannot be heard. When it seeks, it almost purrs instead of chewing and clunking its way to infamy.

Seagate managed to achieve this wonder through quiet liquid bearings and insane platter density. When you only have two platters to spin, with 20 gigs to a side, you just don't have a lot of noise.

Now, I can sleep with my head no more than 6 feet from my computer. No fans, no drive noise, no alarms and no surprises.