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The latest in a string of problems afflicting the new MacBook Pros, users are now reporting poor hard drive performance, random beeping, and clicking noises reportedly coming from the drives. The issue appears to be with the Seagate 500 GB drives shipping with many of the new MacBooks.  (Source: Apple)
More problems plague Apple's latest laptops, but a fix may be in store

Apple's MacBook Pro laptops certainly have their upsides.  Cut out of a block aluminum, they feature the attractive unibody design and industry leading battery life, while keeping to the ultra-portable 4 lb. and under weight range.  And their Core 2 Duo Intel processors and 9000 series NVIDIA graphics would seemingly make for a good experience, whether you were booting Windows Vista (or Windows 7) or OS X.

However, the newly launched luxury notebooks have not been without problems.  Early on their SATA speeds were found to be capped to 1.5 Gbps -- an update removed the cap and allowed transfer speeds of 3 Gbps.  Additionally, some of the new MacBook Pro laptops have experienced display issues, with many users reporting failing graphics.

Now Apple has another quality headache on its hands.  At least a couple hundred users have reported that Seagate 500 GB hard drives on their new 15" and 17" MacBook Pros have been experiencing poor performance, as well as making random beeping and clicking noises 20 or more times a day.  The Apple Support forum has an 82-page, 1000+ comment thread on the issues.

Describes one user who goes by the screenname Wessto:
I recently purchased a new MBP 15, 3 Ghz, 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive, build-to-order. The hard drive appears to be a seagate ST9500420ASG. I am experiencing a strange hard drive click followed 80% of the time by a beep. It is definitely not a beep from the speaker. Additionally, it happens at any time, even when the computer is sitting on a perfectly still table. It is exactly the same sound as what is documented at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOhgaIMpPI" rel="nofollow

and mine too appears randomly approximately 15-20 times per day. It does not appear to matter if the computer is under light or heavy use and it seems truly random when it occurs. Another user on youtube has also experienced this with their new MBP 15 and sent me a wav file with the same sound mine is making. So far, his experience is that it does NOT occur under bootcamp. This leads me to believe that it is something specific to OSX. Turning off the "put hard drive to sleep when possible" does not seem to make any difference. I have not personally tested bootcamp on my machine to confirm that mine is the same, but the original poster of the youtube video linked above also seems to think it is OSX specific.


Some users are reporting that the beeping is becoming less frequent, possibly due to a firmware update.  Other customers, though, are becoming frustrated.  Stated one MacBook owner, speaking to Apple blog site AppleInsider, "The crazy thing is that you can read comments about AppleCare Engineers stance on this issue: 'Its normal behavior,' (and) 'Apple´s Working on a fix.'  Also, some of them are recommending doing a complete reinstall, when this issue is factory related."

Apple reportedly is working on a full fix for the problem.  Representatives from Apple, according to affected customers, reportedly have told their customers that Apple is "highly aware" of the issue and that finding a fix is one of the company's "highest priorities."  However, they ask that for the time being users "live with" the problems plaguing their pricey purchases.


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RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By jmurbank on 8/9/2009 1:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
I agree it is not Apple's fault that a hard drive brand is giving them a bad name.

The sounds from the YouTube video and what people are hearing are normal sounds for hard drives from power up. One of the reasons that people hear these sounds now is the computer is noiseless, so they will hear sounds that was not there in past notebooks. The beeps are from the voice coil of the hard drive. Just like a speaker, it can also create sounds that are audible. Seagate drives produces more audible noises compared to other brands that I have used. Seagate drives does have issues while the power supply is aging, so they are not reliable.

To tell if a hard drive is failing compare the loudness from the first time it is used and later. As hard drives ages they get louder. I used this to figure out when one of my hard drives will fail. I caught it within months while S.M.A.R.T. did not have any evidence that the drive will fail.

Another way to tell if a hard drive is failing is comparing the amount of ECC that it does from different times as it ages. A program like Spinrite can check this. Lower ECC values is best because this value means the hard drive is new and data integrity is excellent. High ECC values means it is aging and integrity is getting poor.

Of course using S.M.A.R.T. can be used to check the drive, but this is not as good as the health monitoring for SCSI drives. S.M.A.R.T. requires the electronics to be in working order to monitor the health of the hard drive. S.M.A.R.T. is run as a daemon or as a service in the electronics while the electronics is controlling the mechanics of the hard drive. If electronics are not working or glitches, S.M.A.R.T is not reliable. I have experience a working hard drive while S.M.A.R.T has stated it as a bad drive.

I never have recommended Seagate drives to anybody. I stick with Western Digital and Hitachi. Also I now include Fujitsu in the list of hard drive brand recommendations because of their performance VS power consumption ratio is very good.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By Pirks on 8/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By otispunkmeyer on 8/9/2009 3:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
best drive for the mac's is the WD Scorpio Blue 500Gb drive

just as quick as the 7200rpm 320GB scorpio black drives and they use less power and are quieter than everyone elses 500Gb drives.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By Samus on 8/9/2009 10:35:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. I use the WD Scorpio 500GB in my Wii (don't ask) and it produces negligable heat and is VERY quiet. It's been in there at least 6 months now, ever since the Homebrew/HDD loader app launched, and no problems.

7200RPM in a laptop is like asking the drive to commit suicide. Especially when you use the system like a DTR instead of what its thermal design envelope is designed for; occasional use, no more than 10 hours/day. You leave one of these laptops on with non-stop HD crunching I give that 7200RPM hard drive a few months at best.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By sprockkets on 8/10/2009 8:45:26 AM , Rating: 2
When Hitachi came out with their 7200 rpm drives, they put out the same amount of heat as their 5400rpm drives due to improvements all around. Same power usage too. I've been using 7200rpm drives now in my 5400rpm "only" laptop for years with no issues.

Sometimes things you feel to be true aren't.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By Samus on 8/10/2009 11:42:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but I've personally replaced at least a dozen of those 7200RPM Hitachi drives in a number of Thinkpad T61 laptops, all failing between 3-24 months. They were under warranty, but that's not the point. The data was lost and the downtime for the companies are at least two days.

I've never seen a 5400RPM drive fail in a T61 (or any modern Thinkpad) because heat aside, the active drive monitoring system usually prevents significant shock damage. Additionally, the drive monitoring system doesn't work as well with higher RPM units because it takes longer to park the heads and spin the platters back up.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By Griswold on 8/10/2009 7:22:05 AM , Rating: 5
I agree it is not Apple's fault that a hard drive brand is giving them a bad name.

Of course its apples fault. QA, ring a bell? If there are issues with a component of their product, apple needs to take the finger out of the buttcrack and be pro-active. I'm saying this because apple has barely ever been pro-active when there are issues with their products. Most of the time its silence, denial and eventually a fix with a 50/50 chance you have to pay for it.


RE: Seagate 500 GB Hard Drives
By sebmel on 8/10/2009 4:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
pro-active is tautological... as in rapidly-fast.

If your intention for the 'pro' part is to say 'in favour of'... how can one be active without being in favour of being active? Just take out the 'pro and it means exactly the same thing.

Sorry for the pedantry but that word BUGS me! ;-)


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